The Note: Strategy Of Necessity


The Senate convenes at 9:30 am ET. The plan: There will be 60 minutes of debate divided as follows: Warner 30 minutes, Levin 15 minutes, Kerry 15 minutes; following the debate Sen. Reid may speak up to 15 minutes, followed by the Sen. Frist for up to 15 minutes.

After the time is expired (approximately 11:00 am ET) the Senate will proceed to a vote on the Levin amendment, followed by a vote on the Kerry amendment, and then a cloture vote on DOD authorization bill.

A Senate aide working on the Kerry-Feingold amendment tells The Note that it looks like "about one third" of the Democratic caucus will support the amendment as of early this morning.

We wonder if this aide watched Tim Russert's comments this morning (The Note's Rule of 3 -- which prohibits us from ever leding with the same point for more than two consecutive days -- precludes us from telling you what Russert said, or from having an actual, explicit lede today. But keep yesterday's slow-motion-car-crash metaphor in mind while you read the New York Times Rutenberg/Nagourney must-read story on how the Hadley-Rove-Bartlett-Taylor strategy meetings earlier this month were a forum for the President's aides to argue that it would be a disaster to walk away from the war during an election year, leading to a fretful GOP lining up behind the President's message to offer a unified embrace of the war in Iraq, the fruits of which you see before you today). LINK

President Bush, who still would rather be both lucky and good than any of the alternatives, delivers remarks at 10:30 am ET in Budapest, Hungary. Pool reporter Karen Travers reports, "Bush will commemorate the 1956 Hungarian revolution and talk about the larger themes of freedom and democracy. Tony Snow called it a 'tone poem' and said it was not a heavy policy speech. Don't expect specific references to North Korea, Iran, or the upcoming G8 in Russia. Snow also said President Bush may make a comparison to what is happening in Iraq today and talk about how the Iraqis are learning democracy and its hard."

President and Mrs. Bush are scheduled to depart Budapest at 11:50 pm ET to head back home. The First Couple is expected to arrive back at Andrews Air Force Base at 9:00 pm ET.

The House debates the estate tax repeal and the line-item veto. House Majority Leader Boehner holds an on-camera briefing at 10:30 am ET. Fifteen minutes later, House Minority Leader Pelosi holds her weekly on-camera briefing at 10:45 am ET.

Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at 12:20 pm ET at the U.S.--India Business Council's 31st anniversary leadership summit in Washington, DC. The Vice President also speaks at 2:00 pm ET at the Philip Merrill memorial service. A busy Mr. Cheney also sits down with the fresh-from-Baghdad John King for an interview. Go deep inside CNN's "The Situation Room" at 4:00 pm ET.

Speaker Hastert holds a 2:15 pm ET news conference on immigration reform two days after he announced a plan to hold field hearings instead of moving ahead with a conference committee this summer.

RNC Chairman Mehlman and DNC Chairman Dean are both in Dallas, TX today to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Mehlman is up first at 1:00 pm ET, followed by Dean at 2:30 pm ET.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Mark Warner, Gov. Tom Vilsack, and Sen. Joe Biden are the four potential 2008 Democratic presidential candidates scheduled to address NDN, a progressive-to-centrist Democratic group with a focus on growing the Hispanic vote for Democrats, at their annual meeting in Washington, DC which gets underway today. The title of this years conference is "What Comes Next: A New Politics For America," and is focused on 21st century politicking. LINK

First up from the '08ers is Gov. Mark Warner at noon ET and then Sen. Joe Biden at 1:45 pm ET. Sen. Clinton and Gov. Vilsack are scheduled to address the gathering tomorrow.

Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) plans to call for the elimination of poverty over the course of the next 30 years in what his aides are billing as a "major policy address" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC at 1:00 pm ET.

An Edwards aide tells The Note that the North Carolinian plans to "lay out a comprehensive agenda to achieve this goal, including: radically overhauling HUD, creating 1 million stepping stone jobs in the next five years, raising the minimum wage, strengthening our educational system, calling for 'second-chance schools' focused on helping dropouts, helping Americans save for the future, and cutting taxes for low-income workers and families."

The former Senator is expected to discuss how he thinks the Democratic Party should address some of the major issues of the day. Edwards plans to do the usual press club Q&A thing before heading off to Pittsburgh, PA to do some fundraising for Bob Casey, Jr.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) testifies about his plan to reduce American dependence on foreign oil before the Senate Energy Committee at 10:00 am ET.

At 1:00 pm ET, the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee continues its (telephonic) discussion about the 2008 nomination calendar with an emphasis on the number of states to be added to the pre-window period.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) addresses the South Carolina upstate Republican run-off rally in Spartanburg, SC at 5:30 pm ET.

Govs. Granholm (D-MI) and Kulongoski (D-OR) plan to hold a DGA-sponsored nationwide conference call with online activists and the media to discuss America's energy future at 1:45 pm ET.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Gen. Casey (who is in town to brief the SECDEF on troop levels) hold a press briefing at 3:30 pm ET. The Wall Street Journal reports that Gen. Casey in a recent interview said the US and new Iraqi government have made contact with elements of the Sunni insurgency that has previously been unwilling to talk-- as many as "seven different strands of political folks with ties to various groups," compared to two or three groups early last year.

A global must read:

Peggy Noonan breaks the code on how the parties feel about their bases, as viewed from the Upper East Side. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

General Rove's troops went head-to-head with their Democratic counterparts for more than 8 hours on the Senate floor to talk about the war yesterday. LINK

The lede says it all: "Republicans, defending an unpopular war in Iraq, will use two Senate votes today to exploit Democrats' divisions on the conflict in an effort to cast them as weak on terrorism and national security." Bloomberg's William Roberts and Laura Litvan report. &LINK

But the data, perhaps, tells a different story: Michael Dimock, associate director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington, said "a poll by his group this week showed that 52 percent of Americans favor a timetable for a withdrawal. In an Associated Press-Ipsos poll published June 9, 59 percent of respondents said the U.S. made a mistake in going to war in Iraq, up from 34 percent in December 2004."

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray and Charles Babington look at yesterday's Iraq debate through the 2008 prism. LINK

The Washington Times' Bellantoni follows the New York Times and Notes that some Democrats are none too pleased over Kerry's troop withdrawal proposal, accusing him of running for president when his party needs to win the Senate more immediately. Per Bellantoni, some Democrats believe Kerry is "playing to anti-war liberals who were frustrated by his often stumbling position on Iraq during his 2004 presidential bid." LINK

The Los Angeles Times recaps the floor debate: LINK

The Associated Press reports, GOP Senators are giddy as the Democrats continue to debate amongst themselves which is the best approach to troop withdrawal. Sen. McConnell (R-KY) crowed, "'We're very happy to have this. . . It's been interesting to watch the Democrats debate among themselves.'" LINK

The Houston Chronicle includes this Sen. Clinton quote: "It is time to choose what is more important, a strategy to win in Iraq or a strategy for Republicans to win elections here at home." LINK

Sen. Clinton also said on the Senate floor that she does not "believe that it is a solution or a strategy to set a date certain for withdrawal without regard to the consequences."

However, under the Kerry-Feingold amendment, those forces that are "critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces, conducting targeted and specialized counterterrorism operations, and protecting United States facilities and personnel" would remain in Iraq after July 1, 2007.

Senator Clinton argues about Republican tactics yesterday in Congress, but warns they may not have game in 2006. LINK

Trying to battle the naysayers, Sen. John Kerry told CNN's Anderson Cooper last night that Democrats are "unified on the most essential ingredient, which is the failure of this administration, their lack of honesty with the American people about what is really happening in Iraq. We're unified about the fact that you need to begin redeployment of American forces now. I think there is a unity in moving in a new direction."

The New York Post's basic response to Democrats: Pot. Kettle. Black. LINK

Minimum wage politics:

The Los Angeles Times includes a meta LaHood-Madden colloquy in which they don't seem to be singing from the same page on minimum wage. LINK

The Washington Times on the Democrats' failed effort to hike the minimum wage. LINK

USA Today Notes Sen. Kennedy came eight votes short. LINK

Estate tax politics:

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers Notes that labor will next press for a vote in the House on the minimum wage and a "first skirmish" could come as early as today on a Republican estate-tax relief bill that Democrats say is a "giveaway to the wealthy and to timber interests."

The AP's Mary Dalrymple on the Senate Republican leadership's planned Arkansas-Louisiana-Washington bank shot to repealing the estate tax. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board has "more than one source" saying that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) has been "privately lobbying his fellow Democrats to keep the (estate) tax even as he personally voted to repeal it."

Texas redistricting:

In a must-read, the Wall Street Journal's Jess Bravin and Ben Winograd report that the Supreme Court could say as early as today whether the DeLay-led mid-decade redistricting in Texas is constitutional. "If the answer is yes, the implications could be felt far beyond Texas as Democrats and Republicans rush to embrace the technique of strategically reallocating voters among congressional districts after each election." LINK

Howard Wolfson, a former executive director of the DCCC (and an adviser to Sen. Clinton), says, ""If the Supreme Court decides that it's legal, not doing it would constitute a unilateral surrender. Democrats see the necessity of fighting fire with fire."

Michael Carvin, a Republican lawyer involved in the Texas case, says that while Democrats have "made noises" about retaliating in their states, they will "run into a problem peculiar to their own membership: Squeezing more Democratic-leaning districts from a map would almost certainly require splitting minority voters into multiple districts, undercutting their strength as a voting bloc. 'They would really have to violate the Voting Rights Act to change the map.'"

Politics of immigration:

Janet Hook and Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times offer a news analysis on Speaker Hastert's decision to hold hearings across the country on immigration and Note that despite involvement from Sen. McCain and Sen. Martinez, House Republicans refer to the Senate plan as the "Reid-Kennedy bill." LINK

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) worries that Speaker Hastert's tactics -- Noting "'immigration has been run from the back benches and the far right'" -- will be detrimental to Republicans, while Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) countered, "'What planet is he on?'" LINK

As the immigration debate heats up in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter announces: "I don't start wars, but if I'm forced to, I'll participate." Specter plans to sway the public rather than his congressional critics through hearings on the bill beginning next month. LINK

In response to the announcement, Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA), whose committee will participate in the House hearings this summer, said new investigations will not be able to improve the already-passed Senate bill: "You can't put lipstick on a pig," reports Roll Call.

The American people deserve action on a comprehensive immigration bill, says the editorial page of the New York Times, and if this Congress won't give it to them they should elect one that will, it argues. LINK

Top Democratic Massachusetts politicians, such as Sen. Kennedy and Mayor Menino, are not at all pleased with Gov. Romney's plan to let state troopers crack down on immigration issues. LINK

Voting Rights Act:

Remember that bipartisan/bicameral photo-op on the renewal of the Voting Rights Act a little while back? Well, the renewal failed the Speaker's majority of the majority rule and House Republican leaders were forced to pull it from consideration on the floor. The Hill has the details. LINK

Even though both parties' leaders agreed to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act as a "clean bill" without amendments, Roll Call's Jennifer Yachnin reports that some disgruntled House Republicans mutinied in a Republican Conference meeting, "at one point chant[ing] in unison for the legislation to be dropped from consideration." For now, VRA has been removed from the House's calendar, putting its cyclical 4-year renewal in jeopardy.

The Washington Post's Charles Babington sees the postponed vote on the Voting Rights Act as "the latest example of divisions within the GOP that have complicated House and Senate leaders' efforts to move legislation backed by President Bush." LINK

GOP agenda:

Roll Call's John Stanton writes that Leader/Dr./Sen. Frist's upcoming agenda for the Senate -- anti-flag burning, anti-estate tax, and pension reform legislation -- are "sure to thrill both conservative voters and big-business donors alike."

Democratic agenda:

In a column that will tickle Doug Hattaway and irk Crider/Manley, the Washington Post's David Broder blesses "Democracy: A Journal of Ideas" while calling the "new legislative 'agenda' that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and Co. trotted out last week" as being "as meager as it was unimaginative." LINK

The Abramoff affair:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and the rest of the Indian Affairs Committee will unveil their conclusions today to a two-year investigation into Abramoff and his associates' $40 million swindling of tribes, reports Roll Call.

The Arizona Republic's Billy House writes that the committee's report will "read more like a summer mystery novel with chapters missing than a tell-all account of former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff's corrupt influence in Washington." LINK

Christy Setzer of the Democratic "Senate Majority Project" pushes back against McCain thusly: "What we need is straight talk about how Jack Abramoff corrupted the Republican Party -- it's too bad John McCain cut and run from the job."

Lawmakers' profits:

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that Speaker Hastert, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA) have aroused the suspicions of watchdog groups by allegedly profiting from earmarks that they have pursued. LINK

Rep. Mollohan:

House Democrats continue to bruise their own ethics record. Tax forms and other documents released yesterday show that "Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) helped funnel at least $179 million in U.S. government contracts over the last six years to companies that gave to his family-run charity." Bloomberg's Michael Forsythe reports. LINK

2006: landscape:

In the Washington Post's Metro section, Amy Gardner and Lisa Rein report that President Bush's "unpopularity and the split among Republicans in Congress and the Virginia statehouse" have Republican leaders in Northern Virginia worried about the party's election chances. LINK

2006: Senate:

Quinnipiac University is out with a new poll this morning showing KT McFarland and John Spencer locked in a statistical dead heat (27 to 24 percent) in their battle for the GOP nomination in NY and the right to take on Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Quinnpiac finds Sen. Clinton's approval rating at 58 percent. (Thirty-one percent of Empire State Republicans approve of the job she's doing, according to the poll.)

In the shadow of daunting poll numbers, starting tomorrow Sen. Santorum will take his campaign platform to the Pennsylvania airwaves with plans to stay there through November, reports James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. LINK

And the Post-Gazette editorial pages weigh in on Sen. Santorum and the politics of cheesesteak. LINK

Jonathan Riskind of the Columbus Dispatch reports that "heavy-hitters" President Bush and Sen. Hillary Clinton are traveling to Ohio this month to fundraise for Sen. DeWine (R-OH) and his challenger, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), respectively. Private fundraisers only -- no public events are scheduled. LINK

Per the Morning Journal, Rudy Giuliani is planning on helping Sen. DeWine fill his coffers as well. LINK

In the upcoming New York Times Magazine out this Sunday, senatorial candidate (and Son of Jimmy) Jack Carter (D-NV) talks to Deborah Solomon about being on the "periphery" of politics and getting campaign advice from Dad.

On running against incumbent Republican John Ensign, Jack Carter says, "The Senate is a statewide race, and to the extent that the population is as disgusted with the operation of this administration as I am, then they'll vote to kick the bums out." He added later, "I don't want to beat but one guy. I don't have to be the best candidate in the world."

2006: Governor:

Quinnipiac University is out with new poll numbers today in the Pennsylvania governor's race showing Gov. Rendell (D-PA) maintaining a strong lead over NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann (R-PA), 55 percent to 31 percent. Rendell also scores a 55 percent approval rating, matching his best showing in that poll. Two of the most interesting findings in the poll are Rendell's trouncing of Swann among independents (60 percent to 22 percent) as well as Rendell's outperforming the former Pittsburgh Steeler/ABC Sports star among men (50 percent to 38 percent.)

A new television ad from Gov. Erlich (R-MD) is raising some eyebrows from opponents who find his centrist, "all politics aside" theme dubious, reports the Baltimore Sun. LINK

In the final week of the New York state Legislature, Attorney General Elliot Spitzer -- the state's leading Democratic candidate for governor -- is throwing making his presence known, per the New York Times. LINK

Newsday's Michael Rothfeld reports that Spitzer's previous and current campaigns have been generously supported by his family. His father, real estate magnate Bernard Spitzer, has loaned or donated over $5 million to his son's campaigns since 1994. LINK

Rothfeld also explores any possible quid pro quo from organizations which may receive Spitzer-family money, which the Spitzer Camp thoroughly denies.

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) paid a surprise visit to South Carolina troops in Iraq yesterday to bolster support and praise the soldiers' hard work. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Although Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) will headline a Log Cabin Republicans dinner next week, his relationship with California's gay community is not necessarily improving. He will receive the "Pink Brick" award from the San Francisco gay pride parade for snubbing gay interests, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. &LINK

2006: House:

In his role as Ohio's Secretary of State, gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (R-OH) will cast the tie-breaking vote in the Franklin County Board of Elections' consideration of whether Charles Morrison, a conservative who wants to challenge both Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) and her opponent, Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH), in Ohio's 15th District, can enter the race as an independent, given his longstanding affiliation with the Republican party.

The Election Board split along party lines, reports Robert Vitale of the Columbus Dispatch, with Republicans attempting to keep Morrison, who would inevitably steal votes from Rep. Pryce, off the ballot. LINK

Roll Call's Nicole Duran reports that President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush are coming to the aid of Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT), an ally of the President's efforts to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, who is facing a tough Republican primary challenge from immigration hard-liner John Jacob.

Mrs. Bush "recorded an automated message to be played to voters in advance of Tuesday's showdown, while the president penned a letter on Cannon's behalf."

2008: House:

The Hill's Josephine Hearn examines potential DCCC chairmen for the '08 cycle. However, despite a showing of interest by a handful of members, House Democrats are still pushing for favorite Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) to serve a second term, perhaps even resorting to a "forced reenlistment." LINK


First New Hampshire, and now the Hawkeye State.

The Des Moines Register reports that Karl Rove will travel to Iowa next week to campaign for Republican candidates. LINK

New Hampshire:

John DiStaso's always must-read Granite Status column in the New Hampshire Union Leader touches on who is avoiding Gary Dodds, Rove's predictable conversation topics during his New Hampshire visit last week, and on the bipartisan efforts (thanks to the conservative grassroots organization VictoryNH) to protect New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary. LINK

Don't miss John Edwards' Labor Day plans.

2008: Democrats:

When Sen. Clinton was asked by CNN's Larry King last night if she would like Al Gore to run for president again, the former First Lady (who just a moment earlier was praising Gore for performing a "great" service not only to America but to the world) broke into her trademark laughter and said: "Here we go. You're good, Larry . . . All roads lead to one question. I have a question for you. When the FBI Director is here tomorrow, ask him if he agrees with cutting the homeland security money to New York City. Just ask him."

KING: "That's one of the things you're ticked about."

CLINTON: "I am so ticked about that."

In a column entitled "Open Gore Policy," the New York Post's Deborah Orin refuses to believe that Al Gore isn't considering a run for the White House in 2008, asserting that his refusal to back his former veep-candidate Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) would keep him in the anti-war's good graces. LINK

In addition to its cutesy, tell-all interview with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), GQ accompanies the print version with a roundtable podcast about the presidential hopeful. "He's our Democratic version of McCain," said Donna Brazile, the former Gore-Lieberman campaign manager. Joe Trippi, former Dean campaign manager, added, "He'd be one of the people I'd think about working for. I'm still trying to decide whether I'm ever going to do it again." But Brazile isn't yet ready to bet all of the Democrats' chips on Feingold: "In 2002 I was opposed to Al Gore getting back in there but this is a different political season. Things have changed. I think Al Gore would make a great candidate again." LINK

Gov. Ernie Fletcher:

No blogs for you! LINK

Casting and counting:

Per the Washington Post's Steve Vogel, a GOP-led petition drive to block legislation allowing early voting in Maryland "has failed by fewer than 140 signatures." LINK

Democratic leaders "hailed" the news as a "rebuke" for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who has led the campaign against early voting.

Politics of mumbling:

Matt Viser of the Boston Globe reports that Mayor Thomas Menino (D-Boston) has joined the podcasting nation in which he melds hip music and political coverage. The debut of the download called Citycast "starts with the rap, which fades to a narrator and then Menino speaking at a press conference." LINK