The Note: It's The Stupid Economy

WASHINGTON, July 7

With us today:

President Bush trying to get credit for strength in the economy; Dr./Sen./Leader Frist hot out of the gate (by press release) celebrating weaker-than-expected job numbers; Tom DeLay fighting with Texas Democrats and the judiciary; Joe Lieberman coming more in sadness than in anger (ok: we saw a little anger); Paul Krugman as Cassandra; Hillary Clinton making a key, "secret" political trip; Pat Fitzgerald putting Chicago wrongdoers in the can; Joe Biden's brain-mouth coordination being called into question; John McCain's temperament being called into question; terror tapes, terror plots, terror anniversaries; Dan Bartlett explaining the White House's media strategy to the New York Times; Bill Clinton and Colin Powell in Aspen; no one knowing what the Chinese or North Koreans are thinking, or what they will do; Robert Pear writing on Medicare; and people still not knowing what Ron Fournier's new job is.

In other words, a business-as-usual Friday. Nothing new. Same old same old.

Here, on the other hand, are two new things:

1. President Bush holds a road-show press conference in the Windy City today. At the Museum of Science and Industry, the President is expected to make a 10:50 am ET opening statement (probably trumpeting the mixed jobs numbers released this morning -- see more below) before opening up to questions from a local and national press corps.

ABC News' Karen Travers reports, "The White House said that the press conference is part of an effort to listen to people in other parts of the country and put the President in new venues before the public."

"One White House official described this as a chance for the President to 'sink his teeth into the community' and an 'opportunity to cover many subjects in one area.' This official said that the President enjoys having time in one city or area where he can meet with people and 'dive into issues and see different venues.' The White House has been thinking of doing this for some time and will try to do more of these types of trips throughout the summer," adds Travers.

More Travers: "This is President Bush's 28th full press conference and only the second one held away from the White House." (The other away game was at the G8 summit at Sea Island GA on June 10, 2004.)

The AP's Jennifer Loven has more on the road show strategy with the goals of improving his own ratings and Republican candidates' chances in the upcoming midterm elections. LINK

2. The Note (finally) becomes a seven day/week franchise this weekend. Beginning tomorrow, The Weekend Note will keep you fully informed on all the political goings on and make sure you don't miss a beat. So get ready, Time and Newsweek publicists, Hamptons hostesses, boaters, tennis players, golfers, parents of small children, BlackBerry possessors, weekend assignment editors and anchors, and David Remnick: your worlds are about to change, forever. Or, at least, until the Internet goes out of business.

As for the non-North Korea political news that will dominate the day: ABC News' Dan Arnall reports, "The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employers added 121,000 new workers to their payrolls during June. This was lower than the expected monthly jobs growth of 168,000."

"The nation's unemployment rate remains unchanged at 4.6% - a relatively low level by historic standards."

(Enough there to spin to your partisan hearts' desire.)

"The Democrats would rather talk down the economy with the hopes of winning in November so they can raise taxes and skyrocket spending. House Republicans are committed to cutting spending and making the tax relief permanent so that American families will have more money in their pockets and businesses can hire more workers," said Speaker Hastert in a prepared written statement.

President Bush breakfasted with business leaders this morning and after the press conference heads to The Drake Hotel (LINK

) to help Judy Baar Topinka raise some money for her gubernatorial campaign. At 3:00 pm ET, President Bush tours Cabot Microelectronics in Aurora, IL to hammer home the economic/competitiveness message of the day before heading back to Washington, DC.

Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at a rally for Expeditionary Strike Group 8 in Norfolk, VA at 3:15 pm ET.

House Republicans continue their immigration field hearings today in Laredo, TX at 11:00 am ET entitled "Border Vulnerabilities and International Terrorism, Part II."

Texas Democratic Reps. Reyes, Hinojosa, and Gonzalez pre-spond to the event with a 10:30 am ET press availability aimed at highlighting what they see as the Bush Administration and Republican failures to secure the border.

At 1:00 pm ET, Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) joins actresses of the hit movie "High School Musical," "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson, Earth, Wind and Fire singer Philip Bailey, and other distinguished guests to highlight an investment to restore arts and music education funding for public schools at Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, CA.

In San Francisco today, Sen. Hillary Clinton joins Phil Angelides, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for a 12:15 pm ET media availability in support of Angelides gubernatorial bid. Sen. Clinton heads to Denver, CO later today for a fundraiser at a private residence for her reelection campaign.

Sen. Bayh is in Johnston, Clinton, and Davenport, IA today raising funds for local candidates and taping an interview on Iowa Public Television.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) is in Cedar Rapids and Indianola, IA today raising funds for local candidates and discussing predatory lending.

Gov. Romney (R-MA) attends a fundraiser for gubernatorial hopeful Asa Hutchinson (R-AR) in St. Louis, MO at 12:40 pm ET. At 7:30 pm ET, Romney attends a fundraiser for Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) in Springfield, MO. Both fundraisers are closed press.

Don't miss "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday when George sits down with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) to discuss the North Korean missile tests, the Bush Administration's response, and what he sees as the best path forward to a resolution.

Also on "This Week," George heads on the road with Sen. Allen and his Democratic opponent Jim Webb to size up the Virginia Senate race that may prove more competitive than many people expected.

Can't wait until Sunday? You can always check out the "This Week All Week" webcast here, including Jessica Yellin on North Korea and Mark Halperin on frontrunners McCain and Clinton stepping forward: LINK

Check out our look at the weekend in politics below.

Bush Administration agenda:

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson reports on President Bush's extended visit to Chicago and the "new White House outreach strategy aimed at carrying his message beyond the Washington Beltway by spending more time in communities he visits." LINK

The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg sees the new approach as an opportunity for President Bush "to do what he does best: act like a candidate, though one who is not running for anything." LINK

Robert Pear of the New York Times reports the Bush Administration is altering the requirements to obtain Medicaid coverage to make the process easier for the handicapped and elderly. LINK

The Bush Administration plans to press ahead with a proposal to allow greater foreign control of U.S. airlines, reports the Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler.

President Bush admits that he has yet to make a decision regarding the location of his presidential library following his tenure in the White House. The Dallas Morning News' Sudeep Reddy has the details. LINK

Sen. Lieberman's primary politics:

The Hartford Courant reports that "Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman relentlessly attacked Ned Lamont" in their debate last night, leaving his opponent "wide-eyed and visibly rattled in the opening minutes of the one-hour confrontation," both camps claimed victory afterward. LINK

Lamont's camp: "It was a good night for Ned Lamont. He did what he had to do, which is establish his credibility as a U.S. senator . . . Joe was way over the top with his aggressiveness and personal attacks."

Lieberman's camp: "Lieberman was good on the issues, and he was up against a Cub Scout from Greenwich . . . Lamont is not ready for prime time."

ABC News' Dubert Notes there was "no use of 'lapdog' and no mention of Gore or Sen. Clinton."

Lieberman's poor attempt to imitate Lloyd Bentsen: "I know George Bush. I've worked against George Bush. I've even run against George Bush. But Ned, I'm not George Bush."

Lieberman said several times that Lamont is "running on one issue." After a question from the moderator on Iraq and the heat he's taking, Lieberman said, "My opponent is running against me on this one issue, and he has not leveled with the people of Connecticut. . . When you're a Senator, you've got to make decisions. If you think we should get out of Iraq right now, have the conviction to say so."

On Imus this morning, Newsweek's Howard Fineman said that while Lieberman performed well, "Lamont is going to be tough to put away in the next month" and sees the Greenwich businessman gaining significant ground before the primary. "The dynamics of it don't look good for Lieberman," he concluded.

Roger Catlin, the Courant's television critic, wrote that Lamont, "didn't get his footing until halfway through the debate" and Lieberman was "slick and businesslike, conducting himself like a chairman of the board dismissing a middle-management whippersnapper at a boardroom meeting." LINK

"The sharpest exchanges came during the first 15 minutes of the debate, which was televised by C-Span, as Mr. Lieberman persistently interrupted Mr. Lamont and insisted that he had taken six different positions on American policy in Iraq. Mr. Lamont, for his part, tried to hammer home the point that Mr. Lieberman had not stood up to President Bush and had tried to play down his support for the war," writes the New York Times' Medina and Yardley. LINK

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray casts the Lieberman-Lamont debate as a "national test of the antiwar movement." LINK

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe Notes that Sen. Lieberman "struck a sometimes dismissive tone" in the debate. LINK

If you missed the debate, the Hotline's "On Call" blog has a highlight reel. LINK

North Korea:

The Washington Post's Abramowitz and Lynch report that a US drive for tough sanctions against North Korea "encountered immediate obstacles" with Russian President Putin saying "concern about the missile tests should not trigger an emotional response that would 'drown out common sense.'" LINK

The Wall Street Journal offers a more positive account, emphasizing that South Korea and China "stuck by their policies of engagement," saying that regional stability should be "paramount."

Dean's Democrats:

AP's Liz Sidoti goes beyond the Lieberman/Lamont primary and looks at how the Iraq war is dividing the Democratic Party in some other primary contests as well and concludes, "The November elections will be the arbiter on the effectiveness of liberal groups." LINK

Former Clinton State Department official Jamie Rubin pens a New York Times op-ed arguing that Democrats need to change the terms of the debate as the five-year anniversary of 9/11 approaches. "Instead of calling for troop cuts in Iraq, they should call for transferring forces and resources from Iraq to Afghanistan," writes Rubin. LINK

Bush's big boomer birthday:

In the current issue of People magazine (hitting newsstands today), President Bush talks about reaching 60 and saying/joking the last romantic thing the First Lady said to him was, "Get out of bed and get me coffee." People asked POTUS if he and Al Gore could be friends like Bill Clinton and 41, which Bush dodged and said, "I don't know. In 2 1/2 years I'll be a member of the ex-Presidents club. But I'm very busy these days."

Referring to President Bush's interview on Larry King Live, Alessandra Stanley of the New York Times concluded that "It wasn't live, but it was classic Larry King: a warm bath, not a hot seat." LINK

Deb Orin of the New York Post reports the First Lady gave President Bush new "cycling duds" and a Johnny Cash CD for his birthday. LINK

The politics of Social Security:

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood has White House adviser Hubbard saying President Bush is "not a tax raiser" while adding that "the president is willing to have taxes discussed" as part of a commission on entitlement reform. The Journal also has Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) warning that "potential House tax chairman Rangel's answer for Social Security is 'to raise taxes.'"

Stem cell politics:

Calling stem cell research "a rare values issue that helps Democrats by splitting majority Republicans," the Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood reports that the Bush Administration plans to back a proposal by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) encouraging research alternatives that don't destroy embryos.

DeLay:

Who thought we would still have a "DeLay" section in mid-July?

"A federal judge blocked Republicans from replacing former U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on the November ballot Thursday, calling the party's attempt 'a serious abuse of the election system,'" reports the Dallas Morning News. LINK

More: "The ruling ensured that the DeLay saga, which seemed to be winding down when he resigned from Congress last month and declared residence in Virginia, would continue to echo across Texas politics, perhaps through Election Day and beyond.

The Houston Chronicle paints yesterday's court ruling keeping DeLay's name on the TX-22 ballot -- for now-- as a victory for the Democrats. LINK

Per the AP: "The Texas Secretary of State's Office says state law sets Aug. 25 as the deadline to declare a candidate ineligible and sets other deadlines in the week after that for naming a replacement nominee. The state's deadline for certifying the general election ballot is Sept. 6, said Scott Haywood, agency spokesman." LINK

In a story that calls yesterday's ruling "a significant victory" for Democrats, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman has the DCCC's Emanuel saying: "We learned two things this week: George Bush can't seem to get rid of Osama bin Laden, and Texas Republicans can't get rid of Tom DeLay." LINK

The New York Times: LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Boston Globe's Nichols writes up the Massachusetts legislature's plans to increase the Bay State minimum wage. LINK

"Governor Mitt Romney supported linking the minimum wage to inflation during his 2002 campaign for governor, and his spokesman refused yesterday to endorse the current bill. Now weighing a run for president, Romney may face pressure to veto the wage increase to play to probusiness Republicans," writes Nichols.

The Boston Herald reports that Gov. Romney's plan to give a raise to governor councilors ("who greenlight state judges appointed by the governor") has been met with some criticism. LINK

Gov. Romney isn't supporting a Bay State bill requiring further hiring of genetic counselors who study human genomes, citing budget costs. LINK

Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) has insisted that he won't run for President in 2008, and his reasoning may be more pedestrian than trying to avoid Bush Fatigue. He can't afford it. The St. Petersburg Times Notes that Gov. Bush's net worth sank 41 percent during his two terms in office, down to a paltry $1.4 million. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Des Moines Register reports on Gov. Vilsack saying the Iowa economy has improved on his watch, due to programs like the "Grow Iowa Values Fund." LINK

Maybe we are wrong, but Tom Beaumont seems freaked out to us by covering the Governor as a homestate presidential candidate at home.

A featured fundraising guest and on his fifth trip to Iowa since 2004, Sen. Bayh (D-IN) said a flag amendment banning desecration had merit. LINK

Per the AP's Mike Glover, Bayh tested waters for 2008, talked Iraq, and expressed support for Sen. Lieberman in the primary without saying what he would do if Lieberman loses the Democratic nomination. LINK

The Associated Press hints at potential presidential motives are involved in Sen. Clinton's fundraising trip to Denver, CO at the home of Laura and Bob Hill this evening. LINK

A recent C-SPAN "Road to the White House" clip made the rounds yesterday where Sen. Biden made these comments about the Indian-American community in Delaware: "I've got a great relationship. In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking." You can watch it here: LINK

Biden spokesperson Margaret Aitken offers this statement to The Note: "The point Senator Biden was making is that there has been a vibrant Indian American community in Delaware for decades. It has primarily been made up of engineers, scientists and physicians, but more recently, middle class families are moving into Delaware and purchasing family-run small businesses. These families have greatly contributed to the vibrancy of the Indian American community in Delaware and are making a significant contribution to the national economy as well. Senator Biden has tremendous admiration for the Indian American community. They have enjoyed a long-standing relationship of mutual support and respect."

The pitch-perfect Gannett lede: "They say one thing standing between Joe Biden and the White House is Joe Biden's mouth." LINK

2006: Senate:

The Washington Times' Bellantoni looks at Sen. Allen's media consultant, Scott Howell, and wonders what may come to Virginia airwaves down the pike. Howell's firm, you may recall, was responsible for the much-criticized "Hitler" ads in the Kilgore gubernatorial campaign last year in Virginia. Bellantoni runs through Howell's history on the Chambliss and Thune campaigns and Notes that he is also Sen. Jim Talent's (R-MO) media guru this cycle. Allen tells the paper: "I like to keep it positive." LINK

Bloomberg's James Rowley and Laura Litvan describe Sen. Santorum as being in "try-anything mode" as he airs a television ad ripping "liberals like Ted Kennedy" for wanting to help undocumented immigrants attain legal status even though "leaders of Santorum's party, including President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, also favor that immigration approach." LINK

2006: House:

Per the Albany Times Union, Democratic congressional candidate Kirsten Gillibrand announced that she out-fundraised Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) last quarter. Be sure to Note the McCain mention too. LINK

2006: Governor:

Per the Columbus Dispatch's Hallett, gubernatorial candidates Ken Blackwell (R-OH) and Ted Strickland (D-OH) have confirmed upcoming debates in four Ohio cities. Sponsors have not been named yet, but -- for now -- are known not to include the state's major newspapers. The Cincinnati Enquirer on the same: LINK

Gov. Ehrlich's (R-MD) latest television ad needed some post-facto editing after a non-profit group asked that its logo be removed from the spot to avoid the appearance of an endorsement, reports the Baltimore Sun's Fuller. LINK

The State reports that South Carolina State Sen. Jake Knotts has responded to recent calls to run for governor as an independent, picking up petition forms yesterday. However, Knotts has not committed due to his lack of funds and the minimal success of past independent gubernatorial candidates in the state. LINK

New Hampshire:

The editorial page in the New Hampshire Union Leader asks New Hampshire's Democratic House candidates to use the national spotlight to speak up and defend New Hampshire's status as first-in-the-nation primary. LINK

Politics of same-sex marriage:

The Washington Post's Amy Goldstein calls yesterday's marriage rulings in New York and Georgia "a twin blow to gay rights advocates." LINK

The New York Times' Pat Healy writes in a news analysis of poetry and prose of the crushing blow many gay rights activists experienced yesterday when they learned of New York's highest court's ruling against same-sex marriage. LINK

"Yesterday's court ruling against gay marriage was more than a legal rebuke, then -- it came as a shocking insult to gay rights groups. Leaders said they were stunned by both the rejection and the decision's language, which they saw as expressing more concern for the children of heterosexual couples than for the children of gay couples. They also took exception to the ruling's description of homosexuality as a preference rather than an orientation," writes Healy.

Corzine re-opens the Garden State:

Richard Jones of the New York Times breaks down the events, and maneuvering, in an excellent review of the New Jersey state budget crisis. Jones awards victory to Gov. Corzine over Assembly speaker Joseph Roberts in raising the sales tax, however, he Notes that Gov. Corzine " had to agree that half of the $1.1 billion in annual revenue expected from the tax increase could end up going toward easing the state's nagging property-tax burden." LINK

The New York Times' David Chen has a more overall review of Gov. Corzine's time in office and is more affirmative in his assessment of Gov. Corzine, claiming "many people in and out of Trenton" now thought of the outsider-governor as "underestimated." However, he too Notes that "a 1 percent increase in the sales tax was not nearly as hard to achieve, perhaps, as Mr. Bloomberg's successful push to raise property taxes by 18 percent in his first year." LINK

The New York Post's opinion page is dramatically critical of the deal: "Same old, same old." LINK

Rep. Jefferson:

"U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, the target of a high-profile public corruption probe, has hired a crisis communications consultant whose past clients have included Monica Lewinsky and the family of murdered Washington intern Chandra Levy," reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. LINK

Casting and Counting:

For the moment, early voting is the law of the land in Maryland and Democrats are preparing to educate their supporters about it despite its legal future is somewhat uncertain. The Baltimore Sun's Brewington has the story. LINK

Politics:

John Balzar of the Los Angeles Times catches up with former Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA) to find out what happened to the California politician three years after the recall forced him out of office. LINK

Weekend politics:

John Edwards spends his weekend campaigning for ballot measures aimed at raising the minimum wage. He is in Ohio on Saturday and Sunday (where he also addresses ACORN's national convention), and Tucson and Phoenix, AZ on Monday.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) raises funds for local candidates throughout Iowa Saturday through Monday.

Sen. Bayh (D-IN) continues his travels through Iowa tomorrow and visits his Camp Bayh training session in South Bend, IN on Sunday.

The National Council of La Raza kicks off its annual conference in Los Angeles, CA tomorrow. Bill Clinton, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sen. Sam Brownback, Gov. Bill Richardson, and Karl Rove are all expected to address the attendees over the course of the three-day gathering.

As mentioned above, ACORN, a grassroots community organizing group, holds its national convention tomorrow through Monday in Columbus, OH. Sen. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and Rev. Al Sharpton are all expected to address the attendees.