The Note: War and War

WASHINGTON, July 14

President and Mrs. Bush arrived in Russia this morning after the President made some phone calls to Middle East leaders aboard Air Force One. All of your morning papers and cable nets have lots and lots of stuff on the President's diplomatic full plate for you, but since all this appears unlikely to have a measurable impact on November 2006, we quickly bring you to the must-read poll story of the day.

The AP's Donna Cassata writes up the latest AP/Ipsos poll which shows an 11 point advantage for Democrats (51 - 40 percent) in the generic ballot question. (However, please raise your hand if you really believe 24 percent of self-identified conservatives are planning to vote for the Democratic candidate in their congressional district in November.) LINK

And/but in the world where good press begets money which begets better press, this AP headline is one to bring smiles to Democratic faces across the country: "Most Americans Plan to Vote for Democrats"

Upon arrival in Russia, the President visited the Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad and participated in a roundtable discussion with "Civil Society" leaders. The First Couple concludes the day with a dinner with President and Mrs. Putin at the Kostantinovsky Palace Complex at 11:30 am ET. Would you like to know what it is like to travel with the President overseas? ABC News' Jessica Yellin brings you vivid color and sobering substance at "The World Newser" blog. LINK

Back here at home, Vice President Cheney headlines a reception for congressional candidate Ray Meier (R-NY) at the Hotel Utica in Utica, NY at 6:00 pm ET. State Senator Meier is contending for an open seat vacated by the retiring Rep. Sherwood Boehlert.

Former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband Joe Wilson hold a 10:00 am ET news conference on their civil lawsuit against Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and others. Here's a primer for today's press conference: LINK, LINK

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) joins the Iowa-bound parade of unofficial presidential hopefuls. He travels to Cedar Falls, where he attends a reception for Republican congressional candidate Mike Whalen. Whalen, who prevailed in the primary in large part due to his deeply conservative stance on illegal immigration, is competing for the open seat in Iowa's competitive first congressional district. The festivities, which will be held in a private home, begin at 6:30 pm ET with a closed press shindig for big donors, followed by a general reception at 7:00 pm ET.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is expected to sign legislation at 9:30 am ET giving him the authority to oversee inspections of the "Big Dig" tunnel system.

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) hosts a noon ET fundraiser at the Richmond, VA Marriott.

Gov. Vilsack (D-IA) holds a 9:30 am ET press conference on the Iowa legislative special session in Des Moines, IA.

All parties must file remedial proposals, including briefs and proposed maps, in the Texas redistricting case that came down from the Supreme Court last month.

Happy 93rd birthday, President Ford! LINK

Make sure to check out "This Week All Week" the best political webcast around. You'll watch ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, Jessica Yellin, and Sam Donaldson hash through the multiple international crises facing President Bush these days. You will also not want to miss the opportunity to see a Mark Halperin (looking suspiciously like John McCain) assess the week that was in the 2008 race for the White House for Evan Bayh, Mike Glover, and McCain himself. Check it all out here: LINK

And be sure to join George on Sunday morning on "This Week" when he interviews Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about all the global hot spots of the week. You also won't want to miss the classic roundtable with Cokie Roberts, Sam Donaldson, and George Will.

Please find our look at the weekend ahead in politics below.

Politics of domestic warrantless wiretapping:

Chairman Specter and the White House have struck a deal on the President's domestic warrantless wiretapping program, with the White House conceding that the FISA court can assess the program's constitutionality. Since the program was first revealed in December 2005, the Administration has claimed the program is fully in compliance with the Constitution.

The deal "met with some immediate skepticism on Thursday from both Republicans and Democrats over whether it went far enough -- or too far -- in checking the president's authority," reports the New York Times. (Be sure to Note that Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) intends to unveil her own proposal on how to proceed with the program.) LINK

The Specter deal, taken in context with the recent Hamdan ruling by the Supreme Court, causes David Sanger of the New York Times to offer a news analysis where he seems to see a new sense of constitutional balance at the Bush White House. LINK

The Washington Post sees the Bush-Specter compromise as having one winner, and it's not the President. LINK

In the first ten paragraphs of their front page story, Charles Babington and Peter Baker call the deal a "reversal" for the President; a "clear retreat" by Bush; and just "the latest in a series of concessions Bush has made in recent days in his hard-line anti-terrorism tactics."

The Associated Press on the same: LINK

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

Politics of immigration:

USA Today takes an in-depth look at advocacy groups' attempts to mobilize 1 million new immigrant voters in time for November's elections -- and the problems these groups face in trying to make immigrants a potent voting bloc. LINK

RNC Chairman Ken Melham will be none too pleased with this headline atop the Houston Chronicle's Patty Reinert story: "Immigration debate sours Latino attitude toward GOP." LINK

But be sure not to miss the subhead as well: "Poll finds Dems making no inroads as voters grow more disenchanted with both parties."

"House Majority Leader John Boehner of Ohio contended that 'troubling' Senate provisions exposed during hearings in Laredo and San Diego are causing the tide to turn in favor of the House's enforcement-only approach," writes the Dallas Morning News' Michelle Mittelstadt. LINK

As immigration hearings continue across the nation, Boehner predicts that President Bush and Senate Republicans will "cave in" and accept the House's immigration bill due to flaws in the Senate's proposed bill on the same subject. The San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead has more. LINK

Valerie Plame sues the Vice President:

The Washington Post suggests that Valerie Plame's lawsuit could be the Vice President's Bill Clinton/Paula Jones moment, with legal analysts telling the Post that the suit could "open new avenues for extracting information from the administration, because Plame and Wilson could conduct discovery if the U.S. District Court in Washington lets the suit proceed." LINK

Politics of voting rights:

The Voting Rights Act was reauthorized by the House last night by an overwhelming bipartisan coalition, with just over 30 "no" votes being recorded.

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray Notes it was only because of Democrats that three of the amendments to the Voting Rights Act were defeated -- meaning that the bill's passage was a semi-blow to the House GOP's "principle of moving major legislation with only a 'majority of the majority.'" LINK

The Senate awaits its turn to vote on the bill. Sen. Specter would like the committee to consider the bill as early as Wednesday, but Sen. Frist has yet to place it on the schedule, reports the Chicago Tribune. LINK

The New York Times: LINK

The Associated Press: LINK

Casting and counting:

The Associated Press details the legal battles and strategies over electronic voting machines. LINK

New Hampshire phone jamming:

The Union Leader's indefatigable John DiStaso reports that state Democratic attorneys will be permitted to question former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie and other high-ranking Republicans and examine cell phone records of former White House political affairs director and present RNC Chair Ken Mehlman regarding illegal election day phone jamming in New Hampshire in 2002. "Targets" of Democrats' subpoenas include Gillespie, former White House official Alicia Davis and other GOP officials now in "well-known political circles." LINK

DiStaso writes, "Democrats are seeking monetary damages but are primarily using the suit as a tool to try to find out how far up the state and national Republican hierarchy planning for the phone-jam scheme reached," and Noted, "Yesterday was a key step" in their efforts.

More from the AP: LINK

2008: conventions:

And then there were three. The Associated Press reports that New Orleans, LA has pulled its bid to be the host city to the 2008 Democratic National Convention. LINK

2008:

As the 97th annual NAACP convention opens in Washington, DC this weekend, presidential hopefuls Sen. Clinton and Sen. Brownback (R-KS) are scheduled to speak along with fellow Sens. Harry Reid, Barack Obama, and others. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Sen./Leader/Dr. Bill Frist (R-TN) has tapped former Iowa GOP Chair Brian Kennedy to join his PAC to create the framework for a possible presidential bid.

The Des Moines Register: LINK

The Quad City Times: LINK

2008: Democrats:

Chris Cillizza of washingtonpost.com reports on Sen. Dodd's (D-CT) staffing up in advance of a potential presidential run. LINK

The Hartford Courant's Lightman, who broke the story, has more. LINK

The New York Post's Page Six has Gov. Bill Richardson's (D-NM) accidental trip to the CSI: New York set. LINK

2006: Senate:

The New York Post reports on Sen. Clinton's primary challenger, anti-war candidate Jonathan Tasini, likely presence on the September ballot after he turned in more than enough petition signatures. Note, too, that Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson says the campaign does not intend to challenge those signatures. LINK

The AP's Marc Humbert wonders if Tasini is going to provide as potent a problem for Sen. Clinton as Ned Lamont has for Sen. Lieberman in Connecticut. LINK

The Note looks forward to the first Clinton/Tasini debate.

The New York Daily News follows the New York Post's reporting from yesterday on K.T. McFarland's not-so-supportive brother. LINK

Pat Healy of the New York Times has all the juicy details of the Rupert Murdoch/New York Post bashing that occurred at the fundraiser for K.T. McFarland last night. LINK

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is emphasizing his opposition to the Bush Administration in his campaign for U.S. Senate, particularly its trade policy which causes Ohio to "lag the rest of the country in jobs." LINK

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports Arkansan Bill Clinton is scheduled to help his Tennessee neighbor, Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., with some campaigning and fundraising on August 4. LINK

2006: House:

The New York Times' Anne Kornblut appears to be the smartest person in the room today for getting the maker of the Bush ad, Mark "Corn Chowder" McKinnon, to basically put to rest the silly back and forth over the controversial DCCC Internet ad which includes an image of flag-draped coffins of fallen soldiers. LINK

McKinnon "said Democrats had not crossed any boundaries of taste. 'This is one where I respectfully disagree with my colleagues: I think it is an appropriate image,' Mr. McKinnon said. 'I thought it was appropriate when we used it.'"

"'It reminds people of the cost of 9/11,' he added. 'It reminds people of the cost of war. People die in wars, and people should understand that we shouldn't hide from that fact.'"

Those Hotsoup.com folks do indeed appear eager to change the tone!

The Chicago Tribune on the brou-ha-ha: LINK

The DCCC is launching a new ad campaign today. The House Democratic campaign arm is going up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in radio across the country in their targeted districts calling for a hike in the minimum wage and painting those targeted Republicans as blocking those efforts.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continues the Democratic offensive with an instructive memo to House Democrats, reports The Hill's Josephine Hearn. The directive requests -- without compulsion, but with force -- that Democrats hold at least one local event in August concerning their "New Direction for America" agenda. This follows Pelosi's Notice to Democrats earlier this week that attendance would be taken at July's Caucus meetings. LINK

The fear of an "X" on their records seems to have worked; congressmen flocked to the meeting, with attendance "swelling" to 152 . . . "burying the previous attendance record of 102."

Jonathan Riskind of the Columbus Dispatch reports Democratic House candidates are having a rough time raising the levels of cash as their Republican counterparts, citing candidates who've raked in hundreds of thousands yet pale in comparison to the million-plus by incumbents. LINK

The New Hampshire Union Leader reports that Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) and his Democratic opponent, Paul Hodes, have about the same amount of cash-on-hand at the close of the second quarter. LINK

2006: Governor:

The Columbus Dispatch's Mark Niquette Notes that Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell is soliciting money from supporters for a retaliatory "emergency summer radio fund" to combat a 60-second ad from opponent Ted Strickland. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

In the latest installment of 'Let's Make a Deal,' Gov. Schwarzenegger plans to offer lawmakers an opportunity to ease term limits, if they agree to change the way California draws voting districts. The Los Angeles Times has the story and an exclusive interview. LINK

2006: downballot:

The New York Times reports on attorney general hopeful Jeanine Pirro's big fundraising period in which she collected an impressive $2.7 million in the first six months of the year. LINK

The Abramoff affair:

The August issue of GQ (set to hit national newsstands on July 25) includes Sean Flynn's Ralph Reed profile from his foot soldier days in the Christian conservative movement to his ties to disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. LINK

DeLay:

The Houston Chronicle reports that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has expedited the Texas Republican Party's lawsuit to remove former Rep. Tom DeLay from the Texas-22 ballot in November. LINK

Politics:

ABC News' Jake Tapper goes "into the belly of the Berkeley beast" for an on-air interview with Mr. Kos himself, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga. LINK

Weekend Schedule

President Bush gets to the meat of his European tour tomorrow when the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia comes to order.

Stateside, Sen. McCain attends a reception for congressional candidate David McSweeney in Barrington Hills, Illinois. On Sunday, he heads to Malvern, Pennsylvania to campaign for Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA), one of the most endangered congressmen on the Democrats' list. (We wonder if there will be a last minute cancellation similar to that of Brian Bilbray in CA-50 last month since Gerlach has bashed his Democratic opponent in direct mail and on the stump for supporting "amnesty," which is the label Gerlach uses to describe the McCain-Kennedy bill.)

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) addresses Soul of Virginia Magazine in Charlottesville, VA on Saturday.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) travels to the Hawkeye State to meet with Iowa Democratic activists this weekend.

The Southern Governors' Association's annual conference kicks off in New Orleans, LA on Saturday. 2008 Watch: Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) plans to attend.

And on the heels of passing the Voting Rights Act reauthorization, tomorrow marks the first of the six-day NAACP Annual Convention in Washington, DC. LINK