The Note: The First Veto

WASHINGTON, July 18

After two-days of debate, the Senate plans to vote at 3:45 pm ET on three provisions related to the availability of federal funds for stem cell research.

Mary Tyler Moore and Dr./Sen./Leader Frist hold a 11:15 am ET photo opportunity on stem-cell research.

Senate candidate Claire McCaskill (D-MO) holds a 2:00 pm ET telephonic press conference to discuss the Senate stem-cell research bills.

At 10:00 am ET, Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD) will visit the Montgomery County home of Joshua Basile, an intern in the Congressman's office and a quadriplegic, to discuss the need for additional federal funding to advance embryonic stem cell research.

It's Tuesday, so be on the lookout for those Senate policy luncheons and accompanying stakeouts today, where stem cells are sure to come up.

The timing of everything else (the expected Senate passage of the main provision, additional House action, the expected presidential veto on the main bill, and any attempts to override said veto) remains TBD.

In a Washington Post op-ed, Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist writes: "Even though the president has made it clear that he will veto any bill that changes his policy, I believe that the progress of science and a pro-life position demand that Congress send a message." LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes that President Bush "faces the prospect of casting his first veto this week against embryonic stem cell research, defying the wishes not just of a majority of Americans and their representatives but also of Nancy Reagan and those representing millions of people with Parkinson's disease, diabetes, spinal injuries and the like." LINK

(By "the like," Milbank surely didn't mean "the media.")

In the same newspaper, Abramowitz and Babington write that the President "appears to be reaffirming his bona fides with religious conservatives" by "refusing to budge from his position" on embryonic stem-cell research. LINK

(By "appears," the Post duo surely didn't mean to rule out that the President is doing what he thinks is the morally right thing to do.)

Sen. Schumer (D-Punditocracy) tells the New York Times that the stem cell issue will work to the Democrats' electoral advantage in November. LINK

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe repots that "Bush's veto of a measure that appears to enjoy strong public support will be a deep disappointment to GOP moderates, including some who are facing tight reelection campaigns in a year that Democrats have high hopes for taking control of Congress." LINK

"The Democrats [may] finally find themselves with an issue that helps them, at least in the margins, with swing voters," writes ABC News' Jake Tapper on the President's expected veto of the Senate's stem cell legislation. LINK

Sen. Specter said President Bush may receive a personal lobbying phone call from embryonic stem-cell research advocate (and birthday pal) Nancy Reagan, per the Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook. LINK

In other political news delivered with smooth transition, with Ralph Reed's lieutenant governor bid as the big national story, Georgia holds its primary elections. Polls open at 7:00 am ET, close at 7:00 pm ET. LINK (See more below.)

President Bush takes a breather after his trip through Europe. His only scheduled items are morning pictures with the Boy Scouts of America at 9:50 am ET and the winner of the Indianapolis 500 at 10:20 am ET. Also, President and Mrs. Bush plan to participate in a 6:50 pm ET photo opportunity with Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl, and Papal Nuncio Pietro Sambi at the White House.

The NAACP's weeklong conference, "Voting Our Values, Valuing Our Votes" continues with morning addresses by Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), and with the possibility looming that the President will address the group on Thursday.

Chairman Chris Shays (R-CT) holds a House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security hearing at 2:00 pm ET to highlight the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) makes a campaign stop at the Post Road Diner in Norwalk, CT at 11:30 am ET.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman speaks tonight at "Christians United for Israel" in Washington, DC.

After getting statewide coverage of his not-so-subtle nudge to Vice President Cheney, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) holds his annual homeland security conference at 4:00 pm ET in Des Moines, IA.

Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) attends a 9:00 pm ET fundraiser for the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign Committee in Seattle, WA.

Govs. Napolitano (D-AZ) and Pawlenty (R-MN) hold a telephonic news conference at 12:15 pm ET to unveil the NGA's report, "Preparing for a Pandemic Influenza: A Primer for Governors and Senior State Officials."

The House Judiciary Committee holds border security hearings to discuss the possible effects of McCain-Kennedy immigration reform. These hearings are a preview of meetings of the House Education and Workforce Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee, both of which will analyze the reforms on Wednesday and Thursday.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and his Senate Judiciary Committee host Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at 9:30 am ET for testimony on the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and FISA court review, as well as issues such as counterterrorism policy, FBI reforms, and military tribunals.

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) hosts his weekly pen-and-pad news conference at 11:30 am ET in the Capitol. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) follows Boehner with a similar media exchange at 12:30 pm ET.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Ensign (R-NV), and Reps. Howard McKeon (R-CA) and Sam Johnson (R-TX) introduce the "America's Opportunity Scholarships for Kids Act" during a 10:30 am ET briefing on the Hill.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), recently dubbed "John McCain-in-waiting" by Bloomberg's Al Hunt, and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) discuss the future of hydrogen automobiles at a 10:00 am ET program in the National Press Club.

The Campaign for America's Future along with Reps. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Marion Berry (D-AR), and Darlene Hooley (D-OR) discuss the "donut hole" and propose changes to President Bush's Medicare prescription drug plan at 11:00 am ET on the Hill.

Gov. Pataki (R-NY) plans to appear on Fox News at 12:10 pm ET.

Stem-cell politics:

Even if the likely-to-be-vetoed measure should happen to become law, the New York Times editorial page argues it is in and of itself too limited. LINK

The Los Angeles Times editorial board finds that the Administration's approach to embryonic stem cell research "makes no sense." LINK

The Associated Press on the same: LINK

The AP's Kimberly Hefling Notes Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) might get a little campaign help from his fellow (and more popular) Keystone State Sen. Arlen Specter, with Specter co-sponsoring Santorum's bill that endorses federal funding for research using stem cells derived from sources other than embryos. LINK

President Bush and the NAACP:

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten writes up President Bush's possible break from his tradition by delivering a speech this Thursday before the NAACP, the last day of the group's annual convention. (Note the NAACP spokesman saying President Bush would receive a "polite" response.) LINK

Adam Nagourney of the New York Times looks at Ken Mehlman's African-American outreach as a hallmark of his RNC chairmanship thus far and declares "the effort has faltered." LINK

Bruce Gordon, the leader of the NAACP, listed voting rights, HIV/AIDS, and shrinking racial gaps in education and poverty as issues relevant to African Americans, writes the San Francisco Chronicle's Leslie Fulbright. LINK

Georgia primary:

"For years, [Ralph] Reed has been the clean-cut, boyish face of the conservative Christian movement -- a behind-the-scenes whiz whom many credit with helping the GOP solidify power in Washington. Now, however, it appears he will need every ounce of that talent to survive his bid for the powerful post of lieutenant governor," writes the Los Angeles Times' Fausset. LINK

As Georgia voters head to the polls today, they evaluate two of the most controversial, "polarizing" figures on the state's political scene: former Christian Coalition leader and state GOP leader Ralph Reed, running for lieutenant governor amidst charges of Abramoff-related wrongdoing, and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), the liberal black congresswoman who struck a Capitol Hill police officer earlier this year. The AP's Shannon McCaffrey reports: LINK

The AP's Greg Blustein writes that Georgia's "down-ticket race has turned into a fight for [Ralph] Reed's political future and personal reputation." LINK

As conservative Democrats desert the party in huge numbers, the dynamics of the Georgia political landscape are changing, write the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Tharpe, James Salzer, and Jeremy Redmon. Democrats hope that the bruising gubernatorial primary race between Lt. Gov Mark Taylor (D-GA) and Secretary of State Cox, "a battle defined more by attack ads than a serious debate of the issues," will boost Democratic turnout today. LINK

Georgia's Democratic primary candidates for governor completed a harried final day of campaigning yesterday, each hoping to encourage citizens to vote despite dismal voter turnout projections that they fear may be worsened by the anticipated 100-degree weather. The AP's Greg Blustein has the details: LINK

Politics of immigration:

The Hill Notes House Republicans are organizing a communications "war room" to help promote the border-security first approach to immigration reform. LINK

President Bush's open microphone:

On "Nightline" last night, ABC News' Jake Tapper said, "If the president is going to curse on camera, is it too much to ask that he not appoint Federal Communications Commissioners who will fine us for broadcasting it?"

GOP agenda:

Looking beyond this week's votes on same-sex marriage, the pledge, and stem-cell research, the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman Notes that the House plans to take up a bill to protect public officials against monetary damages in lawsuits brought against the courthouse display of the Ten Commandments, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, a ban on human cloning, a measure affording gun dealers more protection, and another to prohibit police from using federal funds to impound guns in the wake of a disaster. LINK

Democratic agenda:

Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe Notes that the opening Democrats have been waiting for is here. "The need for American leadership will become more acute as voters watch people die and oil prices skyrocket. . . This would be a moment for Democrats to sketch a larger vision for their own foreign policy," writes Canellos. LINK

Warming the hearts of Democrats everywhere, Canellos pens: "The ways in which Bush's decisions have restricted US options are now visible in ways that they weren't when the foreign debate was confined to Iraq. Thus, the events of the past two weeks should have considerable impact on presidential adviser Karl Rove's efforts to focus this year's midterm elections on the Republican strength on national security, because there may not be any evidence of Republican strength on national security."

Sen. Lieberman's primary politics:

As the midterm elections approach, there is no doubt that the Iraq war will affect the Republican Party's chances in November. But Roger Simon of Bloomberg News Notes that Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat, may be first in line to feel these effects resulting from criticism within his own party as the most vocal Democratic supporter of the war. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper reports on Bill Clinton's address at the Aspen Institute, where the former president criticized the internal strife that the Lieberman-Lamont debate has caused the Democratic party. "If we allow our differences over what to do now in Iraq to divide us instead of focusing on replacing Republicans in Congress," Clinton said, "that's the nuttiest strategy I ever heard in my life." LINK

Iowa:

During his first trip to Iowa since 2004, Vice President Dick Cheney commended troops for their hard work overseas and slammed Democrats for wanting to set a date certain for withdrawal, yet he remained silent about the situation in the Middle East. 2008 hopeful Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) shared the stage with Mr. Cheney and pushed for increased funding for the National Guard. The Des Moines Register has more. LINK

The Quad City Times also is sure to Note that Vilsack threw an elbow toward the Bush Administration for failing to provide National Guard troops with adequate funding and declared that we "cannot shortchange security." LINK

The Quad City Times reports that Cheney's visit to Iowa raked in about $250,000 total. LINK

The Des Moines Register Notes that one of Iowa's fiercest congressional races has received an influx of funds on both sides, with Democrat Bruce Braley recently receiving over $13,000 from political action committees and Republican Mike Whalen receiving at least $25,000 from similar committees, in addition to his boost from Cheney's visit yesterday. LINK

2008: Republicans:

John McCain appeared at the Manhattan Institute in New York City yesterday and the New York Sun's Ira Stoll appears to have walked away impressed. LINK

McCain touched on intelligent design, the current Middle East crisis, immigration, campaign finance, government spending, and trade. He didn't break much new ground, but Stoll provides a good round-up of where McCain is on all these issue.

It is, however, this closing graph that reminds us that the Arizona Senator hasn't yet lost his base: "When the moderator tried to announce the final question, Mr. McCain announced he would take two more. He seemed to be enjoying himself, improvising answers that sounded like what he really thinks, not what was calculated to impress one constituency or another. One could see why Mr. McCain's presidential campaign bus was called the Straight Talk Express. It's a trait that can be endearing in a politician because it is so unusual. But for a candidate or a president, it can be risky, too."

The DNC takes an easy whack at the pinata by pressuring Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) to release the guest list for a dinner he hosted for Granite State Republican activists last month and reimburse the state taxpayers for the event. Marc Humbert of the Associated Press has more. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attended a pro-Israel rally yesterday and declared without reservation her support for Israel's right to defend itself using "whatever steps are necessary," reports Patrick Healy of the New York Times. LINK

Healy also Notes that Sen. Clinton has won over media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a one-time critic, who hosted a secretive fundraiser for her yesterday.

The New York Daily News on the Clinton-Murdoch meeting: LINK

The Hill looks at Sen. Clinton's bulging campaign war chest. LINK

The Des Moines Register reports on Sen. Bayh's "middle class America" speech in Iowa yesterday which included this line that The Note suspects we will be hearing with some regularity from now through January 2008. LINK

"'Working to eliminate poverty, which my friend John Edwards speaks so eloquently about, is a moral imperative,' Bayh said. 'But if we don't also directly strengthen the middle class, we will never achieve our potential as a nation. And Democrats will not be in position to help anyone, poor and middle class alike.'"

The AP's Liz Sidoti covered the Washington, DC version of the speech before Sen. Bayh jumped on a flight to Des Moines, IA. &LINK

The Indianapolis Star Notes that Bayh's remarks on the middle class marks the second speech in which he lays out a potential presidential platform. LINK

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) is expected to stump with local Democrats in Manchester and Salem, NH on Friday July 21. Through his emphasis on poverty, former Senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards has gotten an early start in strategizing for a potential 2008 bid. Andrew Ferguson of Bloomberg News takes a closer look. LINK

Roll Call writes up Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) "Patriot Corps" program which will train 15 grass-roots activists and dispatch them to campaigns in Wisconsin and elsewhere across the country to help Democrats this November.

2006: Senate:

Rep. Katherine Harris' (R-FL) campaign to replace Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) hit another snag: the FBI has interviewed Ed Rollins, once top political strategist to Rep. Harris (and current strategist to New York's K.T. McFarland), about his former boss' dealings with Mitchell Wade, the defense contractor who funneled $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions to Rep. Harris and bribed former Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA). Rollins predicted, "I assume more [interviews] will be coming, though. They were very serious." LINK

Rep. Harris, who underwent surgery to remove an ovarian mass yesterday, is recovering well and "could be back on the campaign trail within 10 days," reports Keith Epstein of the Tampa Tribune. LINK

While Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) leads State Auditor Claire McCaskill more than two-to-one in fundraising, Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that the spending by a Missouri coalition seeking a proposal to protect all forms of stem-cell research and supported by McCaskill, may impact the Senate race. LINK

2006: House:

"The DCCC has reserved around $20M worth of TV time in at least 14 media markets around the country," reports the Hotline's Jonathan Martin. LINK

Roll Call's Whittington reports that House incumbents and challengers have put up record fundraising figures in the second quarter, Noting that challengers outraised incumbents in 10 of the 21 most competitive races, nine of which have Democrats as the challengers.

After basically conceding defeat, pulling their Internet ad, and announcing intentions to move onto other topics, Roll Call has DCCC spokesguy Bill Burton claiming Rahm Emanuel is so pleased with the attention the NRCC brought to their video -- allowing them to claim to have collected 250,000 email addresses from new supporters -- that he may send Chairman Reynolds one of his famous reward cheesecakes.

Iraq continues to dominate the closely watched race between Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) and challenger Diane G. Farrel, reports the Hartford Courant's David Lightman. NRCC chair Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) on races that will turn on Iraq: "The only one I see is Chris Shays." LINK

With the fundraising reports from the second quarter in, and Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-NH) has reported nearly double the campaign funds to Democratic challenger Jim Craig, widening his gap and his chances for re-election in November. LINK

2006: Governor:

The five candidates vying for the Texas governor's mansion this year have raised a relatively paltry $10.6 million, with incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn raising the bulk of it. The Houston Chronicle has more. LINK

The New York Times' Jonathan Hicks and Danny Hakim report that not only is New York Attorney General Spitzer enjoying a wide lead in the polls, but also in the fundraising race, having gathered more in the last six months than all his opponents combined. LINK

Celeste Katz of the New York Daily News reports on the Spitzer family history of political donations, even to Attorney General Spitzer's opponents in previous elections. LINK

The New York Post's Fred Dicker reports that Elliot Spitzer has vowed to crack down on state lobbying and have a more open-door approach to the position. LINK

Kim Devlin is out at Tom Suozzi's campaign manager and Paul Rivera is in, reports the New York Times. LINK

Fred Dicker of the New York Post on the same: LINK

After months of campaigning, the race between Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL) and state Sen. Rod Smith (D-FL) to capture Florida's Democratic nomination for governor has officially begun with the filing of papers and, in a signal of things to come, an aggressive public debate over the environment and homeowner's insurance affordability proposals. The Sun-Sentinel's Mark Hollis reports: LINK

The St. Petersburg Times on the same: LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The Los Angeles Times' Marc Lifsher writes on page one that government watchdogs are accusing Schwarzenegger's top political consultant Matthew Dowd of what they believe could be a conflict of interest. AT&T is one of Dowd's Texas clients and the company is also pushing for legislation in California. The Schwarzenegger campaign issued a statement stating that Dowd has never discussed AT&T with anyone at the campaign or in the governor's office. LINK

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides has joined Gov. Schwarzengger in his support for Proposition 83, aimed at toughening the penalties for sex crimes. Here's the Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan, who, per usual, sees politics everywhere he looks. LINK

Politics of same-sex marriage:

Seeing optimism on "both sides of the gay-marriage debate," the Washington Post's T.R. Reid reports that eight states will have gay-marriage bans on their November ballot: Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. (A legal fight is pending in Illinois over a proposed initiative). LINK

Politics:

We're glad to see Speaker Hastert is feeling well enough for a night out on the town. The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny blogs about Hastert's departure from the hospital and arrival at Café Milano. LINK

The Associated Press' Larry Margasak , Sharon Theimer, and David Hammer look at the below-the-radar congressional caucuses that are not subject to ethical oversight. LINK

Per the Washington Post, due to Tom DeLay's congressional departure under indictment, Leader Pelosi is refusing to attend tomorrow's tribute to the former House Majority Leader being sponsored by the Capitol Historical Society. LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Morgan looks at Ken Mehlman's role in spurring the Bush Administration to create a benefit for ranchers to help then-Rep. John Thune's (R-SD) unsuccessful 2002 Senate bid. LINK

The New York Times' Kate Zernike continues Lindsey Graham profile week by looking at his "contrarian" ways, opposing the White House on torture and trying detainees. LINK

In case anyone had any doubt, he added, "I'm a big fan of the Geneva Conventions."