The Note: Eye on the Right Ball


You could spend your weekend focusing on when Secretary Rice is going to head to the region or when/if President Bush will pick up the phone to speak directly with Prime Minister Olmert about Israel's current military operation and what it all means for the future of American diplomacy in the Middle East and around the world.

Or you could spend your weekend focusing on what truly matters -- Election Day 2006 and Election Day 2008 -- by paying attention to the key stories below and asking yourself this vital question: Is the Democratic Party on the right track or the wrong track to break from recent electoral patterns and achieve victory in the next two national elections?

1. Showing what a little shoe leather can get you, the AP's David Espo reports that House Democrats have reserved time for more than $30 million worth of campaign ads this fall in "roughly two dozen congressional districts, with a heavy emphasis on the Northeast and Midwest." LINK

2. The Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes reports that disgruntled Republican moderates could pose a threat to the GOP in some suburban congressional districts, in part because of the stem cell issue. LINK

3. Bloomberg's Forsythe and Jensen report that the McEntee-lead 501(c)(4) healthcare and energy advocacy group "Communities United to Strengthen America" opened 12 "resource centers" in strategic locales in the country aimed to target Republican-held congressional districts in November. (Ask yourself what Ken Mehlman thinks of this story.) LINK

4. In a front page story, USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports on a resurgence in union membership across the nation and the two main umbrella organizations playing nicely together, which has allowed the House of Labor to move forward with plans to spend $40 million on voter turn out this fall. LINK

5. Will Lester of the Associated Press sets the stage for THE political event of the weekend -- the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee will vote to determine which states will join the prestigious (and early) ranks of Iowa and New Hampshire in the 2008 nomination process. If you are a Democrat from Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina, or Alabama, it could be a nail-biting day. LINK

The Rules and Bylaws Committee is likely to ignore the groans of former President Clinton and many 2008 hopefuls who oppose the change, Notes Lester.

6. In his DLC curtain-raiser, Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun Notes the four '08ers expected to be on hand (Clinton, Vilsack, Richardson, and Bayh) and the liberal bloggers versus centrist DLCers divide under the big top Democratic Party tent. LINK

7. With Ned Lamont on the rise in the polls and Bill Clinton headed to campaign with Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, watch the guaranteed coverage between now and August 8. LINK

8. Charlie "Yoda" Cook remains skeptical that 2006 is similar to 2002 and 2004. "So, will national security issues again work to the advantage of the GOP this fall, or has that well run dry for the party? Although it would be hard to argue these days that Democrats' credibility on national security issues has gone up -- they can't seem to agree on much -- it is equally hard to say that the Republicans have the edge on this issue that they had as recently as two years ago," writes Cook in his National Journal column.

The men who get to fly on Air Force One and Air Force Two clearly seem to understand the importance of keeping their eyes on the 2006 ball.

President Bush travels to Englewood, CO today to help raise funds for the O'Donnell for Congress campaign in one of the nation's most competitive districts. The event is closed to the press at a private residence at 3:15 pm ET. Prior to the fundraiser, President Bush plans to meet with recently returned military service personnel in Aurora, CO at 1:35 pm ET. Later this evening, President Bush heads to his Crawford, TX ranch where he will remain for the weekend.

The Colorado papers preview the President's day in the Denver area and the expected protests along the way. LINK and LINK

Vice President Cheney keynotes a luncheon for Republican congressional candidate Gus Bilirakis in Tampa, FL at 12:30 pm ET. Cheney then heads off to Fort Stewart, GA to rally the troops at 3:10 pm ET.

Speaker Hastert and colleagues are running for the border this weekend. The Speaker is highlighting the importance of border security in Yuma, AZ, Nogales, AZ, and El Paso, TX as part of an immigration CODEL.

"Speaker Hastert's sight seeing excursion to the border allows him to see firsthand the Republicans' miserable failure in securing our borders. He has to answer to the American people: where has he been the last five years while the Republican Congress failed to secure our borders and repeatedly underfunded the border patrol?," says Minority Leader Pelosi in a press release hitting our inboxes this morning.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) campaigns for Rep. Todd Platt (R-PA) in York, PA.

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE) keynotes a reception for New Hampshire State Senate candidate Bob Backus in Manchester, NH and then campaigns for local candidates at the All American Social in Salem, NH.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) keynotes the National Black Chamber of Commerce's convention in New Orleans, LA.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark speaks at the College Democrats of America annual convention in St. Louis, MO.

The National Organization for Women celebrates its 40th anniversary by kicking off the NOW Conference and Youth Feminist Summit in Albany, NY.

Roger Stillwell, a desk officer at the Department of the Interior who handled work concerning the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands whose government employed lobbyist Jack Abramoff, is due in court today. He is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of filing a false financial disclosure report.

Weekend politics:

The Democratic Leadership Council kicks off its annual "national conversation," on Saturday evening in Denver, CO and the official business gets going on Sunday.

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee convenes this weekend to continue its work on the 2008 nomination calendar in Washington, DC. The main votes on which states get to join the pre-window fun are slated to take place on Saturday.

Sen. George Allen and Jim Webb debate at the Virginia Bar Association's meeting tomorrow.

Sen. McCain stumps for GOP congressional candidate Martha Rainville on Saturday in Rutland, VT.

The Florida Democratic Party hosts its Jefferson-Jackson gala on Saturday, featuring keynote speaker Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) as well as appearances by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Gen. Wesley Clark in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) address the College Democrats of America annual convention Saturday in St. Louis, MO.

2006: money:

The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb reports that at the end of June, Senate Democrats had "nearly twice as much cash on hand as their Republican counterparts," a trend that is mirrored on the House side -- "though the Democratic edge is less pronounced." LINK

The Associated Press adds up the numbers too: LINK

(Ask yourself: Does Ken Mehlman consider this a supply-side problem, a demand-side problem, or a Chuck/Rahm problem?)

Money in the bank:

NRSC: $19.8 million

DSCC: $38 million

NRCC: $26.5 million

DCCC: $31.9 million

Sen. Lieberman's primary politics:

At a campaign event on the heels of his "19-point swing" in a Quinnipiac poll released yesterday, Ned Lamont "shrugged off" former President Bill Clinton's plan to campaign for Sen. Lieberman next week, emphasizing that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) (along with her spouse) plans to support the winner of the Democratic primary. But Lamont's victory is not exactly assured, Noted poll director Douglas Schwartz: "This is going to be about turnout right now, and turnout is a very difficult thing for a poll to predict, especially with an unprecedented August primary." The Hartford Courant's Mark Pazniokas has the story. LINK

The Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb has Douglas Schwartz saying that despite Lieberman's current lead in a projected three-way race, voter perceptions could change if Lieberman loses the primary. LINK

The New York Daily News: LINK

The New York Post: LINK

Alan Schlesinger, the Republican contender Lieberman's seat, paid more than $28,000 total to settle two civil lawsuits filed by casinos to which he was indebted, report Dave Altimari, Jon Lender, and Edmund H. Mahony of the Hartford Courant. LINK

On his Political Punch blog, ABC News' Jake Tapper recalls that Sen. Lieberman's somewhat strained relationship with some of the Democratic faithful is not necessarily a new phenomenon. LINK

Politics of immigration:

Before Speaker Dennis Hastert left for his weekend tour along the Mexican-American border, he told USA Today's Kathy Kiely that he remains committed to border security as the solution to the country's immigration problem. "I would look at it as if you have a patient who is bleeding to death," Hastert said. "Close the wound first. Secure the border. And then you can begin to look at what other options are." LINK

Middle East politics:

The Washington Post's Michael Abramowitz illustrates how the Bush Administration's contentedness with seeing the Israelis inflict the maximum damage possible on Hezbollah "represents a shift away from a more traditional view that the United States plays an "honest broker's" role in the Middle East. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

On the Washington Post's front page, Jonathan Weisman reports that HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and his relatives have claimed "millions of dollars in tax deductions through a type of charitable foundation they created that until recently paid out very little in actual charity . . . Instead, much of the foundation's money has been invested or lent to the family's business interests and real estate holdings, or contributed to the Leavitt family genealogical society." A HHS spokesperson is on the record in the story stating the foundation's activities are "legal and proper." LINK

President Bush and the NAACP:

"The 33-minute speech was an exercise in bridge-building, intended partly to strengthen ties between Republicans and black voters and partly to reassure moderate white voters with a message of reconciliation," writes Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank Notes that the official White House transcript from President Bush's NAACP remarks describes epithets that were shouted at him as "applause." Milbank's story: LINK

White House transcript: LINK

The Washington Post's Darryl Fears: LINK

David Lightman of the Hartford Courant Notes the "polite-but-wary attitude" prevalent during President Bush's address; in the end, "few seemed convinced" of Pres. Bush's professed intention of "chang[ing] the relationship." LINK

The Boston Globe: LINK

USA Today's Benedetto writes that the President's remarks were "politely received." LINK

Washington Times: LINK

The Los Angeles Times: LINK

Voting Rights Act:

The Senate voted 98 to 0 to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act sending the bill to the President's desk for his signature.

The New York Times: LINK

Washington Times: LINK

Washington Post: LINK


Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), who announced yesterday that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will headline Sen. Harkin's annual steak fry fundraiser in Iowa on September 17th, downplayed speculation that Sen. Obama may be testing the waters for a 2008 presidential bid: "I think he's going to motivate people to work hard for this November, and I think a lot of people are anxious to see him and - what do they say - feel the cloth." The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont and Jane Norman: LINK


Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times reports there are 837 days left before Election Day 2008. Oh, and Sen. Clinton has a lot of money: 4,000 pages worth of "bad news for everybody else," writes Pruden of her FEC filing. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe writes under the headline, "Under media glare, Romney shines," that during the recent Big Dig events, Gov. Romney "clearly finds a crisis invigorating. He has not ruled the airwaves with such authority. . . for viewers, it may be somewhat startling to suddenly see so much of the governor, who has been traveling around the country exploring a presidential campaign for much of the year." LINK

David Saltonstall of the New York Daily News on who benefits when Rudy Giuliani's PAC spreads the wealth: LINK

The Associated Press reports Giuliani's PAC gala in June appears to have initially brought in $500,000 less than touted at the time. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood reports that Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist, "who hasn't abandoned 2008 presidential aspirations, faces intraparty opposition to linking estate tax and pensions.

2008: Democrats:

The Hotline's Marc Ambinder takes to the pages of National Journal and explores the Edwards presidential campaign-in-waiting. LINK

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has raised nearly $1 million for his PAC, the Progressive Patriots Fund. By comparison, Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) recently announced that his PAC has hit the $8 million mark. The AP's Frederic J. Frommer reports. LINK

The Marion Chronicle Tribune's ed board opines that Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) is speaking like a presidential candidate, even if he doesn't plan to officially declare his candidacy until after Thanksgiving. Recent Notable comments include: "I do think I can be more of a force for reconciliation and I think that's vitally important to our country right now" and "If the president will not speak for our middle class, I will." LINK

In yet another foray into foreign policy, potential presidential hopeful and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) condemned American evacuation efforts in Lebanon, labeling them "another reflection of how asleep at the switch we were in terms of the circumstances and situations in Lebanon," reports the Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont. LINK

2006: landscape:

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood reports that Bush aides are exploring an August swing (when the President is on vacation in Crawford) to battleground states such as Pennsylvania, where Republicans are defending three endangered House seats and Sen. Santorum.

2006: Senate:

Sen. Rick Santorum tried to flex some foreign policy muscle at the National Press Club yesterday, calling "Islamic fascism" a similar threat to Soviet communism and German Nazism and pressed the need for regime change through non-military means in Iran. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Steve Goldstein has more. LINK

The AP's Kimberly Hefling Notes that Santorum was careful to limit his commentary on Senate opponent Bob Casey, but said following his speech, "It's sort of hard to figure out what issues my opponent cares about or even thinks about." LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes up some Republican polling that looks good for Keystone State Democrats in both the Senate and gubernatorial contests. LINK

2006: Governor:

Per the Las Vegas Review Journal, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons will release his first statewide television campaign ad and will run it until primary day -- August 15. LINK

Rep. Rahm Emanuel and Sen. Chuck Schumer sent a letter yesterday to Ohio Secretary of State and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenneth Blackwell urging him to remove himself as overseer of elections this fall. Blackwell has denied the request. The Columbus Dispatch's Mark Niquette reports. LINK


The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne sees Ralph Reed's loss in Georgia as a metaphor for the end of an era that began with then-Gov. George W. Bush's victory over Sen. McCain in the South Carolina primary. LINK

Dionne has Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying: "I want conservatism to be seen as a good solution to people's problems and not go the way of liberals. Liberalism is not a title easily worn now, and that could happen to conservatism."

Mark Barabak of the Los Angeles Times rolls out one cliché after another in his excellent piece on the next techie breakthroughs and what they mean for the future of American politics. LINK


The Houston Chronicle's Michael Hedges reports Americans for a Republican Majority, the PAC former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) established for a national GOP overhaul, is shutting down after violating FEC campaign finance statutes and has agreed to pay a $115,000 fine. Hedges does also Notes that ARMPAC was already in the process of closing shop in the wake of DeLay's resignation from the House. LINK