The Note: Not for Attribution

WASHINGTON, July 25

In a story whose backstory and aftermath will be even better than the story itself, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank turns in a must-read on a visit with an anonymous Republican candidate for Senator, who lunched with reporters to deplore the Administration for their work in Iraq and the poor response to Hurricane Katrina. LINK

Not holding back, he exclaimed of his party affiliation, "It's an impediment. It's a hurdle I have to overcome," he said. "I've got an 'R' here, a scarlet letter."

Quick: where did Sen. DeWine dine yesterday for lunch? (Either we are right, or we have done you all a service and crossed one name off the list.)

Quick: where did Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele dine yesterday for lunch? (blah blah blah)

A man who already knows who had lunch with Dana Milbank yesterday -- President Bush -- meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the Oval Office at 9:35 am ET today. The two leaders last met in Baghdad during the President's surprise trip to Iraq on June 13. At 11:25 am ET, the two move to the East Room to field questions from the press, with the number of questions (and, thus, the amount of streaming video content, TBD, or, perhaps, TBA).

The New York Times curtain-raises the meeting with Maliki's likely wish-list. LINK

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to other members of the House, urging House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to cancel Wednesday's address to Congress by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the theory that his condemnation of Israeli attacks on Lebanon put him at odds with U.S. policy.

The letter reads: "The Speaker's podium reflects our nation's values. We the Members of the House, under your leadership, decide who receives that honor, and the list should not include anyone whose interests conflict with the United States."

The Democratic House members wrote to inquire about how Maliki was chosen to receive the honor, and have asked for an apology.

Emanuel spokeswoman Kathleen Connery tells ABC News that as of last night, they had "approximately 20 signatures." Emanuel's staff is not going to release the letter until mid-morning when they are done collecting signatures and have forwarded the letter to the Speaker.

More from the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet: LINK

Hastert spokesguy Ron Bonjean tells ABC News: "The Prime Minister Iraq where we have 130,000 troops stationed fighting a Global War against terror is expected to speak tomorrow before a Joint Meeting of Congress. This is political gamesmanship during an election year by the Chairman of the DCCC to cover for Minority Leader Pelosi's refusal to cosponsor the resolution supporting Israel."

ABC News' Jake Tapper muses in his Political Punch blog about Emanuel's "rather deep" ties to Israel. LINK

At 9:30 a.m. in the Senate's Mansfield Room, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and senior officials from the Center for American Progress will discuss a new mid-year report assessing the Bush Administration's record in taking steps to ensure that 2006 is a period of significant transition.

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