WASHINGTON, August 2
The Note remains focused like a laser beam on the fight over control of the House, leading us to these must reads:
1. "House GOP Incumbents Try New Stride to Beat Midterm Challenges," Washington Week favorite Janet Hook writes in the Los Angeles Times that "the political winds" are "blowing squarely against the GOP," leading some House incumbents to "dust off campaign tools that . . . are a bit rusty."
Amidst the election frenzy, some candidates are bit hasty in their efforts. Hook Notes that Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) was so eager to air her first television ad in June that her first name read "Deboarah." Rep. James Walsh (R-NY) distributed campaign literature that was four years old at a rally. Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA) has agreed to debate his Democratic opponent for the first time in ten years. But as NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY) likes to remind reporters during his pen and pad briefings, Hook argues that Republicans have one advantage not enjoyed by Democrats 12 years ago: they sense danger early and are gearing up.
2. Time magazine's peripatetic Mike Allen reports that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has come up with a way to "ease any potential voter fears" about Charlie Rangel, John Conyers, Henry Waxman, et.al, by "making it very clear that no ranking members are guaranteed committee chairmanships." LINK
Boehner spokesguy Kevin Madden remains unconvinced: "The prospective list of Democrat leadership and committee chairmen reads like a 'Who's Who' of Democrat hysteria. As much as Nancy Pelosi thinks she can sweep that mess under the rug right now, there is no way she can hide the fact that these folks and their ideas are just way out there. The idea of Charlie Rangel directing tax policy in this country will keep our base awake at night, and it's sure to keep a lot of moderate Democrats from pulling that lever in November as well."
3. "Democrats Scrambling To Organize Voter Turnout," the Washington Post's Diamond Jim VandeHei on Pelosi criticizing DNC Chairman Howard Dean "for not spending enough party resources on get-out-the-vote efforts in the most competitive House and Senate races." LINK
4. "Texas Maps Get Day in Court," David Drucker – the pride of Malibu – writes in Roll Call that a handful of House members from Texas are facing the possibility that they could "find themselves running in radically reshaped districts on Nov. 7." Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) indicated in a statement that he expects the court's cure for the 23rd district could leave even him worse off than Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-TX). "'A consultant has been hired, a campaign office is ready to open and fundraising is underway for what may be the toughest race of my career,' Doggett said." Oral arguments are expected in Austin on Thursday.
Someone who knows how important control of the House is travels to Mentor, OH to participate in a briefing at an emergency management agency at 5:00 pm ET. At 6:25 pm ET, President Bush attends a closed press fundraiser for Ken Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign. He is due back at the White House at 9:30 pm ET. The Cleveland Plain Dealer Notes that Democrats are "jumping all over" Blackwell for not allowing reporters to cover his fund-raiser with President Bush Wednesday evening at the home of businessman Ed Crawford in Kirtland Hills."
"White House spokesman Alex Conant said that it has been the policy in almost all cases to restrict press access at fund-raisers held at private homes. He said the decision is the policy of the White House, not Blackwell's, 'regardless of poll numbers.'" LINK
Today's White House briefing will be the last one before extensive renovations get underway. Following the briefing, former White House Press Secretaries Jim Brady, Marlin Fitzwater, Jody Powell, Ron Nessen, Joe Lockhart, and Dee Dee Myers are expected to join Tony Snow to bid adieu to the "ratty" old press room in the West Wing, the Washington Post's Reliable Source reports. LINK
Speculation abounds as to whether the President will hold a surprise press conference.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) set to be released later today, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) tell the Dr./Leader/Senator that they were "deeply disturbed" to hear him say yesterday that he does not intend to permit the Senate to consider "crucial tax provisions like the tuition deduction, R&D tax credit and state and local sales tax deduction" if the Senate fails to enact legislation to "virtually repeal the estate tax." The Senate Democratic leadership also writes in the letter: ". . . should know that we will also oppose any motion to adjourn the Senate at the end of September until the Senate deals with these measures."
To mark the 10th anniversary of the last time Congress voted to raise the minimum wage, Sen. Reid, Sen. Durbin, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Schumer, and Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) hold a 10:30 am ET press conference in the Lyndon Baines Johnson room of the Capitol.
At 1:35 pm ET, check out Politics Live on ABC News Now as Sam Donaldson looks back on years gone by in the briefing room with Marlin Fitzwater.
One day after Carlos Gutierrez issued a pledge on behalf of the Bush Administration to "discourage third parties from obstructing the will of the Cuban people," the Secretary of Commerce is slated to discuss economic issues in the Western Hemisphere with the Miami Herald in Washington, DC. Across the river, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace hold a 1:55 pm ET briefing.
Lawyers for SSGT Frank Wuterich, the leader of the squad that allegedly murdered Iraqi civilians in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, plan to go on the offensive at 11:30 am ET today by filing a lawsuit against Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) for "defamatory statements." The presser takes place outside of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. More from the Washington Post: LINK
At 10:00 am ET, Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, will inform the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that "the corruption that has plagued Iraq's reconstruction -- described by U.S. officials as the 'second insurgency' -- is worsening, complicating American reconstruction efforts and shattering public confidence in the Baghdad government," the Wall Street Journal's Yochi Dreazen reports. LINK
Bowen estimates in his quarterly audit that the Iraqi government estimates that corruption costs the country at least $4 billion a year.
In search of some "Joementum," embattled Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) continues his statewide bus tour today, stopping at diners and community centers in Wallingford, Milford, Bridgeport, Stratford, and Newtown, CT. Lieberman antagonist Ned Lamont campaigns with Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson today, making stops in Stamford, Bridgeport, Wilton, and New Haven.
The Senate reconvenes at 9:30 am ET and resumes consideration of the fiscal 2007 Defense appropriations bill (HR 5631). Roll call votes are possible. The House is in recess.
Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist will be joined in the Senate Radio and Television Gallery by Sens. Pete Domenici (R-NM), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mel Martinez (R-FL), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) for a 5:00 pm ET press conference on the Gulf of Mexico Energy Act.
The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a 9:30 am ET hearing on "The Authority to Prosecute Terrorists Under The War Crimes Provisions of Title 18" in Dirksen 226. Witnesses include Steven Bradbury from DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, Gen. Richard Myers, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and others.
The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a 2:00 pm ET hearing on military commissions with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Gordon England, the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
The Senate Finance Committee holds a 10:00 am ET hearing on "Border Insecurity, Take Two: Fake IDs Foil the First Line of Defense" in Dirksen 215.
Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) signs legislation at 11:00 am ET in Boston, MA that reforms and streamlines the commercial permitting process, and approves a sales tax holiday in August.
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) holds a 1:00 pm ET news conference in Albuquerque, NM to draw attention to the upcoming tax free holiday.
Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) attends the Aladems County PAC fundraiser in Birmingham, AL.
The DSCC unveils www.fudgereport.net today, a new Web site designed to serve as a "central depot for people to access news information and news coverage about GOP Senate candidates. The site will be advertised on several other Internet sites later this week.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel and other Democrats attend a fundraiser for Congressional candidate Angie Paccione in Denver, CO.
The Young America's Foundation National Conservative Student Conference will hear from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings at 2:00 pm ET at the George Washington University.
Bush Administration agenda:
"Bush's Embrace of Israel Shows Gap With Father," The New York Times. LINK
"White House Proposal Would Expand Authority of Military Courts," the Washington Post on President Bush's proposal to use special military courts for trials of people not involved in terrorist organizations. LINK
"Paulson Seeks Bipartisanship on Deficit," Wall Street Journal. LINK
Politics of the minimum wage and estate tax:
"Frist on Weeklong Hunt for 60 Votes," CQ's Rachel Van Dongen and Michael R. Crittenden on Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist's plans to hold a cloture vote on Aug. 4 on a bill that would cut the estate tax and raise the minimum wage. LINK
After a party caucus luncheon Tuesday, CQ reports that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who voted for the motion on the estate tax repeal in June, was undecided. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) was undecided after a provision was included to help Arkansas by financing rural development bonds.
"Other key Democratic voters include those of Maria Cantwell of Washington; Max Baucus of Montana . . . and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. But it's unclear whether Baucus will attend the vote Friday because of the death of his nephew . . ."
"Among Republicans, Sen. George V. Voinovich of Ohio has said he will vote against the measure . . . Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island opposed the estate tax repeal motion in June, but said he is undecided now."
CQ also Notes that "Democrats and liberal activists pounced on the wording of the minimum wage provision, saying it could actually reduce wages for workers in some states."
According to Sen. Kennedy's office, seven states -- Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and (Sen. Cantwell's state of) Washington -- "guarantee that tipped workers get the full minimum wage plus any tips they receive. But the Republican bill would take power away from the states by nullifying these state laws providing stronger wage protections for tipped employees than the federal standard."
"Senator Cantwell Conflicted in Estate Tax, Minimum Wage," Bloomberg. LINK
"Minimum Wage, Maximum Gall," the Washington Post's Harold Meyerson. LINK
Asked by ABC News on Tuesday to identify which third parties the Bush Administration is concerned about in Cuba, Gutierrez avoided answering the question, saying simply: "…Whatever third party needs to have that clarified, we believe it should be clarified: that there should not be any manipulation going on in Cuba. It should be up to the Cuban people."
"For Castro, a First Step In Calculated Transition," the Washington Post LINK
Be sure to Note the uber skeptical Sen. Mel Martinez's (R-FL) when it comes to the truth about Castro's health.
"Davis knocked for Cuba trip," Miami Herald on state Sen. Rod Smith's (D-FL) criticism of his "Democratic opponent for governor, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, for visiting Cuba in 2003." LINK
"Leach: U.S. Should be 'Cooperative' if Successor Emerges," Des Moines Register reports that Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) is urging the United States to use a "cooperative and open-minded approach" should a new leader succeed Fidel Castro. LINK
"'Tense Situation' in Cuba has Iowans Keeping Watch," Des Moines Register. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
"Much Undone In Rebuilding Iraq, Audit Says," the Washington Post LINK
"Senator's Kin Killed in Iraq," New York Post on the death of Sen. Max Baucus' (D-MT) nephew, who was killed during Iraqi combat operations. LINK
"Dems in full retreat," New York Daily News' Michael Goodwin opines that the Democrats' new position on Iraq is wrong: "While there's never a good time for weak knees, now is about the worst." LINK
Politics of the Middle East:
"Murtha wants an immediate cease fire in Lebanon," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette LINK
Sen. Lieberman's Primary Politics:
"Lieberman backs troop withdrawal but not timetable of other Democrats," The New York Times. LINK
"'I don't believe Congress can say in August what the troops should do in December,' Mr. Lieberman said in an interview."
"Ad Man Plays to Lamont's Populism," the Hartford Courant on Ned Lamont's retainment of Bill Hillsman, the media consultant who honed the populist messages of Paul Wellstone and Jesse Ventura. LINK
"Hogging Credit? Lieberman Says No," the Hartford Courant on Sen. Lieberman's touting of his role in saving the US Navy Base New London and Electric Boat from closure by the BRAC commission. LINK
"Lieberman Nears $10 Million Mark," the Hartford Courant. LINK
"Primary candidates courting minority voters in close primary race," the Associated Press LINK
"True Blue, or Too Blue?" the Washington Post's Style section looks at Lamont. LINK
"New Woe for Senator Joe," New York Post on Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson hitting the campaign trail in support of Lieberman's challenger Ned Lamont. LINK
"Why Didn't Times Back Lieberman? Joe Doesn't Know," New York Observer. LINK
"House Democrats' Donations Outpace GOP's," Roll Call on Democrats' outraising the Republicans 2-1; GOP operatives counter that the FEC report offer "an incomplete portrayal of the fundraising picture, because the House GOP's 'Battleground' initiative is just getting under way."
"Laura Bush to Visit Fairmont Aug. 16," the Times West Virginian Notes that First Lady Laura Bush will appear at a campaign event for Republican congressional candidate Chris Wakim, which is expected to raise nearly $25,000. LINK
Per CongressDailyAM, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) will have stumped for 13 Republican House candidates or incumbents during the first half of his traditional August recess campaign tour.
"Gore Boosts DCCC, Wants End of 'Bush Era'," Roll Call reports that former Vice President Al Gore is taking part in Democrats' efforts to win the House in November, slamming the Bush Administration for its right-wing agenda and asking donors to help "bring an end to the Bush era."
"Duckworth joins stem cell debate," the Chicago Tribune on a 6th district resident with a quadriplegic son will campaign for Congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth to tout her views on embryonic stem cell research. LINK
"In Ohio, Republican Incumbent Faces Tough Fight," Reuters on Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) facing an unexpectedly tight re-election fight because Democrats are specifically singling out her district. LINK
"Poll: Incumbent NH GOP Congressmen Widen Leads," Union Leader's John DiStaso Notes that New Hampshire's two incumbent Republican Congressmen have widened their leads over Democratic opponents by a 2-1 margin. LINK
"McKinney's debate," the Washington Times' on yesterday's televised debate bet. Rep. Cynthia McKinney and primary challenger Hank Johnson. LINK
"Bryant backers give last-minute push," Memphis Commercial-Appeal on Republican Tennessee Senate candidate Ed Bryant's efforts to brand himself "the real conservative" in his primary race against Van Hilleary and Bob Corker in anticipation of the Thursday vote. LINK
"Green entry," the Washington Times on Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli making it onto the ballot in the Pennsylvania Senate race in order to "siphon votes from Democratic front-runner Bob Casey in his bid to unseat Republican Sen. Rick Santorum." LINK
"Ex-Aide: Harris Hid Subpoena," Tampa Tribune on GOP Florida Senate candidate and current Rep. Katherine Harris' (R-FL) decision to conceal the fact that she had received a grand jury subpoena from DOJ investigators "from top campaign advisers hired to help her deflect negative publicity." LINK
"Second Republican calls for Harris to debate," Palm Beach Post on real estate developer Peter Monroe's joining LeRoy Collins Jr.'s call on Rep. Katherine Harris, the favored Republican candidate in the Florida Senate race, to engage in a debate. LINK
"Blackwell mum on his taxes," Columbus Dispatch LINK
"GOP foes spar in velvet gloves," St. Petersburg Times on the debate between Republican Florida gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher. LINK
"Candidates Stress Accountability," Des Moines Register reports that Republican Jim Nussle and Democrat Chet Culver have proposed ideas to decrease scandals and corruption in the government as part of their campaign efforts. LINK
"Putting on the Spitz: Eliot's Brain Trust," the New York Observer on gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer's "informal team of policy sages" who are already helping Spitzer hit the ground running as a "functional incumbent." LINK
"Campaign reports prompt legal expense questions," Chicago Tribune on Gov. Rod Blagojevich's (D-IL) campaign money. LINK
"Romney, Frist to appear at Williamson GOP fund-raiser," Nashville City Paper on Williamson County Republican Party's annual Reagan Day Dinner, which will be headlined by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), who be introduced by Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN). LINK
"Massachusetts Raises Minimum Wage," the AP reports that the state of Massachusetts will see a boost in its minimum wage come January 1 due to a unanimous vote yesterday to override Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) veto of the increase. LINK
"Senate's Drilling Bill Could Test California's Resolve to Keep Ban," the San Francisco Chronicle reports that in response to yesterday's Senate vote to approve oil and gas drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Sen. George Allen (R-VA) and fellow east coast Senators are seeking to allow individual states to choose to approve offshore drilling. LINK
"Many Tribes Not Cashing in on Gaming," the Desert Sun reports that Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) proposed plan regarding Indian casinos would impose the strictest regulations on tribal gaming in nearly 20 years. LINK
In a story on Sen. Lieberman, the New York Times writes: "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a press release on Monday supporting the letter, though in the past she has opposed setting a timetable." LINK
"FDA Nominee's Future Hinges on Pill," Los Angeles Times Notes Sen. Clinton's role in placing a hold on von Eschenbach's nomination until the FDA makes a decision on Plan B. LINK
The Washington Post on the same: LINK
"John Edwards talks education, poverty in Iowa," the Associated Press on the former Senator's telling "a group of Iowa educators that Democrats need to 'get a little backbone and spine" and take a stand on the moral issues facing America." LINK
"John Kerry takes fight against cancer personally, " Kerry is training for a 111 mile bike race to raise money for cancer research, Boston Globe. LINK
"Vilsack Will Attend N.H. Fundraiser," Des Moines Register. LINK
"Wesley Clark Visits City Today," Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports that Gen. Wesley Clark is scheduled to stump for congressional candidate Eric Massa today. LINK
2008: Republican National Convention:
"Tampa Unrolls Red Carpet for RNC Panel," Tampa Tribune on Tampa's efforts to woo the RNC's site selection committee, which will visit the city August 20-22. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
"Sharing Quality Time With the Gov.," Los Angeles Times' Steve Lopez on his one-to-one chat with Schwarzenegger. LINK
Lopez writes: "So I decided to jump right in and ask how he felt about my taking batting practice on him."
"'I don't dwell on it,' he insisted, leveling his gaze at me and blowing smoke."
"Just the same, I suggested he get even by taking his best swings at me."
"Not necessary, the governor said. When I write what he considers a [blank] column -- rhymes with witty -- he blames his staff, not me."
"GOP Spent $4.2 Million on Schwarzenegger," the AP on the Republican Party spending $4.2 million on ads for Gov. Schwarzenegger. LINK
"Clinton headlines Angelides fundraiser," the AP on Bill Clinton never mentioning Gov. Schwarzenegger in his speech while saying that Republican policies have left middle-class Americans "struggling to pay for health care and education while wages have grown stagnant."
Clintons of Chappaqua:
"22 Cities Join Clinton Anti-Warming Effort," the Washington Post on some of the world's largest cities pledging to limit their energy consumption in a movement led by Bill Clinton. LINK
Los Angeles Times on the same: LINK
Politics of gas:
"Senate Approves Bill to Expand Oil, Gas Drilling," the Washington Post LINK
"Evolution opponents lose control of Kansas school board," the Associated Press on a Kansas state school board primary that gave "board members and candidates who believe evolution is well-supported by evidence. . .a 6-4 majority." LINK
"Washington traffic jam? Senators-only elevator," unelected people crowd the Senate lift, The New York Times. LINK
"Physical finds Bush is fit, but heavier," The Boston Globe. LINK