WASHINGTON, Sept. 5
With an accuracy rate higher than fifty million Elvis fans, CookRothenbergBalzBroderTonerHookCillizza can't be wrong LINK therefore:
If the election were held today, Democrats would take control of the House by a few seats, fall a few seats short in the Senate, and net some gubernatorial slots.
But there are fifty million political lifetimes between now and the actual election, and what Hardy called "hap" and RoveMehlman call "making your own luck" can still intervene in one hundred million ways.
Consider it the "Battle of the C's." Republicans want this to be a choice election, while Democrats want it to be a change election.
(Smart Republican candidates are trying -- Reagan-style -- to convince voters that they are the change, while confident Democratic candidates believe they can win a choice war, but those are stories for another day, or, at least, another Note.)
WHAT REPUBLICANS WANT TO GET DONE
1. Use their (current) congressional majorities to frame the debate and influence voters' minds. (But there are three big caveats to that plan: (1) the party within Congress is divided on a lot of big issues; (2) pleasing the base will be tough; see, for example, today's Wall Street Journal ed board complex marching orders; and, (3) Note to Kevin Madden: real people don't pay much attention to what Congress does -- for which you might end up being very glad.)
2. Use the presidential bullhorn to frame the debate and influence voters' minds. (No matter how many times Democrats complain, Mr. Bush's speeches, like today's midday talk on terror, will be roadblocked on cable and bound to influence morning and evening broadcast news programs, much more than anything PelosiReid say or do.)
3. Wait for deep-pocketed "outside," and "independent" groups to spend big in key races. (Where will this start and when? We dunno. But it is coming.)
4. Have allies paint scary pictures of a Democratic-controlled House. (See today's other Wall Street Journal choking-canary-in-the-coal-mine editorial on union organization.)
5. Assume/hope/pray that Rahm's candidates can't channel Rahm's sluggo style when responding to the approaching onslaught of negative ads. (As best the RNC/NRCC/NRSC can tell, every Democrat on the ballot is weak on terror and in favor of higher taxes -- as reflected in TV spots -- and in favor of gays and against guns and God -- per direct mail, robo calls, and church fliers.)
WHAT DEMOCRATS WANT TO GET DONE
1. Put the nation in a time machine, set it for November 7, and vote vote vote.
The signature political events of the day are a presidential speech and a PelosiReid prebuttal.
The President delivers his second speech on the "Global War on Terror" in his latest series of such speeches at 1:20 pm ET in Washington, DC. (Before that, Mr. Bush meets with the Amir of Kuwait in the Oval Office at 11:00 am ET.)
ABC News' Jessica Yellin reported on "Good Morning America" this morning that the White House communications shop was up early today distributing a 23-page long handbook on the Administration's "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism" including detailed descriptions of the nature of the enemy. Yellin reports the White House likens the struggle against terrorism to the decades-long Cold War.
"This is much more serious than election year politics," White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend said to ABC News' Robin Roberts on GMA this morning.
Democrats will offer their meta-pre-buttal at noon ET in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room in the US Capitol. Democratic leaders from the Senate and House will be joined by Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark (D-AR) for the release of "The Neo Con," a new Third-Way report "detailing Bush Republicans' failure to secure America and successfully fight the War on Terror in the five years since the attacks of September 11, 2001."
In an attempt to show a unified front on Iraq yesterday, House and Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Bush again calling on him to begin a phased redeployment of troops out of Iraq this year and for "a new direction" in America's strategy for success in Iraq. They also want the SecDef dropped.
Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) plans to offer some Democratic '08er sound on the topic when he addresses the George Mason University School of Law on "The Lessons of September 11th" at 2:00 pm ET in Arlington, VA.
The Senate meets at 11:00 am ET to resume consideration of H.R.5631, the Defense Appropriations bill (and to size up how Joe Lieberman is received by his Democratic colleagues). Be on the lookout for that "no confidence in Rumsfeld" amendment to be introduced to the bill as part of that Democratic effort to show unity on Iraq.
Voters are voting in Florida today in what is expected to be a low-turnout primary day. Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) is likely to win her party's nomination for the US Senate and then would receive little or no help from national Republicans for her general election effort. Competitive primaries are taking place in both major parties for the gubernatorial nominations. Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher are battling it out for the Republican nomination with recent polls giving the edge to Crist and Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL) and Rod Smith are competing for the Democratic nomination in what will likely be an uphill general election battle for either one of them. Polls opened at 7:00 am ET and close at 7:00 pm ET. You can get your election night returns right here: LINK
The House has one more day of its summer district work period before convening tomorrow at 2:00 pm ET.
Majority Leader Boehner issued a statement last week making clear that the GOP national security legislative agenda is the top priority. Boehner also said earmark reform and the suburban agenda is on the GOP's priority list as well.
As for the national security items, Boehner will be pushing for (and upon which he and his colleagues will draw contrasts with Democrats):
Authorizing the President's "Terrorist Surveillance Program," authorizing military tribunals for suspected terrorists, a resolution recognizing the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, strengthening border security, funding and protecting American troops (Defense authorization conference report and "Defense & Military Quality of Life" appropriations conference reports), and Homeland Security appropriations conference report (including funding for border security fences and barriers).
Rep. Boehner holds a 2:30 pm ET pen and pad briefing for reporters where he will likely go over all of the above.
The Department of Energy releases its weekly gas prices report at 4:30 pm ET.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean campaigns with gubernatorial candidate Scudder Parker (D-VT) in Burlington, VT at 2:30 pm ET.
At noon ET, Sen.. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) will launch his "Joe's Doors & Diners Tour" in Waterbury, CT, where he plans to draw sharp distinctions with his main opponent, Ned Lamont (D-CT).
According to excerpts of Lieberman's prepared remarks obtained by The Note, the Senator is expected to say, "To me, it's always been about people not politics. I am a devoted Democrat. But my first allegiance is to Connecticut and America, to the people who put their trust in me to help make their lives better. And my top priority has always been and will continue to be solving problems, not settling scores."
"My main opponent seems to have a different approach. He believes that there is not enough finger-pointing and name-calling and game-playing in Washington. To him, every kind of compromise seems like a betrayal and bipartisanship is another word for surrender."
"That's the clear choice on the ballot this fall. Progress versus partisanship. A senator who can fix what is broken in Washington or one who will only make it worse."
The Lieberman campaign also plans to unveil its revamped Website (we're certain the Netroots are going to sign right up!) at www.Joe2006.com later this afternoon.
Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) holds a news conference to discuss the annual CBC legislative conference, the mid-term elections, and immigration reform at the National Press Club at 1:00 pm ET. The 36th annual legislative conference kicks off tomorrow and runs through Saturday in Washington, DC.
Rudy Giuliani (R-NYC) fundraises for controller candidate Tony Strickland (R-CA) in Costa Mesa, CA.
Ohio Gubernatorial candidates Ken Blackwell (R-OH) and Ted Strickland (D-OH) debate today in Youngstown, OH.
Be sure to check out our look at the week ahead in politics below.
Tom DeFrank of the New York Daily News has both relatively hopeful and bereft Bush advisers in his look at the House landscape, but clearly more of the latter. LINK
"'We'll lose the House,' one of the party's most prominent officials flatly predicted, 'and the President will be dead in the water for two years.'"
"Even a perennially optimistic senior Bush strategist conceded, 'I'm pretty worried about it. The House is not looking good.'"
DeFrank leads his story with this gem: "'The security issue trumps everything,' a senior Bush official said last week. 'That's why even though they're really mad at us, in the end they're going to give us another two years.'"
With mortgage debt up 97 percent since 2000 and with 11 percent of all outstanding mortgage debt scheduled to readjust to a higher interest rate for the first time next year, the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum and Chris Cillizza look at the starring role that "mortgage moms" might play in 2006. LINK
Under a "The Rise of the Lincoln Democrats" header, the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne columnizes about the "quiet counter-realignment" that is underway in the Northeast and Midwest." LINK
Keying off of recent projections by Charlie Cook and Stu Rothenberg, Chip Reid appeared very bullish about Democratic chances of taking control of Congress in a report he filed for NBC's "Today." Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) was shown distancing himself from President Bush in a new television ad and Chris Matthews mused about whether the conservative elements of this country will be able to stomach the sight of Nancy Pelosi -- "a liberal from San Francisco" -- in the Speaker's chair.
The Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook's Sunday look at the shaky ground upon which House Republicans stand. LINK
Dan Balz and David Broder reported in Sunday's Washington Post that "at least 18 more Republicans have gone on the 'watch list' for potential defeat" since the start of the year in their look at the expanded map. LINK
Florida primary day:
The AP reports that despite mockery and criticism of a bad campaign, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) will likely win the GOP nomination in Florida today. Harris' former campaign manager said, "this campaign will go down in history as one of the most disastrous ever run in the United States." LINK
The Associated Press also provides an excellent primer on the gubernatorial primaries in the Sunshine State. LINK
It is uncertain how Christine Jennings will fare in today's Democratic primary despite the support of the DCCC and the nearly $300,000 on hand, which is almost five times the amount Democratic opponent Jan Schneider has, writes The Hill. LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg's Sunday New York Times Page One take on how Karl Rove's influence with congressional GOP campaign strategy may be shrinking in relationship to the President's approval rating. LINK
Washington Post headline: "Ehrlich, Steel Absent From President's Md. Visit." LINK
Phil Singer will likely Note that the Washington Post has Steele spokeswoman Melissa Sellers saying the presumptive GOP Senate nominee would appear with Bush if he visits Maryland again.
David Sanger of the New York Times Notes President Bush's low-key Labor Day with nary a candidate by his side. LINK
In a must-read, the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports that House Republican leaders are considering a pre-election bid to make permanent the $1,000 child tax credit and marriage penalty relief provisions enacted in 2001. LINK
"Like most of the Bush administration's tax breaks, these are due to expire at the end of 2010, when top rates for the wealthy and capital gains also will be in play. The strategy has been to wait until close to the deadline and then call up all of these issues at once, making it harder for Democrats to resist. But in the current political climate, the leadership could accelerate action on provisions for middle-income taxpayers if it means preserving Republican control of Congress in November."
The New York Times' Carl Hulse and Rachel Swarns report the not-too-surprising news that Republicans will not push through any immigration reform legislation in the next weeks and will instead focus on national security. LINK
USA Today's Kiely also explains how the political calendar thwarted immigration reform at the current time. LINK
The Los Angeles Times on the upcoming security agenda: LINK
Bloomberg's James Rowley and Ryan J. Donmoyer on GOP efforts to paint Democrats as soft on terrorism and eager to raise taxes. LINK
In a Washington Post review of "The Plan" by DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) and DLC President Bruce Reed, Jonathan Weisman writes: ". . . 'The Plan' reads more like a blueprint for a narrow Democratic majority looking for legislative beachheads before the 2008 elections than what the book says it is: 'A map to the challenges of a new era.'" LINK
The Democratic Party amps up the religion angle this fall, with the DNC expected to announce its own "faith advisory team" of religious leaders, Notes USA Today's Martin Kasindorf, who also touts a new website. LINK
The Associated Press on the same: LINK
The New York Post's Bishop looks at the big Democratic donor state that is New York. LINK
Per Roll Call, Stuart Rothenberg Notes that Dems have a "good shot" at gaining 24 Republican seats.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that over $16 million worth of television advertising time has been purchased by the NRCC and DCCC for three highly competitive suburban Philadelphia House races. LINK
On the Republican side those ads will attempt to show the incumbents' independence from President Bush and the national Republican Party, reports the Inquirer in a separate story. LINK
Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun explores the competitive Democratic primary in Minnesota's 5th congressional district from where the country's first Muslim ever to serve in Congress may hail -- but not if Republican bloggers have their way. LINK
Per the Washington Times' Donald Lambro, Democratic consultant Alan Secrest suggests that if the election were held today, the Democrats would takeover the House. LINK
The Cincinnati Enquirer takes a look at the Labor Day political kickoff in the battle for Ohio's first congressional district (including the television ads being launched by both the Cranley and Chabot campaigns) and other key Buckeye State races. LINK
Pat Healy and Jonathan Hicks of the New York Times had West Indian Day Parade duty and lead their write-up with the competitive four-way Democratic primary in New York's 11th congressional district. LINK
(However, the more important nuggets to most Note readers will be Sen. Clinton besting Rev. Sharpton's reception at the annual Brooklyn event and Jeanine Pirro's footwear.)
Washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza is out with his latest look at the key Senate races and rates New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington as more likely to flip from Democrat to Republican than Tennessee is likely to flip from Republican to Democrat, keeping the Democrats shy of the six seats they need for a majority. LINK
Peter Cannellos of the Boston Globe Notes that Democratic hope to regain the Senate is a long shot with only Pennsylvania seat a "clear bet." LINK
Per the Washington Post's Robert Barnes, Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD) "scrambled for votes just feet away from" Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R-MD). "Cardin predicted 'a year of change' and said the Senate could shift to Democratic control. 'Not with my election, it won't,' Steele said." LINK
Bloomberg's Andrew Ferguson columnizes about the heat Sen. George Allen (R-VA) has taken from a group of property-rights activists who have condemned Sen. Allen's proposed National Heritage Area along Route 15 for betraying the catechism of individual liberty, small government and local control. LINK
Jennifer Medina of the New York Times reports on Sen. Lieberman and Democratic challenger Ned Lamont's appearances at a western Connecticut parade. LINK
"The parade provided a snapshot of the challenges that lie ahead for each candidate: Mr. Lieberman has to hold on to at least some of his Democratic supporters while courting Republicans and independents; Mr. Lamont has to expand his base to include more moderate voters, most of whom know relatively little about him."
Medina also reports on the new challenges facing Lamont's campaign manager, Tom Swan, a man who apparently perspires. LINK
The New York Post's Haberman writes up some anti-Semitic comments regarding Sen. Lieberman that have appeared on a MoveOn.org-sponsored online forum.LINK
The Hartford Courant's David Lightman reports that duplicating Lamont's primary win has been no easy task for other Democrats. LINK
"Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island Republican, says he will not follow the path of Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut by running as an independent if he loses his party's Sept. 12 primary election against Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey," reports the Washington Times. LINK
Chafee told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that that option is "off the boards."
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Milan Simonrich reports that if history is any indication, Lynn Swan's gubernatorial chances are pretty slim. LINK
The Columbus Dispatch's Mark Niquette curtain raises the upcoming series of four Blackwell v. Strickland gubernatorial debates getting underway today. While Strickland holds the lead in most polls, Blackwell is considered the better orator and expected to do well in the debates. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is expected to appear with Angelides, who now trails behind Schwarzenegger by more than 10 points in some statewide polls, to officially endorse him at a morning rally today in San Francisco's Mission District, per San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci and John Wildermuth. LINK
The San Francisco Chronicle ed board Notes that Schwarzenegger's decision on whether or not to sign environmental bills in the coming weeks will determine just how serious the Governator is in his efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. LINK
Labor Day, California style: LINK
Politics of Iraq:
The New York Times' Archibold profiles State Rep. Jonathan Paton (R-AZ) who is running for re-election while also preparing to be deployed to Iraq. LINK
Dick Armey goes to Iowa:
You may have to get out your 2008 GOP scorecards and add another name to the mix. . . Well, maybe not just yet. But, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) is clearly displeased with the lack of attention being paid but the current crop of '08ers to fiscal issues such as Social Security solvency and a fundamental overhaul of America's tax policy.
So, Dick Armey is heading to Iowa to "set the stage for what I think is a much needed, more serious real debate on the issues," said Armey in an exclusive interview with The Note.
"I have absolutely no interest in Dick Armey as President, but the ideas are very important. . . And I don't see anybody out there right now who has taken on the big ideas," Armey said. "You never say never in politics," he added.
Armey is the chairman of FreedomWorks, a grassroots issue-based organization, and it is in that role he will address "Iowans for Discounted Taxes" on September 19 in Des Moines, IA.
Trips to New Hampshire and South Carolina are likely as well.
On President Bush's Social Security effort, Armey said "He's so bogged down in the war, he did not give it the leadership attention he should have. I don't think you can mark that as a failure just because it didn't get done. . . It didn't get done because the President was so wrapped up with the war in Iraq that he didn't get the chance to spend the time on it and assert the leadership."
The Des Moines Register reports that former Sen. Edwards, who is eyeing a possible 2008 run, was very near Iowa over the weekend to discuss labor issues.LINK
More on the visit from the Quad City Times: LINK
Granite Staters got a glimpse of Edwards too. LINK
Casting and counting:
The New York Times' editorial page has an update on the latest report that America's voting methods are still "in disarray." LINK
Quinnipiac University is out with its updated national thermometer poll today showing Rudy Giuliani and John McCain at the top of the heap when people are asked about the warmth of their feelings toward 20 political leaders. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) round out the list at 19 and 20, but can take solace in the finding that many Americans don't know enough about either one of them to form an opinion. (We wonder what that percentage will be on November 8.)
The Washington Post endorses Adrian Fenty for mayor, writing that his "trademark energy is only part of the story."
Judge Harvie Wilkinson III, a 4th Circuit judge who was mentioned in media reports as previously having been on President Bush's Supreme Court short list, columnizes against the Federal Marriage Amendment as well as state constitutional bans on gay marriage in a Washington Post op-ed. LINK
Time magazine's Mike Allen blogs about "Applebee's America," the new book by Ron Fournier, Matthew Dowd, and Douglas Sosnik, which urges Democrats to stop stereotyping churchgoers and to start targeting them. According to 2004 exit polls, Protestant suburbanites who attend church at least weekly are 49 percent Democrat or independent and 39 percent believe in gay rights. LINK
(When you get your copy, you'll Note that Sen. Clinton is a blurber on the back of the book.)
Jenny Jarvie of The Los Angeles Times reports on the "splintering" and drifting of the Christian Coalition. LINK
House of Labor:
Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA), the chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, has been working to forge closer ties between the business-friendly DLC and the labor organizations that are the base of the Democratic Party.
Some of the fruits of his work will be on display Wednesday, Sept. 6 at 11:30 am ET at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill when the DLC and top labor organizations come together to announce their joint support for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA).
The act would make it easier to form unions by requiring employers to recognize a union after a majority of workers sign cards authorizing union representation.
Less enamored with EFCA than the DLC, the Wall Street Journal's ed board slams "Big Labor's bid to kill secret union elections" in today's newspaper.
The Journal warns: "The Kennedy-Miller measure has more than 200 House co-sponsors, including all but four Democrats and more than a dozen Republicans. All that's needed now is for a House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get the ball rolling."
The Week Ahead in Politics:
President Bush meets with his Cabinet tomorrow and then hits the campaign trail on Thursday and Friday. In Atlanta on Thursday, President Bush delivers the third speech in his current series on "The Global War on Terror" and attends a Max Burns for Congress reception. (He'll also spend some time on Thursday with ABC News' Charles Gibson for an exclusive interview with behind-the-scenes access and a look at President Bush on that mother-of-all-incumbent-advantages, Air Force One. Tune into "World News with Charles Gibson" on Thursday to catch it all.)
On Friday, President Bush heads to Clarkston, MI and Kansas City, MO for two closed fundraisers at private residences for Senate candidates Mike Bouchard (R-MI) and Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), respectively.
President and Mrs. Bush travel to New York City on Sunday to begin a series of events commemorating the fifth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
Former President Bill Clinton is also on the campaign trail this week. Clinton campaigns with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) tomorrow in Elizabeth, NJ, gubernatorial candidate Mike Beebe (D-AR) in Little Rock, AR on Thursday, and Senate candidate Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on Saturday in St. Louis, MO.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger holds a fundraising event for New York Senate candidate KT McFarland (R-NY) in New York City tomorrow.
On Thursday, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) delivers a "major address on rethinking America's future security" at the National Press Club in Washington, DC and then takes his show on the road to New Hampshire on Friday.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) travels to Iowa for his inaugural Hawkeye State trip of the cycle on Friday.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) delivers what his aides are billing as a "major address on national security" on Saturday in his favorite venue, Faneuil Hall in Boston, MA.