The Note: Putting Politics Aside


After long suggesting that the President would not speak on Monday's terror attack anniversary, the White House this morning asked the networks for time for Mr. Bush to address the nation that evening at 9:00 pm ET from the Oval Office.

The talk will last 16-18 minutes and "will not be political in nature," according to the White House, which says it will be a "commemorative address on the 5th anniversary of 9/11."

Click here for rapid-response essays from Sid Blumenthal, Howard Dean, Harry Reid, and Al Franken on what they think of the Administration's announcement and the President's planned remarks: LINK

Sober with his vast power, President Bush hits the campaign trail today, but will remain mostly out of view. The President emphatically told ABC News' Charles Gibson yesterday that he is not a liability on the campaign trail and asserted his fundraising prowess as proof.

You can check out Charlie's interview with the President here: LINK

The Campaigner-in-Chief heads to Clarkston, MI for a closed press fundraiser for Mike Bouchard's Senate campaign at 1:30 pm ET. Mr. Bush then travels to Kansas City, MO for a 5:55 pm ET closed press fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent's (R-MO) reelection effort.

Vice President Cheney makes (closed press) remarks at 4:30 pm ET at the Harvard Club in Boston, MA for "Massachusetts State Victory 2006." Gov. Romney plans to attend. LINK

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow briefs the press at 11:30 am ET. ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports, "More than two years after releasing Phase I, the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted to release two of the five chapters of its "Phase II" assessment of the intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq. The chapters will be released by noon ET at LINK

More Wolf: "The new report is expected to compare pre-war assessments of Iraq's WMD capabilities with post-war findings and assess how the intelligence community used information provided by the Iraqi National Congress. Look for Democrats to use these chapters as ammunition to resurrect their 'Americans were mislead into Iraq' line of attack. The unfinished chapters that won't be released tomorrow, however, could be even more divisive when they are finally completed. Those include a look at the role of Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans at the Pentagon, the use of intelligence by political appointees in public statements, and a 'pre-war assessment on post-war Iraq.'

The Associated Press has more: LINK

Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) holds a 1:00 pm ET media availability in Santa Monica, CA where he will likely be asked about his controversial remarks captured on audio tape and reported by the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Gov. Romney addresses a 11:30 am ET luncheon sponsored by the Midland County Republican Party in Midland, MI.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC) delivers a report on lower Manhattan and New York City's progress five years after 9/11 at 9:30 am ET in New York City.

Sen. Clinton (D-NY) joins Dr. Irwin Redlener of the Children's Heath Fund in presenting the results of a new survey regarding the American public's views on terrorism and preparedness at a 1:00 pm ET campaign event in Harlem. At 10:45 am ET, Sen. Clinton is scheduled to be in lower Manhattan to speak at "Progress Since 9/11: Protecting Public Health and Safety of the Responders and Residents", an oversight hearing of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations. Later today at 3:00 pm ET, Sen. Clinton joins Harlem youth as they undertake a service project for seniors.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean is the man about town today. At noon ET, Dr. Dean addresses the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters in Washington, DC. Tonight, Dean attends the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation reception hosted by Reps. Clyburn (D-SC) and Watt (D-NC), a dinner hosted by Reps. Cleaver (D-MO) and Clay (D-MO), and a dinner honoring Rep. Kilpatrick (D-MI).

And if you thought we weren't taking attendance this week of which Democratic '08ers made it a priority to show up at the week-long Congressional Black Caucus legislative conference, you'd be wrong. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) participated in a town hall yesterday morning, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) participated in a couple of seminars on government contracting/advertising and on health care disparities, and Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) plans on attending the gala dinner on Saturday evening.

Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) is in Chapel Hill, NC for a panel discussion on "the progress made and challenges ahead for the post-Katrina Gulf Coast" at noon ET.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) visits Nashua, NH today where he is expected to make similar critiques of President Bush's foreign policy as he made yesterday at the National Press Club.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) travels to Iowa today for his inaugural Hawkeye State trip of the cycle. Dodd plans to be in Iowa through the weekend.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is in Iowa today and will be campaigning for state and local candidates throughout the weekend.

First Lady Laura Bush hosts a pair of fundraisers in Texas (Dallas and Houston) which are expected to raise more than $400,000 for the RNC. Approximately 40 attendees are expected at each one. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman plans to attend the Dallas fundraiser. Tomorrow, Mrs. Bush will be in Galveston, TX for the commissioning ceremony of USS Texas.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Talkers Magazine hosts a 10:00 am ET forum discussing the effects of counterfeiting and piracy and what it means to the economy, American jobs, and consumers.

Today at noon ET, the Heritage Foundation presents "Presidential Faith and Foreign Policy: Are Times Changing?" with Dr. Elizabeth Spalding. This event includes commentary from Dr. Steven Hayward and discusses the current was on terror and how the larger moral context of this war indicates how President Bush's personal faith influences his foreign policy.

Don't miss "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday when George will be joined by several members of the 9/11 Commission on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. LINK

Be sure to check out our look at the weekend in politics below.

ABC News poll:

"George W. Bush approaches the 9/11 anniversary with a job approval rating less than half what it was after the attacks five years ago, dragged down above all by the steadily unpopular war in Iraq," reports ABC News' Jon Cohen.

"Bush is in better shape now than he was this spring, as spiking gasoline prices added to his woes. Today 42 percent of Americans approve of his overall performance in office, up from a career low of 33 percent in May. While that's a significant rebound, still the intensity of sentiment remains strongly against him: Not only do 55 percent disapprove of his work, but 43 percent disapprove "strongly" -- significantly outnumbering his strong approvers (24 percent)."

More Cohen: "Iraq is chief among Bush's troubles: Fifty-seven percent disapprove of how he's handling the situation there, and again a very large 47 percent disapprove "strongly." Fifty-six percent say that given its costs versus benefits, the war was not worth fighting; a majority has said so now continuously since December 2004. And despite his recent speeches on the subject, 61 percent say the administration doesn't have a clear plan what to do there."

"The public, moreover, divides on whether the war has improved long-term U.S. security, its basic rationale: Fifty percent say it has, but 47 percent say not. And just 28 percent said it's done "a great deal" for U.S. security."

And a bit more: "Bush's situation would certainly be worse were he not aided by the issue that has been the cornerstone of his presidency, his administration's response to terrorism. Fifty-three percent approve of how he's handling terrorism. That's been his best issue in polls since 9/11."

"Crucially, moreover, 55 percent of Americans say the country is safer now than it was before the attacks five years ago."

"Bush's approval rating has improved primarily because of higher support from his base. From its May low, Bush approval is up 13 points among Republicans, up only marginally among independents and virtually unchanged among Democrats."

Bush Administration agenda:

The President's proposal for military tribunals met scrutiny and resistance on Capitol Hill from some key Republicans and military lawyers alike who felt the provisions would not support their legal weight or do what they needed to do to repair the nation's international reputation, reports Kate Zernike of the New York Times. LINK

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that the President's appeal for congressional action to strengthen the legal underpinnings of the NSA's surveillance program "ran into roadblocks even as he spoke. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) suspended efforts to draft legislation until at least next week after Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) proposed new amendments and a bipartisan group of senators urged more hearings." LINK

The Washington Times paints President Bush's call to action on wiretapping and military tribunals as a game of midterm-hot-potato. LINK

Politics of immigration:

ABC News' Liz Marlantes writes "Speaker Hastert, Rep. Boehner, Rep. Blunt, et al announced that they will hold a forum next Wednesday with the House committee chairs to discuss further what they learned from their immigration field hearings this summer. They will then produce a package of border security measures (probably next Thursday) that they intend to move to the floor before they leave at the end of the month. They say they don't know yet what will be in that package, or how they will move it -- Hastert implied they might move various items piecemeal, attaching them to whatever they can. They avoided multiple questions as to whether comprehensive reform was dead (despite the fact that Sen. Frist basically said as much on Wednesday), instead repeating that they were continuing to talk with the Senate. Hastert did say: 'We cannot support a lot of the provisions in the Reid-Kennedy bill,' and 'it's the intention of the House to secure the border.'"

House Republicans vowed to "move swiftly" to pass border security measures by the end of September but otherwise shelved the larger debate over guest worker plans and legalizing illegals in favor of focusing on the November midterm election, reports the New York Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times reports on the progress of border security legislation in the House. LINK

GOP agenda:

The Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck and David Rogers have Rep. Heather Wilson (R., N.M.) saying that the White House hadn't yet "engaged" her on wiretapping. The Wall Street Journal duo also report that Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist positioned himself last night so he can "pre-empt" the Senate Armed Services Committee and move directly to the President's bill. "But he is expected to wait until Tuesday to see if a compromise can be reached."

Democratic agenda:

In an effort to counter GOP allegations that the left doesn't stand for anything positive, plans to sponsor three speeches in the month of September outlining the progressive vision on health care for all, energy independence, and democracy -- three issues which members identified over the summer as their top priorities.

Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who is running for the Senate in Ohio, will be speaking about health care for all at 12:30 pm on Sept. 15 in Washington, DC.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) will be speaking about energy independence on Sept. 20 in Washington, DC.

And Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) will be speaking about democracy, voting rights, and the separation of powers on Sept. 25 in Philadelphia, PA.

The Fitzgerald investigation:

The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith writes that the disclosure of Armitage's role in the CIA leak has provoked criticism of both him (for waiting so long) and of Patrick Fitzgerald, who learned of Armitage's role shortly after his appointment in 2003, for "appearing to chase a question that had already been answered." LINK

The New York Times' interview with an apologetic Armitage: LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The Los Angeles Times' Salladay reports on an audio recording of a closed door inner circle Schwarzenegger meeting from months ago where the Governor is candid about everything from "hot" blooded Latinos, Republican legislators, and "dancing the dance" when it come to politics and his party. LINK

2006: landscape:

The Wall Street Journal's Harwood reports that with the exception of Connecticut, "in nearly all 2006 primaries so far, turnout has fallen below 1982-2002 midterm average."

2006: House:

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood has a top Boehner aide saying: "'Anyone who is even contemplating losing our majority or personal ambitions' should focus on election campaign."

Harwood also reports that Citizens Trade PAC is targeting pro-trade Republican incumbents Sherwood of Pennsylvania and Hayes of North Carolina.

The Delaware County Times picks up on criticism leveled in The Hill newspaper at Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) for pushing a plan that he said would depoliticize the withdrawal timeline. LINK

"'Constitutionally, the president is the commander in chief,' Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told The Hill newspaper. 'I don't see a good reason to separate the chain of command from the president. I appreciate what Curt is trying to do, but it's not a good idea.'"

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Nancy Peterson reports that Philadelphia area residents have been bludgeoned by direct mailings paid for by taxpayers, and critics charge that some congressmen have taken it too far. LINK

Howard Wilkinson of the Cincinnati Enquirer covers the "ground war" between Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and John Cranley (D-OH) during the Harvest Home Parade where they marched alongside "Shriners driving in circles on tiny motorbikes and miniature cars." LINK

Note that the Cook Political Report has upgraded this contest to a toss-up. The Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes looks at Rep. Tom Reynolds' (R-NY) fight for re-election against Democrat Jack Davis and reports that the NRCC chair who hopes to be Speaker some day launched a new ad on Wednesday which "attacks 'millionaire Jack Davis' for his trade stance. 'His plan to increase tariffs is really a tax increase on families, raising the cost of everything,' says the narrator."

2006: Senate:

Per the AP, both Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Democratic challenger Bob Casey will offer "the political equivalent of a moment of silence" on 9/11, as neither candidate will advertise on Pennsylvania's airwaves. LINK

David Lightman writes in the Hartford Courant that Thursday's stalemate in the Foreign Relations Committee was partly due to Sen. Lincoln Chafee's (R-RI) refusal to back Bolton, even though it would have boosted Sen. Chafee's credentials with conservative voters. LINK

The Washington Post on the same: LINK

"Less than a week before the Republican primary, Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee has become the target of a push poll attacking him for supporting abortion rights," reports the Providence Journal. LINK

USA Today reports on the "battle of the surnames" in the usually solid Democratic state of New Jersey. LINK

The New York Times looks at how Ned Lamont has started working the Monica Lewinsky scandal into his political rhetoric, suggesting this week that Sen. Lieberman's harsh attitude towards President Clinton in 1998 were merely for public show -- implying that the Senator was a man willing to turn his back on a friend in favor of media spectacle. LINK

The Washington Times on Michael Steele's "personal touch." LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer captures yesterday's to and fro in the Buckeye State's Senate race with Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) latest ad and the NRSC's new Web site. LINK

The Associated Press' Matthew Daly and John Solomon detail how Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) makes use of earmarks. She has apparently allocated more than $11 million in federal funds for Ron Dotzauer, a former campaign manager turned lobbyist who frequently advises her re-election effort. LINK

Jim Webb's inaugural campaign television ad is expected to hit the airwaves on Monday and will feature Ronald Reagan, reports the Washington Post's Michael Shear. LINK

The St. Petetersburg Times Notes the alienation of Republican Senate candidate Katherine Harris (R-FL) as other GOP candidates and Gov. Jeb Bush tout around the state on a unity tour. LINK

The Miami Herald has more on missing Harris: LINK

The Associated Press reports that when asked if Katherine Harris was invited on the tour, one candidate remarks, "I hope so." LINK

2006: Governor: The New York Post editorial board issues a "Mandate for Reform" urging Democrats to pull the gubernatorial level for Eliot Spitzer on Tuesday. LINK

Days before Tuesday's primary, Democrat Eliot Spitzer's long-shot Democratic opponent announced he doesn't have money for last minute campaign ads, giving Spitzer free reign on potential negative commercials. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes: "New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office quietly admitted this week that it is dropping certain civil charges against Hank Greenberg, former CEO of AIG. Here ends a monumental story of prosecutorial abuse."

John McCarthy of the Associated Press writes up the Democratic challenge to Kenneth Blackwell (R-OH) to disclose his sources for campaign funds, though Ohio election laws do not require him to disclose. LINK

Cincinnati Enquirer's Howard Wilkinson highlights Gov. Romney's (R-RGA) support of Blackwell's health care coverage plan. LINK

New Hampshire: The Nashua Telegraph's Landrigan Notes that potential 2008 presidential candidates have funneled in more than $91,000 to the state party, state Senate candidates, and local party committees in the past two weeks. LINK

Iowa: Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register reports that potential '08ers Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) will visit the Hawkeye State this weekend to campaign for local and statewide candidates. Beaumont Notes that Dodd is "behind the half-dozen Democratic prospects who have begun making regular trips to Iowa." LINK

2008: Republicans: Bloomberg's James Rowley and William Roberts report that Sen. McCain "bristled" when asked about Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist's statement that he might bypass the Armed Services Committee and bring Bush's bill directly to the Senate floor for debate: 'Whatever Frist says,' McCain told reporters." LINK

The Washington Post has Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) saying: "We don't work for the president" in a story that mentions the "political dilemma" faced by Sen. McCain as several colleagues cautioned him to "stick with Bush" on the tribunals question. LINK

The Boston Globe highlights Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) push for an energy reform plan in the Bay State. LINK

2008: Democrats: "Sen. Clinton has been hitting the Bush administration hard over the Iraq war lately, but said yesterday she has no regrets over voting for war," Notes McAuliff of Daily News in his wrap of ABC News' "Nightline" exclusive. LINK

If you weren't able to TiVo Nightline, check out all the Clinton coverage right here: LINK

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) set forth his own foreign policy plan while blasting Bush's plan Thursday, Notes Jennifer Brooks of Delaware's News Journal. LINK

The Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer takes aim at Sen. Kerry for saying Iraq is "not the center of the war on terror."LINK

"This is absurd," writes Krauthammer. "If the United States leaves, the central government in Iraq will collapse, and the beneficiaries will be Iran, Syria and al-Qaeda, the three major terrorist actors in the world today. It would not just be a psychological victory but also a territorial one. Al-Qaeda would gain a base in Mesopotamia; Syria and Iran would share spheres of influence in what's left of the Iraqi state."

House of Labor: The AFL-CIO announced on Thursday that union members will begin going door-to-door on Saturday in "more than 80 locations in 21 states." This weekend's walks are part of the AFL-CIO's effort to engage "more than 12.4 million voters in 21 top tier states."

The Clinton Administration vs. Disney: ABC News' Jake Tapper wraps all the latest in the controversy on his "Political Punch" blog. LINK

USA Today has Tom Kean saying ABC's "The Path to 9/11" is balanced. LINK

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe Notes on the Democratic outrage over the ABC 9/11 special. Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), "called the film 'a clear attempt to rewrite history.' He said ABC's turning to Nowrasteh to write the film is the equivalent of a network contracting with liberal Michael Moore." LINK

Clinton alum Notes: On Thursday, Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation announced that Clinton Administration veteran Wendy Smith is joining the company on Sept. 11 as the Senior Vice President of Communications. Most recently, Smith was head of corporate communications for Creative Artists Agency in Beverly Hills, CA. Welcome back to Gotham City, Ms. Smith.

On Sunday at 10:30 am ET, WETA broadcasts "The Republic of Baseball," a documentary by former Bill Clinton advance man Dan Manatt. The film chronicles the lives of Marichal and Felipe Alou, the first great baseball players from the Dominican Republic, and their triumph over poverty, dictatorship, and racism – and their near triumph with the San Francisco Giants over the New York Yankees in the 1962 World Series. NPR's Robert Siegel dedicated a whole All Things Considered segment to it Thursday, so taken was he with it at Tuesday's advance screening at the MPAA. Or maybe it was the mojitos Siegel had at the afterparty at the Dominican Embassy? LINK

Weekend politics: In addition to the Dodd and Huckabee trips to Iowa mentioned above. . . Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) delivers a "major address" on national security in Boston's Faneuil Hall tomorrow. On Sunday, Sen. Kerry will be in Keene, NH campaigning for a state senate candidate.

Tomorrow, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) speaks at a SEIU gathering in San Jose, CA and attends a campaign rally for Phil Angelides (D-CA) in San Francisco, CA.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) campaigns for Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) in Albuquerque, NM tomorrow.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and his Democratic opponent Jon Tester debate in Hamilton, MT on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) visits with students in Jacksonville, FL and Sen. McCain headlines a fundraising luncheon for Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) in Sacramento, CA.