WASHINGTON, Sep. 12
While the White House press corps spars with Tony Snow over the meaning of the word "political," voters go to the polls today in nine states -- Arizona, Delaware, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin -- plus the District of Columbia.
The first polls opened at 6:00 am ET. The last ones (in Arizona) will close at 10:00 pm ET.
Vermont: polls open 6 am ET through 10 am ET -- 7 pm ET. Results: LINK
New York: polls open 6 am ET -- 9 pm ET. Results: LINK
Delaware: polls open 7 am ET -- 8 pm ET. Results: LINK
Minnesota: polls open 7 am ET -- 8 pm ET. Results: LINK
Rhode Island: polls open: 7 am through 9 am ET -- 9:00 pm ET. Results: LINK
District of Columbia: polls open 7 am ET -- 8 pm ET. Results: LINK
New Hampshire: polls open 8 am ET -- 7 pm ET. Results: LINK
Wisconsin: polls open 8 am ET -- 9 pm ET. Results: LINK
Arizona: polls open 9 am ET -- 10 pm ET. Results: LINK
THERE ARE NO NETWORK EXIT POLLS.
The most closely watched race is in Rhode Island where the GOP is using its resources to help Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), a man who didn't even vote for President Bush in 2004, stave off a challenge from Cranston Mayor Steve Laffey, who has the backing of the anti-tax Club for Growth. In an unusual move, the NRSC has declared that it will cede the state to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse if Laffey prevails.
In New York, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is poised to receive the Democratic Party's nomination for her second term in the United States Senate. She is running against Jonathan Tasini, a labor activist who has struggled to gain traction against the former First Lady despite his sharp denunciations of her position on the Iraq war. With no exit polls, it will be impossible to say how Sen. Clinton's Iraq war vote impacted Democrats in her state. The Note sets the bar for success at 85.3%. The Note also Notes that the New York Times Election Day round-up doesn't even mention the two Republicans running for the party nomination to oppose Clinton in November. Quick: name them both.
In the race to replace retiring Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) in Arizona's 8th congressional district, the NRCC has taken the unusual step of spending more than $200,000 to help Steve Huffman -- a state representative who favors abortion rights and federal funding of embryonic stem-cell research -- in his race against immigration hard-liner Randy Graf. In a sign that Democrats, like Republican leaders, view the moderate Huffman as the tougher opponent in November, the DCCC has spent $190,000 on a television ad criticizing Huffman on immigration. For Democrats, the frontrunners are Gabrielle Giffords and former local news anchor Patty Weiss.
In Maryland, Democrats will decide whether they want veteran Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD) or former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume to square off against Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R-MD), the first African-American elected statewide in Maryland's history.
In the District of Columbia, voters will choose between City Council Chair Linda Cropp and the Blackberry-wielding 35-year-old Adrian Fenty.
Sen. Clinton and former President Clinton were slated to vote at the Douglas Grafflin Elementary School at 6:45 am ET in Chappaqua, NY.
On the immigration front, House Republican Policy Committee holds a 2:00 pm ET forum to hear the views of House Republican committee and subcommittee chairmen who held field hearings on immigration issues during the month of August.
The Senate resumes consideration of the port security bill (HR 4954) today. Debate will halt between 12:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m. for weekly policy lunches. The first vote is expected at noon.
The House meets for morning business at 12:30 pm ET.
President Bush has no public events today.
Today's primaries: Rhode Island:
Robert Tanner of the Associated Press discusses what's at stake with today's primaries, especially the role of Rhode Island GOP Senate primary as a litmus test for the "anti-incumbency" mood of the country. LINK
Aaron Blake reports in The Hill that, "Running in an open primary that could be largely decided by those independent voters, Laffey tries to avoid labels like "conservative" and "Republican.'" LINK
Bloomberg's Margaret Carlson pens an op-ed looking at the Rhode Island Republican primary Chafee vs. Laffey. LINK
Today's primaries: New York:
Pat Healy of the New York Times does some expectations setting for tonight's results by writing that Sen. Clinton "wants to demonstrate a breadth and depth of Democratic support to bolster her standing in the state and in the national party, which she may seek to lead as a possible candidate for president in 2008. Her primary challenger is Jonathan Tasini, an antiwar candidate; her advisers say they believe he could net around 20 percent of the vote today." LINK
But will the Clinton camp's 20% expectations-setting for Tasini's final number stem the "Heading into 2008, Clinton vulnerable on left because of Iraq war" stories? (The answer: no.)
"The only question for Clinton is her margin of victory. If she holds the anti-war Tasini to single digits, that will take the steam out of her "Iraq" critics in the Democratic Party," reads the caption to the New York Post graphic showing the final pre-primary Quinnipiac University poll numbers we told you about yesterday. LINK
Ben Smith of the New York Daily News writes up a Hillary Clinton campaign flyer from which it is hard to discern who her opponent is. LINK
Today's primaries: AZ-08:
Amy Sherman reports in the Hill that the GOP is following the Arizona eighth district primary closely to see how their focus on immigration issues plays out with voters. LINK
The Arizona Republic recommends Gabrielle Giffords as the Democratic candidate and Steve Huffman as the Republican candidate. LINK
Today's primaries: Maryland:
Per the Baltimore Sun's Andrew Green, polls have shown a close contest between Cardin and Mfume, with more than a dozen other candidates trailing them for Democratic Senate primary. LINK
A civil rights group representative Notes that the 8,500 would-be voters who received Notification that they were unregistered to vote have the ability to "tip the balance," per the Baltimore Sun. LINK
In his Congress Daily/AM column, Charlie Cook sets the post-Labor Day table and writes, "While Democratic hopes of winning a Senate majority still look decidedly uphill, over the last three months we've seen more and more GOP House seats move into the vulnerable column and worse, into extremely vulnerable status."
Cook goes on to write that Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) is "the most endangered Republican incumbent in the Senate this year."
More Cook: "New Jersey looks like an unexpected possibility" for a GOP pick-up.
"Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman predicted Monday that the GOP would maintain its control of both Congressional chambers, using a $47 million across-the-board financial edge," Notes Roll Call's Kane. LINK
Note the hint about a possible upcoming Mehlman retirement at the end of the piece.
The Washington Post's Peter Slevin reports that "In Michigan, the November election is likely to come down to whom the voters blame for one of the nation's most troubled economies." LINK
The House GOP goes on the offensive, as Republican leaders gave $1.9 million or 85% of their campaign money to at least 70 incumbents trying to hold GOP seats, writes USA Today's Jill Lawrence and Ray Locker. LINK
Roll Call's Lauren Whittington reports that former Sens. J. Bennett Johnston and John Breaux (D-LA) are aiding state Rep. Karen Carter (D-LA) in her battle to out seat Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). LINK
Rep. Jefferson fights for his political life, facing eight Democrats, three Republicans and one Libertarian, Notes USA Today. LINK
The New York Times' Carl Hulse recently spent some time chatting with residents of Colorado's bellwether seventh congressional district about the President's recent national security push. LINK
"While it is too early to know whether the White House will succeed in winning over enough voters to make a difference in what is shaping up as a tight race, the interviews suggested that Mr. Bush's newest efforts to cast his party as better suited than Democrats to defend the country had yet to overcome concern and anger among many voters about Iraq and a more generalized sense of discontent with the administration."
Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register evaluates the personal financial disclosure reports of Iowa congressional candidates revealing Mike Whalen (R-IA) to be the wealthiest with anywhere from $43 million to $129 million. LINK
Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Whalen share a love for negative rhetoric as they describe each other as a "multi-millionaire businessman…who may or may not have legal immigrant workers" and a "lawyer who is responsible for contributing to the high cost of health care." Their defense to voters is that they are simply telling "the truth." LINK
The district 22 race in Florida is seeing an influx of attack ads from both candidates. Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL) is going after his opponent state Sen. Ron Klein's (D-FL) voting record. Klein, like other Democratic candidates running in Florida, is emphasizing Shaw's connection with Bush since the President is receiving low approval ratings in the state. LINK
As Vermont primary voters head to the polls today, Elizabeth Mehren of the Los Angeles Times sizes up the competitive House contest to replace Bernie Sanders. LINK
The New York Times looks at Tom Kean, Jr.'s and Bob Menendez's efforts to blur ties to their respective parties. The Times particularly takes Note of the "breadth and blistering tone" of Kean's criticisms of the Bush Administration. LINK
Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) both agree on not providing Social Security for illegal immigrants, according to Malia Rulon of the Cincinnati Enquirer. LINK
Jimmy Carter is still campaigning in the place of his son, Democratic senatorial candidate Jack Carter, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal story. There is no word yet, when Jack Carter will be released from the hospital. LINK
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) defended his position opposing drilling off the coast of Florida. Nelson insists that drilling would not be necessary if more hybrid cars were used. Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) sides with Nelson on the issue. Katherine Harris (R-FL), Nelson's opponent in the Senate race, was not interviewed for the article. LINK
The politics of 9/11: POTUS speaks:
"Even by the standards of his latest round of speeches, Mr. Bush's language was particularly forceful, even ominous, with warnings of a radical Islamic network that was 'determined to bring death and suffering to our homes,'" write the New York Times' Rutenberg and Stolberg. LINK
USA Today: LINK
The politics of 9/11: POTUS speaks: analysis:
On "Good Morning America," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos said, "You've seen the president build a whole campaign around this anniversary over the last couple of weeks. Even Democrats I talk to say their polling over the last few days shows that the President has gotten a bump out of this series of speeches."
Dan Balz and Michael Abramowitz analyze the President's prime time address, Noting that this round of speeches marks the third time in eighteen months that President Bush and the White House have "embark[ed] on a renewed effort to explain and defend his Iraq and anti-terrorism policies. None produced a lasting positive effect on how Americans view either the president or his policies." LINK
"To Mr. Bush's admirers, this was the Texan president at his Reaganesque best: defining America's enemies broadly, vowing their defeat and promising to make the spread of freedom his legacy. To his critics, it was Mr. Bush at his most dangerous, approaching the world with little interest in how America is perceived and lumping together its many opponents, even if their agendas and interests are quite different," writes the New York Times' David Sanger, who also seems to see some Nixon comparison in the speech in addition to the FDR and Truman parallels drawn by the President. LINK
Politics of 9/11: POTUS speaks: editorials and op-eds:
The New York Post's John Podhoretz found a little something for everyone in the President's speech last night. LINK
"If you're someone who despises Bush's policy choices and believes the American people stand with you, then Bush has given you a great gift: He has handed you the election and the means to stop him."
"If you're someone who is skeptical of Bush's reasoning but isn't firmly in the hater camp, then Bush has given you something valuable to chew on. . . "
". . . And if you're someone who generally supports Bush's policies but has found the last year rough going, then his forthright explication of them may stiffen your spine and give you some sustenance as we head into this unprecedented election season."
The politics of 9/11:
The New York Times' Zernike and Nagourney Note the differences between the 9/11 congressional resolutions introduced in non-election years and those introduced in those critical even-numbered years. LINK
"Democrats can vote for the resolution and in so doing, praise controversial legislation that many of them opposed. Or they can vote against the resolution and be portrayed as forsaking the victims and heroes of 9/11," write Jonathan Weisman and Charles Babington of the controversy surrounding the House resolution commemorating the 9/11 attacks, a "testament" to the renewed partisanship over the last 5 years. LINK
Politics of Iraq:
In case you missed it in yesterday's Washington Post, the New York Times' Gordon takes a look at the perilous situation in Western Iraq, perhaps giving cable and network news producers another bite at the apple. LINK
Politics of national security:
The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon looks ahead to the likely passage of a port security bill in the Senate this week "with both parties jostling for the upper hand on national security ahead of November's midterm elections. . ." LINK
The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith report that the Administration and Senate Republicans have come closer to agreement on developing military tribunals to try terror suspects, differing only on whether suspects can see evidence against them and whether government agents and civilians can be held accountable for "abusive treatment." LINK
E.J. Dionne Jr., of the Washington Post has an op-ed looking at Vice President Cheney's recent comments about debate over the war as a clear political attempt to maintain "stasis." LINK
Dionne continues, "A debate about alternative futures is what the country needs. Who can be surprised that Vice President Cheney doesn't want it to happen?"
The Schwarzenegger Era:
Gov. Schwarzenegger caught on tape!
The California Highway patrol is looking for hackers who broke into the computers of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office and leaked an embarrassing private conversation between the Governor and his aides. From the Chronicle:
"The governor was criticized last week after the Times reported that during a conversation in March with Susan Kennedy, his chief of staff, and Gary Delsohn, his speechwriter, Schwarzenegger referred to Latinos and African Americans -- specifically Republican Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, who is of Puerto Rican descent -- as having 'hot' blood or a passionate temperament." LINK
More on the CHP investigation into a possible computer breach from the Los Angeles Times: LINK
Gov. Schwarzenegger again straddles the thorny immigration issue and offers a Los Angeles Times op-ed on immigration reform where he bashes Congress for poisoning the debate, urges immigrant rights activists to change their message, and to those who fear illegal immigration is at a crisis level he says, "tone down the rhetoric." LINK
The Chicago Tribune reports Rob Blagojevich has a large lead over Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka in the Illinois governor's race, in what looks to be an election that once again proves attack ads deflect criticism and move poll numbers. Holding a 12 percentage point lead over all, and doing surprisingly well in conservative downstate areas, Gov. Blagojevich is in a neck and neck race with Topinka in Republican leaning collar counties, despite polls that suggest half of Illinois voters think the state is on the wrong track. Polls show, according to the Tribune, 40 percent of voters view challenger Judy Baar Topinka unfavorably, perhaps as a result of attack ads from Camp Blagojevich. LINK
R.G. Ratcliffe of the Houston Chronicle reports that Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) is losing support and has become vulnerable according to recent polling. The campaign responds by calling the legitimacy of the "cheap, quick, and dirty" polling in question. LINK
Feingold takes aim at use of the term "Islamic fascist":
In remarks this morning to the Arab American Institute's 2006 Leadership Conference, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) said the Bush Administration made a "deliberate decision" to use the phrase "Islamic Fascists."
Sen. Feingold called on the President to stop using the phrase, believing that it "doesn't make any sense" and that it "certainly doesn't help our effort to fight terrorism."
". . . as we work to protect this nation," Feingold said, "we must make it absolutely clear that we are fighting terrorists -- not the religion that those terrorists claim to represent."
"We must avoid using misleading and offensive terms that link Islam with those who subvert this great religion or who distort its teachings to justify terrorist activities," said Feingold.
In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sen. Feingold said: "Call them whatever you want -- monsters, butchers -- but the use of the term 'Islamic fascist' puts the name of Islam . . . in an exceptionally negative light. It's insulting and extremely unwise from a tactical and strategic point of view." LINK
The Charlottesville Daily Progress suggests that there is growing support in Virginia for former Governor Mark Warner's (D-VA) presidential bid, while another former governor, George Allen (R-VA) is losing support. LINK
The politics of 9/11 appeared to creep into the 2008 presidential contest as well.
"Some in Washington took the occasion to advance a possible run for president. In a speech to the mostly conservative American Enterprise Institute, Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker and potential candidate in 2008, criticized the administration," write the Los Angeles Times' Fiore and Gerstenzang. LINK
"'We are not where we wanted to be nor where we need to be,' Gingrich said. 'We have not captured Bin Laden. We have not defeated the Taliban. . . We have not stopped the recruitment of young fanatics into terrorism.'"
In a Boston Globe op-ed, Brian McGrory speculates a connection between Romney's potential '08 run and his "selective outrage" over Khatami's visit to Boston: "On Wen's visit in 2003 and on Khai's trip in 2005, Romney wasn't yet in full presidential campaign mode. He wasn't yet playing to the right-wing crowd, trying to land on Fox News." LINK
Gov. Romney pens a Boston Globe op-ed on "binge spending" days being over. LINK
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said that his health and that of his wife and aides could have been affected from exposure to toxic smoke from the burning World Trade Center, reports the Associated Press. LINK and LINK
(Be sure to Note the elbow thrown in Christine Todd Whitman's direction.)
Josephine Hearn writes in The Hill that many 2008 Democratic hopefuls are already courting the Congressional Black Caucus. LINK
David Lightman claims in the Hartford Courant that Sen. Clinton (D-NY) has little support so far in Iowa. Tom Carsner, a former Johnson County Democratic chairman said, "I've yet to find a Hillary Clinton supporter around here." LINK
Leader Pelosi writes in a USA Today op-ed on Democrats' "true reform bill" compared to the Republicans' "sham of a proposal": LINK
Casting and counting:
Today will be the first test for Arizona's new law requiring voters to present ID in order to cast a ballot, the Arizona Republic reports. LINK
Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times delivers a must-read look at the partisan battles over voter photo ID laws in the overall familiar framework of fraud vs. disenfranchisement. LINK
The Clintons of Chappaqua:
To paraphrase Bill Clinton's (least) favorite 9/11 commissioner: FPOTUS and Meiwah, perfect together. LINK Larry La knows his stuff.
On the Washington Post Fed Page, "Applebee's America," by Doug Sosnik, Matt Dowd, and Ron Fournier, gets a peppy and positive review. LINK
The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani takes on Tom Edsall in a mostly-favorable review of his book, "Building Red America." LINK
Doing our best Teresa Vilmain imitation, we wish happy birthdays to Dana Hill (who practically invented The Note) and Jill Alper (who has never bought a product from Amway in her life).