WASHINGTON, Sep. 19
"There's a little bump [for the President] every time terrorism is trotted out," author Frank Rich said this morning. Rich was reacting to word from the First Ladies of American political journalism (Jill Lawrence and Susan Page of the Nation's Newspaper) that President Bush is at "44% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. . . his highest rating in a year."
Rich's new book, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" LINK might be #2 on Amazon and might be highly critical of the Bush Administration for "using" national security for political purposes, but it looks like the paperback edition of "The Greatest" just might need an updated chapter taking into account the results of the 2006 midterms.
And we say that before the President astrides Turtle Bay like a colossus today, giving his UNGA speech to semi-roadblocked coverage at 11:30 am ET this morning.
This will an important, substantive speech, but also a political one (a characterization with which Tony Snow would surely agree), and on that point, it is wise to remember that the aggressive political messages of one's opponent must be rebutted in the same news cycle to avoid losing ground. And yet The Note would bet the cost of three egg creams and a handful of pretzel rods that the media won't be filled with too many Democratic responses to what the President has to say today.
Ask yourself (and Rahm and Chuck) this: is the President's approval rating on Election Day more likely to be closer to 48% or 34%?
And, just as important, ask yourself: what percentage of voters in November will be Republicans or independent-leaning Republicans? No one can know the answer to that just yet, but remember to read every poll result through that perpetual prism.
ABC News' Senior White House correspondent Martha Raddatz reports that a senior White House official "said much of the speech offers the same themes that the President has been pushing the last few weeks about the global war on terrorism and the fight against extremism. And what he says about Iraq will also be much the same -- with emphasis on it now being the central front in that war."
More Raddatz: "This official keeps stressing that the President will talk past the leaders in the room (especially the Iranian president) and make the case for 'freedom' directly to the people of the region. This is not a "rise up" speech -- but an attempt to sell the people on the joys of democracy."
This morning before his speech, President Bush meets with President Jacques Chirac of France and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
After his speech later in the day he will participate in a roundtable discussion on democracy, and then speak with the President Jalal Talabani of Iraq at 3:30 pm ET. In yet another sign he loves doing TV interviews this political season, Mr. Bush chats with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The interview airs at 4PM in 7PM on CNN.
Massachusetts and Washington state both hold primary elections today. The main action today is in the Bay State gubernatorial contest where a competitive could yield an African-American, Deval Patrick, as the Democrats' nominee.
The polls in Massachusetts opened at 7:00 am ET and close at 8:00 pm ET.
For Massachusetts results: LINK
For Washington results: LINK
Vice President Cheney meets with the National Association of Automobile Dealers at 9:00 am ET.
Later, Cheney will swear in Mark Rosenker as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board and then speak at the Jesse Helms Center Salute to House International Relations Chairman Hyde.
First Lady Laura Bush hosts a roundtable discussion on Burma in New York at noon ET.
The Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), Rep. Tom Reynolds (NY-26), is talking all things 2006 election today at 2:00 p.m. at the NRCC.
Democratic Sens. Durbin, Lautenberg, and Schumer hold a 10:30 am ET press conference on potential abuses in Iraq reconstruction projects.
Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) continues his trip through South Carolina today, speaking with the press and campaigning for local Republicans.
Senate candidates Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are set to debate today in St. Paul, MN, with live C-SPAN coverage.
Former. Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) headlines a meeting at Walton County Chamber of Commerce in Sandestin, FL.
General Wesley Clark and 30 veterans from across Missouri meet with Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in St. Louis for a campaign stop at 12:30 pm ET.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman attends a fundraiser for Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) in Washington, DC.
Sen. Hillary Clinton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich participate in an event with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Washington, D.C.
Former Gov. Jim McGreevey (D-NJ) does Oprah today (check your local listings) as the publicity kickoff for the release of his new book. (Well, the publicity has been pretty well kicked off, but this will be his first on camera interview on the subject.)
The Way to Win:
The Way to Win, the upcoming Random House book from Mark Halperin of ABC News and John F. Harris of the Washington Post, will be released on October 3.
The book, which includes interviews with Bill Clinton, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney, explains how presidential elections are won (and lost) these days, and how the candidates for 2008 measure up. If you want more information before its release, check out:
The Way to Win's new website, http://www.thewaytowin2008.com, for details about what is in the book.
And starting today you can enter a regular trivia contest to win an autographed copy.
Today's question relates to two influential figures of late twentieth century America: Bill Clinton and Elvis Presley, and the King's classic "Don't Be Cruel."
To see the question and to try to answer it to win an autographed copy of the book, go to The Way to Win website here: LINK
Also, you can pre-order copies of the book here: LINK
And yep, there is an audio version of The Way to Win, for those who'd like to run to Rove or commute to Clinton or bike to Bush.
It will come as no surprise to those familiar with the dulcet tones of Halperin and Harris that the audio is read by William (Bill) Dufris, the original North American voice of Bob the Builder. LINK
(Dufris, of course, also provided the voices of Farmer Pickles, Mr. Beasley, and Mr. Sabatini.) To buy the audio book, visit LINK
Those dexterous enough to stream audio can sample some of the book semi-illicitly at the Tantor audio book site. LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
President Bush's approval rating has risen to 44 percent amid falling gas prices and his efforts to highlight the war on terror, Notes USA Today. And be sure to check out that likely voter generic congressional ballot result. LINK
As Kevin Madden of the Majority Leader's office has already helpfully Noted in a blast e-mail to thousands: "The poll also showed likely voters evenly divided between Democratic and Republican candidates for Congress, 48%-48%. Among registered voters, Democrats had a 51%-42% advantage."
U.S. officials, surprised by Chirac's comments against imposing sanctions on Iran, said that they would seek an explanation from the French today and that Iran will not be a major part of the President's speech, Note the Washington Post's Kessler and Abramowitz. LINK
Secretary of State Rice took the morning television airwaves to set the stage for the President's address at the UN. On "Good Morning America," Rice told ABC News' Robin Roberts that she and Colin Powell are still good friends despite their disagreement on the detainee issue.
You might think the term-limited President Bush isn't all that interested in his poll numbers in Iowa, but you'd be wrong. The Des Moines Register continues to milk its poll for all the coverage it can with today's story detailing the President's 41 percent overall job approval in the Hawkeye State and back over the 50 percent mark for his handling of the fight against terrorism. LINK
Sarah Liebowitz writes that a recent Concord Monitor poll shows that four years ago "74 percent of Granite Staters rated the president's performance excellent or good. Today, that figure has plummeted to 37 percent". LINK
McCain and the GOP:
The Los Angeles Times' Hook and Simon follow up on the McCain/Romney split over detainees highlighted in the New York Times yesterday and advance the story by including the discontent with McCain's position among Rush Limbaugh, Lou Sheldon, and Grover Norquist. (Note, too, the usual suspects getting briefed at 1600 about how best to defend the President's position in this debate.) LINK
William Kristol and John Weaver don't seem to see eye-to-eye on the political impact of McCain's position, as captured by the Washington Post's Baker and Babington. LINK
The Washington Post's Richard Cohen writes in an op-ed that in the battle over torture debate between Bush and McCain, he thinks McCain wins hands down and rightly ought to stick to his principles. LINK
Politics of detainees:
With few details on the White House floated plan having leaked, Bloomberg News has Sen. Collins (R-ME) compromise predictions. LINK
The New York Times: LINK
The Boston Globe writes up Sen. McCain's Boston College remarks, Noting the efforts for compromise with the White House. LINK
The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Peter Baker Note that the White House's revised proposal and the House decision to refer Bush's bill to the Judiciary Committee for further consideration show the strength of dissident conservatives. LINK
Bay State Primary Day:
Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe tests the Bay State voters in his column. LINK
The Associated Press wraps the final day on the gubernatorial campaign trail. LINK
Despite predictions of low voter turnout Democratic gubernatorial candidates left no stone unturned on their final pre-primary campaign day. The Boston Globe takes a closer look. LINK
Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe columnizes about prosecutorial penchant for going after egregious pay-to-play cases, but wonders if that kind of scrutiny may soon be applied to the long standing practice of campaign contributions in (indirect and legal) exchange for favorable treatment. LINK
The New York Daily News' James Gordon Meek reports that the FBI has had to triple its anti-fraud forces investigating lobbyists and lawmakers in Washington in the past few years. LINK
The New Hampshire Union Leader writes up Rudy Giuliani's first scheduled Granite State trip of the cycle. LINK
Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) said on Monday that in order to gain a broader base, Democrats need to stop alienating wealthy Americans, singling out John Kerry's 2004 campaign. Warner said, "I think the Kerry campaign missed something," per the Des Moines Register's Beaumont. LINK
The Boston Globe's Klein writes up Sen. Kerry's (D-MA) remarks at Pepperdine University yesterday in which he expressed a need for finding a common ground on abortion. It was his biggest "values issues" speech since his campaign. LINK
Alan Cooperman of the Washington Post Notes Kerry is the third high-profile Democrat to deliver a deeply, personal religious speech. LINK
The New York Times' coverage of Al Gore's big climate crisis speech: LINK
Note how his former running mate, Sen. Lieberman, aligned himself with Gore on global warming yesterday. The Washington Post on Gore's speech: LINK
The Columbus Dispatch's Jack Torry writes that Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) has refused to resign his congressional seat, despite calls from Republican leadership and State Sen. Joy Padgett, the 2006 Republican candidate for his seat. LINK
Nina Easton of Fortune Magazine profiles the "emerging force" in the Democratic Party, the David Gray-listening, jocular, balletic Rahm Emanuel. LINK
Daniela Altimari of the Hartford Courant reports that the Iraq war dominated Monday's debate between Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT) and Democratic challenger Joe Courtney. LINK
The Hill's Elana Schor on Rep. Chris Shays accusing his opponent Diane Farrell of supporting the negative calls run by outside political groups. LINK
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Christine Schiavo writes that abortion and stem cell research were the top issues at the debate between Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. LINK
The New York Times' William Yardley reports that Washington State Democrats are practicing a touch more pragmatism than their brethren in Connecticut, continuing to back Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) despite her voting for the war in Iraq, in order to bolster chances against a well funded Republican challenger. LINK
More on the Cantwell race from The Hill: LINK
Also in the Cantwell story camp, Roll Call's Nicole Duran reports that the Senator is facing some scrutiny for her close ties to a Washington lobbyist.
The New York Times Jennifer Medina reports that Ned Lamont has begun to abscond some of Sen. Lieberman's union supporters. LINK
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post zeros in on the buzz over Sen. George Allen's angry reaction to a question which WUSA-TV's Peggy Fox posed during Virginia's Senate debate yesterday, tracing Allen to Jewish blood. LINK
The debate, moderated by ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, focused on domestic issues, Notes the Washington Post. LINK
The Post-Gazette's James O'Toole writes that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has granted an emergency appeal to Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli, a decision that breathes new life into his chances of appearing on the ballot with Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr. LINK
In its debut Buckeye State poll, the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute finds Rep. Ted Strickland (D-OH) with a 21 point lead over Ken Blackwell (R-OH) and that many voters are already pretty locked in to their choice. Clearly Gov. Taft's (R-OH) 14 percent approval rating isn't all that helpful to the Ohio GOP up and down the ballot.
Per the AP, Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) and Republican challenger Lynn Swann have confirmed two debates: Oct. 4 in Pittsburgh and Oct. 10 in Philadelphia. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) signed into law legislation that gives control of Los Angeles public schools to Mayor Villaraigosa. The Los Angeles Times has the story. LINK
The AP reports on last week's lowest voter turnout in New Hampshire history. LINK
The New York Times hosts a sundry mix of stories in its "Political Action" column on everything from the Minnesota Senate race to John Kerry's encounter with a "beer bong" in Iowa. LINK
Mark "Back on the Front Page" Leibovich of the New York Times updates his readers on Rep. Patrick Kennedy's (D-RI) sobriety and how his continued battle knows no party lines, with his tv-friendly-if-they-will-cooperate sponsorship by Republican Representative Jim Ramstad of Minnesota, who also has battled addiction. LINK
Ronald Reagan's favorite Democrat, former Bay State Governor Edward King has died. LINK