WASHINGTON, Sep. 22:
First, what we've learned and, then, what we will learn.
WHAT WE HAVE (RE)LEARNED THIS WEEK:
1. President Bush will make taxes a central part of his homestretch message.
2. The Old Media will favor Senator McCain and Secretary Powell over President Bush in every dispute, no matter what the merits.
3. Senator Allen, under scrutiny and under pressure, is not like butter -- or, if he is like butter, it is butter on steak and shrimp (Note: that joke is mostly for our Forward-thinking readers.)
4. Congressman Emanuel's shop drives a more aggressive messaging operation than Howard Dean's.
5. Bill Clinton can draw a crowd.
6. Wal-mart is fighting back.
7. House Republicans are willing to throw PhRMA from the sled (for now).
8. David Sanger LINK, David Ignatius LINK, and David Rogers LINKare all amazing reporters. 9. The press plans to overreact to polls of Americans and registered voters for a good long while -- even though likely/actual voters will decide this thing.
WHAT WE WILL LEARN IN THE NEXT 120 HOURS
1. If Bill Frist can take a proper victory lap these days, when he appears on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." 2. How Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Newt Gingrich, and Sen. George Allen (R-VA) will rise to the occasion when they appear at the Family Research Council's "Values Voter Summit" in Washington, starting today. LINK
(Insert your own Allen joke here.)
3. How The Man Who Would Be Judiciary Committee Chair (Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)) comes across as the Democratic National Committee hosts an African-American summit in the Motor City.
4. How the Democrats' bracketing skills are humming these days, when the President travels to the kind of states that Howard Fineman would call "politically vital," including Connecticut, Ohio, and California.
5. How the world reacts to Adam Nagourney's Sunday New York Times Magazine profile of Ken Mehlman, which includes (1) Mehlman reportedly acknowledging privately in the spring that Republicans could lose the House; (2) the fact that there are seven states Mehlman hasn't been to as chair -- quick name them; (3) one -- on the record -- quote from Karl C. Rove ("He's anal-retentive, man!" he says about Mehlman); (4) one amazing Mehlman quote ("My answer to Hurricane Katrina was Hurricane Ouzo."); another amazing Mehlman quote regarding Rove ("I don't know -- I think a bunch of us were architects."); and "Mehlman's friends" saying they doubt he will stay on as chair after the midterms.
As for today, President Bush welcomes Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf to the White House and holds a 10:10 am ET joint press availability with him. Later today, President and Mrs. Bush partake in a series of photo opportunities including one with the 2006 National Spelling Bee champion.
Former President Clinton concludes his CGI conference today with his 11:00 am ET closing address in New York City. On Sunday, Clinton campaigns for Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI) in Milwaukee.
The Family Research Council begins its three-day "Values Voter Summit 2006" in Washington, DC. Today Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), Sen. George Allen (R- VA), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) are among the speakers. Check out the entire schedule here: LINK
Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN) continues his campaign trip in Iowa. As mentioned above, Frist will appear on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday. George also profiles what may be the most vulnerable Democratic Senate seat in the nation, the Garden State battle between Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Tom Kean, Jr (R-NJ). It's must-see Sunday morning television. LINK
Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie appears on ABC News Now's "Politics Live" at 1:35 pm ET. Gillespie plans to plug his new book and chat midterm politics. We expect at least one question on his 2006 candidate of choice, Sen. George Allen. LINK
Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) continues his Heartland PAC activities with a noon ET town hall meeting in Henniker, NH. He'll be in New Hampshire for events Saturday too
. On Saturday, former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) travels to Minnesota to help a Democratic congressional candidate and then he's off to Wisconsin.
Karl Rove is in Omaha, NE campaigning with GOP Senate candidate Pete Ricketts at 4:00 pm ET.
The American Enterprise Institute was scheduled to hold an 8:30 am ET discussion, "The 2006 Elections: Are We Ready?" in Washington, D.C.
RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is in Bismark, ND headlining two state party fundraisers.
Check out our look at the weekend in politics below.
The Way to Win:
Today marks your last chance of the week to win a free, autographed copy of The Way to Win, the upcoming Random House book about American politics from John F. Harris of the Washington Post and Mark Halperin of ABC News.
Go to the book's website, thewaytowin2008.com, and correctly answer today's trivia question and you will be eligible to win a signed first edition copy of the book. LINK
Assuming the hyper likely prospect that President Bush completes his second term, he will match Bill Clinton's feat of serving exactly eight years in the White House. Today's question is about how unusual that back-to-backness is. Go to the book's website, where you will find the full question and instructions on how to answer and how to win. LINK
While at the site, those of you, like most Note readers, who are bet-hedgers, can also pre-order a book in advance of its October 3 release or check out the first wave of author appearances (where you can buy a book and get it signed), including the following events:
October 6 at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble at 2289 Broadway in Manhattan; October 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia; and October 11 at Politics & Prose Bookstore at 5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC, right near the Murch Elementary School and where the Thai Room used to be.
As for yesterday's question (To whom did Bill Clinton say in an interview, "I'm all right. I'm disappointed you didn't call me 'Bubba'"?), the answer is radio's Don Imus. Our winner, who remains nameless for now, hails from Milford, Pennsylvania.
Bush Administration agenda: ABC News' Jessica Yellin reports that at the morning gaggle with White House beat reporters, Tony Snow said that President Bush is expected to start doing many more open press campaign events. "He'll be out very vigorously," Snow said. (The White House plans to continue its policy of not releasing transcripts of presidential remarks at the closed press events.)
Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times Notes the tweaked presidential stump speech highlighting taxes and points to the use of that GOP standard in many television campaign ads across the country. LINK
"'Taxes have always been a good message in ads for us,' said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. 'We're on the air in 18 districts now, and 8 of them are on taxes.'"
The Washington Post's Michael Abramowitz reports that while in Florida yesterday, the President zeroed in on Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) – the Ways and Means chair-in-waiting -- telling Bloomberg News yesterday that he "cannot think of one" of Bush's first-term tax cuts that merits renewal. LINK
The Los Angeles Times: LINK
Just a reminder from President Bush's June 2006 Rose Garden press conference when he put forth the two pillars of the GOP midterm messaging. LINK
PRESIDENT BUSH: "Pulling out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission will make the world a more dangerous place. It's bad policy. I know it may sound good politically; it will endanger our country to pull out of Iraq before we accomplish the mission. . . " ". . . I think the Democrat economic policy of raising people's taxes isn't going to work either. I know they'll couch it in all kinds of language, but really what they're saying is we're going to raise your taxes."
Joseph Curl of the Washington Times wonders if Tony Snow might be responsible for President Bush's approval ratings boost. LINK
Despite progress on tribunals, the Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood reports that chances are waning that Congress will make progress on wiretaps, the minimum wage, or small-business health coverage.
In what he describes as a "significant breach" in the tight alliance between Republicans and the drug industry which remains a major source of financial support for House and Senate campaigns, the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers reports that Republican leaders "gave their reluctant blessing to a pre-election deal that tacitly recognizes the practice of individuals' bringing cheaper prescription drugs for personal use into the US from Canada."
"Asked if he was pleased with the deal, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R., Ill.) said bluntly. 'No. But it looks like that's where we're going."
The Wall Street Journal's ed board challenges Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist and others to call Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) on "the deadly consequences of further delay" in approving Andrew von Eschenbach's nomination to be FDA Commissioner.
Politics of torture: On "Good Morning America," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos explained the McCain/Bush deal on detainees thusly:
"We've all been in fights when we can't really remember how it started and we really wanted it to end."
More Stephanopoulos: "Both sides gave something, both sides got something, and they want to close ranks before the election."
And still more: Democrats "took a pass" on this. "They can't really fight it either. . . Sen. Reid basically signaled that he's not going to fight it."
The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith and Charles Babington report that yesterday's deal "could help settle an intraparty fracas that worried GOP leaders in the run-up to the November elections." LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Sarah Lueck and David Rogers describe yesterday's detainee accord as "crucial for Republicans" while Noting that Republicans privately admit that completing work on warrantless surveillance of communications in and out of the US "will be difficult" to complete before lawmakers go home for the elections.
Washington Post editorial headline: "The Abuse Can Continue: Senators won't authorize torture, but they won't prevent it, either." LINK
USA Today's coverage of the deal: LINK
The New York Times: LINK
Politics of immigration:
During a year unlikely to pass the Senate's broader immigration reform, the House approved three immigration bills House GOP leaders described as a matter of urgency in sealing the border. USA Today has the story. LINK
Republicans are hoping to shore up their base by passing an immigration law that President Bush said yesterday he would sign. Besides the 700 mile fence along the border, the House also passed a bill outlawing tunneling under the border and closed loopholes that Republicans believe have slowed the deportation of aliens.
The Washington Times sums it up. LINK
The Washington Post's ed board writes that the most disappointing aspect of the enforcement-only immigration measures that have recently passed the House is the "passive posture of President Bush." LINK
Politics of Iraq:
Former President Clinton tells Bloomberg News that the war in Iraq "hasn't helped" the war on terror. LINK
Howard Dean finally agreed to appear simultaneously with Ken Mehlman. . . in print. In dueling op-eds in the Wall Street Journal, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman maligns Democrats for "truly" seeming to believe that Iraq is "completely separate from the greater war on terror."
Meanwhile, DNC Chairman Howard Dean maligns Republicans for a set of policies that he says amount to "a war on American families."
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne seems to think that the survival chances of a Republican Party "led by a former oilman from Texas will depend in large part on whether gas prices keep falling." LINK
"Plummeting gasoline prices and a buoyant stock market may be weakening the power of the economy as an issue for Democrats less than seven weeks before U.S. congressional elections," writes Bloomberg's Matthew Benjamin. LINK
Nicely teeing up today's "Values Voter Summit," the USA Today takes a look at the evangelical vote -- a reliable Republican constituency in the past -- which may not be sliding into the ballot box as easily as it has in previous cycles. Christian conservatives appear unsatisfied with the Administration's lack of attention to values issues and may stay home on Election Day. LINK
The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan muses on the resurgence of 1982 issues in the 2006 campaign. LINK
John Harwood writes in the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire that Democratic insiders "worry" about the age of those slated for important chairmanships if the House changes hands. "Dingell of Energy and Commerce is 80 years old, Conyers of Judiciary is 77, and Rangel of Ways and Means is 76 -- each more than a decade older than Republican chairman."
Harwood Notes, however, that "attempts to leapfrog veterans would trigger infighting and look unlikely." The Arizona Republic's Jon Kamman reports that the NRCC has cancelled $1 million in planned advertising for Republican congressional candidate Randy Graf. Kamman also Notes a recent partisan poll released by Democratic candidate Gabrielle Giffords showed her with a 19 point advantage. LINK
In the latest installment of their Ohio River Ramble, the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Jim VandeHei look at Rep. John Hostettler's (R-IN) "Mayberry-style" campaign (supplemented, of course, by "north" of $1 million on ads so far) and juxtapose it with the Democratic machine that is helping the pro-life, pro-traditional marriage Sheriff Brad Ellsworth. LINK
The Hillary Clinton vs. John Spencer debate showdowns are set for Friday October 20 in Rochester on NY1 News (and other Time Warner cable news channels across the state) and Sunday October 22 in Manhattan on WABC-TV. LINK
The Honolulu Advertiser previews tomorrow's Democratic Senate primary. LINK
The Wall Street Journal's Harwood reports: "Though Democrats face an uphill climb for six-seat gain" in the Senate, "Republican strategists fear" the DSCC's "$12 million cash edge heightens chances of an upset." Defenders of NRSC Chair Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) "cite cash competition from 2008 presidential wannabes Frist and McCain."
Harwood also reports in the Washington Wire that Democrats believe Sen. Menendez is "their only incumbent at risk, though they dismiss talk of replacing him on ballot with Rep. Andrews."
Be sure to tune into C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" on Sunday at 10:00 am ET (or be sure to record it if it conflicts with "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in your market) to catch Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine telling the New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg that she's heading to the Nutmeg State in October to campaign with Sen. Joe Lieberman.
STOLBERG: "You've worked closely with Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. A little birdie told me that you're guy is going to campaign for him, that he's asked you to and you've said yes, is that true?"
COLLINS: "Yes, it's true. You have your usual good sources. In October, I'm going to be going in to Connecticut and I really hope that Senator Lieberman is reelected. We don't agree on every issue but we have a wonderful working relationship that's allowed us to produce so much bipartisan legislation out of the Homeland Security committee and that really benefits our country."
STOLBERG: "Do you think it's going to help him to have you campaign for him?" COLLINS: "I think it will. I asked him that and he said yes. I told him that I would come in for him. I would do that or if it helped to say bad things about him, I'd do that too. I think this is very important. I think he serves the people of Connecticut very well but also the people of our country."
According to the Associated Press Mel Sembler, a former RNC finance chairman, helped organize a reception that raised a "couple of hundred thousand dollars" for Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT). LINK
The AP reports on Pennsylvania frontrunners, in both the Senate and gubernatorial races, maintaining their sizable leads amid new advertising and poll numbers from the region. LINK
As Carrie Budoff from the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) has decided to share some of his wealth, giving $200,000 of his $13.7 million cash on hand to Senate candidate Bob Casey (D-PA), who is ahead in the polls against Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) but is being out-fundraised by a 2-1 margin. LINK
2006: Governor: John Chase and Rick Pearson of the Chicago Tribune write that "Gov. Rod Blagojevich acknowledged Thursday he helped get a state job for a friend whose husband wrote a $1,500 check to the governor's daughter, but said it was "ludicrous" to suggest the job and gift were connected." LINK
The race for governor in Texas doesn't appear to be the humdrum battle between two front-runners that it once was, reports the New York Times. LINK
Kinky Friedman's words from his past continue to dominate some of the local coverage of the race. LINK
In Massachusetts, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Deval Patrick is distancing himself from remarks made by his state party chairman. Philip Johnston accused GOP gubernatorial nominee Kerry Healey of coming "perilously close to race baiting," referring to Healey's recent remarks on illegal immigrants. Healey's camp wants Patrick to demand Johnston's resignation. LINK
The Des Moines Register's Beaumont describes the breach in philosophies on embryonic stem cell research held by Iowa gubernatorial candidates Chet Culver (D) and Jim Nussle (R). LINK
The billionaire and the movie star:
Today's two most entertaining paragraphs in the political ether come courtesy of Josh Gerstein's New York Sun coverage of the Michael Bloomberg/Arnold Schwarzenegger anti-Washington love fest: LINK
"The notion of the Hollywood star and the New York billionaire as political populists may be difficult for some to swallow, but the two seemed convinced of the concept's appeal."
"At one point, Mr. Schwarzenegger turned to Mr. Bloomberg and gushed, 'He's my soul mate. He's the man.' The locker-room slap the former Mr. Universe then delivered to Mr. Bloomberg's shoulder looked for a moment as if it might knock the mayor off his feet."
The New York Post: LINK
The New York Times: LINK
In the Washington Post's Style section, Libby Copeland trenchantly asks why did Sen. Allen "brag to the Richmond Times-Dispatch the other day about having eaten ham for lunch?" LINK
The Washington Post's editorial page includes a cartoon of Sen. Allen in front of a Confederate Flag, noose, and barrel of macaca, saying: "I'm proud of all my heritage. Some of it was just hard to see."
The New York Times' Anne Kornblut (on the front page of the Washington edition, but buried inside in New York) picks up on Sen. Allen's "awkward moments" regarding the admission of his Jewish heritage and examines the role that religion plays in politics. LINK
Faye Fiore of the Los Angeles Times on Allen's rough image week. LINK
The Hotline's Jonathan Martin Notes Gov. Romney (R-MA) strutted his stuff with some conservative House members while visiting the nation's capital. LINK
Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register reports today that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will tap David Roederer, a top GOP activist in Iowa, to head his Straight Talk America PAC in the Hawkeye State. Beaumont Notes that Roederer was also President Bush's Iowa campaign chairman in 2004. LINK
The AP's Will Lester writes up Sen. John Kerry's appeal to Democrats to fight back against the Bob Perry (of Swift Boat fame) funded Economic Freedom Fund for running ads criticizing Democratic congressional candidates in Georgia, West Virginia, Iowa, and Indiana. LINK
The Des Moines Register's Jane Norman reports that Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) landed in New Hampshire yesterday for his second recent visit to the Granite State. LINK
Casting and counting: The Washington Post's ed board suggests that Gov. Bob Ehrlich's (R-MD) call to junk the state's electronic voting equipment smacked of a candidate seeking political advantage. LINK
An end to the electoral college? The New York Times' Rick Lyman has a look at the Golden State man with a plan. LINK
The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday reviews the new "lively, engaging nail-biter of a film that recalls 'The War Room' in its candor, intimacy and breathless pace" opening today at the E Street Cinema. The must-see film -- "Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?"-- profiles the unsuccessful campaign of Missourian Jeff Smith, who ran in 2004 to replace Dick Gephardt in Congress. LINK
Hawaii holds its primary tomorrow with all eyes on the Democratic Senate primary between Sen. Akaka and Rep. Case.
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and challenger Jon Tester (D-MT) debate on Saturday.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) will be out helping Democratic state House and Senate candidates in New Hampshire this weekend.
Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) headlines the Coos County Truman Dinner on Saturday in Shelburne, NH.
The DNC hosts an African American Summit through the weekend in Detroit, Michigan. DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) will be on hand.
Gov. Mitt Romney travels to New Hampshire on Sunday to campaign with the GOP candidates in Stratham, NH.
Authors Stephen King and John Grisham will help fundraise for US Senate candidate Jim Webb (D-VA) in Charlottesville, VA on Sunday.