WASHINGTON, Sep. 26
The political class -- the Gang of 500, plus the 33,000 people who aspire to be Gang members -- (stupidly) believes that two questions are currently shaping the contours of the midterm environment:
1. Is the leaking of the National Intelligence Estimate linking the Iraq war to failures in the war on terror a paradigm-shifting moment for the Daddy Party?
2. Is Bill Clinton's Wallace-Rorschach outburst a paradigm-shifting moment for the Mommy Party?
The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne says "yes" to (1). LINK
Slate's John Dickerson says "sorta yes" to (2). LINK
The planet earth's Dick Morris says "sorta no" to (2). LINK
The New York Post's John Podhoretz says "potentially yes" to (1) and sees great political danger for the President in the NIE and urges the Administration to declassify the document and begin a vigorous defense against it that includes a more robust argument than the NIE doesn't show the complete picture. LINK
The New York Post editorial page, while denouncing the leak, concurs with Podhoretz on (1) that a strong White House defense is needed. LINK
(The Note wonders if (2) has overshadowed (1) in a way that helps the President, and if Sen. Roberts of Kansas is going to push for a pre-election NIE release.)
Most masterfully, however, the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg says "dunno to (1) and (2), but isn't it all intriguing??!! And you would be smarter to focus on Question (3), which is how the Bush-Cheney Campaign will take (1) and (2) and put them in a stew with everything else and make this a Daddy Party election no matter what."
It is a must read. LINK
Taking some time physically off of the campaign trail (but still thinking about November every waking moment), President Bush signs the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 at 9:45 am ET.
At 10:20am ET, he meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the Oval Office followed by an 11:40am joint press availability in the East Room. At 1:30pm the President signs the US-Oman Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.
At 6:05 pm, the campaign trail comes to Mr. Bush, when the President attends an Iowa, Arkansas and Wisconsin fundraiser at a private residence in Washington, DC.
Vice President Cheney headlines an NRSC fundraiser at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
First Lady Laura Bush campaigns for Ohio congressional candidate Joy Padgett, the Republican hoping to succeed Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), at 12:30 pm ET in Granville, OH.
The National Security Network formally launches at 10:00 am ET at the National Press Club.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) joins Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. George Allen (R-VA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sen. Susan Colins (R-ME) for an 11:00 am ET meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in S-219 of the US Capitol.
Sens. Lieberman and McCain will take questions from the press following the meeting.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) holds two photo opportunities with Talabani at 12:00 pm ET and 2:00 pm ET.
House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) holds a pen and pad only news conference at 10:30 am ET in the US Capitol. House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) discusses the "do-less-than-do-nothing" Republican Congress at 12:30 pm ET at the US Capitol.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) participates in a forum on the human, financial, and global standing cost of the war in Iraq at 2:00 pm ET in the US Capitol.
Earlier in the day, Sen. McCain joins Sen. Kennedy for a press conference on immigration reform at 10:15 am ET.
In an effort to turn his gubernatorial race into a referendum on the Iraq war, Schwarzenegger foe Phil Angelides is going to propose in a 3:30 pm ET speech in San Francisco and in a 9:00 pm ET speech in Burbank that on his first day in office he would call members of the California National Guard home from Iraq.
The Senate Armed Services Committee holds a closed briefing on Afghanistan at 4:30 pm ET in the Russell Senate Building in Washington, DC. Karzai and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez discuss the "Challenges and Opportunities for Economic Development" in Afghanistan at 3:30 pm ET in Jack Morton Auditorium in Washington, DC.
DNC Chairman Howard Dead attends the Grassroots Democracy Bond Event at 5:00 pm ET in Austin, TX.
Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) joins Democractic Senate candidate Jim Webb on the stump in Fredericksburg, VA before raising coin in Oakton, VA. Edwards' former running mate participates in a "virtual" classroom taking questions from college students from the C-SPAN studio in Washington, DC at 3:30 pm ET.
Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura campaigns with independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman (I-TX) at Texas State University, San Marcos, TX.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, Brian McLauren, Dr. Susannah Heschel, and other religious leaders encourage Congress to pursue unconditional negotiations with Iran on a 10:00 am ET conference call with reporters. The National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance calls for a Declaration of Peace in Iraq with a march to the Senate building at 10:30 a.m. ET in Washington, DC.
The Center for Public Integrity releases a report "Campaign Consultants: The Price of Democracy."
The Brookings Institution discusses "American Politics and the Religious Divide" at 2:00 pm ET in Washington, DC.
Politics of 9/11: Clinton v. Bush:
While discussing former President Clinton's Chris Wallace interview on Don Imus' program earlier today, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) stressed that although, "the President by his own admission said he failed," he was leading in a "different atmosphere" when "people were not taking Osama bin Laden seriously."
Sen. Kerry added, however, that the Bush Administration's foreign policy mistakes and diversion from Afghanistan, the war "we all agreed to go fight," "pales by comparison."
Glenn Thrush and Carol Eisenberg of Newsday have Sen. Clinton saying: "I just think that my husband did a great job in demonstrating that Democrats are not going to take this." LINK
"WRONG! Condi tells Post: Clinton terror story 'flatly false,'" blares the New York Post wood on the Bush Administration's pushing back on Bill Clinton's Fox News interview. LINK
"'The notion (sic) somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false -- and I think the 9/11 commission understood that,' Rice said during a wide-ranging meeting with Post editors and reporters."
"'What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years,' Rice added."
Clinton effectively slept through it all -- and now he's trying to rewrite history," concludes the New York Post's ed board. LINK
The New York Daily News reports that a former Clinton adviser disputes some claims made by President Clinton in his Fox interview, specifically that a plan of attack to take out bin Laden was in place after the bombing of the USS Cole. LINK
Second-day coverage from the Boston Globe: LINK
Dick Polmon of the Philadelphia Inquirer discusses the political cost of former President Clinton's "meltdown" on Fox News. "Whenever President Bush and his top surrogates react with total hostility…Democrats generally cite that as further proof of the GOP's mendacity. Yet here was Clinton doing much of the same thing, trying to paint himself as a victim, and using that as a shield." LINK
The Way to Win:
On "Today," this morning, Howard Dean said that Bill Clinton knows "the way to win." That seems to us like blatant product placement by the Democratic Party chairman.
Speaking about the FPOTUS' recent Fox dust-up, Dean said, "I think it's a big morale booster -- not that we needed one. We believe we can win this one. But Bill Clinton showed us the way to win."
Surely the former Vermont governor was making a sly reference to the upcoming Random House book The Way to Win, by Mark Halperin and John F. Harris, due to be released in exactly one week. LINK
Yesterday's trivia answer: Pat Buchanan (although many guessed Bill Safire). The question was "In Des Moines, Iowa in November of 1969, Vice President Spiro Agnew gave a speech critical of the insular nature of the media. Who was the principal author of the speech?"
Our winner is Justice Department employee Steve Engel. Mr. Engel, who serves as the counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, in the Office of Legal Counsel, wins both an autographed copy and two invites to tonight's Washington book party previewing the book.
Today's question: What future computer mogul serviced the Hewlett-Packard desktop computers that Karl Rove used in his Austin, Texas direct mail business during the early 1980s?
To win an autographed copy of the book go to The Way to Win website and enter by midnight ET tonight. LINK
Politics of national security:
As the White House continues to resist declassification of the National Intelligence Estimate, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee -- Pat Roberts of Kansas -- said the American people should be able to see a public version of the report and draw their own conclusions about its contents. LINK
Exploring the straw men, Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times has his excellent look at the rhetorical tactics (some actual, some perceived) employed by President Bush and his Administration when framing the choice before the American people this election year. LINK
"'You want to smash your head against the wall when he does it,' Phil Singer, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said of Mr. Bush. 'It's remarkably frustrating, like that kid in second grade who puts his finger in your face and says, 'I'm not touching you.'"
Despite calls from Democratic and Republican Senators to declassify the National Intelligence Estimate reportedly showing Iraq creating more terror activity than diminishing it, the White House says it has no intention of doing so. The New York Times has the details. LINK
The Washington Post on yesterday's wrangling on the Hill over the NIE report: LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
The friendly Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes up President Bush's (mostly closed press) frenetic fundraising schedule this week. LINK
Former Pentagon spokesguy Larry Di Rita defends the SECDEF's squash playing in a letter to the editor of the New York Times. LINK
The Washington Post has the details on how much money President Bush and Vice President Cheney raised for Republican candidates in their closed fundraisers. LINK
Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News takes attendance of GOP candidates at the Bush-headlined fundraiser in Connecticut yesterday. LINK
Politics of gas:
Almost half of Americans believe the plunge at the pump has more to do with politics and the November elections, than economics. According to a new Gallup poll, 42 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that the Bush administration "deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall's elections." Fifty-three percent of those surveyed did not believe the conspiracy theory; 5 percent said they had no opinion. Not surprising, almost two-thirds of those who suspect President Bush intervened to bring down energy prices before Election Day are registered Democrats, according to Gallup.
Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times says Republicans are betting that a series of targeted attack ads will deflect attention away from the unpopular Iraq war and highlight Democrats vulnerabilities in this election. LINK
"While President Bush and national GOP leaders are attacking Democrats on such big issues as national security and America's role in the world, individual Republicans are hitting their opponents hard -- below the belt, some critics say -- on personal and local issues."
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Jim VandeHei look at microtargeting in the context of the House race between Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Democrat John Cranley. LINK
The Washington Times reports on a new National Journal poll that shows the GOP in good shape for midterm elections. LINK
USA Today suggests that the GOP is no longer a "shoo-in" in the West. LINK
At this morning's breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) predicted a narrow Madrid victory in the key battleground that is NM-01. Richardson said Madrid will win "because of this Democratic wave and my get out the vote operation."
Roll Call Notes that in light of the NRCC cancelling its reserved TV airtime in Arizona's 8th congressional district, the NRCC may have to cut some more vulnerable Republicans loose financially in order to get back what winnable races they can through November. Democrats point to Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) and Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC) as two of the most often mentioned examples.
Invitations have been sent for an Oct. 12 fundraiser with President Bush for Republican Peter Roskam (who is running against Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth) and Republican David McSweeney (who is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Melissa Bean (D-IL)), the Chicago Tribune reports.
Per The Hill, House Republicans are asked to amp up their party-giving. LINK
An aide to Rep Charlie Bass (R-NH) has gotten himself into some blogging trouble. LINK
2006: Senate: Allen v. Webb:
On ABC's Political Radar, Teddy Davis reports that while speaking to reporters on camera in Richmond, VA, Sen. George Allen (R-VA) said it was completely false that the racial epithet in question was a part of his "vocabulary" then, or since then. He also said that he does not "remember" ever using the n-word. He does not, however, deny ever having used the n-word. LINK
More from the Washington Post's Metro section: LINK
Bringing the Brooke Brower Hardball-Sabato nexus to full effect, last night on MSNBC, the ubiquitous Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia said Sen. George Allen (R-VA) "did use the n-word, whether he's denying it or not." Sen. Allen and Sabato were classmates at the University of Virginia. Sabato would not tell the Associated Press on what basis he knew that to be a fact when contacted; he also did not elaborate on Hardball.
Sen. Allen continues to deny using the word and his campaign said last night that Sen. Allen and Sabato were not friends nor did they associate with each other in college.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports as many claims in support of Allen as there are against him. In a news conference yesterday morning, surrounded by black religious leaders, Allen affirmed his stance against gay marriage and denied being a racist. Christopher J. LaCivita with the Allen campaign said one witness, Sabato, is mistaken in thinking that Allen used the n-word. LaCivita points to the fact that Sabato admits to never physically hearing Allen say the slur. LINK
"Sunday night's event had to be one of Virginia's most unusual fundraisers, fitting for one of the country's most unusual and closely watched Senate races," writes the Washington Post's Robert Barnes of the Webb fundraiser featuring writers John Grisham, Stephen King, and Webb himself. LINK
New York Times: LINK
A Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA) regaining his double-digit lead over Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) with 51 percent of likely voters saying they support Casey compared to 39 percent for Santorum. Seventeen percent of Republicans back Casey while only 8 percent of Democrats are supporting Santorum.
The AP's Martha Raffaele reports that Carl Romanelli, the Green Party candidate challenging Sen. Santorum, will be taken off the ballot after failing to get enough valid signatures. LINK
The Philadelphia Inquirer on the same: LINK
Sen. Lieberman called for doubling or tripling the number of American troops embedded with Iraqi security forces to speed up their training in his first speech dedicated to the Iraq war since losing the August 8 primary. The New York Times has the Lamont and Lieberman thrust and parry on the issue dominating the Connecticut Senate race. LINK
The New York Post' on the same: LINK
The Star-Ledger's Deborah Howlett on Kean and Menendez asking for support from the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey, while Democrats raised questions about Kean's record on civil rights legislation. LINK
A poll in the Las Vegas Review-Journal gives Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) a whopping 20-point lead over Democratic opponent Jack Carter. Carter commented that he is not discouraged by the poll, attributing the low numbers to the fact that he has been sick for two weeks and has no ads currently airing. LINK
The Billings Gazette reports on Democrat Jon Tester's plan to file a complaint with the FEC over the allocation of reserved seating at his Butte debate. Tester challenges that the front seats of the theater were reserved for corporations with ties to his challenger, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT). The Burns campaign shoots back: "Jon Tester gets trounced at a debate in a Democratic stronghold where he was unable to defend his extreme liberal voting record and somehow, it's the audience's fault." LINK
In yesterday's gubernatorial debate in Massachusetts, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R-MA) had to defend the role of Gov. Romney's administration in the "Big Dig." LINK
The Globes Editorial & Opinion page has no shortage of analysis on last night's debate. LINK
In the Nevada gubernatorial race, Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV) and state Sen. Dina Titus (D-NV) debated for the first time. Titus challenged his deficit spending and his ties to Bush while Gibbons claimed that her policies would be too expensive. A poll last week showed Titus trailing by 9 points with 10 percent undecided. LINK
Gov. Robert Ehrlich's (R-MD) reelection campaign received nearly $28,000 dollars from companies connected to Kingdon Gould III, reports Matthew Mosk of the Washington Post. LINK
National security politics dominate the homestretch week on the Hill, reports the New York Times. LINK
"It's hardly a news flash that Congress procrastinates. But even by its own foot-dragging standards, the 109th Congress has pushed an extraordinary amount of unfinished business into this week, its final stretch of legislative work before the Nov. 7 elections," ledes the Washington Post's Charles Babington on the sluggish fall session. LINK
After years of "keeping a tight lid on imported prescription drugs, the pharmaceutical industry will have to live with legislative language that tacitly sanctions Americans' practice of bringing cheaper drugs back from Canada," reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers.
"Tempers flared as Democrats argued that the same exemption should apply to cheaper prescription medicines that can also be bought in Mexico. And when Rep. Jim Kolbe (R., Ariz.) broke with his Republican colleagues on the issue, Democrats briefly prevailed on a 9-8 vote. But Sen. Gregg said adding Mexico would jeopardize an already-delicate political balance for Republicans, and the Canada-only exemption prevailed."
Roll Call's John Stanton Notes that Congress' last in-session weekend before the midterms will likely be this upcoming one, with "modest expectations" from Majority Leader Bill Frist and little to show for in terms of major initiatives.
The Hill reports on House GOP leaders' uncertainty about holding leadership elections post-midterm elections, predicting Boehner to remain as leader if Hastert retires if GOP loses House control. LINK
Per Roll Call's Erin P. Billings, Mitch McConnell's $1 million campaign contribution to the NRSC solidifies his status as the next Senate Republican leader.
"As Republicans lurch toward November, they're trying to reclaim their birthright as fiscal conservatives. So far they're moved up to a D from an F, with a chance to still grab a gentleman's C," ledes a Wall Street Journal editorial on Republican efforts to curb earmarking. LINK
Joe Biesk of the Associated Press on recent Kentucky visits by Sen. McCain, Gen. Wesley Clark, Sen. Clinton, and Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) as well as President Bush and Vice President Cheney. LINK
Gov. Romney is expected to announce yet another Granite State get today. Former gubernatorial candidate/state senator Bruce Keough has agreed to take on the role of chairman of the New Hampshire Steering Committee of Romney's Commonwealth PAC. Keough was the New Hampshire vice chairman of President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.
Gov. Romney made a quick pit stop in New Hampshire to raise money for candidates, his next stop Wednesday: Iowa, of course. LINK
The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein keys off of the opening of Gov. Pataki's PAC headquarters in Iowa this week and takes a look at the foundation being laid in key states for a potential Pataki presidential bid. LINK
The New York Times' Healy on the same: LINK
Pataki "has already spent 17 full days campaigning in Iowa since late 2004, more than any other presidential hopeful except Democrat John Edwards," reports the New York Daily News' Dave Saltonstall. LINK
"The whole situation is on hold until she makes a decision," said Gov. Richardson about Sen. Clinton to reporters attending a Christian Science Monitor breakfast about the lay of the land for the Democratic nomination fight in 2008.
"I believe, depending on the message and the campaign that she runs, that you can't exclude the possibility that she can get elected president," added Richardson when asked if the "electability" factor will keep Sen. Clinton from winning the nomination.
As for Richardson's potential run for the White House, he said he "will make a decision early next year."
When asked if he can anticipate unified support among Democratic governors in a potential 2008 run (much like Bush in 2000), he Noted that three governors may run (Vilsack and Warner in addition to Richardson) and that he doesn't "believe there will not be one governor that gets al the governors."
"Democratic voters right now have a preference for governors and can see governors possibly being the better candidate," Richardson added.
The Washington Post's Matthew Mosk reports that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is just one of high profile politicians giving support to Maryland's Democratic candidates for Senate and governor. LINK
Catherine Lucey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) statement that the outcome of November elections and public opinion on his champion issues will help him decide if he should seek the presidential bid. Sen. Feingold also distanced himself from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), "she's very able and I think ready to be president. We disagree on some fundamental issues, particularly the war on terrorism and Iraq." LINK
Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) stumps for candidates in New Hampshire. LINK
Politics of detainees:
The Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith reports on the agreement between Republicans and the White House to allow for a wider definition of "unlawful enemy combatants" in new detainee legislation. LINK
Politics of warrantless wiretapping:
Republican Sens. Sununu, Murkowski, and Craig are on board with the revised Specter legislation on the President's warrantless wiretapping program making final Senate passage appear more likely than not. LINK
The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman on the same: LINK
Politics of immigration:
Per the Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman, in a wide range of House and Senate races, the immigration debate has spawned "attack ads and counterattack ads that blur the lines, and sometimes the truth, between candidates and parties." LINK
According to a Mason-Dixon poll, the Nevada ballot measure to raise the minimum wage has overwhelming support: 72% to 20%. A poll on the initiative to legalize marijuana shows 42% in favor and 51% opposed. LINK and LINK
. Casting and counting:
With an Arizona dateline, Joyce Purnick of the New York Times looks at the legal and political battles brewing over new identification requirements to vote in some states, including Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, and Arizona. LINK
The AP looks at Democratic efforts to line up lawyers in Ohio, Florida, and Indiana to handle any voting disputes. LINK
A new gun ban at the Indiana statehouse won't apply to lawmakers, the AP reports. LINK