WASHINGTON, Sep. 29
In the midterm-defining debate ("Are the Democrats winning -- or, at least, neutralizing -- the national security contest?"), the two best newspaper pieces of the day are by Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal LINK and E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post. LINK
After reading their closing paragraphs (Henninger: "The Democrats' problem is this: They are trying to beat policy with politics and weaken belief with polls. This may work for Social Security. I don't think it works with war. Don't be surprised if come November, Democrats are still on message--Iraq as failure--and still in the minority." and Dionne: "A genuinely sober and moderate view would recognize that it's time the scales of history were righted. Propagandistic accounts need to be challenged, systematically and consistently. The debate needed a very hard shove. Clinton delivered it."), it is clear that __________ (name of clear-thinking but ideologically-oriented columnist here) is more correct.
The President's tough national security rhetoric in Alabama yesterday represents just the __________ (clichéd metaphor) of the attacks he will launch on this topic through Election Day.
The White House is counting on __________ (soon-to-be-released economic statistics) to get another chance at touting the Bush-Evans economic record, while direct mail on ____________ (hot-button social issue) will actually help the GOP save ___________ (name of endangered incumbent Senator).
Bob Woodward had ______ (number) "secret" interviews with Colin Powell for his new book, while Dan Bartlett has presided over ________ (slightly smaller number) meetings to discuss how to discredit the book.
Andy Card's apparent cooperation with Woodward can be be described as __________ (adjective).
When Simon & Schuster's David Rosenthal found out that the New York Times had been able to buy an early copy of the book because a store carelessly put it on display before Monday's formal release, he said ______________ (two-word barnyard curse).
Despite said curse, the extra buzz and frenzy is only _________ (synonym for fanta$tic) for Woodward Inc.
"At retail price" is the new _____________ (common Washington expression).
Jack Abramoff's instruction to the Signatures dude to send Karl Rove a bottle of wine on him, when everyone knows Rove doesn't drink, makes Abramoff look like a(n) ___________ (noun speaking to professional competence) and casts __________ (noun) on how tight he really was with the presidential adviser.
As anyone in the Gang of 500 could have told him, Karl Rove's instruction to Abramoff to just reach him "through Susan" was a ___________ (noun), not a(n) _________ (adjective) embrace.
The number of Clinton and Bush Administration officials not named "McLarty" who have never let a reporter or lobbyist buy them a meal costing more than $20 is _________ (number between zero and eight).
Jackie Calmes' Wall Street Journal joint profile of Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel will make Schumer feel ______________ (intense emotion), and Emanuel feel _________ (nothing).
When George Stephanopoulos broke the news last night on "World News with Charles Gibson" about the House report (out today) on Jack Abramoff's ties with the Bush White House, Ken Mehlman was in Maine on ____________ (type of vessel).
With no public events on his schedule as of this writing, Mehlman is expected to depart Portland, ME in the late morning to return to Washington, DC.
A few hours after that, the day's main event will be the White House briefing, at which you can expect many questions on both the Woodward book, and the Abramoff saga.
The Abramoff report will be released by the House Government Reform Committee on its Web site today: LINK
There's plenty to focus on (color color color), but we suggest: troop levels and possible quid pro quos. :)
A man who barely knows Jack Abramoff and is pretty much done doing interviews with Bob Woodward, President Bush delivers remarks on the global war on terror at 9:40 am ET at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel before meeting with the President of Kazakhstan at the White House at 11:00 am ET. At 7:00 pm ET, the President and Mrs. Bush attend the 2006 National Book Festival Gala Performance and Dinner at the Library of Congress before ending the day in Camp David, MD.
Sean Hannity campaigns for Sen. George Allen (R-VA) at a reception at 6:30 pm ET in Washington, DC.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) holds an 11:45 am ET conference call to address Democrat Bruce Braley having once said that he would cut off funding for the Iraq war. Braley is running against Republican Mike Whalen in Iowa's hotly contested first congressional district.
The Senate overcame a major obstacle on Thursday to passing legislation that would authorize 700 miles of fencing along America's border with Mexico, agreeing to limit debate on the bill shortly before members of Congress head home to campaign for re-election. The Senate resumes consideration today of the border fencing bill (HR 6061). Roll call votes are expected.
Schwarzenegger strategist Matthew Dowd and campaign manager Steve Schmidt hold a 2:00 pm ET conference call with reporters to discuss the state of the California governor's race.
Gwen Ifill of PBS (Happy birthday, Ms. Ifill!!!!) will moderate a panel on Saturday at Harvard's Institute of Politics, as part of the Institute's 40th anniversary celebration. The topic is "Seeking the Right Answer: Election 2006," and the panelists include Rick Berke of the New York Times, Susan Feeney of NPR, Mark Halperin of ABC News, and Gloria Borger of USNaWR and CBS News.
In the Harvard Crimson, Christopher Corcoran and Ari Ruben preview the weekend's events, and put it in the larger context of the IOP's past and future. LINK
See below for more schedule items.
The Abramoff affair: White House contacts more extensive than previously reported:
As ABC News' George Stephanopoulos reported on Thursday's edition of World News with Charles Gibson, a report by the House Government Reform Committee shows that Jack Abramoff had hundreds of contacts with White House officials – far more than previously acknowledged.
The report includes some circumstantial evidence that Abramoff was able to get some action on behalf of his clients from the Administration.
When asked this morning whether or not he ever accepted gifts from Jack Abramoff, Rove told ABC News exclusively: "I did not" in a bit of video that made its way onto "Good Morning America."
Abramoff's billing records and e-mails listed 485 lobbying contacts with White House officials over three years, including several contacts with top Bush adviser Karl Rove.
"Double trouble for the White House," said ABC News' Diane Sawyer in the first headline on "Good Morning America" as she teased stories on the Woodward book and the Abramoff contacts.
Roll Call reports that the White House was allowed to see the draft report of the House Government Reform Committee on Wednesday.
More on the Abramoff story from the Los Angeles Times: LINK
And the AP: LINK
The Abramoff affair: "Nothing new" and "an admitted liar":
RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said: "In his capacity as Political Director of the White House, it is not unusual that Mr. Mehlman would be in contact with supporters who had interest in Administration policy."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perrino responded to the story by saying: "These were the billing records of a liar. The billing records that are used for the report are widely regarded as fraudulent."
The New York Times' Shenon Notes that Abramoff allegedly once sent a bottle of wine to Karl Rove's table at Abramoff's "Signatures" restaurant, a point the White House uses to show how little the two men knew each other since Rove doesn't drink alcohol. LINK
The Abramoff affair: "It is time for the truth":
DNC Chairman Howard Dean's off-camera written statement in response to Stephanopoulos' report on "World News" this evening says, in part, "From the war in Iraq, to denying close ties to Jack Abramoff, the Bush Administration's chronic pattern of misleading and stonewalling is bad for America. It is time for the truth."
On ABC News' "Good Morning America," Stephanopoulos said that "most of the heat" from the Woodward book "falls on Defense Secretary Rumsfeld."
David Sanger of the New York Times got a hold of the Woodward book and writes it up on the Gray Lady's front page. LINK
"The book says President Bush's top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq," writes Sanger.
The New York Daily News on Rumsfeld's not-too-pleasant portrayal in the book: LINK
The Way to Win:
The Way to Win, the new book from Mark Halperin of ABC News and John F. Harris of the Washington Post, features interviews with two political strategists very much in the news -- Bill Clinton and Karl Rove. Their stories about the way to win elections -- applicable to 2006 and 2008 -- are ones Note readers are going to want to read.
You can order a copy from the book's website: LINK
If you missed last Tuesday's book party for The Way to Win, you can see video highlights and still photos by going here LINK and looking for the [look] section in the upper right-hand portion of the homepage.
Yesterday's quiz winner was Ward Greer of Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
With the book's release set for this coming Tuesday, our quizzes are over. So if you want a book, best to buy one now here. LINK
Politics of national security:
Last night the Senate voted 65 to 34 to approve the terror tribunal legislation, which allows the Administration to indefinitely hold terror suspects, and prosecute them in military tribunals. Although the measure has identical language to the House bill, it goes back to the House today for a pro forma vote to reconcile bill numbers.
Then GOP lawmakers are likely to hold a big "enrollment" ceremony as they send it off to the White House.
The President is expected to sign the measure in the next few days. The tribunal legislation is likely to face legal challenges, especially over the constitutionality of the ban on habeas corpus-- denying prisoners' the right to challenge their detention.
The 65-34 vote to pass the military tribunals legislation broke down thusly: LINK
As Carl Hulse of the New York Times Notes, not a single potential Democratic '08er voted for the bill and not a single potential Republican '08er voted against it. Hulse suggests Democrats are no longer concerned that President Bush and the Republicans can use national security to their great electoral advantage. (An argument somewhat undercut by Sen. Stabenow's and Sen. Menendez's support for the bill.) LINK
And for those of you interested in New England politics: Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) voted against the bill, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) voted for it.
The House passed legislation attempting to codify the President's warrantless wiretapping program, but there is no expectation that the Senate and/or a conference bill will emerge prior to Election Day. The New York Times has more. LINK
The Washington Post has House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) saying: "Republicans, especially in the House, plan to use the military commission and wiretapping legislation as a one-two punch against Democrats this fall." LINK
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that the NRSC vows a stiff legal fight if Democrats try to replace Menendez at the last minute. LINK
Democratic ad hits Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA) for allegations of abuse towards mistress:
Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA) is the 65-year-old married congressman who was accused last year by his then-29-year-old mistress of choking her in his Washington apartment. Rep. Sherwood said it was a back rub. She sued him for more than $5 million. He apologized publicly for the affair and settled out of court.
Chris Carney, the Democrat running against Rep. Sherwood in Pennsylvania's 10th congressional district, has put out his first ad going after Sherwood on the allegations of abuse towards his mistress.
The ad features Joseph Lech, a Republican who says he supported Sherwood from the very beginning.
Lech says in the ad: "I'm a Republican who supported Don Sherwood from the very beginning. He campaigned on family values and he didn't keep up to his promise. He took that opportunity and he blew it. This incident with Don Sherwood just cuts right at the core values of our district. I've spoken to my daughter about that incident, and she's disgusted by it. I love my daughter tremendously. How can I tell her that I support Don Sherwood and feel good about myself? I'm Chris Carney and I approve this message."
The ad can be viewed here: LINK
Bush Administration agenda:
The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg Notes that the more pointed political attacks that had been the province of Cheney/Rove/Mehlman for much of the year, have now risen to the presidential level with less than 40 days until Election Day. LINK
The Washington Post 's Michael Fletcher on President Bush's latest attack on Democrats as the party of "cut and run." LINK
USA Today: LINK
Washington Times: LINK
In a must-read profile of the duo bringing "bravado" to the Democratic Party, the Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes reports that if Democrats fall short, "Mr. Schumer will still get credit, because expectations are lower for a Senate takeover."
Calmes writes that Emanuel "has more to lose, given both higher expectations for House gains and the egos 'Rahmbo' has bruised over time."
Be sure to read all the way to the end where Calmes reports that Emanuel was overheard months ago urging vulnerable Democrats to vote for the Sensenbrenner bill criminalizing illegal immigration which he personally opposed.
Sounding like NRCC chief Tom Reynolds, the Washington Post's Ohio River ramblers look back over there nine-day trek and report that in the close races, local issues still dominate. LINK
Bill Nichols of USA Today looks at long-time Republican Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA) and other members of the House who are trying to move up, running for the Senate and governor. LINK
MoveOn.org plans to announce an effort today to raise $100,000 for congressional candidate Lois Murphy (D-PA) in response to a new NRCC television ad in the district which aims to tie Murphy in with the liberal group which the NRCC claims opposed post 9/11 military action and opposed funding American troops. MoveOn.org calls the claims absurd.
MoveOn's executive director Eli Pariser says, "If the Republican Party expects their attacks on Lois Murphy and MoveOn to go unanswered, they missed the memo: MoveOn's 3.2 million members don't roll over, we fight back."
It was forty days to go till the midterms yesterday and the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi does not take that number lightly. "Forty is a number fraught with meaning in the Bible, whether it is the Jews and the Gaza, Noah and his wife and the ark, or Christ in the desert," said Pelosi in a speech to the House Democratic caucus. LINK
The Washington Post reports that the Medicare prescription drug plan has brought "a lot of help to one senior citizen": Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) who has received $307,125 from the AMA. LINK
The Washington Post reports that "scandal alone" might not be enough to topple Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV). "As Democrats are finding out in several key races, voters often seem more concerned about local issues than charges of ethical lapses." LINK
Tim Higgins of the Des Moines Register reports on FLOTUS Laura Bush's visit to Iowa. With 82% approval ratings, Bush raised over $200,000 for congressional candidate Jeff Lamberti and also spoke for candidate Mike Whalen. LINK
Ed Tibbetts of the Quad City Times also reports on FLOTUS Laura Bush's first visit to Iowa in 2 years. LINK
Jon Kamman of the Arizona Republic reports on President Bush's planned visit on Wednesday to campaign for Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ). LINK
State Sen. Ron Klein (D-FL) is tied in the polls with incumbent Rep. Clay Shaw (R-FL). Though Klein's lead is imperceptible, 43% to 42%, it is an improvement upon previous polls. An August poll showed Shaw leading Klein 48% to 41%. A Klein spokesman attributes the improvement in the numbers to the intensity of their ad campaign. Shaw's campaign is calling the latest poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research, biased. LINK
2006: Senate: Allen v. Webb:
The Washington Post's Michael Shear reports that the Sons of Confederate Veterans is the most recent group "offended" by Sen. Allen's comments. LINK
ABC New's Jake Tapper reflects on Sen. George Allen's (R-VA) last couple months where his campaign seems to be "running against itself." LINK
The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson weighs in on the race. LINK
Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune on the "free fall." LINK
Sen. Allen introduced legislation to help black farmers, the AP reports. LINK
2006: Senate: Kean v. Menendez:
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Cynthia Burton reports that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has started running a radio ad accusing the Republican candidate, Thomas H. Kean Jr., of falsely attacking him, while his Democratic supporters sought to discredit Oscar Sandoval, who taped Scarinci, and make it clear that Menendez will not drop out of the race. LINK
The New York Times follows yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer story through the prism that Menendez is once again on the defensive. LINK
The Menendez camp keeps Republicans salivating with yet another scandal and the latest firing of a long-time campaign associate, the Washington Post reports. LINK
Jack Torry of the Columbus Dispatch Notes Sen. Mike DeWine's (R-OH) opinion of Rep. Sherrod Brown's (D-OH) latest vote for the detainee bill, "For a guy who so often votes with the political fringe, Congressman Brown has chosen a noteworthy (sic) time to vote with the majority." LINK
Hillary Clinton leads her Republican opponent, John Spencer, by a two-to-one margin, 59 to 27 percent in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. However, her husband's favorite finding will likely be that 40 percent of New York Republicans approve of the job she is doing in the Senate. LINK
The GOP Senate candidate with the irresistible-for-television puppy ads is asking the GOP for more green, the Washington Post reports. LINK
Bob Corker (R-TN) is taking on Rep. Harold Ford Jr.'s (D-TN) new ad citing that Corker gave himself large pay increases while Chattanooga mayor, calling the claim "blatantly false," reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Richard Locker. LINK
After examining his 1040 tax form, the Commercial Appeal's Perrusquia writes that Corker's tax records are more "nuanced" than the story of savings and small business leadership he projects in his advertising. Perrusquia reports that "as a young, struggling real estate developer, Corker used tax breaks available in his trade to shield nearly two-thirds of his income from taxation." LINK
The Detroit News' Gordon Trowbridge Notes that the Michigan GOP continues to push for a debate between Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Republican challenger Mike Bouchard, leading Chairman Saul Anuzis to crash a Stabenow's campaign headquarters with a live duck, not-so-subtly insinuating she's ducking confrontation with Bouchard. LINK
The Washington Times's Charles Hunt on the Michigan Senate race. LINK
Sen. John Ensign's (R-NV) lead over Jack Carter (D-NV) is narrowing in Nevada: 48.5% to 41.9%. In a previous poll, Ensign was ahead by 12 points. LINK. Carter's father, former President Jimmy Carter, is out campaigning for his son. LINK
The Rocky Mountain News endorses Bill Ritter (D-CO) for governor today. The paper has endorsed Ritter's opponent, Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO), in his previous congressional races. LINK
We're guessing this line from the editorial won't make it into a Ritter television ad anytime soon: "True, our endorsement today is a bit of a gamble given Ritter's limited experience. It could even turn out to be a major mistake."
A New York Times/CBS News poll shows Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) trouncing his opponent John Faso (R-NY) in the battle for Albany's top job 64 to 18 percent. LINK
The Florida Democratic Party is waiting impatiently for gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis (D-FL) to debut a TV ad. Charlie Crist (R-FL) has been running ads for the past three weeks. LINK
Hornback and Cain of the Detroit News report that the "ad blitzkrieg" has begun on primetime television, as Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) and opponent Dick DeVos (R-MI) have spent $26 million on advertising through this week and have set an overall record in spending on the race. LINK
The Schwarzenegger Era:
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Thursday to end "the so-called dance of the lemons in which unsuccessful teachers move from one low-performing school to another and principals are powerless to stop it." LINK
"Send me a pic of you as well":
Following up on a story that was first broken by ABC News' Investigative Unit, the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum reports that the Democratic opponent of Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) is calling for an investigation into an e-mail exchange that Foley conducted last year with a 16-year-old boy who had worked as a congressional page," the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum reports. LINK
Read the ABC News story here: LINK
2006: down ballot:
The New York Times once again deconstructs a Westchester County power couple's marriage and its political ramifications on its front page. LINK
The Republican at the top of the ticket in New York, gubernatorial candidate John Faso, called the investigation into Jeanine Pirro's activities "very troubling," reports the New York Times. LINK
ABC News' David Chalian reports that Hillary Clinton's homestretch campaign trail will wind its way well beyond the borders of the Empire State in which she is running for reelection. Stumping for candidates in key races in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are all on Sen. Clinton's schedule in October. Check out the schedule here: LINK
The New York Post on same: LINK
Newsday's Glenn Thrush picks up on the "backhanded swipe" Sen. Clinton delivered from a DNC podium to Howard Dean Thursday, saying: "The RNC is pouring tens of millions of dollars into races and we're not matching that." LINK
"Many Democrats, including Clinton advisers, are frustrated with Dean's '50-state strategy,' which accentuates grassroots organizing at the expense of election-specific cash-grabbing."
Though standing at a DNC podium, Sen. Clinton urged donors to send their campaign contributions to the DCCC, DSCC, and to individual candidates. LINK
John Spencer's spokesman takes a rhetorical whack at Sen. Clinton for her national travels in the New York Daily News' coverage of the story. LINK
With a catchy "you're not going to believe" this subject line, Mehlman has sent an email to RNC supporters keying off of Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D-NY) recent tax comments to Bloomberg News, urging them to contribute now so the GOP can "keep taxes low."
The New York Post's Maggie Haberman Notes George Soros' declaration at the Council on Foreign Relations that he'd like to get out of the business of politics. LINK
The Washington Post's Al Kamen examines the history of leaking and its often close proximity to elections. LINK
Thomas Ravenel, the GOP treasurer nominee in South Carolina, ended any speculation he would make a second run for U.S. Senate in 2008 yesterday, reports The State. LINK
More schedule items:
Katherine Harris is holding a 9:30 am ET press conference in front of the IRS.
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor deliver remarks on fair and independent courts at the Georgetown University Law Center at 12:00 pm ET.
FLOTUS Laura Bush attends a ribbon cutting ceremony at the US Botanic Garden Conservatory at 11 am ET in Washington, DC.
On the '08er front, the 21st Century Freedom PAC hosts Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) at 12:30 pm ET in Urbandale, IA, and Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) begins his 4-day trip to Iowa to campaign for Democratic candidates in Boone, IA.
The DGA's 2006 Vice-Chairman's Event begins today at 7:00 pm ET.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales speaks at the US Chamber of Commerce at 9:45 am ET in Washington, DC.
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) delivers remarks at a news conference on new legislation in a national hurricane research initiative at 10:30 am ET in Washington, DC.