The Note: Weekly Weakly

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20

If you (or Ken Mehlman) thought that this would be the news cycle in which things would turn around for the Republican Party, you need to think again.

While some of the network evening newscasts paid homage to the robustish economy, and while the RNC's video press release on terror got some inexplicable "earned" media pickup, consider the iron wall into which such things run these days (based often on the Old Media's near-total inability to find upbeat Republican strategists, but also on the glee some press types feel about the current storyline).

Consider this bevy of must-read stories:

1. The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei contrast Karl Rove's confidence about the midterms with blind quotes from other GOP operatives who "said privately yesterday that they now see minimum losses of perhaps 18 seats, with 25 to 30 a more likely outcome." LINK

Note that Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) goes on the record to say that if Democrats are "successful in knocking off the three Indiana GOP lawmakers who are currently trailing in the polls" -- Republican Reps. Chris Chocola, John Hostettler, and Mike Sodrel -- "he could be washed away, too. 'This is going to be for me an all-time Republican low in this district,' he said."

2. The New York Times' David Kirkpatirck achieves must-read status with his look at the "unusually early and unusually personal" conservative implosion, full of Noteworthy interviews with the usual suspects, and including much finger pointing. LINK

The paper highlights Dick Armey's recent comments: "'The Republicans are talking about things like gay marriage and so forth, and the Democrats are talking about the things people care about, like how do I pay my bills?'"

Note the backlash from Dr. Dobson.

3. Reversing historical trends, the Democratic campaign committees for the House and Senate outraised their counterpart Republican committees, reports the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum. LINK

Note, however, that the DNC continues to lag behind the RNC.

The Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings reports that the strong Democratic showing "cut the cash-on-hand advantage Republicans had a month ago to about $10 million, or nearly half." LINK

4. Dana Milbank's Washington Post headline says it all (and will not endear him to his conservative base): "During National Character Counts Week, Bush Stumps for Philanderer." LINK

Washington Post on Foley and the priest: LINK

The New York Times' Abby Goodnough reports on Foley's contact with Rev. Anthony Mercieca too. LINK

5. Washington Post's front page headline: "General Says Mission In Baghdad Falls Short." LINK

The New York Times: "U.S. Says Violence in Baghdad Rises, Foiling Campaign" LINK

6. That news "leaves President Bush with some of the ugliest choices he has yet faced in the war," write David Sanger and David Cloud in their New York Times analysis. LINK

7. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed that runs through different options for "Plan B" in Iraq, neoconservative Prof. Eliot Cohen of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies refers to a "coup" by military modernizers that the United States quietly endorses as the "most plausible" option for the war-torn country.

8. The Washington Post's Michael Abramowitz and Thomas Ricks report that "the growing doubts among GOP lawmakers about the administration's Iraq strategy, coupled with the prospect of Democratic wins in next month's midterm elections, will soon force the Bush administration to abandon its open-ended commitment to the war, according to lawmakers in both parties, foreign policy experts and others involved in policymaking." LINK

9. Many voters across the country may not be buying the Bush Administration's strategy in Iraq and Republican candidates seem to know it, and are adjusting accordingly, reports the Los Angeles Times. Noam N. Levey, Janet Hook and Richard Simon on the GOP candidates breaking with the White House on the war for political survival. LINK

"Even some of President Bush's staunchest allies in solidly Republican states are publicly questioning the administration's war policies, while others are scrambling to find new ways to talk about Iraq in the face of rising voter frustration over management of the war."

President Bush -- who sees older Americans happy with his policies as part of a coalition of the willing-to-vote-Republican -- pivots to a domestic issue this morning by participating in a Medicare roundtable at the Department of Health and Human Services. This afternoon, the President attends a NRSC fund-raising reception at noon ET at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) attends the NRSC fundraising luncheon with President Bush this afternoon and later headlines an evening fundraiser in Washington, DC.

Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-NY) is in his upstate New York district today and attends an Erie County fundraiser this evening with Karl Rove, which is supposed to merit live C-SPAN coverage.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) is back home in Nevada today.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is in New York City this morning then travels to Georgia to do some fundraising with Bill Clinton and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Clinton and Pelosi then travel down to Florida for a rally with Democratic congressional candidate Ron Klein. Look for the potential speaker to be profiled on a certain grand-daddy-of-them-all Sunday newsmag show this weekend.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) is fundraising in Florida today and will meet up with his former boss, President Clinton, down there to help bring more cash into DCCC coffers.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and her opponent former mayor of Yonkers John Spencer (R-NY) participate in their first televised debate at 7:00 pm ET in Rochester, NY. The debate will be carried live on NY1 News in New York City and on Time Warner cable stations throughout the Empire State. (Catch the 8:00 pm tape delay on C-SPAN, if you are outside of New York, or stream it on the web live on the NY1 website.)

Vice President Cheney delivers remarks at 11:00 am ET to the Indiana Air and Army National Guard at Camp Atterbury in Indiana.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has cancelled all of his public events today. The Arizona Senator's PAC released a statement saying that McCain was headed to Arizona to be with his mother-in-law, who is gravely ill.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman attends a grassroots rally in Rolling Meadow, IL at 12:00 pm ET.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean campaigns for senatorial candidate Ned Lamont (D-CT) and gubernatorial candidate John DeStefano (D-CT) at 12:00 pm ET in Hartford, CT.

Former Senator John Edwards (D-NC) addresses a campaign rally for congressional candidate Heath Shuler (D-NC) at 4:00 pm ET in Asheville, NC.

Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) attends a rally with Senatorial candidate Jim Webb (D-VA) and congressional candidates Phil Kellam (D-VA) and Shawn O'Donnell (D-VA) at the Local 8888 headquarters in Newport News, VA.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) campaigns with gubernatorial candidate Dina Titus in Reno, Nevada at 10:00 am ET. At 12:00 pm ET, he delivers the Heartland PAC's Votes Declaration, a petition with more than 10,000 signatures to Nevada Secretary of State. Later, Gov. Vilsack meets with the NV Democratic Party in also in Reno at 1:45 pm ET.

Senatorial candidate Jon Tester casts his ballot early in Fort Benton, MT today. Tester is the Democrat who is hoping to defeat GOP incumbent Sen. Conrad Burns.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) debates challenger Democrat Jim Pederson in Flagstaff AZ.

Gen. Wesley Clark (D-AR) spends the weekend in New Hampshire. He speaks at a Portsmouth Democrats dinner at 6:00 pm ET in Portsmouth today.

You will not want to miss "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday with his full interview with President Bush and an exclusive Sunday morning interview with Bush's 2004 opponent, Sen. John Kerry. LINK

Homestretch money:

Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press Notes that the combined DNC/DSCC/DCCC cash on hand deficit was cut in half (from $20 million to $10 million) by the end of September. LINK

Kuhnhenn adds up the numbers:

"The Republican National Committee was the top GOP fundraiser, collecting $13 million. It reported $26 million in hand."

"The National Republican Congressional Committee, the House organization, reported raising $12 million and had $39.2 million in hand."

"The National Republican Senatorial Committee said it raised $5.15 million and had $12 million in the bank."

"The Democratic National Committee reported raising $5.6 million and had $8.2 million in hand."

"The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said it raised $13.6 million and had $23.1 million in the bank."

"The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House organization, reported $14.4 million raised and $36 million cash on hand."

While Democrats are raking it in, Republicans are still better at putting it away. The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny, taking a break from ethics duty, has the numbers, and just what each party plans to do with that money before November 7. LINK

2006: landscape:

Per the Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood, voters over 50 favor Democrats for control of Congress by 20 percentage points, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. "As Republicans brace for renewed Democratic campaign attacks on Social Security, older voters favor Bush's adversaries on the issue by more than 30 percentage points."

For the Washington Post's Metro section, Robert Barnes and Michael Shear Note the "stern stay-the-course message" delivered by President Bush on behalf of Sen. Allen as well as former President Clinton telling a Baltimore crowd yesterday that his party "now has a chance to represent not just progressives but also sensible conservatives. 'There's something amazing going on here,' Clinton said. 'This is not a usual election.'" LINK

Bloomberg News, playing catch-up, writes up the GOP shifting resources to states and congressional districts that have previously been Republican safeholds. Money is now being poured in to Idaho, where President Bush won with 68 percent of the vote in 2004. Michael Forsythe and Kristin Jensen track the money movement. LINK

And be sure to Note the closing Clinton graphs: "Democratic strategists are debating a move they hope will lead to checkmate: Where to deploy former President Bill Clinton in the final week of the campaign."

"He could be dispatched to such traditional battleground states as Pennsylvania or Ohio; or, assuming those states are secure, Clinton might head West."

"Contests in Arizona and Nevada could be tipped into the Democratic column with some well-timed rallies featuring the former president, a person familiar with the deliberations said."

ABC News' Jake Tapper takes a look at several races across the country where ethical clouds and scandal have dominated the campaigns. LINK

"Many of the scandals littering the road to Washington are pretty local -- and not even necessarily true," reports Tapper.

"A Democratic flier slams Rep. Mike Ferguson, R-N.J., for allegedly hitting on a college girl while drunk at a Georgetown bar. Ferguson denies the girl's version of events, which appeared in the Washington Post's gossip column in 2003, and the bar manager who witnessed the whole thing calls her story and the Democratic flier 'false and fabricated.'"

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan calls President Bush's stumping for Sherwood and Allen a "sign of how bad Republicans' problems are." LINK

Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times has Grover Norquist dismissing the notion of a depressed GOP base: "'There are always in every election cycle self-appointed conservative leaders who announce, 'You haven't done enough for me, so my troops are staying home,'" but 'The National Rifle Association, Americans for Tax Reform, the [National] Right to Life Committee -- the groups that actually put lead on the target and who do stuff all the time, they're not unhappy.'" LINK

David Espo of the Associated Press writes, "For more than a decade, Ohio was the place where Democratic dreams went to die. . . even Republicans concede that Rep. Ted Strickland is on track to become the first Democratic governor in 16 years." LINK

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) predicted (read: hoped) Thursday that voters will focus more now on local issues rather than national ones as Nov. 7 draws near, writes the Nashville City Paper's John Rodgers. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

Joseph Curl of the Washington Times reports that White House Press Secretary Tony Snow rejected partitioning of Iraq after leaks from the Iraq Study Group proposed the idea. Snow also dismissed the idea that the President thought Iraq was comparable to Vietnam saying his comment during an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos was only meant to refer to the propaganda of the insurgent, not the war overall . LINK

The Way to Win:

If you love The Note, and haven't yet purchased a copy of the Mark Halperin/John Harris thriller The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, please ask yourself why that is.

And then buy one now here: LINK

The economy:

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, N. Gregory Mankiw, the former chairman of President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers urges a $1 per gallon increase in the gasoline tax.

GOP agenda:

The AP's Jim Kuhnhenn writes up the latest RNC web/cable video press release, "The Stakes," and its dramatic reminder that the Republican Party believes its policies can better protect Americans than Democratic policies. LINK

RNC communications director Brian Jones tells Kuhnhenn that the ad will go up on national cable on Sunday, but no further details about the size and extent of the buy were made available. Jones has, however, heard of Barry Goldwater.

Michael Kranish of the Boston Globe compares the ad to the 1964 "daisy ad." This harsh ad which has a similar ticking theme and an Al-Qaeda/terror focus could be a last minute "motivator" for Republicans in 2006, as campaign time dwindles. LINK

Note the "stakes" line echo.

Pelosi politics:

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt reports that Heath Shuler, Brad Ellsworth, and Ken Lucas, three Democrats running in competitive and culturally conservative districts, have refused to say whether they would support Pelosi for Speaker. LINK

But don't kid yourself: if Democrats win control, the Italian grandmother of "five, going on six," has it locked up.

Democratic agenda:

Moonlighting over at National Review, The Hotline's wonky-yet-cool Jonathan Martin ponders the ramifications for "free trade" if folks like Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, and others become Senators. LINK

Politics of intelligence:

Katherine Shrader of the AP reports that Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) suspended a Democratic staffer for allegedly leaking secret intelligence information to the press, Democrats say the action comes without basis. LINK

Foley: ethics committee investigation:

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Rulon reports that House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) testified in front of the House ethics committee yesterday, "I've made clear on the record what I knew and when I knew it and what I said. I told the committee the same thing," Rep. Boehner said. LINK

The Washington Post's Charles Babington on Boehner and Trandahl's testimony to the House ethics committee. LINK

Note Bonjean's continuing artful language about what constitutes a firing offense, and remember that the Speaker's strategy is to run out the clock past Election Day, at which point following the evidence wherever it leads might actually be cathartic.

Foley: the priest:

Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Rev. Anthony Mercieca admitted on Thursday to skinny-dipping and touching a young Mark Foley. LINK

Miami Herald on Rev. Mercieca and Mark Foley: LINK

The Herald-Tribune on Rev. Mercieca and Mark Foley: LINK

Foley: FL-16:

Joel Hood of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that congressional candidate Joe Negron (R-FL) has been seemingly unable to separate himself from Foley. LINK

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Vanessa Blum reports that Joe Negron and Florida elections officials have asked an appeals court to allow signs to be posted informing voters that Negron will receive any votes for Foley after a judge ruled on Wednesday that such signs would not be allowed. LINK

2006: House:

Daniela Altimari writes in the Hartford Courant that Rep. Rob Simmons (R-CT), one of the most vulnerable House Republicans this year, is carrying a slim two point lead over opponent Joe Courtney (D-CT) in a new Hartford Courant/University of Connecticut poll, but Notes that Simmons beat Courtney by eight points in 2002. LINK

Rep. Nancy Johnson's (R-CT) campaign received a blow yesterday when it learned it would not enjoy the sole support of the environmental group the Sierra Club, who endorsed Johnson three times before. The Hartford Courant's Rinker Buck has more. LINK

Mark Ginnochio of the Stamford Advocate wraps up the last of Rep. Christopher Shays' (R-CT) and Diane Farrell's (D-CT) 11 debates, Noting the plentiful accusations but absence of many actual solutions. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle's Zachary Coile looks at how the current anti-war mood could unseat Rep. Shays even as he tries to shift his stance on the war. LINK

Democratic campaign strategists have added two veteran Northern California GOP congressmen, Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA) and Rep. John Doolittle (R-CA), to the list of contests they think they can win on Nov. 7, Notes the San Francisco Chronicle's Epstein. LINK

Former President Bill Clinton will help state Sen. Ron Klein (D) today during a fundraiser at the Palm Beach home of Netscape founder Jim Clark. It is part of a final campaign push for Klein who is facing off against incumbent Rep. Clay Shaw (R). The Miami Herald previews the event. LINK

Larry Eichel of the Philadelphia Inquirer Notes President Bush's pit stop in Pennsylvania to support trailing Republican Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA). LINK

Anne Saunders of the AP writes that Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH) apologized for his comment that Rep. "Bernie Sanders and his Sandernistas can go back to taxi-driving in the Bronx of New York City, where they came from," calling it just a bad joke and said that "this emotion builds up approaching the election." LINK

Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph profiles congressional candidate Carol Shea Porter (D-NH) who says she "never planned to be the anti-war candidate," but is in favor of a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq and wants to see the troops preparing to leave. LINK

Paul Harasim of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the debate between candidate Rep. Jon Porter (R-NV) and Democrat Tessa Hafen got heated even before it started with the Democrats in the crowd shouting "Tessa!" while the Republicans responded with "Unqualified." During the debate, Hafen was asked whether it was fair of her to link Rep. Porter to Mark Foley in her tv ads. She responded that she was trying to point out that Porter followed the House leadership which was responsible for covering up the scandal. LINK

State and federal officials are investigating a letter from GOP congressional candidate Tan Nguyen's campaign written in Spanish and mailed to voters in central Orange County that warns immigrants that they are not eligible to vote in federal elections. The Associated Press has the story. LINK

The Washington Post on same: LINK

2006: Senate:

Quinnipiac University is out with a new poll this morning showing Sen. Lieberman (I-CT) well ahead of Ned Lamont, the man who defeated him in the Democratic primary in August. Lieberman leads Lamont 52 to 35 percent according to the poll with Republican Alan Schlesinger getting six percent of the vote.

Perhaps, Lieberman's friend Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) can help narrow that gap for Lamont with his new tv ad for the Democratic candidate going up all over the Nutmeg State.

Here's a portion of the script of the new ad.

DODD: "We need a new direction, I think you could help us get there."

LAMONT: "Well Senator, I look forward to working with you as our senior Senator. We're going to fight hard for Connecticut every step of the way. So let's do it together." DODD: "Together."

LAMONT: "I'm Ned Lamont and I approved this message."

DODD: "So do I."

In the Courant's "Caucus" blog, Mark Pazniokas reports that Sen. Lieberman is preparing for a $1 million ad blitz next week. LINK

Some Republicans in Connecticut seem to believe that Sen. Lieberman's independent campaign -- which is attracting a solid number of conservative voters -- is boosting Republican candidates engaged in fierce battles with Democrats in a state fuming about Iraq. Heidi Przybyla of Bloomberg News has the story. LINK

"President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are using Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman as their shining example of what's wrong with the Democratic Party, routinely citing his stance on Iraq as the reason Democrats have 'purged' the Connecticut senator," Notes the Hartford Courant's David Lightman. LINK

The Nashville Tennessean reports that in the first day early voters in Shelby County's could vote, there were 14 times more than opening day in 2002. Shelby is the home of Democratic Senate hopeful Harold Ford Jr. LINK

Tennessee Senate candidates Bob Corker and Harold Ford Jr. seem to strike a similar chord on immigration: both oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants and agree immigration reform is needed, Notes the Memphis Commercial Appeal's Halimah Abdullah. LINK

John Seewer of the Associated Press Notes that in a debate last night Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) said "he's the only candidate in Ohio's Senate race willing to work with both parties. Democratic U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown said his opponent's record doesn't show it." LINK

David Hammer of the Associated Press reports that several Ohio television stations have dropped airing a Republican ad accusing Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown of not paying an unemployment tax bill for 13 years due to an inaccuracy in the spot. LINK

James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Notes that Sen. Santorum (R-PA) may be backpedaling on his promise to release publicly his tax statements. LINK

Tyler Whitley of the Richmond Times Dispatch Notes that President Bush's fundraising for Sen. George Allen (R-VA) raised over $550,000. LINK

Meanwhile former President Clinton stumped for candidate Jim Webb and raised similar funding. LINK

Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, who is running for Senate in Rhode Island, tried to convince Rhode Island voters last night -- in the first Senate debate of the season -- that the election is a referendum on President Bush and his party and that incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) has to go. Chafee went after Whitehouse's prosecutorial record. The Providence Journal wraps the debate. LINK

The Kansas City Star's Matt Stearns offers up what is likely to be Sen. Schumer's favorite clip of the day with his report that the DSCC's $20 million-plus national GOTV effort will be of great help to the Missouri Democratic Party, which now has a DSCC-paid-for voter file. LINK

The Washington Post endorses Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD) for Senate. LINK

2006: Governor:

From the "when did you stop hitting your wife" file, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons (R-NV) held a press conference to refute claims that he battered a woman after leaving a bar. LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne reports that Massachusetts "may be on the verge of creating two new export commodities: an attractive central-casting conservative governor and a young passionate idealist." LINK

Dionne picks up on Deval Patrick not being able to tell whether the words read to him by a Boston Globe reporter about "hope" vs. "fear" were his own or those of former President Clinton.

Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell told supporters that he does not question Democratic opponent Ted Strickland's sexuality but does fault him for not "standing up" as a congressman for sexually abused children, Notes the Cincinnati Enquirer's Jon Craig. LINK

Iowa's gubernatorial candidates Democrat Chet Culver and Republican Jim Nussle have amassed more than $13 million in combined donations making it the most expensive campaign for any office in the state's history, Notes the Des Moines Register's Beaumont. LINK

More from the Quad City Times. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that one GOP incumbent doing well in an otherwise bad year for Republicans is Gov. Bob Riley (R-AL), "in large part for the ironic reason that he failed to raise taxes."

2006: ballot measures:

ABC News' Dean Reynolds takes a closer look at the abortion battleground that is South Dakota this fall. LINK

With $107 million raised to date, the Washington Post's John Pomfret reports that Proposition 87, the California ballot measure over big oil, may be the costliest in U.S. history, eclipsing the $93 million spent on a 1998 ballot measure to legalize casinos on Indian reservations. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Michael Levenson and Scott Helman of the Boston Globe follow up on Gov. Mitt Romney's Mormon fundraising strategy down in Florida while campaigning with fellow Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL). Romney told reporters that he would use all avenues for fundraising for as he "eyes a run at the presidency in 2008. 'Clearly, I'm going to raise money from people I know, and that includes BYU alums, people of my church, people of other churches, Harvard Business School graduates. . . '" LINK

Note Romney's explicit Globe bashing. Gov. Romney is just one of many prominent GOPers campaigning in the Sunshine State to help save Katharine Harris's congressional seat from falling into Democratic hands. LINK

The Cato Institute gave Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) a failing grade yesterday for his budget policies, but political scientists don't seem to believe it will his presidential aspirations, Notes the Arkansas News Bureau's Aaron Sadler. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Keying off of Sen. Lieberman's experience beating back the Lamont insurgency in Connecticut, the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger writes that Democrats need a "belief-based centrist, with national name recognition, to hold off McCain, Romney or Giuliani" in 2008.

The New York Post's Bishop looks at the $5 million Sen. Clinton has spent on campaign ads this fall and reports that her current ad buyer did similar work for MoveOn.org in 2004. LINK

Looking ahead to 2008, the Chicago Tribune ed board tackles Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) tough decision and wonders if this is his time.LINK

The Boston Herald Notes that Obama is making a Bay State campaign stop for gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick (D-MA) today. LINK

The Las Vegas Review-Journal's Lawrence Mower writes that while speaking at the University of Nevada, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) told the crowd that he did not support withdrawing troops from Iraq and said "I genuinely, honestly want the president to succeed." LINK

"As Indiana Goes, So Goes the Nation," writes presidential hopeful Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) in a fundraising solicitation for three Democrats in very competitive House races aiming to knock off GOP incumbents in the Hoosier State.

If Democrats Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, and Baron Hill succeed, the Bayh camp plans to argue that they succeeded in part because he has given the Democratic brand a good name in Indiana through his record in the Senate and his two terms as governor.

2008:

The New York Daily News' Ben Smith follows his expose on Sen. Clinton's cross-wearing habits with a reaction piece that has some folks up in arms. Smith also explores how Clinton's religiosity stacks up against potential GOP opponents in 2008 and gets an offer from McCain's staff to be put in touch with his pastor. LINK

The weekend in politics:

On Saturday, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) begins his campaign across New Hampshire on Saturday at 10:45 am ET with a rally for congressional candidate Paul Hodes in Nashua. He then attends a health care event with state senatorial candidate Kathy Sgambati at 1:45 pm ET in Laconia. Kerry ends the day with another grassroots event in Portsmouth at 4:45 pm ET with Bev Hollingsworth and State Sen. Martha Fuller-Clark. As mentioned above, Kerry appears on "This Week" Sunday morning.

Gen. Wesley Clark and congressional candidate Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) discuss national security at a town hall meeting tomorrow at 10:00 am ET in Hampton Falls, the repeat performance comes that evening at 7:00 pm ET in Manchester.

The Rockingham Democrats host Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) as their guest speaker 6:00 pm ET on Saturday at their Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner in Epping, NH. Carol Shea-Porter will be on hand also.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) campaigns Saturday with Seattle Democrats and delivers the keynote address at a Washington Democratic Party dinner.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) rally for a "New Direction for America" at 5:00 pm ET in Paramus, NJ.

The National Italian American Foundations hosts a panel discussion on Saturday at 2:30 pm in Washington DC with the Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito, Jr. on judicial independence.

On Sunday, Sen. John McCain resumes his campaign schedule, he's scheduled to attend Tom Kean Jr.'s New Jersey Victory 2006 Sunday Family Fun Day at 12:30 pm ET in the Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, NJ.

And we should Note that Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) celebrates his 59th birthday and Gov. Bill Owns (R-CO) celebrates his 56th birthday on Sunday.

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