The Note: Pending: Six Days of November Surprises

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23

How the (liberal) Old Media plans to cover the last two weeks of the election:

1. Glowingly profile Speaker-Inevitable Nancy Pelosi, with loving mentions of her grandmotherly steel (see last night's 60 Minutes), and fail to describe her as "ultra liberal" or "an extreme liberal," which would mirror the way Gingrich was painted twelve years ago.

2. Look at every attempt by the President to define the race on his terms as deluded and desperate; increasingly quote Republican strategists saying that the President is hurting the party whenever he enters the fray.

3. Refuse to join the daily morning Ken Mehlman-Rush Limbaugh conference calls, despite repeated invitations. LINK

4. Imbue every Democratic candidate for whom Bill Clinton campaigns with a golden halo.

5. Paint groups that run ads or do turnout for Republican candidates as shadowy, extreme, corrupt, and illegitimate; describe their analogues on the left as valiant underdogs, part of a People's Army (with homage to Rich Lowry).

6. Care more about voter disenfranchisement than voter fraud.

7. Take every Republican quote expressing some trepidation about the outcome and banner it.

8. Drop any pretense of covering good news from Iraq (uhm….) or good news about the economy, including some upcoming positive macro numbers (Quick, Note readers: name the current Secretary of the Treasury.). LINK

9. Amplify Obama-mania as a metaphor for the Democratic Party being the party of excitement and the future.

10. Fail to follow Bob Novak's analysis of the difference between Democratic and Republican oppo plants. LINK

11. Lock in the CW (which, shockingly, could be wrong) that the winner of two out three Senate races in Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri will control the Senate.

12. Carefully document what appears to strategists in both parties to be the case -- while a few incumbent Republicans are clawing their way back into contention (including and especially, perhaps, Tom Reynolds), the number of endangered Republican-held seats is growing, not shrinking.

As in: "In a measure of the party's growing optimism, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to announce Tuesday that it will begin airing advertisements in 11 new districts, including eight the party had not considered competitive until recently, party sources say," write the Los Angeles Times' Brownstein, Hennessy-Fiske, and Jarvie in their story looking at the expanded field of play in the battle for control of the House. LINK

The Los Angeles Times data bank at the bottom of the story suggests that eight of the 11 districts newly targeted by the DCCC are represented by Reps. Melissa Hart (R-PA), Richard Pombo (R-CA), John Doolittle (R-CA), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Gil Gutknecht (R-MN), Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Ron Lewis (R-KY).

Bill Burton, the communications director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tells The Note that the DCCC does not plan to make a formal announcement about its new targets either today or tomorrow.

But by Tuesday, the new targets will "become clear to everyone."

One day after opening the door to a 2008 presidential run, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attends a GOTV rally with Senate candidate Jim Pederson, Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) and House candidate Harry Mitchell in Tempe, AZ at 1:00 pm ET.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) meets with GE Global Research leaders to discuss renewable energy technologies at 9:45 am ET in Niskayuna, NY and campaigns for Kristen Gillibrand, the Democrat running against Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) in New York's 20th congressional district, in Averill Park, NY at 3:45 pm ET.

The Garden State, Bob Menendez, Tom Kean, and the national parties all eagerly await the anticipated New Jersey Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage -- which could be coming any day now. The New York Times' Mansnerus has the story, with the focus on the potential national and state implications for November 7. LINK

In an effort to keep voters focused on pocketbook issues, President Bush will make a statement on the economy during his 1:20 pm ET event at the Urban Trust Bank in Washington, DC.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said over the weekend that President Bush intends to mention how optimism about the economy and rising hopes for strong third-quarter earnings lifted the Dow Jones industrial average past 12,000 for the first time on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, the President and First Lady welcome King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden to the White House. The President also participates in an 11:20 am ET photo op with crew members of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

One has to ask: will the RNC and others convince the POTUS to scale back his national media aspirations?

Vice President Cheney attends a fundraiser at a private RNC fundraiser in Greenwich, CT at 6:00 pm ET.

First Lady Laura Bush attends a 6:30 pm ET fundraiser for Sen. George Allen (R-VA) at a private residence in McLean, VA.

Former President Bill Clinton raises money for the Ohio Democratic Party as well as for Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the Democrat running against Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), and Rep. Ted Strickland, the Democrat running against Ken Blackwell to be governor of Ohio, from 6:00-8:00 pm ET at the Hyatt in Columbus, OH.

Obama opens the door:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) opened the door to a White House run Sunday, saying that he has "thought" about running for president while indicating that he won't make a final decision until after the midterm elections.

When ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) Sunday if he thought the junior Senator from Illinois was ready to be president, Sen. Kerry stopped short of answering the question and patted himself on the back for selecting Obama as the keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

"I think he's a very interesting and very powerful communicator with a great deal of skill," said Sen. Kerry. "I wouldn't have picked him if he didn't. And I'm really pleased to see the way in which the country is ratifying my judgment on that."

In an "America Weakly" missive sent to reporters following "Meet the Press," the RNC Noted that Sen. Obama seemed to waver on whether the phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq should begin by the end of 2006 as he proposed in the newly published "The Audacity of Hope."

""[K]eep in mind I was writing this three or four months ago. It may be at this point it happens at the beginning of the year," said Sen. Obama.

"Barack Obama has become, in a matter of weeks, the new It candidate for the Democrats," reported ABC News' Claire Shipman on "Good Morning America."

(Note to donors/bundlers and Granite State operatives: let us know if you get a call please.)

With an impressive Nagourney/Zeleny double byline, the New York Times writes up Sen. Obama's movement toward a consideration of a presidential candidacy in 2008. Note Howard Wolfson's refusal to comment and Evan Bayh adviser Anita Dunn listed as one of Obama's experienced political advisers. LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Balz has Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf saying of Sen. Obama: "If he runs and Mrs. Clinton runs, I don't think there's a lot of room for anyone else. The two of them take up an enormous amount of political space." LINK

Note that several Obama advisers "denied that they had conducted focus groups about an Obama candidacy, as some other Democrats have suggested." Of course, the article doesn't have any denial of polling in Iowa. . .

Sounding very Elmo-like, the Hotline's Chuck Todd is quoted in USA Today saying of Obama: "It hurts a lot of candidates not named Hillary Clinton. If he got in and she ran, there'd be no room for anybody else. There'd be no oxygen left in the room." LINK

Chuck Neubauer of the Los Angeles Times has former Dean strategist Joe Trippi saying that "Obama 'certainly has the skill, the talent and the star quality' -- and if he decides to run, 'it changes the whole dynamic of the race.'" LINK

After quoting Obama strategist David Axelrod, Neubauer writes that a "second Democratic strategist, "who asked to remain anonymous for professional reasons, said it 'may be difficult' for Obama to translate his popularity into a White House run after only two years in the Senate."

"'My guess is that he will consider [2008] too early,' the strategist said."

"'He has a lot more presidential campaigns in him.'"

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein has Dick Harpootlian, the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, saying, "He's a tremendously talented young man but I think he's a little green at this point. I'm sure it's flattering to hear this talk, but I think he needs to stay in the Senate awhile. He's got to get re-elected first. That was John Edwards's problem the last time around." LINK

Harpootlian, who was on board with Mr. Warner, "said he isn't sure where to look next. 'Nobody in the process right now excites me,' he said."

Gerstein Notes that Obama's record puts him to Clinton's left on the war and to her right on reining in class action lawsuits.

In a story looking at Obama's "decided and unequivocal shift" on 2008, the Chicago Tribune's William Neikirk has Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) sounding very supportive of an Obama bid for higher office. LINK

Al Hunt of Bloomberg News writes that if American politicians were stocks, Sen. Obama "would be a Warren Buffett investment: great long- term value." LINK

The New York Daily News' Helen Kennedy wisely Notes that while Sen. Clinton was being asked about the recent Time magazine cover about her perceived polarizing personality, Sen. Barack Obama was becoming "a far greater threat to her political ambitions." LINK

More from Bill Lambrecht of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. LINK

Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich each took a weekend semi-swipe in their New York Times columns at the idea that Obama is the Democratic Party's silver bullet. LINK and LINK

Pelosi politics:

There was an explosion of coverage of Nancy "Two Heart Beats Away" Pelosi over the weekend.

In her much-anticipated "60 Minutes" profile, Lesley Stahl asked the San Francisco Democrat how she would work with President Bush as Speaker, "we're professionals…this isn't personal."

In response to the Bush Administration's attacks on her ability to lead, Pelosi said, "As a mother and as a grandmother, 14 years on the intelligence committee, don't tell me I have I any underestimation of what the threat is to our country. So if you want to justify your failed policy by saying we don't understand the threat, clearly you didn't understand the situation you got us into."

Pelosi does, however, pledge that "impeachment is off the table . . . it is a waste of time, wouldn't they just love it if we came in and our record as Democrats coming forth in the next 12 years is to talk about George Bush and Dick Cheney." Instead, she believes that this election "is a referendum on them" and "making them lame ducks is good enough for me"

Newsweek's Isikoff and Bailey look ahead to what a potentially Democratic run House would look like. The duo also Notes how Nancy Pelosi has been preparing for power. LINK

". . . Over the summer, when polls started tilting toward the Democrats, Pelosi made her first moves to get the control of the chairmen-in-waiting. She assigned 40 members the job of studying the Democratic House rules and let it be known that she might not always follow the tradition of awarding chairmanships based on seniority. It was a clear warning not to cross her. In July, when she noticed few members were bothering to show up for party caucus meetings, Pelosi quietly leaked another possible rule change: attendance at the meetings would be taken into account in her committee selections. The same went for fund-raising. Members who weren't writing checks to support Democratic candidates might hurt their chances of rising in the leadership."

"Once she'd gotten their attention, Pelosi met privately with several senior House members and told them they would get their committees. But she wanted it understood that she was running the place. Pelosi was especially firm with Conyers. She told him she didn't want any 'out-of-control investigations,' a senior House aide says; not another word about impeachment, she warned. 'The impeachment talk gave the other side exactly what they wanted, which was an opening to talk about 'those liberal Democrats',' says the senior House aide. 'It couldn't keep happening. We were writing their campaign ads for them.'"

Lois Romano profiles "would be Speaker" Pelosi in Saturday's Washington Post and her hopes for the future of the party, "I expect a certain level of discipline when we have agreed on where we're going," she said, Congressmen "mistake sometimes my courtesy for a lack of strength, and they ought not to do that." LINK

"If Democrats win control in November, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has decided to award committee chairmanships based almost entirely on seniority, ensuring that the House would feature far more minority faces and some liberal firebrands," writes Jonathan Weisman in Saturday's Washington Post. LINK

Faye Fiore discusses Pelosi's day-to-day life in Saturday's Los Angeles Times. In defense of recent Republican ads painting her as "a caricature of liberal excess," Pelosi responds, "Look, if I weren't effective, I don't think they would try to take me down. You're in the arena, you're in the ring. That's what happens." LINK

The Way to Win:

Want to know what Barack Obama's chances are of getting elected president in 2008?

Click here. LINK

The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, by Mark Halperin of ABC News and John F. Harris of the Washington Post was described thusly by the very savvy Rocky Mountain News:

"Deep analysis of the trade secrets any contender will need to secure the highest office in the land. . . brilliant research. . . .insider details . . . far deeper than what readers can pick up from mainstream news sources. This is a window into the back room shenanigans politicians and their hired hands use to win elections, dirty tricks and all. Grade: A." LINK

To buy a copy of the book that is being read by everyone interested in who the next president will be, click here. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

Jim Rutenberg and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times write up President Bush's (Karl's, Ken's, and Sara's too) efforts to remain optimistic about his party's chances for victory on November 7. LINK

It is a must read.

"Mr. Rove has told associates that the party's turnout machinery, through which the White House will continue to pump an unrelenting message against Democrats on taxes and terrorism, gives Republicans an advantage of four to seven percentage points in any given race. Though Democrats call that too generous, they acknowledge that it accounts for at least a few percentage points."

"Mr. Rove and Ms. Taylor are said by associates to have spent hours going through data on volunteer efforts, voter registration tallies and financial matchups between candidates throughout the states, and they see a path to victory."

However, "a strategist close to the White House said Mr. Bush's own political team had polling that showed as many as 14 House seats were probably already lost to Democrats, just one shy of the 15 seats they need to gain to win control," write Rutenberg and Stolberg.

"Though White House aides said that account was exaggerated, they acknowledged that polls have shown at least that many races with Democrats leading Republicans."

Newsweek's Howard Fineman is not the least bit surprised that President Bush refuses to accept defeat as an option. LINK

Bush chides father for election remarks:

In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that aired Sunday, President Bush "gently admonished his father for saying he hates to think what life would be like for his son if the Democrats win control of Congress in the November 7 election," Reuters reports. LINK

"'He shouldn't be speculating like this, because -- he should have called me ahead of time and I'd tell him they're not going to (win),' a smiling Bush told ABC 'This Week' in an interview broadcast on Sunday."

As Michelle Dubert reported Oct. 5 on ABC's Political Radar, former President George H.W. Bush warned of a "ghastly" future for his son and other Americans if "wild Democrats" were to take over Congress. LINK

"'I would hate to think what Arlen's life would be like, what Rick's life would be like, and what my son's life would be like if we lose control of the Congress,' said former President George Bush in a reference to Pennsylvania's two Republican Senators. 'If we have some of these wild Democrats in charge of these committees, it will be a ghastly thing for our country.'"

Former President Bush made his comments while campaigning for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in the Philadelphia suburbs.

2006: landscape:

On Sunday, Adam Nagourney and Robin Toner of the New York Times looked at a somewhat foreign emotion being exhibited by Democrats this election season -- optimism with regard to their chances for victory. LINK

Charles Babington and Dan Balz reported in Sunday's Washington Post that despite the fact that Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said last year that it would take "a miracle" for Democrats to regain the Senate, the chances are looking increasingly favorable for them to do just that. LINK

"Best GOP Hope: Scare 'Em Silly," reads the headline above Dick Morris' column in the New York Post, in which Morris says all is not lost for the Republicans, if they run the TV spot he sketches out. LINK

To try to determine if a Blue wave is truly upon us, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter went to New Jersey's seventh congressional district where Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) is running against Democrat Linda Stender. Alter came away uncertain about what November holds. LINK

The New York Daily News' Bazinet writes of how both parties have put a lot of eggs into the suburban Philadelphia basket this cycle. LINK

The Washington Times on Democratic efforts to catch up with Republicans on GOTV. LINK

With national polls showing trouble for Republicans across the country, GOP candidates are turning to taxes and security, their bread and butter issue. Catherine Dodge of Bloomberg news has the story. LINK

Maureen Groppe of the Indianapolis Star examines the loss of Indiana's "clout" if the Democrats win back the House and the Senate resulting in the loss of five chairmanships currently held by Republicans. LINK

The Republican National Committee is following up its terrorism related web video, "The Stakes," with the other GOP message pillar today. "Tax Man," a web video directed by Hollywood filmmaker David Zucker, drives home the Republican message that if Democrats gain control of the House, they will raise taxes by $2.4 trillion.

The RNC plans to blast email the video to its list of millions of supporters and grassroots activists later today. You can see the web video at LINK

2006: House:

Geoff Earle of the New York Post reports Rep. Peter King (R-NY) -- who has not been considered an endangered incumbent this year -- "plans to empty his $1.6 million campaign war chest by Election Day -- a sign that the senior lawmaker is sweating his race in a dicey year for the GOP." LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post, Steve Hendrix had a friend of DCCC Chairman Rahm Emmanuel (D-IL) describing him as being "like Lyndon Johnson, who finished almost every campaign in a hospital bed. As someone from Texas, I don't make that comparison lightly, but Rahm just may be our skinny, nine-fingered, Jewish, Chicago version of LBJ." LINK

Bravo to Hendrix for minimizing the number of cliches in this Rahmbo profile, and for going to Manny's with the Chairman.

The South Florida battle between a Republican incumbent who has served 26 years in the House and his 49 year old Democratic opponent who has raised more money than any other Democratic challenger this cycle is one of the most watched House contests heading into Election Day. Abby Goodnough of the New York Times has this look at FL-22: LINK

USA Today's Martin Kasindorf takes a closer look at Reps. Richard Pombo and John Doolittle, both Golden State GOP congressmen, running for reelection, find themselves in hot water. LINK

Tom Witosky of the Des Moines Register discusses the differences between Republican Mike Whalen and Democrat Bruce Braley on trade. LINK

The Boston Globe's Joseph Williams on the possible first Muslim lawmaker in the House. LINK

Ed Vogel writes up one of Nevada's toughest House races, between Jill Derby (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV). Heller is quoted in the article as saying, "If this were 2002 or 2004, the race would be over. It is because of the national mood (against Republicans) that this seat is in play." LINK

2006: Senate: Tennessee:

In a piece looking at Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia for Sunday's Los Angeles Times, Ron Brownstein had Andrew Arulanandam of the National Rifle Association saying that the gun-rights group "will not criticize Ford, who received a B grade from the organization. LINK

"That could amount to a major bullet-dodge for Ford," writes Brownstein.

Newsweek's Jonathan Darman profiles said Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN) in the magazine's cover package on some of the centrist Democrats (Ford, McCaskill, Webb, Casey) who may hold the key to the Democratic Party gaining the majority in the United States Senate. Ford's ambition, family history, and morning prayer all get some play in the profile. LINK

Richard Wolffe of Newsweek explores how -- at the urging of the White House -- Lamar Alexander image maker Tom Ingram has been sent to rescue Bob Corker. LINK

Newsweek's Ellis Cose ponders the truthfulness of poll respondents in Tennessee when asked if they would vote for Harold Ford, Jr. LINK

Neither Corker nor Ford is very happy with the activity of their respective national parities in Tennessee. Both men say negative ads are slowing their ability to spread their message reports Brian DeBose of The Washington Times. LINK

The Nashville Tennessean on the RNC's ad attacking Ford. LINK

2006: Senate: Virginia:

In Sunday's Washington Post, Tim Craig and Michael Shear looked at how Senator "Don't Tuck Tail and Run" said recently: "The president has his ideas on Iraq, John Warner has his and I have mine." LINK

The Washington Post's Lisa Rein takes a look at the Allen and Webb attempts to soften their images in the hopes of capturing the female vote. LINK

In this week's New Yorker, Peter Boyer profiles the Virginia Senate race and writes that James Webb, a Democrat "who is licensed to carry a pistol and whose campaign vehicles include a camou?aged Jeep, will not be mistaken by voters for Howard Dean --or George Allen."

2006: Senate: Missouri:

The Kansas City Star's Goldstein and Klaske Noted yesterday that it's "no more Mr. Nice Guy" for Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO), as he makes his attacks on opponent Claire McCaskill (D-MO) personal. LINK

2006: Senate: New Jersey:

The Newark Star-Ledger's Deborah Howlett and Joe Ryan Note that the weekend's guests foreshadowed a possible 2008 showdown, as Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) campaigned for incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NY) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stumped for challenger Tom Kean Jr. (R-NJ). LINK

Kean gets front page New York Times profile treatment looking at his defeat in a GOP primary for a House seat in 2000 and the political career he has been building since then. Timesman David Chen has the story. LINK

Kean also gets profiled by David Segal in the Washington Post's Style section in a piece that Notes all the legacies on the ballot this year. LINK

"Americans love a good up-from-nothing bootstrap bio, but when it comes to politics we tend to become shameless nepotists. This political season alone, Democrat Robert P. Casey Jr., the son of a former governor of Pennsylvania, is threatening to unseat Republican Sen. Rick Santorum. In Tennessee, Harold Ford,Jr. the namesake of a long-serving congressman, might trade up his House seat for a Senate office. Frank Murkowski, the governor of Alaska, lost his bid for reelection in a September primary, but his daughter Lisa Murkowsi still holds the Senate seat -- formerly his Senate seat -- to which he appointed her in 2002. And Jimmy Carter's son Jack, an investment banker who has never held political office, is running for Senate in Nevada."

Kean scores the New York Post endorsement today. LINK

2006: Senate: Pennsylvania:

Cynthia Burton of the Philadelphia Inquirer describes New Jersey's Bergen County as the apple of both parties' eye, as they predict it will be the bellwether in the Garden State's tight Senate race. LINK

2006: Ohio:

The Cincinatti Enquirer endorsed Sen. DeWine over the weekend, calling him "an effective moderate." LINK

2006: Senate: New York:

Ben Smith of the New York Daily News gets the wood with his exclusive chat with Clinton opponent John Spencer who claimed that Clinton has had plastic surgery, something Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson denies. LINK

"He says the senator used to be ugly -- and speculates she got 'millions of dollars' in plastic surgery," reports Smith.

2006: Governor:

USA Today finds Democrats poised to take control on a state level. Kathy Kiely examines the benefits that come with state control, including redistricting. LINK

USA Today breaks it down state by state. LINK

The role of standardized testing in Florida and Texas have become huge, front and center issues in those states' gubernatorial races. Republican candidates are emphasizing their support of standardized school testing while their Democratic opponents publicly condemn testing. Peter Whoriskey of the Washington Post has the story. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Jim Carlton looks at how the Republican candidate for governor in Alaska is using voter anger with corruption and incumbents to her advantage.

The New York Times' Fernandez explores Eliot Spitzer's unlikely appeal in Republican pockets in the Empire State. LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Mario Cattabiani reports that many of NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann's (R-PA) former teammates appreciate his class on the field but have a difficult time envisioning him as Pennsylvania's next governor. LINK

Gov. Jodi Rell (R-CT) receives the New York Times endorsement. LINK

Margaret Cronin Fisk of Bloomberg News looks at Democrats' effort to go after GOP gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos for his leadership in Amway Corporation. Dems are claiming DeVos created jobs in China while cutting jobs in Michigain. LINK

Hillary Clinton's debate weekend:

In Sen. Clinton's first debate on Friday, she refused to rule out running for president in 2008 and she refused to commit to serving her full six-year term if re-elected.

She also said that any voters who are bothered by her refusal to rule out running for president should factor that into how they vote. That is -- not coincidentally -- a version of the answer that George W. Bush gave when he was running for re-election as Texas governor in 1998 amid speculation that he would run for president.

The New York Times: LINK

Elizabeth Edwards called Sen. Clinton Friday to apologize for being quoted in Ladies' Home Journal as saying of the former first lady, "I think my choices have made me happier. I think I'm more joyful than she is."

There is still no resolution in the dispute between Edwards and the LHJ over the accuracy of the transcript.

The New York Post's Maggie Haberman writes up the "Elizabeth Edwards question" response in which Hillary Clinton claimed to "love" her life. Haberman also reports that Bill Clinton was at WABC-TV studios watching his wife's debate before they headed off to church together in Brooklyn and before she hosted a fundraiser for Ned Lamont (D-CT). LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post, Zachary Goldfarb described the recent Edwards-Clinton developments as "faint foreshadowing of the intraparty battle that could arise when Democrats choose their presidential nominee in two years." LINK

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton mixed presidential gravitas and familiar talking points in the second and final debate of her re-election race yesterday, assertively challenging Bush administration policy on Iraq, Iran, and North Korea while carefully defending her own record on abortion rights," writes Pat Healy of the New York Times. LINK

"As in the first debate on Friday against her Republican challenger, John Spencer, a former mayor of Yonkers, Mrs. Clinton's poise bordered on the monochromatic: She offered no new big ideas about the future of New York, she appeared engaged and mostly unflappable, and she used language that fell somewhere between safe and scripted."

Politics of Iraq:

Michael McAuliff of the New York Daily News wraps the Sunday talk show chatter which had some Republican Senators sounding somewhat less than enthusiastic about the current state of affairs in Iraq. LINK

GOP agenda:

Since Speaker Hastert is not likely to continue as minority leader if Republicans lose control of the House, the Indy Star reported over the weekend that Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) could fill that position while Noting that he "may be tempted to decline offers to move up in anticipation of better political weather." LINK

Democratic agenda:

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman offers some unsolicited advice to the Democrats who may be in charge of the House in January, urging them not to take their new posts quietly. LINK

Of course, there is this one key phrase in Krugman's column which explains why his advice may be shunned -- "Political considerations aside. . . "

Eric Pfeiffer of the Washington Times on how liberals leaders like would-be Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) ) might shift the Congress' legislative agenda should they gain control of the House. LINK

USA Today's Heather MacDonald reports on Democrats "trying to show that they, too, have God in their hearts and in their caucus rooms." LINK

2008: Republicans:

Following up on its reporting from last week, on Sunday the Boston Globe printed emails from a Romney adviser about tapping the Mormon Church community as a potential reservoir of support for a Romney presidential campaign. LINK and LINK

The question remains: where is the Globe getting this stuff?

The Boston Herald's Kimberly Atkins sees Gov. Romney's jet setting schedule as taking him away from Boston quite often, maybe even too often. The Massachusetts Governor will be in California today. LINK The paper tallies up all his trips since mid-September: LINK

Gov. Romney is a big earner, and therefore winner, with the national party, the Boston Herald's Kimberly Atkins reports.

Fred Dicker of the New York Post writes that Gov. Pataki's (R-NY) recommended picks for federal judgeships appear to be on hold pending the outcome of the November 7 election. LINK

As Dicker Notes, Pataki plans a seven state campaign swing in the homestretch. Pataki's campaign swing is scheduled for October 31 through November 4 and includes Florida, Michigan, and Iowa as stops.

Pataki will not be the only '08er from New York who plans to hit the Hawkeye State stump before Nov. 7. Rudy Giuliani is expected to wrap up his homestretch campaign stumping in Iowa on behalf of congressional candidates and gubernatorial hopeful Rep. Jim Nussle (R-IA) on Monday Nov. 6.

Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist is "backing good standing with the Tennessee medical board after catching up on continuing education and paying a fine for failing to do the work on time," reports the AP's Nancy Zuckerbrod. LINK

2008: Democrats:

In a Sunday op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Sen. Dick Luger (R-IN) urged the creation of an International Nuclear Fuel Bank which would "ensure access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and prevent weapons proliferation." LINK

The Indianapolis Star on the 2008 implications of 2006 for Sen. Bayh. LINK

Foley:

The St. Petersburg Times' Adair and Allison ask aloud why Rep. Jim Kolbe and staffers Jeff Trandahl and Kirk Fordham, who are all openly gay, were trying to hush questions about Foley's conduct when they first heard of his behavior several years ago. LINK

In Sunday's Washington Post, Amy Goldstein and Elizabeth Williamson reported that Foley's behavior went unchecked because it operated "within accepted norms of the program's culture" where congressmen often watched out for the young pages and pages looked up to them as mentors. LINK

NIE report:

In Saturday's Washington Post, Walter Pincus looked at the suspension of a Democratic staffer on the House Permanent Select Committee by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) for his suspected involved with the leak of the NIE report. LINK

More from the Los Angeles Times: LINK

Casting and counting:

Jake Tapper, Rebecca Abrahams and Eduardo Sunol of ABC News discuss worries about new electronic voting machines. ABC News has obtained an independent report claiming that "original Diebold factory passwords are still being used on many voting machines" enabling them to be hacked by anyone who has seen the disks and preventing local officials from customizing and protecting their machines. LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman writes that the perils in using new electronic voting machines is "not a particularly sexy issue," but could cause a major uproar on Election Day and after. LINK

The Associated Press reports that ten communities around New Hampshire had to recall absentee ballots already because of printing errors. LINK

In memoriam:

Thomas Ropp of the Arizona Republic reports on the death of Marguerite Hensley, Sen. McCain's mother-in-law. LINK

Our condolences to the family.

Other calendar items:

At 12:00 pm ET, former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) hold a conference call to discuss six states that have minimum wage initiatives on the ballot this year: Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio.

Gov. Romney is attending political events in California.

Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) leads presidential delegation to attend the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution in Budapest, Hungary.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) speaks to the El Paso County Democrats at the Democratic Hall of Fame Banquet at 8:00 pm ET. Sen. Dodd will be joined by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX).

Gov. Richardson holds a 6:00 pm ET rally in New Mexico.

Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke holds an 11:00 am ET conference call with reporters to discuss Rep. Harold Ford Jr.'s (D-TN) national security record.

The National Board of Log Cabin Republicans hosts a party from 6:00-8:00 pm ET honoring Patrick Guerriero's tenure as President, Washington, DC.

At 8:00 pm ET, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) debate at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman kicks off early voting by casting his ballot at the Kerr County Courthouse in Downtown Kerrville, TX at 11:00 am ET. LINK

Former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) hold an 11:30 am ET press conference to discuss tax reform at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Week ahead:

On Tuesday, President Bush heads to Sarasota, FL to attend a Vern Buchanan for Congress fundraiser. He also attends a RNC fundraiser in Boca Raton, FL. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) is in New Hampshire for various campaign events today and tomorrow. Former President Bill Clinton campaigns with Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI) in Milwaukee, WI. In the Florida gubernatorial race, Jim Davis (D-FL) and Charlie Crist (R-FL) debate at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Former Vice President Dan Quayle speaks at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, AR. Former Congressmen Dick Armey (R-TX), Dick Gephardt (R-MO), and Charlie Cook discuss the midterm elections with the DLA Piper in Washington, DC. The Center for Responsive Politics holds a conference call briefing to offer a prediction on the total cost of the 2006 midterm elections. And lastly, Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD) celebrates his 52nd birthday.

On Wednesday, POTUS George Bush meets with the President of Dominican Republic in the Oval Office. The National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon features Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) of the NRSC and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington, DC. Sen. Bayh attends a fundraiser for Democrat Ken Lucas in Kentucky.

On Thursday, President Bush is busy fundraising in the Midwest. First he heads to Des Moines, IA to help out House candidate Jeff Lamberti followed by a fundraiser for Senate candidate Mike Bouchard in Warren, MI. Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) speaks to the Asia Society in New York City. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) celebrates her 59th birthday.

On Friday, Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) debate in Cleveland, OH. Karl Rove attends a luncheon for the Republican Party of Wisconsin in Waukesha, WI. South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin hosts a reception honoring former DNC Chairs Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Don Fowler in Columbia, SC. Sen. Bayh campaigns for Democrat Baron Hill in Indiana's 9th congressional district and Democrat Brad Ellsworth in Indiana's 8th congressional district.

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