The Note: Republicans as Democrats

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24

In three straight national elections and scores of legislative and public relations battles, the Bush-Rove-Mehlman political machine has rarely lost to the Democrats in over six years.

Now, on the brink of what many believe will be a midterm election in which Democrats will win big, the Republican Party finds itself in a position to which it is unaccustomed.

How is the Grand Old Party handling all this?

By either cause or effect (or, perhaps, both), Republicans are acting like Democrats.

To wit:

1. They are suffering from the classic "nothing is sticking" lack of confidence, so they are switching messages nearly as fast as they can come up with them, guaranteeing that, well, nothing will stick: "Pelosi is liberal," "Rangel is liberal," "they will raise your taxes," "they are unethical," "they will let the terrorists win," "CNN shows snipers," "Democrats won't give you energy independence," etc. If it's Thursday, it must be "Harry Reid Is Unethical Day!"

2. They are playing the intra-party blame game: the White House is blaming the Hill; congressional staffers are blaming the party's 2008 presidential candidates; the campaign committees are blaming the campaigns; the campaign strategists are blaming the White House and the candidates; the candidates are blaming everybody (but themselves).

3. They are overreacting to good poll news -- and to bad poll news.

4. They are making spending decisions with the certainty with which most Americans pick lottery numbers.

5. Their lobbyists and Gang of 500 members are not only resigned to losing, but thinking it might be better for the country and the party if they did.

6. They have forgotten what it is like to be in the minority.

7. They have forgotten that using exact language matters.

8. They keep WAITING to win two news cycles in a row, by providence, rather than executing a plan to do just that.

9. They are filling the papers with blind and on-the-record quotes predicting defeat and doing pre-game post mortems.

10. They don't know what they stand for, but promise a focused search for it.

11. They feel they would rather be the other team than themselves as far as strategic positioning is concerned.

12. They are watching helplessly as the other side hides many of its real positions with steely discipline.

13. They are seeing the opposition live more than they are by the dictum "what's mine is mine, and what's yours let's talk about" regarding groups such as rural voters, religious voters, and fiscal conservatives.

13. They are forgetting the famous Franklin axiom: We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

Members of the small-but-hearty group of Republicans who are not subject to the Democratization described above will gather on this Tuesday for radio day at the White House.

Huge tents will be set up on the north lawn. Sean Hannity is scheduled to tape an interview with Vice President Cheney at 10:30 am ET for playback in his radio show which runs between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm ET. Karl Rove will also make himself available for select interviews.

President Bush attends a reception for Vern Buchanan, the Republican running against Democrat Christine Jennings for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL), at 1:50 pm ET in Sarasota, FL. Bush also attends an RNC reception at a private residence at 5:00 pm ET.

First Lady Laura Bush delivers remarks at a Pennsylvania Victory 2006 rally at the Sellersville Fire Co. in Sellersville, PA at 1:10 pm ET. Then at 2:15 pm ET, Mrs. Bush participates in a tour and accepts the Pearl S. Buck Woman of the Year award in Persasie, PA. Mrs. Bush then head to Wisconsin where she delivers 7:15 pm ET remarks at a John Gard for Congress Rally at the Swan Club in De Pere, WI. Gard is running against Democrat Steve Kagen to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Mark Green (R-WI) who is challenging Gov. Jim Doyle (D-WI).

Former President Clinton campaigns on Gov. Doyle's behalf in Milwaukee, WI before speaking at the Jefferson Jackson Democratic Fundraiser Dinner in a Louisville, KY at 4:00 pm ET. Three Republican House incumbents from Kentucky -- Ron Lewis, Anne Northup, and Geoff Davis are all in competitive -- find themselves in competitive races for re-election. Clinton is expected to be introduced by John Yarmuth, the Democrat challenging Rep. Anne Northup (R-KY). LINK

NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds (R-NY), Hastert deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke, and Hastert staff counsel Ted Van Der Meid are expected to testify before the House Ethics Committee. The DCCC launched an ad Monday targeting Rep. Reynolds for allegedly voting against a bonus for US troops while approving "six different pay raises for himself." Reynolds, the Republican charged with helping elect his party colleagues to the House, is locked in a tough race in his Buffalo district.

DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who rarely does candidate campaign events, joins Sheldon Whitehouse, the Democrat challenging Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), at a 1:00 pm ET roundtable lunch discussion with supporters of abortion rights in Providence, RI. While Sen. Chafee voted against Justice Alito's Supreme Court nomination, Whitehouse says he would have voted against both Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. He also would reserve the right to filibuster to block similar nominees in the future.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) leads get-out-the-vote efforts for Ed Perlmutter, the Democrat running against Rick O'Donnell in Colorado's 7th congressional district, at 5:00 pm ET.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends the dedication of the Lieutenant Michael Murphy Post Office at 10:45 am ET in Patchogue, NY. The Senator then receives endorsements from the Nassau County PBA, Suffolk County PBA and the Nassau County Detectives Association at the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association at 12:45 pm ET in Bohemia, NY. Later today, Sen. Clinton participates in the "Count Me in Make Mine a Million Dollar Business" event with Suze Orman, Dany Levy and five local New York City women entrepreneurs at the Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom at 3:45 pm ET in New York City.

Former Vice President Gore joins Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) on the campaign trail today. At 1:15 pm ET, Gore will talk about "halting global warming and building an industry around alternative energy at Seattle University." LINK

Yesterday, Gore campaigned for Proposition 87 in Oakland, CA. LINK

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is attending political events in California and Nevada.

Polling:

"There's no question that the Democratic wave is building," reported ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America."

"In the battle for control of Congress, Democrats are in control," added Stephanopoulos.

When asked to compare this year to 1994, Stephanopoulos cautioned that Republicans were far better prepared in protecting themselves all year long than the Democrats were in 1994, but that "in some ways the wave is even bigger" than 1994.

ABC polling director Gary Langer writes: "It's two weeks away, and the 2006 midterm elections look like a referendum on Iraq, a war in which President Bush and his party have lost not just the political center but significant chunks of their base." LINK

With exactly two weeks to go before the midterm elections, the Democrats have pulled a 2 to 1 advantage over Republicans among independents according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll, report the Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jon Cohen. Those who say the Iraq war is the most important issue in determining their vote favor Democrats 76 percent to 21 percent. LINK

With voters focused on national issues, Chairman Reynolds' "all politics is local" strategy may be in jeopardy, report USA Today's Susan Page and Jill Lawrence. LINK

According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, "43% of likely voters say national issues will make the biggest difference in their vote; 24% say local or state issues. That's the first overwhelming edge for national issues since the question was first asked in a Times Mirror poll in 1994."

"A cascade of Republican misfortunes, including a string of ethics scandals and escalating violence in Iraq, has set the stage for a Democratic resurgence. Only an event as dramatic as the capture of Osama bin Laden or a terrorist attack could reverse the trend toward Democrats, analysts say."

The Way to Win:

Keep up with the authors of The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008 all day today, as Mark Halperin of ABC News and John F. Harris of the Washington Post continue their book tour bonanza today:

The Diane Rehm Show

10 am ET

LINK

The O'Reilly Factor

9 pm ET

LINK

The Hugh Hewitt Show

Check local listings here. LINK

Or, cut out the electronic middleman and buy your copy of the ultimate guide to 2008 here. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

"A major effort to draw Latinos and blacks into the Republican Party, a central element of the GOP plan to build a long-lasting majority, is in danger of collapse amid anger over the immigration debate and claims that Republican leaders have not delivered on promises to direct more money to church-based social services," writes Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times in an important must read. LINK

In analyzing the Bush Administration's about face on its Iraq rhetoric, Peter Baker of the Washington Post writes that the White House is "cutting and running" from "stay the course." Baker also Notes that Republican strategists are glad to see "stay the course" dropped because it's not conveying what Republicans want it to convey and Democrats have been able to capitalize. LINK

Jeremy Wallace of the Herald Tribune reports that President Bush will be in the Sunshine State for the 44th time since he won the 2000 election. LINK

2006: "This Time, It's Not the Economy":

" . . . Republican candidates do not seem to be getting any traction from the glowing economic statistics with midterm elections just two weeks away," writes the New York Times' Eduardo Porter in a must-read examination of the very strong economic news seemingly unable to filter down into individual races as an electoral motivator. LINK

"The economy is virtually nowhere to be found among the campaign ads of embattled Republican incumbents fighting to hold onto their House or Senate seats. Nor is it showing up as a strong weapon in the arsenal of Republican governors defending their jobs from Democrats."

More Porter: "Republicans' inability to harness an improving economy in their political favor appears mostly to be a function of the weight of other big national issues stacked against them. Prime among them are voters' growing concerns about the costs of the war in Iraq, fed by a stream of American casualties displayed every night on television."

2006: landscape:

While still making time to appear on the NewsHour with the Washington Post's Jim VandeHei, the New York Times' Adam Nagourney declares an end to the bluffing season and sizes up the battlefield by looking at where the parties are spending their dollars. LINK

"The latest polls show something very strange and quite encouraging is happening: The Republican base seems to be coming back home. This trend, only vaguely and dimly emerging from a variety of polls, suggests that a trend may be afoot that would deny the Democrats control of the House and the Senate," write Dick Morris and Eileen McGann. LINK

"With two weeks to go, anything can happen, but it is beginning to look possible that the Democratic surge in the midterm elections may fall short of control in either House."

Morris echoed these comments on Fox and Friends, although the anchors seemed oddly uninterested.

Roll Call's Stu Rothenberg is optimistic about Democratic chances given that the past four midterm wave elections saw the victorious party winning "52, 48, 48 and 26 seats."

Bloomberg's Rich Miller seems to see some welcome signs from the markets for a divided government in Washington. LINK

If the GOP is within two points or less, Republicans think an effective get-out-the-vote effort could make the difference between winning and losing, writes Roll Call's David Drucker.

Brendan Farrington of the Associated Press profiles Florida races that were once safe for the Republicans. LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne thinks President Bush's six-year effort to create an enduring Republican majority on a right-leaning coalition "could have the unintended consequence of opening the way for an alternative majority" of the "radical center." LINK

Share the wealth:

Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times writes up the MyDD/MoveOn.org clever movement aimed at shaming Democratic House members with more than $200,000 in their campaign coffers and with no serious competition to give 30 percent of their campaign cash to the DCCC or directly to candidates in competitive races. After the first day, only Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) coughed up more money, reports Zeleny. LINK

"The push offers another example of how the Internet is providing opportunities for activists to influence politics. Still, it's unclear how much pressure the campaign has generated," writes the Los Angeles Times' Ron Brownstein. LINK

Moveon.org is pressuring Rep. Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who are top targets on the group's list, to give away $1.65 million of $4.9 million and $708,000 of $2.4 million respectively to support Democrats and the DCCC, reports the Boston Globe's Michael Kranish LINK

The Washington Times reports that top GOP strategists are mad that Republican candidates with large financial advantages over their opponents are not sharing the wealth with their cash-strapped allies. Charles Hurt on how Democratic senior Senators helped boost a nearly 2 to 1 advantage for the DSCC over the NRSC. LINK

"For example, Republican Sens. Richard C. Shelby of Alabama and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas both have more than $9 million in their campaign accounts, and there is no limit to how much they can legally transfer to the NRSC." "Mr. Shelby isn't up for re-election until 2010 and won his last election with 68 percent of the vote. His campaign account contains $11.6 million, but he has given $15,000 to the NRSC. If Democrats take over the Senate, Mr. Shelby will have to surrender his chairmanship of the banking committee. "

2006: House: CT-04:

The Hartford Courant reports that the district 4 race between Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) and Diane Farrell (D-CT) is narrowing due to Iraq's increasing importance. Per Joel Lang, the Courant commissioned a poll which said that "each candidate [had] 43 percent support among likely voters, reflecting a gain of 2 percentage points for Farrell and a loss of 3 percentage points for Shays since a similar poll in early October when violence in Iraq began to escalate." He adds: "The new poll shows unaffiliated voters shifting toward Farrell." LINK

2006: House: FL-16:

Michael C. Bender of the Palm Beach Post report that Republicans are "spreading the word" and understand that their vote for ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) would actually go to Joe Negron. LINK

Kevin Dale of the Herald Tribune also reports that of the 161 ballots cast early, "not one raised a question." LINK

2006: House: GA-08 and GA-12:

The New York Times' Zernike takes a look at the two vulnerable Democratic seats in Georgia and Notes the upside down campaign strategy compared to the national landscape. In Georgia, Democrats shun their party label and seek to align themselves with President Bush on areas of agreement. LINK

2006: House: ID-01:

In his piece looking at the NRCC spending money to defend a House seat in Idaho and some other northwestern seats, the Washington Post's Blaine Harden writes: "It is, perhaps, the political equivalent of hell freezing over in the interior West." LINK

Harden attributes the GOP's difficulties to "unrelenting grim news from the war in Iraq" combined with "smoldering anger over federal deficits and Washington scandals."

2006: House: IL-06 and IL-08:

The Chicago Tribune reports that Tammy Duckworth agreed "absolutely" with Gen. Richard Dannatt, the British army chief who recently declared that the presence of coalition troops is making matters worse in Iraq," during a recent debate. LINK

Former President Clinton was in Illinois yesterday raising money for Duckworth and Rep Melissa Bean (D-IL), the Chicago Tribune reports. LINK

2006: House: LA-02:

Ann Simmons of the Los Angeles Times writes up embattled Rep. Bill Jefferson's (D-LA) tough reelection race and likely December 9 runoff. LINK

2006: House: MN-01:

The battle has been joined by both the DCCC and NRCC in Minnesota's first congressional district where incumbent Rep. Gil Gutknecht is facing Democratic challenger Tim Walz. LINK

2006: House: PA-10:

The RNC has sent out a mailer accusing Naval Reserve Officer and congressional candidate Chris Carney (D) of "helping start the Iraq war." The top of the mailing warns voters: "Chris Carney failed our nation once. Don't give Chris Carney a chance to FAIL us again." Carney is the Democrat running against Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA), the Republican member of Congress accused of choking his mistress who recently received campaign help from President Bush. More from Eli Lake in Monady's New York Sun: LINK

2006: Senate:

James Rowley of Bloomberg News Notes "the son also rises" in US Senate races this year where the offspring of well-known pols are on the ballot in Tennessee, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Nevada. LINK

2006: Senate: Tennessee:

The controversy surrounding the RNC television ad against Harold Ford running in Tennessee was stoked a bit further yesterday when former Sen./SECDEF William Cohen (R-ME) declared it "a very serious appeal to a racist sentiment." The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten takes a closer look. LINK

Bartholomew Sullivan of the Memphis Commercial Appeal discusses the "Memphis meltdown" and Rep. Ford's parking lot confrontation with Bob Corker, which Sean Hannity played for Newt Gingrich yesterday. LINK

2006: Senate: Missouri:

David Goldstein of the Kansas City Star reports on the Star's demand that Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) pull or correct four recent ads, which "falsely attributes several unflattering quotes" about Democrat Claire McCaskill to the paper. LINK

Jeremy Kohler of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the senatorial candidates McCaskill and Sen. Talent are not hesitating to spend $20,000 on multiple ad buys during the World Series as "it reaches a total cross section of viewers." LINK

2006: Senate: Virginia:

Democrat Jim Webb's name has been "cut off on part of the electronic ballot used by voters in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville because of a computer glitch that also affects other candidates with long names," the Washington Post's Leef Smith reports. LINK

2006: Senate: Rhode Island:

Roll Call's Nicole Duran writes: "…as much as [Chafee] plays up how he differs with the national GOP, it is his party affiliation that ultimately might end his Senate career."

2006: Senate: Montana:

The Christian Science Monitor takes a close looks at the two candidates running for the senate seat in Montana. The race is between incumbent Senator Conrad Burns (R) and his "easy Montana charm" and Democratic challenger Jon Tester (D) with his "flap-top haircut and big belly." This race may come down to style. LINK

2006: Senate: Maryland:

The Washington Post profiles Michael Steele, the Republican running for the Senate in Maryland against Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD), as someone who is "running vigorously against the political system that promoted him." LINK

The Washington Times' S.A. Miller and Jon Ward on the hunt for black voters in Maryland. LINK

2006: Senate: New York:

The New York Times' Santora on the "swampy territory" in which the New York Senate race finds itself. LINK

The "L" word has made its way into the New York Senate race, Notes the New York Post's Maggie Haberman. LINK

Joe Mahoney and David Saltonstall of the New York Daily News follow up on their colleague Ben Smith's reporting about what John Spencer had to say about Hillary Clinton's physical appearance. For the record, Sen. Clinton apparently thinks her high school photo is cute. LINK

Smith provides a full account of his conversation with Spencer and defends himself against being a secret Clinton operative. LINK

2006: Senate: Michigan:

Gary Heinlein of the Detroit News reports that President Bush will campaign for senatorial candidate Mike Bouchard at a Thursday night $1,000-per-person fundraiser. Sen. Stabenow's (D-MI) campaign commented that "George Bush campaigning for Mike Bouchard in Michigan is like throwing an anvil to a drowning man." LINK

2006: Senate: Connecticut:

Sen. Joe Lieberman's rhetoric about the war in Iraq has evolved over the last several years, as Noted by the New York Times' Kornblut and Medina. LINK

"So much for no opening statement," said ABC's George Stephanopoulos of Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) 3-minute opening speech on Iraq during last night's heated debate. LINK

2006: Senate: Florida:

Marc Caputo and Beth Reinhard of the Miami Herald analyze senatorial candidates Rep. Katherine Harris' (R-FL) and Sen. Bill Nelson's (D-FL) debate. LINK

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Brittany Wallman and Anthony Man also report on the senatorial debate where Rep. Harris "took a no-nonsense approach, appearing business-like and strategically striding across the stage" as she had "the most to gain." LINK

Jim Stratton of the Orlando Sentinel has more: LINK

Palm Beach Post: LINK

2006: Senate: Nevada:

Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) and Democrat Jack Carter argued over the Senator's tendency to vote with President Bush and his support for the Administration's war strategy, reports Ed Vogel of the Las Vegas Review Journal. LINK

Polls indicate that Carter is still running 12 to 23 percentage points behind Ensign in public polling.

2006: Governor:

"Labor unions and a range of other well-financed independent groups are directing millions into the Maryland campaigns for governor and the U.S. Senate, fueling a long-anticipated onslaught of negative advertising," the Washington Post reports. LINK

"One of the most startling ads, which targets Ehrlich's Democratic challenger Martin O'Malley, shows grainy footage of a murder scene where what appears to be a dead body is visible. It began airing Friday courtesy of the Republican Governors Association."

James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette questions whether Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) used a state airplane for his own private vacation. LINK

Chris Christoff and Dawson Bell of the Detroit Free Press believe "it's no coincidence that women are appearing in more ads in the governor's race" as they become the prime targets for gubernatorial candidates Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) and Dick DeVos. LINK

The Associated Press reports on Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Loretta Nail's hopes that voters in Alabama "will eventually focus on her platform" although she is "campaigning on her cleavage." Her campaign is distributing t-shirts of her photo with the words "more of these boobs" over photos of her opponents with the words "and less of these boobs." LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Last week's incident in California -- involving GOP House candidate Tan Nguyen and his threatening letters sent to Latino voters in Orange County -- has galvanized the gubernatorial candidate's efforts to court the Latino vote in southern California. LINK

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) made a trip to the area and called the actions of Nguyen a "hate crime," writes Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle. Democrat Phil Angelides also made a trip to the county and typecast the actions of the GOP member, saying the scandal revealed the party's "culture of intimidation when it comes to voting."

Mark Z. Barabak and Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times (a dynamic duo, indeed) write of California Democrats looking beyond the governor's race in the Golden State for their electoral kicks this cycle. LINK

Ballot measures:

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), the Democrat in line to be head of the Senate's Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, said Monday that if Democrats regain control of the Senate, he will do his "damn best" to get a hike in the minimum wage out of the Senate in 24 hours. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the woman in line to be Speaker if Democrats win control, has pledged to do the same in the House. LINK

Six states are voting on ballot measures to raise the state minimum wage. Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), who joined Sen. Kennedy on Monday's conference call with reporters, said that he will be spending the next three days traveling to Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado to promote minimum wage ballot measures in those states.

Pelosi politics:

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) is not likley to get the chairmanship on the Intelligence Committee if Democrats gain control of the House, reports the New York Times' Mazzetti. LINK

(We look forward to clocking the time it takes the RNC research shop to drop an "American Weakly" e-mail on Alcee Hastings in our inbox today.)

GOP agenda:

Jerome L. Sherman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Rep. Phil English (R-PA) has "an eye on another elected post" if he wins re-election. He hopes to be the chairman of the NRCC and help his party "put together a new generation of talent." LINK

Democratic agenda:

Roll Call's Emily Pierce and Jennifer Yachnin point out that even if Democrats gain seats in both the House and Senate, Rep. Jack Murtha (D-Pa.) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will have a hard time keeping their pledges to give Democrats a seat on their chamber's appropriations committees.

2008: Republicans:

Per the Boston Globe's Rick Klein, Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) talk of sending more troops to Iraq during his campaign stump for Republican candidates leaves them in uncomfortable situations. LINK

Kem Gardner takes responsibility for "this whole mess" concerning Boston Globe's disclosures of discussions among Romney aides and Church leaders talking about building Mormon support for Romney's likely presidential bid, writes the Globe's Scott Helman. LINK

"Pure bunk" is how Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) describes stories circulating about Gov. Romney's involvement with members of his church.

"'This business of prejudice against Mormons is real,' Hatch told KSL-TV Monday. 'There is a matter of prejudice out there, and he's going to have to overcome it if he's going to run for president.'" LINK

"The stories originated last week with the Boston Globe, which Hatch said is prejudiced against conservatives and is now "roughing up" Romney, a Republican who, Hatch told KSL, is among the top three or four in the party whom he'd like to see run for president."

In a piece looking at the way in which his presidential bid is factoring into the Massachusetts governor's race, the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Cooper reports that a recent Patrick television ad features big pictures of Romney and Kerry Healey while an announcer reels off "complaints about their administration: increased property taxes; police layoffs; job loses and the tunnel collapse in the Big Dig, a massive highway project that has been under construction for years."

The Boston Globe's Sean Murphy on Romney calling on Massachusetts Port Authority executive director to remove himself from further involvement in a review of the agency's general sick policy due to the director's personal financial interest. LINK

In a fundraising solicitation for the RNC, Gov. Romney writes: "Despite the successes we've had apprehending terrorist operatives and preventing another strike on our homeland, some Democrats are now calling for President Bush to be impeached for his efforts to protect America from further terrorist attacks."

The Boston Herald's Casey Ross Notes that the Romney administration "quietly tapped" the controversial firm Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff to inspect repairs of the ceiling that killed a woman several months ago, despite their harsh criticism of the company for its safety oversight. LINK

Rudy Giuliani's campaign swing through Tennessee gets some New York Post ink. LINK

". . . campaigning with Giuliani presented a delicate balance for Corker, because the New York ex-mayor's pro-choice, pro-gay rights stands could be problematic with the right-leaning voters to whom he's appealing," writes Maggie Haberman.

2008: Democrats:

At a gathering of magazine editors in Phoenix, AZ, Barack Obama pubicly chatted with David Remnick of the New Yorker and spoke of his youthful drug usage, he praised Hillary Clinton (while reminding his audience they had a different assessment about the Iraq war), and threw in some Bush Administration bashing for good measure. The New York Times' Kit Seelye -- who used to be a pretty decent political reporter, back in the day -- has the story. LINK

Fresh from an appearance on ABC News Now, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times blogs about Sen. Obama's stepped up domestic travel of late and reminds readers of Desmond Tutu's support for an Obama presidential candidacy. LINK

The Washington Post's Richard Cohen urges Sen. Obama to run for President because "he would come into the race with no baggage on Iraq." LINK

"Obama not only was against the war when he ran for the Senate but he can claim -- as could the 21 Democratic senators who voted against the war resolution -- that it was possible to accept the "facts" at the time and still see that the war was unnecessary, if not downright stupid. It just makes me wince every time I hear John Kerry or John Edwards or Joe Biden or Chris Dodd or Hillary Clinton say they were misled, fooled, lied to or some other version of seduced and abandoned --- otherwise they would have voted the right way. This is disingenuous."

Note that Cohen dismisses Sen. Feingold's opposition to the Iraq war as a "technical exception."

Foley:

Scott Palmer, Speaker Hastert's top aide, and Sally Vastola, the NRCC's executive director, were questioned yesterday as the congressional investigation of the Mark Foley page scandal continued. Charles Babington of the Washington Post reports that Republicans are worried that an ethics committee finding that is critical of Hastert before the election could hurt voter turnout. LINK

More from USA Today's Kathy Kiely. LINK

Elizabeth Davis of the Associated Press reports that Speaker Hastert is "still welcome on the campaign trail in northeast Tennessee." LINK

Liberal Group's Ad Uses ABC Interview to Hammer Bush on "Stay the Course":

Seizing on video of President Bush telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos that "we've never been stay the course, George," Americans United, a liberal union-funded group committed to protecting Social Security in its current form, is launching television ads in three states Wednesday.

Without explicitly advocating for or against any particular candidate on the ballot, Americans United is deploying its latest anti-Bush ads in Rochester, MN (where Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) is in a newly competitive race for re-election), northern Virginia (where Sen. George Allen (R-VA) is running for re-election), and Buffalo, NY where Rep. Tom Reynolds is in a competitive race for re-election.

The ad contrasts Bush's claims that he's never been about staying the course with multiple clips of him saying "we're staying the course." View the ad here: LINK

ONE campaign:

The ONE campaign -- aimed at alleviating poverty and fighting AIDS around the world -- has amassed a bevy of Hollywood celebrities and bipartisan heavyweights for its new ad campaign.

Both the DNC and RNC have agreed to post ONE's new "ONE Vote" election spot on the front pages of their websites today. LINK

From Democrat Mike McCurry: "This is something all Americans can do together across party lines. For the first time, we have real solutions that work in the fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty, and America can help lead the world in saving and changing lives."

From Republican Jack Oliver: "America's greatest strength is our compassion and willingness to be engaged on the world stage. ONE's 'base' is really both bases -- Republicans and Democrats can come together to make sure that the voices of the billion people who live on less than $1 a day are heard both in this election and the 2008 presidential cycle."

Casting and counting:

At one minute past midnight, Electionline.org released its pre-election report on what states to examine for possible voting irregularities and problems. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar keys off the electionline.org report and looks at the potential chaos at the polls this year. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Rebecca Abrahams report on a hacked Chicago voter database affecting 1.35 million voters. LINK

Political potpourri:

The New York Times' Kirk Johnson takes a long look at the rise of independents and the moving away from party labels, especially in the Southwest. LINK

Other calendar items:

The Center for Responsive Politics holds a conference call briefing to predict the total cost of the 2006 midterm elections.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) hold news conference to announce the top priorities of a Democratic-led U.S. Senate at 10:30 am ET.

Republican Senate candidate Tom Kean, JR. and former Gov. Tom Kean (R-NJ) hold an 11:45 am ET press conference to discuss this year's election on the steps of the Old Courthouse in Mount Holly, NJ.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a noon ET luncheon for Rep. Jim Harrison (R-SC) at the South Carolina State Museum's Vista Room in Columbia, SC.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) kicks off a 3-day campaign for the minimum wage with gubernatorial candidate Dina Titus and senatorial candidate Jack Carter at 1:15 pm ET at the Grand Sierra Report in Reno, NV. They are later joined by congressional candidate Tessa Hafen at the Doris Hancock Elementary School in Las Vegas, NV at 5 pm ET.

Former House Majority Leaders Dick Armey (R-TX) and Dick Gephardt (D-MO), as well as editor of The Cook Political Report Charlie Cook were scheduled to discuss the midterm elections at the Willard InterContinental Hotel Ballroom in Washington, DC at 8 am ET.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) was scheduled to campaign with New Hampshire State House candidates in Nashua, NH at 8:30 am ET. Bayh meets with the Democratic Party at their Manchester headquarters at 10 am ET. Later, Sen. Bayh headlines a luncheon honoring state Senate candidate Deb Reynolds (D-NH) in Plymouth, NH at 12:15 am ET and attends an event with NH State House candidates and incumbents in Concord, NH at 2:15 pm ET.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and senior officials from the Center for American Progress Action Fund discuss a new quarterly report assessing the Bush Administration's Iraq and economic policies at the U.S. Capitol at 10:30 am in Washington, DC.

Former Vice President Dan Quayle speaks at the University Of Arkansas Clinton School Of Public Service in Little Rock, AR.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jim Davis debates Republican candidate Charlie Crist at Nova Southeaster University in Fort Lauderdale-Davie, FL.

Elctionline.org holds at 2 pm ET to hold a conference call about "Election Preview 2006: What's Changed, What Hasn't and Why" with electionline.org's director Doug Chapin. LINK.

The League of Women Voters (LWV) holds a news conference to launch VOTE411.org, a one-stop source for election information at the LVW at 10:30 am ET in Washington, DC.

The Center for Responsive Politics holds a conference call briefing to predict the total cost of the 2006 midterm elections.

Champions of Democracy are scheduled at 6:30 pm ET to hold there 2006 Champions of Democracy Awards reception honoring Jack Kemp, Carol Thompson Cole and Charles Miller at the Madison Hotel in Washington, DC.

The New America Foundation was scheduled to hold a 9 am ET forum on "Comprehensive Peace-Making in the Middle East: What Next?" with the president of the Israel Council of Foreign Relations David Kimche, the New American Foundation's Daniel Levy and Center for American Progress's Mara Rudman at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) holds a news conference to release the results of a survey of American Muslims voters at the National Press Club at 10:30 am ET in Washington.

Gov. Mike Rounds (R-SD) celebrates his 52nd birthday today.

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