The Note: Stay on the Offense

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1

The back-of-the-envelope best case for Republicans is holding the House and Senate -- losing a net 12 seats in the House (and fortifying their majority with some party switchers) and a net 2 seats in the Senate.

The back-of-the-envelope best case for Democrats is winning control of both chambers -- taking between 30-43 Republican-held House seats and 6 Republican-held Senate seats, and not losing a single Democratic seat in either chamber.

The elements of Republicans achieving their best case:

Making the end-game wide message taxes, terror, and gay marriage.

Making the end-game targeted message taxes, terror, gay marriage, other social issues galore, liberal Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, and would-be Democratic committee chairs who happen to be liberal African-Americans. (Note the rising salience of "moral values" for voters in the GE/Dow Jones survey.)

The release of one terror tape.

As they did in 2004, per the Washington Post's saintly Dan Balz, finding "a way to excite and mobilize a fractured Republican base without triggering an even bigger turnout among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents that could cost his party the House or Senate."

(The Bush vs. Kerry redux rematch does that quite nicely, since the Right base loves it and most Democrats are not the biggest John Kerry fans -- and the psychology of it is huge, as Bill Clinton and Karl Rove can tell you. Bush -- and his rhetoric -- unite the Republican Party; Kerry -- and his rhetoric -- do not unite the Democrats.)

Final-days POTUS visits to Montana, Nevada, Missouri (two media markets), Colorado, Iowa, and Texas to remind Bush voters why they used to like him.

The classic "choice election" choice: the other guys would be worse.

The classic Bush-Cheney-Rove element: fear of the unknown -- you may not like us, but we've kept you safe.

Cut the distaff side of the gender gap, recover in the suburbs, and pick off seniors happy with the drug benefit.

Dow up; gas prices down.

Robo calls from 41 and 43 (and their First Ladies).

The 72-Hour turnout program and the potential myth that Democrats are fired up to actually vote.

Articles in the Old Media about how Democrats are promising to spend big money (Washington Post LINK) and about how powerful the Massachusetts delegation would be in Nancy Pelosi's House (Boston Globe LINK).

Trap/trick yet another Democrat or member of the media into a polarizing fight, to cement the base's rapture.

Drudge, Rush, Sean, Brit (and their ability to influence the Old Media storylines). LINK

Containing the wave so it turns out to be a series of individual political nightmares and not an unsurvivable tectonic confluence.

A political miracle. (Items not necessarily listed in the order required for success.)

The elements of Democrats achieving their best case:

Winning Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Montana, Rhode Island, Virginia, and either Missouri or Tennessee.

Winning a high percentage of the House seats in which the Republican candidate is currently at 45% or below.

Making the end-game wide and narrow messages Bush, Iraq, Bush, Iraq, change, Bush, Iraq.

Hope that Harold Meyerson is right: "But what next week's election seems likely to illustrate is that the laws of thermodynamics -- in particular, the one that states that for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction -- have not been repealed. Upstate New York, the Philadelphia suburbs, Connecticut's tweedy enclaves and the Microsoft precincts surrounding Seattle seem poised to show that they've had it with the party that restricts funding for stem cell research. In Arizona and Colorado, secular libertarians have grown estranged from the party that invested the power of the federal government in the cause of keeping Terri Schiavo in a vegetative state. In Ohio, voters look to be revolted not just by the corruption of their state and national Republican parties but also by the party's indifference to the collapse of the state's industrial economy." LINK

Michael Whouley.

Robo calls from Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson.

Getting Senator John "October Unsurprise" Kerry to apologize and then go to Sun Valley until Nov. 8, 20XX (Insert year of your choice here.)

Rahm switching from threats to tough love (and back again) -- for his own candidates.

Making the end-game wide and narrow messages Bush, Iraq, Bush, Iraq, change, Bush, Iraq. (repeat for emphasis)

At this point, you cannot name a single race that is clearly impacted by John Kerry's gaffe, but the national environment might be altered, and certainly the conservative base is one step closer to where it needs to be.

John Kerry has gotten off the stage - sorta. Kerry has cancelled planned campaign appearances for Democratic candidates in Minnesota and Pennsylvania today and in Iowa tomorrow. Kerry has returned to Washington, DC today. He had planned to spend the later part of the week at home in Massachusetts.

Kerry called into Imus this morning and said he was "sorry" for the "botched joke" and said his friend John McCain is on the wrong side of this controversy. LINK

Kerry's spokesman David Wade explains to The Note Kerry's decision to cancel campaign appearances. "We made a decision not to allow the Republican hate machine to use Democratic House candidates as proxies in their distorted spin war in which once again they're willing to exploit brave American troops -- so yes we've canceled campaign events -- but we're staying at the fight to hold Bush accountable on Iraq -- any day this president has to debate his failed policy in Iraq is another day Republican candidates dread," said Wade.

President Bush has no public events scheduled for today. He does plan to tape a radio interview with Rush Limbaugh at 10:45 am ET where the Kerry fires will likely continue to be stoked. Be on the lookout for possibly another presidential interview during the course of the day. Mr. Bush also plans to meet with Secretaries Rumsfeld and Rice as part of his regular weekly meetings.

White House spokesman Tony Snow holds a briefing today at noon ET.

First Lady Laura Bush campaigns for Rep. Ron Lewis (R-KY) at a Kentucky Victory 2006 Rally in Radcliff, KY at 11:30 am ET. The First Lady then travels to Hilliard, OH to attend an Ohio Victory 2006 Rally at 3:00 pm ET.

Vice President Dick Cheney attends a 2006 Victory Rally at 7:00 pm ET in Kalispell, MT. ABC News' Karen Travers reports Cheney is likely to mention John Kerry, which will keep the fires stoked, along with dueling video press releases (a/k/a web videos from the RNC -- on Kerry -- and the DCCC -- on Iraq.)

Also to watch: how many more Democrats throw Kerry under the bus.

Former President Bill Clinton campaigns for Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) at the Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ for a "Celebration for a New Generation" get-out-the-vote effort in Memphis TN at 10:30 am ET. Clinton then heads West to headline a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidate Ed Perlmutter in Denver, CO and then on to join Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in San Francisco for a fundraiser this evening.

President Bush isn't the only one doing radio today. Democratic leaders (including Rep. Pelosi) and MOC's plan to do GOTV radio on more than 55 shows in key media markets across the country.

House Democrats plan to be on national news, national progressive, national/regional African American, national/regional Hispanic, and national conservative shows. As well as on regional shows in Portland, Denver, Miami/West Palm Beach, and Buffalo/Albany to name a few of the key markets.

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman attends 6 events billed as efforts to rally grassroots volunteers. Mehlman visits the Clay County GOP headquarters in Kansas City, MO at 10:00 am ET, Jackson County GOP Headquarters in Independence, MO at 11:30 am ET, Cass County GOP Headquarters in Raymore, MO at 12:45 am ET, Pettis County GOP Headquarters at 3:00 pm ET, at Health Partners Management Services in Poplar Bluff, MO at 7:30 pm ET and the Cape Girardeau County GOP Headquarters in Cape Girardeau, MO at 9:00 pm ET in Cape.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean holds a 9:30 am ET press availability in Burlington, VT and then attends an event with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) at DePaul University College Democrats Rally in Chicago, IL at 2:00 pm ET.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends a campaign event with local leaders, veterans, military families, and community members at 10:45 am ET in Kingston, NY. Later, the Senator attends an event at the Fountains at Millbrook in Millbrook, NY at 1:00 pm ET.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) campaigns with Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) in Minnesota. They were expected to be joined by Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MT) at a 8:15 am ET rally in Rochester, MN and again at 10:15 am ET at the Midwest Wireless Civic Center for a rally in Mankato, MN. At noon ET, McCain and Pawlenty attend a rally at the National Sports Center's Schwan Center Grand Hall and another rally at Monaco Air Duluth in Duluth at 3:00 pm ET. They finish the day in Moorhead at 7:15 pm ET with a rally at the Marriot Courtyard. (Some might look at that schedule and say it is almost like they are running mates!)

Sen. George Allen (R-VA) campaigns with Sen. John Warner (R-VA) at a Dell Webb Active Adult Community event at 11:00 am ET in Loudoun County, VA. They attend a "Death Tax" press conference at a private residence at 12:15 pm ET in Leesburg, VA, and end their day at 2:00 pm ET at Traffic Land in Fairfax, VA.

Senatorial candidate Jim Webb attended a Veterans Health Care Event at 9:30 am ET in Salem, VA. He later holds a "meet and greet" at the Three Olives Greek Restaurant in Williamsburg, VA at 6:00 pm ET.

Former Vice President Al Gore makes attends a private event for senatorial candidate Jim Pederson (D-AZ) in Phoenix, AZ.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) presides over a meeting of the Governors Council at the Governor's Council Chamber at 11:15 am in Boston, MA. Romney speaks at a tribute to the late Boston Celtic legendary coach Red Auerbach at 12:00 pm ET in Boston, MA. Romney then hits the trail speaking at a reception for the North Carolina Republican Party at City Hall Plaza in Charlotte, NC at 7:00 pm ET.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) attends a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee and congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in Chicago, IL at 6:45 pm ET. Sen. Bayh attends a second fundraising dinner for the Democratic National Committee in Chicago, IL at 8:45 pm ET.

At 7 pm ET, Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) debate at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark (D-AR) attends a Veterans Appreciation Rally in Clarksville, TN with Rep. Harold Ford Jr. at 1:30 pm ET.

And be sure to tune into ABC's "The View" at 11:00 am ET to catch ABC News' Charlie Gibson previewing the best election night coverage around.

2006: Bush vs. Kerry part II: Siding with Bush:

On TIME Magazine's Web site, Karen Tumulty demonstrates her keen understanding of all things Kerry. LINK

"You've got to wonder about John Kerry's eye-hand coordination. His career is falling into a pattern. Whenever Kerry is confronted with a big decision, he tries to compensate for his last mistake," writes Tumulty.

More: "Kerry has managed on the eve of what could be a watershed election to remind pretty much everyone what it was they didn't like about the Democrats, and especially what they didn't like about him. It might have made more sense just to say he was sorry -- for once to get ahead of a mistake, instead of trying to compensate for it the next time."

The Boston Herald's David Wedge writes, "Sen. John Kerry is scrambling to recover from a 'botched joke'. . . that threatens to sink Democrats in Tuesday's election and dash his own presidential hopes." LINK

The New York Post ed board Notes that not one Democratic leader has yet expressed disapproval of Kerry's remarks and asks "any wonder Democrats aren't taken seriously on national security?" LINK

The Washington Times ed board: LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board feels the same way.

2006: Bush vs. Kerry part II: Open to Kerry's position:

ABC News' Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America reported on the Kerry/Bush political firestorm by first presenting Sen. Kerry's side in the fiasco and then recapping the Republican response. Jake Tapper Noted the affect of the New Media in driving the story and how Republicans used the "botched joke" to galvanize their supporters. Sen. McCain appeared as a live guest and defended the soldiers and repeated his demand for an apology: "They are not there because of academic deficiency, they are there because of love for our country," said McCain.

USA Today includes 'bad joke' in its headline: LINK

The New York Sun's Gerstein Notes how Sen. Kerry's unexpected return to the center of the national political stage has affected the 2006 midterm race controversy and how both parties are responding. LINK

Per the New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg, Democrats are quick to distance themselves from Kerry, including Democratic candidate Scott Kleeb, who's running for Congress in Nebraska: "This is an example of politics at its worst," says Kleeb. "Many of us have serious concerns over the current situation in Iraq, but no one should question the intelligence and dedication of our troops. Senator Kerry's remark was disrespectful and insulting." The duo also Notes that the White House released advanced excerpts of Bush's attacks against Kerry, which was "unusual." LINK

2006: Bush vs. Kerry part II: political reaction:

The Republican National Committee plans to launch a Web video today entitled "Apologize," which contrasts comments praising the troops from Sen. McCain and President Bush with Sen. Kerry's "botched joke" remarks from Monday and calls on Kerry to apologize to the troops for his comments. The words share the screen with images of American soldiers fighting in Iraq.

ABC News' Jake Tapper, Mike Callahan, and Avery Miller question whether Sen. Kerry (D-MA) "hand Republicans a November gift?" A Democratic congressman told ABC News, "I guess Kerry wasn't content blowing 2004, now he wants to blow 2006, too." LINK

The New York Post picks up on Tapper's money quote reporting. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper profiles "Kerry v. Bush, take 2" in his blog.

Here's a link to ABC News' Jake Tapper's "World News" piece: LINK

For his GMA spot today, Tapper included this from Stormin' Norm Ornstein: "This is not fair, but what's fair in politics in the final week of a campaign?"

Democratic strategist predicts that the Kerry flap won't matter, reports the New York Daily News. LINK

The New Hampshire Union Leader's Riley Yates has New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Kathy Sullivan standing by Kerry's comments and said they were aimed at the President, while a Republican state representative called him "one of the worst Americans I can think of. . . If I saw him in the street, I'd bust him." LINK

Democratic House candidate Bruce Braley cancelled his Thursday event with Kerry, reports Ed Tibbetts from the Quad City Times. Braley, who is running against incumbent Rep. Mike Whalen in IA-01, is "not condoning the partisan bickering," said a campaign spokesman. LINK

The AP's Jennifer Loven on the canceled appearances: LINK

"Republicans said they intend to keep the pressure on," reports the Boston Globe's Rick Klein. LINK

2006: landscape:

National GOP money has all but come out of Pennsylvania and Ohio and has shifted to Connecticut and Florida, reports Bloomberg News, impacted Republican House members with names such as "Pryce" and "Weldon." Kristin Jensen and Michael Forsythe Note that NRCC spent money to protect 51 seats last week, with a big chunk of the cash going to Representatives Rob Simmons, Chris Shays and Nancy Johnson of Connecticut and Representative Clay Shaw of Florida, as well as to protect the Sarasota seat now held by Katherine Harris. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood and Jackie Calmes report that a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows President Bush "getting better marks for his handling of the economy -- an issue Republicans are emphasizing in the run-up to Tuesday's vote" while Noting that "voters' anxieties about Iraq continue to dominate their concerns."

As a result of the darkening mood about Iraq, "voters want Democrats, rather than Republicans, to control Congress by 52% to 37%, a 15-point margin. The spread matches the widest ever recorded on this question in a Journal/NBC poll."

The Washington Post's Dan Balz writes that 2006 is all about President Bush. LINK

"His name is not on any ballot this fall, but George W. Bush is the central issue of campaign 2006. . . Other issues may come into play, congressional scandals and performance among them, but in the end, next week's verdict will be remembered for what it says about this president."

Tensions between moderates and conservatives Republicans in New York state have compounded a party already struggling from the shock waves sent across the state by strong campaigns from Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer (D-NY). Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times with an analysis of the GOP troubles in the Empire state and Democrats hopes for big congressional gains. LINK

Dick Morris writes in his column for The Hill that Republicans can still win if its base voters want it badly enough, writing that recent polling shows independents shifting toward the GOP while Republican base voters are deserting it. LINK

Aside from President Bush and Sen. Kerry sparring like it's 2004 and George Allen's campaign workers roughing up a man, Ron Brownstein and James Gerstenzang Note that the Senate really is in play based on new polls released in the last two days. LINK

Conversely, Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times breaks down the 2006 Senate contest race by race with this this lede: "Republicans say the latest evidence gives them reason to think they will maintain control of the Senate, although Vice President Dick Cheney may not feel free to leave Washington often during the next two years." LINK

Susan Page of USA Today profiles the new generation of African American politicians who are a bit different from the current crop of senior black MOC's. LINK

"Unlike senior black members of Congress, they are too young to have joined the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. They often haven't gone to historically black colleges or launched careers at black churches. Instead, many graduated from Ivy League colleges and pursued careers at big law firms. They often advocate pragmatism over ideology and aspire -- like white politicians -- to the most powerful elected offices in the country."

Kate Zernike of the New York Times speculates what would happen if the Senate breaks a 50-50 tie between Republicans and Democrats. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

Keying off of the mailer by the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania accusing Democrat Chris Carney of failing the nation on pre-Iraq war intelligence, the Wall Street Journal's Yochi Dreazen reports that "some Republican candidates" are playing down their past support for the war and beginning to sound like their Democratic opponents when discussing the conflict."

Note the tip of the hat to the New York Sun for reporting about the Carney mailer first.

Democratic agenda:

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman crunches the numbers on the Democrats' "Six for Six" campaign agenda. LINK

"As part of their midterm election push, House Democrats are promoting a wide-ranging legislative agenda that would add tens of billions of dollars a year to the federal budget for the military, homeland security and education yet still impose a new budget restraint that would make it harder to widen the annual deficit," Weisman writes.

2006: House: NY-26:

New York Sun's David Gerlach writes on the huge snowstorm in NRCC chairman Tom Reynolds' district that could be instrumental in helping the embattled incumbent save his seat. LINK

2006: House: NY-20:

Brendan Lyons of the Albany Times-Union reports on the documents acquired by the newspaper claiming to show Rep. John Sweeney's (R-NY) wife called 9-1-1 last year as part of a 'domestic incident.' The Times Union is sure to include Sweeney's statement that the document is "not authentic" and it is "a concoction by our opposition." LINK

2006: House: CO-07:

The New York Times' Carl Hulse on Colorado becoming the new frontier for Democrats. LINK

2006: House: CT:

The AP's Andrew Miga reports, "Lieberman's coattails could carry the GOP incumbents to re-election and undercut Democratic hopes of majority control of the House." Republican Chris Shays Notes, "Joe is the kind of person who reaches across the political divide, and I am like that as well." LINK

2006: Senate: Tennessee:

First Lady Laura Bush campaigned for Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker yesterday and encouraged voters to make sure their friends voted while in Tennessee's conservative Williamson County, Notes the Nashville Tennessean's de la Cruz. LINK

The Nashville Tennessean's Wadhwani reports on faith's prominence in the Tennessee Senate race and how God, faith, and prayer continue to be used on the campaign trail. LINK

2006: Senate: Virginia:

In a story looking at a Democratic activist's claim of abuse at the hands of Allen staffers, the Washington Post's Michael Shear and Tim Craig have Webb spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd saying: "'I have no idea who this guy is or what he was trying to accomplish,' she said. 'I saw the video, and from what I saw, he was wrestled to the ground by a bunch of Allen supporters so that is not very nice behavior.'" LINK

For the Washington Post's Style section, Michael Leahy looks at Sen. Allen still having time to toss around the pigskin despite the disappearance of his "fat summer lead of 16 percentage points." LINK

Politicians-cum-novelists. . . from Nightline last night -- Here is the Nightline video link -- LINK . . .

Here is the abcnews.com version of the story: LINK

Tapper: "Whether or not attacking this acclaimed novel" -- Webb's "Something to Die For" -- "is fair, if you're a politician and just days before your election you're debating whether a woman performing a certain sexual act on a piece of fruit is a legitimate cultural tradition in the Philippines, well my friend, I think you've strayed horribly off-message."

A ballot measure in Virginia that may help energize Christian evangelical voters may hurt Sen. George Allen's bid for reelection because black voters may show up to those polls, which would not be good news for Allen who is struggling to overcome question about his racial sensitivity, reports Christina Bellantoni of the Washington Times. LINK

2006: Senate: New Jersey:

Leonard Fleming of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes of the efforts by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Tom Kean Jr. (R-NJ) to win undecided voters in "what has been one of the most bitter, competitive races in the country." LINK

2006: Senate: Maryland:

With less than a week left to go, Republican nominee Michael Steele has made the Maryland Senate race quite a fight. A group of prominent African American Democrats in a Washington D.C. suburb in Maryland have endorsed Steele. Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times Notes how the black Democrats -- who feel ignored by their party and angry by Kweisi Mfume's primary defeat to Ben Cardin (D-MD) -- are affected what should be a safe seat for Democrats. LINK

2006: Senate: Pennsylvania:

Kimberly Hefling of the Associated Press reports that in a Quinnipiac University poll of 933 voters with a 3% margin of error, "Casey led Santorum by 10 points, 52% to 42%." LINK

2006: Senate: Connecticut:

Andrew Miga of the Associated Press states that Ned Lamont has "narrowed the gap" with Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) in the new Quinnipiac University poll reporting that Lieberman now has a 49-37% advantage, down from his previous 52%. The poll director believed that while it was good that Lamont cut Lieberman's lead by 5 points, "If Lamont has an October surprise, he'd better check his calendar." Lieberman also leads with a 73-6% margin among Republican voters, while the GOP candidate, Alan Schlesinger only has 19%. LINK

2006: Governor: Massachusetts:

The final Bay State gubernatorial debate will be held tonight in Boston and moderated by ABC News' Cokie Roberts. LINK

2006: Governor: Pennsylvania:

Peter Jackson of the Associated Press reports that Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) widened his lead over opponent Lynn Swann in a Quinnipiac poll with 58% as compared to Swann's 35%. Rendell's campaign warned voters however that "polls never tell accurate stories." LINK

2008: Democrats:

The New York Times' Marc Santora Notes Sen. Clinton's suggestion of a "phased redeployment" of American troops out of Iraq starting this year. LINK

The Washington Post's David Ignatius spent the day with Sen. Clinton and gets her to define the "pragmatic center" thusly: "'Americans are primarily pragmatic,' she said. 'We are both conservative and progressive. In the pragmatic center, you get people together; you listen, you learn; you don't draw lines in the sand.'"

When asked by the New York Times' Anne Kornblut how important experience ought to be for a President, Sen. Obama replied, "What I think is more important is judgment." Kornblut describes the Senator as a "powerful tool" in the closing days of the midterms. LINK

Note Obama stealing a metaphor from David Axelrod!!!

The New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd praises Sen. Obama for his "audacity to hope" and points to how experience touted by the Bush camp can actually make the world dangerous. LINK

2008: Republicans:

In a must-read, the Washington Post's George F. Will argues that Sen. Allen's fumbles in 2006 are Gov. Romney's gain for 2008. LINK

". . . with Allen much diminished and perhaps out of contention, and with Rudy Giuliani not yet doing serious ground work for a national campaign, the Republican field is already down to two. That is good for only one of them: Romney."

Will also uses his column to mock Sen. Allen for seeming to "blush like a fictional Victorian maiden" about sexual passages in his Democratic opponent's "six fine novels."

Media:

The Wall Street Journal's Brooks Barnes reports that the midterm elections "offer rookie anchors new battleground" in a piece that Notes ABC's Charles Gibson will get more on-air time because of "Nightline."

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