The Note: The Majority Party


Bipartisanship lives: Day 3, as President Bush continues his reach across the aisle today, and the incoming majority leadership of the nearly-co-equal branch reaches back.

This morning Mr. Bush is scheduled to meet with the soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) at 11:35 am ET in the Oval Office. The President also participates in the dedication of the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA at 2:00 pm ET.

White House press secretary Tony Snow briefs the press today at 11:20 am ET at the White House.

(The role of the Vice President, Karl Rove, and Tracey Schmitt in the New New Normal remains tbd. Will the White House and RNC rapid response teams jump on the emergence of Bob Rubin's call to raise taxes or George McGovern's pending Hill visit to help Democrats come up with an Iraq policy? If not, you will know we are indeed in the New New Normal. Today's Paul Krugman victory lap is just the start.)

Speaker-Presumptive Nancy Pelosi has no public events scheduled for today. She is in her Capitol Hill office working on the transition. Through guile and skill at the insider game that some in the media (read: The Note) have misunderestimated at times, Pelosi has solved her Emanuel problem and is on the road to solving her Black Caucus problem, and now just has to finesse the Intelligence Committee fight, wait for Murtha to lose to Hoyer, and then decide just how truly nice she wants to be to the minority.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) continues her Empire State thank you tour. Today she thanks supporters in White Plains at 9:00 am ET, Albany at 1:00 pm ET, and Dexter, NY at 2:30 pm ET. At 11:00 am ET, Sen. Clinton will squeeze in a bit of official business when she attends the opening ceremony at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, NY.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) makes a 10:45 am ET announcement on the state budget in Boston, MA.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) plans to hold is first press availability since becoming a presidential candidate in Cedar Rapids, IA at 7:15 pm ET.

At 9:30 am ET, the Brookings Institution holds a news conference to discuss, "A Post-Election Analysis: Victories, Losses and What Lies Ahead" at National Press Club in Washington, DC.

State Legislatures Magazine presents StateVote 2006 Election Analysis sponsored by Fleishman-Hillard in cooperation with Governing Magazine at Westin Embassy Row in at 9:30 am ET in Washington, DC

The president of the Southwest Voter and Registration Project, Antonio Gonzales discusses "The Impact of the 2006 Election on the U.S. Latino Community" at the National Press Club at 10 am ET in Washington, DC.

Be sure to tune into "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday when George will be joined by White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and incoming Chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees -- Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). LINK

2006: analysis:

In a must-read, the Washington Post's Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei report that Tuesday's electoral upheaval "wiped out many of the few remaining Republican moderates in Congress, further cementing the geographic partitioning of the House and potentially widening the ideological divisions that have contributed to partisanship and gridlock on Capitol Hill." LINK

"The majority party in the House is now the minority party among Southern states for the first time since the 83rd Congress in 1953-1954. The same holds for the new Democratic-controlled Senate, except for a brief period in the 1980s."

Rumsfeld departs:

John Broder of the Paper of Record does the Democrat takeover wrap up, highlighting President Bush's priorities before control switches in Congress, not the least of which is a confirmation for Robert Gates. LINK

On that subject, the New York Times also had a disappointed Newt Gingrich, "If the president had replaced Rumsfeld two weeks ago, the Republicans would still control the Senate and they would probably have 10 more House members. For the president to have suggested for the last two weeks that there would be no change and then change the day after the election is very disheartening."

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times reports that President Bush has been considering replacing Rumsfeld since late summer. LINK

Ken Mehlman departs:

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney scores the Mehlman interview formally declaring his intention to leave the Republican National Committee at the end of his term. LINK

Nagourney includes Mitt Romney extending an informal offer to Mehlman to join his team. (Though, don't be surprised if Mehlman sits out the nomination fight and waits until a 2008 nominee emerges.) And be sure you don't miss the evocative James Carville dig at Howard Dean.

The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow reports that Republican officials told the Washington Times that Lt. Gov. Michael Steele (R-MD), who lost his bid for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, "has been sought out to succeed Mr. Mehlman as national party chairman. Those Republican officials said Mr. Steele had not made a decision whether to take the post, as of last night." LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Balz reports that Mehlman is "leaving his position voluntarily and has not come under any pressure from the White House or state party leaders to vacate his position as a result of Tuesday's elections." LINK

Cino, Matalin, and Steele are the names bandied about.

2008: Democrats:

The AP's Steven Paulson writes that Denver needs to win some support from labor unions, if it is to beat out New York City for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. LINK

David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register knows that "Vilsack knows his odds are long, but he also knows he won't be able to sleep at night if he doesn't at least try." When it comes to the national security issue, he didn't vote for the war, which makes "a great sound bite for television." LINK

The energetic Kay Henderson of Radio Iowa brings you the details and color of Gov. Vilsack's rollout conference call with supporters. LINK

". . . at the end Vilsack advisor Teresa Vilmain made a plea for the rather spartan campaign headquarters. 'We have a banner. We have a couple folding chairs, but I wanted to have a light moment here. We could use a few tables and a few cleaning supplies, not to mention a few more chairs and garbage cans,' Vilmain told the Vilsack supporters. 'This would be the 'ask' of the call. . . If you happened to be by the neighborhood, feel free to stop by with any left-over supplies, microwaves, refrigerators or desk tops. That would be great.'"

Under a "Vilsack Faces Hurdles in 2008" header, the Washington Post's Zachary Goldfarb Notes that Vilsack's campaign manger is Craig Varoga, a veteran of the 1996 and 2000 Democratic presidential campaigns and of retired Gen. Wesley Clark's 2004 primary bid. LINK

James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette profiles Pittsburgher Vilsack. LINK

Per John DiStaso in today's Union Leader, Vilsack already has his first New Hampshire fundraiser, Stonyfield Farms president and CEO Gary Hirshberg. LINK

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein includes Joe Trippi's reporting that Vilsack wowed attendees at the wonky Renaissance Weekend last winter as well as Trippi's apparent belief that Vilsack will have to show some strength in New Hampshire and South Carolina before Iowans begin taking his presidential prospects seriously. LINK

Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register discusses the potential challenges of Vilsack's presidential nomination run: "his candidacy was viewed as serious and that its biggest obstacle was becoming better known among a field of prospects that includes superstar names. "LINK

Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register describes Iowa's congressional delegation's reaction to Gov. Vilsack's announcement. LINK

Todd Dorman of the Quad City Times believes it's a "rocky road to the White House" for Gov. Vilsack as he "will be under heavy pressure to dominate Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses even though Iowa Democrats have yet to embrace his aspirations." LINK

The New York Post's Haberman reports that before making his '08 announcement, Gov. Vilsack made courtesy calls to other presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Clinton. LINK

Coming to a Sunday show near you: the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire has an Edwards adviser reacting to Vilsack's entry by saying: "What we have to do is win Iowa."

Maureen Groppe of Gannett News Service reports, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) told reporters Thursday that "most Americans don't know what Democrats stand for despite the party's electoral success." LINK

Bayh also maturely expressed a little Obama envy.

The Washington Wire has Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf calling Sen. Bayh "the front-runner" for the conservative slot vacated by ex-Virginia Gov. Warner's departure from 2008 field. "Bayh touts Democratic pickup of three Indiana House seats; he had also dispatched staffers to help campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire."

Sen. Bayh's All America PAC plans to distribute a memo to "interested parties" today touting the PAC's work in the midterm election. Not so subtly, the memo's lede section is entitled, "Moderate Heartland Democrats Gave Democrats Their Victory in 2006."

The memo concludes with some Bayh travel plans: "Senator Bayh told the Associated Press yesterday that he would wait until after the holidays to make an announcement. In the meantime, Bayh will continue to aggressively travel the country and with visits to Iowa and New Hampshire planned before the end of the year."

2008: Republicans:

The New York Daily News' Ben Smith includes this from Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) on his blog: "'We'll be making the mechanical steps within the next few weeks to move forward,' he said of his presidential bid, saying later he means he'll be filing papers to start what's typically an exploratory committee." LINK

It looks like Gov. Mitt Romney will not be able to point to his home state as a beacon of beating back same-sex marriage while out on the 2008 campaign trail.

"State lawmakers yesterday again refused to vote on a proposed ban on same-sex marriages, a move that activists on both sides said effectively killed any chance that the measure would appear on the 2008 statewide ballot," reports the Boston Globe's Estes and Helman. LINK

More from the Globe: Romney "acknowledged that because the Legislature had recessed instead of adjourning, he was probably powerless to do anything about it."

"'My options are limited,' Romney said. 'But we will explore any other alternatives that may exist to protect the constitutional rights of our citizens.'"

The Boston Herald's Kimberly Atkins reports that with Gov. Mitt Romney on his way out of the Bay State, the issue of same-sex marriage comes back on the front burner because Governor-Elect Deval Patrick supports same-sex unions. LINK

The Boston Globe's Scot Lehigh writes up Gov. Romney's refusal to see Tuesday's election results as a rejection of conservativism. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that the "ebbing fortunes of Santorum, Allen, and Frist" have allowed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) to emerge as a "top conservative prospect" for 2008.

Bush-turned-McCain adviser Mark McKinnon says of Gingrich: "He can win some primaries."

The Washington Times has Gingrich saying, "We have to recognize that this was a defeat for Republicans, not for conservatives." Gingrich also said: "The balance of power in the House is now 50-plus blue-dog [conservative] Democrats." LINK

The Washington Wire also reports that the anti-Washington mood helps Gov. Huckabee (R-AR) compete with Sen. Brownback (R-KS), in wooing the religious right.


ABC News' Nitya Venkataraman takes a look at the very crowded field of 2008 presidential wannabees. LINK

McClatchy's Steven Thomma breaks down all the 2008 contenders from both sides and puts them into categories such as "Toast" and "Burnt Toast." The front-runners from each side are Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). LINK

Democratic agenda:

"George McGovern, the former senator and Democratic presidential candidate, said Thursday that he will meet with more than 60 members of Congress next week to recommend a strategy to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by June," reports the Associated Press. LINK

Unless, of course, Rahm has federal marshals block McGovern from entering the building.

Will there be a tax increase coming soon? The Democrats got a little bit of advice yesterday from Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, who told members of the Economic Club in Washington that the deficit can't be eliminated solely on expense reduction; more revenue is needed. Kevin Carmichael of Bloomberg News has the story. LINK

The Washington Times' Charles Hurt on the leadership fight between Hoyer and Murtha. LINK

Reps. Hoyer and Murtha go head to head over who will be the next Majority Leader, putting Pelosi in the middle, the New York Post reports. But Pelosi avoided another battle between Reps. Emanuel and Clyburn over the position of Majority Whip, as Emanuel takes the Caucus Chair slot, which is bound to be beefed up. LINK

"Emanuel will be able to redefine his No. 4 job as he sees fit and will be a principal policy and political strategist. The job title gives Emanuel the credential to be at that small table and he will make of the job what he wants," writes Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times. LINK

Make sure you check out all the thumbnail sketches for each of the incoming House and Senate chairmen in the Washington Post today. It is an excellent clip n' save! Mark Leibovich profiles incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the New York Times, complete with his Election Day comments on Britney Spears' divorce and his use of the word "mojo." LINK

Ian Bishop of the New York Post sees Sen. Chuck Schumer as the new "political consigliere," the New York Post reports on the senior Senator from New York's decision to stay on as head of the DSCC for the 2008 cycle. LINK

The New York Times' Carl Hulse maps out who the new Democratic committee chairs will be and includes Judiciary Committee member Sen. Durbin's warning to the Administration -- "send us more moderate people or don't waste your time." LINK

Despite Nancy Pelosi's promise not subpoena the President on Iraq, the Democratic controlled Congress will have an agenda likely to be dominated by the Iraq war and a wide range of issues that the new Democratic committee chairmen care about, report Richard B. Schmitt and Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler reports that the Democratic takeover will raise the profile of lawmakers who have "repeatedly urged the Bush administration to talk to key adversaries such as Iran, North Korea and Syria." LINK

Rep. Jane Harman is digging in her heels and ready for a fight with Speaker-Presumptive Pelosi over who will be the new chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Harman tells Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times, "My view of this has to do with what is fair in terms of the commitments that were made to me." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Dreazen, Solomon, and Block report that Democratic lawmakers are "poised to flex new muscles" probing President Bush's prewar case, Katrina contracts, and corporate America.

GOP agenda:

A source close to the Club for Growth tells The Note that the Club is expected to endorse Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) for Minority Leader later today.

In choosing new leadership, Republicans and Democrats are "both revisiting old battles," reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers. LINK

"Stung by their party's losses, a younger generation of conservative Republican lawmakers is demanding a greater voice in the leadership, especially in the House. And even in victory, the Democratic infighting is colored by the party's ambivalence about how forceful to be on national security and Iraq, a central issue in the election."

Rep. Pence and Rep. Shadegg get flattering mentions in a Wall Street Journal editorial arguing that the House GOP needs a new generation of leaders.

Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is chastising the GOP for not being conservative enough. In an article in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Deirdre Shesgreen lays out three reasons why Blunt thinks the Democrats took over. LINK

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) writes that Republicans have a choice to make: "Are we going to re-emerge as the party of ideas -- or be content as assistant hirelings of big government?"

"Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Thursday that he has secured enough commitments from his fellow GOP Senators to win the position of Minority Whip in the 110th Congress," reports Roll Call's Billings.

Political potpourri:

The Wall Street Journal's ed board writes that Republicans on Tuesday "managed both to lose their majority in Congress and alienate a fast-growing bloc of Latino swing voters."

Robert Vitale and James Nash of the Columbus Dispatch report that the congressional race between Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) and Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy will not be decided until after "one of its hottest college football games is played" as the Franklin County Elections Director accommodates his employees' plan for the OSU-Michigan football game. LINK

The battle to replace Rep. Katherine Harris' (R-FL) fittingly comes down to a recount. LINK

In his Political Punch blog, Jake Tapper muses over the loss of Sen. George Allen (R-VA) to Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA). LINK