The Note: "Grave and Deteriorating"


The Iraq Study Group met with President Bush at 7:00 am ET before meeting with bipartisan House leaders at 8:30 am ET and the bipartisan Senate leadership at 9:00 am ET.

At 11:00 am ET, ABC News will have live coverage of the Iraq Study Group's press conference which will be held in Hart 216 in Washington, DC. At 6:30 pm ET, "World News with Charles Gibson" will have interviews with former Secretary of State James Baker and former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN). For more in-depth coverage, tune into Nightline at 11:35 pm ET. And, as always, you can get the very latest information on Iraq on ABC News Radio and

Keep watching for press conferences galore on the Hill with reaction to the report including at the stakeouts following the Senate Democratic and Republican policy luncheons.

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports that the Iraq Study Group will recommend that the United States "must not make open-ended commitments to keep large numbers of troops deployed in Iraq." LINK

More Karl: "The report recommends an initial increase in the number of U.S. troops dedicated to training and supporting the Iraqi security forces, but calls for the gradual withdrawal of all other U.S. forces."

"All U.S. troops not involved in this training and support mission, the report says, could leave Iraq by 'the first quarter of 2008.'"

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), whose advisers are positioning him for a 2008 White House run as the candidate of foreign policy, experience, and authenticity, hosts an 12:30 pm ET conference call to offer reaction to the Iraq Study Group's final report.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), according to the Washington Post, was scheduled to have breakfast this morning with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). At 3:30 pm ET, Sen. Clinton co-chairs a briefing of the congressional task force on Alzheimer's Disease.

Former President Bill Clinton signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet and Minister of Health Tran Thi Trung Chien at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam. He then hosts a conversation at the Sheraton Hotel, also in Hanoi.

Likely 2008 presidential hopeful Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) names Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) as the first female chair of the Democratic Governors Association at a 2:30 pm ET press conference at the Capitol Hilton in Washington, DC. Tomorrow, Gov. Richardson heads to the hallowed halls of Georgetown University to deliver a major speech on immigration.

Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) hosts a luncheon for Republican House and Senate members at the Legislative Office Building in Concord, NH at noon ET. The governor then heads to Iowa to thank Republican activists who supported his PAC.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) delivers open press remarks at 6:30 pm ET at the Grand Hyatt on H Street in Washington, DC when he receives the "Role Model of the Year" Award from the Jobs for America's Graduates program.

ABC News' Political Director Mark Halperin spoke at the Politics and Eggs: 2006 Issues Forum from 8:00 - 9:30 am ET in Bedford, NH.

See below for more schedule items.

Politics of Iraq:

After meeting with the Iraq Study Group this morning at the White House, President Bush said its report gives "a very tough assessment of the situation in Iraq" and pledged to act in a timely fashion on its proposals. The President said his Administration will take every proposal seriously and urged Congress to do the same. He took no questions and none of the ISG members spoke.

ABC News' Jessica Yellin reports, "The President passed a copy of the report around the room and asked everyone to sign and date it. That copy will go to the National Archives."

Calling the Iraq war "the worst strategic mistake in the entire history of the United States" and "worse than a civil war," former Vice President Gore urged President Bush to find a way to get U.S. troops out of Iraq "as quickly as possible without making the situation worse" while appearing on network morning television.

"I would urge the President to try to separate out the personal issues of being blamed in history for his mistake and instead recognizing that it is not about him. It's about our country," Gore said.

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball report that Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Incoming Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has joined Sen. McCain in calling for an increase in U.S. troops in Iraq. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Alexandra Zavis and Solomon Moore report that few Iraqi politicians have put much investment in the Iraq Study Group or other reviews taking place in Washington, pressing on with their own strategy. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Paul Richter weighs in on the consequences of American troop withdrawal, citing various experts who believe that the biggest risk is not Al Qaeda but rather a broader regional conflict. LINK

David Broder concludes that the Baker/Hamilton Commission was a model for how Congress is supposed to work. LINK

Robert Gates for SECDEF:

The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved Robert Gates' nomination to become President Bush's new defense secretary, after a day-long confirmation hearing in which he said that a new approach is needed to avoid a "regional conflagration."

Kate Zernike of the New York Times writes up some of the more colorful moments from the hearing including a look at the three presidential hopefuls on the committee (and the one time presidential candidate who introduced the nominee). LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper writes that Robert Gate's nomination should soar through the Senate like a rocket. LINK

He made no promise to end the war in Iraq or bring the troops home, but he's not Donald Rumsfeld and that made the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee love him writes Dana Milbank of Washington Post. LINK

The Washington Post on Gates' likely confirmation: LINK

Democratic agenda:

A large group of liberal organizations is mounting an lobbying and public relations effort to sway lawmakers who may be on the fence about the Democrats "Hundred Hours" agenda to vote for it reports Jeffrey H. Birnbaum of the Washington Post. LINK

Rather than the usually Tuesday to Thursday operation of the 109th Congress, Democratic leaders announced, that the 110th Congress will have to work five days a week. LINK


Keying off the perceived success of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus urges Sen. Clinton and Sen. McCain to forge a partnership on Social Security. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Rudy Giuliani's first exploratory committee fundraiser is set for December 19 in New York City. It will be hosted by former New York Stock Exchange director Ken Langone. LINK

David Saltonstall of the New York Daily News writes of Rudy Giuliani's big hire. Sandra Pack, Bush-Cheney '04 CFO, is moving from the Treasury Department over to Team Giuliani. LINK

The New York Sun on the same: LINK

The Boston Globe's Steven Camarota opines on why Gov. Romney ought not to be blamed for the allegedly illegal immigrants employed by the landscaping company which handles his lawn. LINK

The Boston Globe ed board writes that despite Gov. Romney's efforts to move to the right on immigration in order to "outflank" front-runner Sen. John McCain, his support of a fence and police enforcement do not solve the problem. The ed board suggests that the next president ought to "build on the McCain bill." LINK

A Massachusetts tourism group criticizes Romney for cutting $5 million in state funds for promoting the state to international tourists, per the Boston Globe's Peter Howe. LINK

Erin Jordan of the Des Moines Register writes up Sen. Brownback's 10-state blitz and his "full-scale conservative" values. LINK

2008: Democrats:

In a broad look at Sen. Clinton's "humming" campaign machine, the Washington Post's Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza report that Sen. Clinton has selected longtime adviser Patti Solis Doyle as campaign manager. LINK

Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer details some of the conversations Sen. Clinton has been having with New York elected officials and fundraisers. Rep. Eliot Engel is fully on board as is Rep. Jerry Nadler. Nadler even made sure to offer up some concerns about potential Clinton rival Sen. Barack Obama. LINK

"'Someone like Barack Obama -- who is suddenly a real candidate -- always worries me, because he is a novice candidate,' said Representative Jerry Nadler, who is backing Mrs. Clinton. 'Novice candidates -- not always, but 95 percent of the time -- make a mistake.'"

Horowitz also has this from Clinton loyalist and fundraiser John Catsimatidis: "'To take Obama seriously at this stage of the game is very naïve,' said Mr. Catsimatidis. 'He's not ready for prime time. What, do you want to take the weatherman from Boise, Idaho, and put him in New York City? I mean, give me a break.'"

We wonder if Nadler and Catsimatidis ran those anti-Obama thoughts by Sen. Clinton's camp before offering them up publicly.

Note, too, that Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) makes it clear that he has yet to decide who he will support in the campaign.

Now that Sen. Clinton's has signaled her intention to run for president, Dick Morris writes that she can definitely win while urging her defeat. LINK

"She definitely can win . . . and probably will," writes Morris before adding that she mustn't win because she would be a "disaster at home and abroad."

Sen. Clinton plans to dine with New Hampshire Democratic players at her home in Washington, DC on Sunday evening and then do the same with Iowa Democrats on Tuesday evening, reports Maggie Haberman of the New York Post. LINK

The New York Daily News on the upcoming dinner with Iowa Democrats at Hillary Clinton's home: LINK

The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont on Iowa Democrats heading to Sen. Clinton's home. LINK

The Chicago Tribune ed board writes Obama should run now, and not in 2012 or 2016. Here's the nut graf: "To run for president would be a big leap for someone who just a couple of years ago was commuting to Springfield as a state senator. There is a plausible case why Obama should bide his time and burnish his credentials for the future--plausible, but not persuasive. When a leader evokes the enthusiasm that Obama does, he should recognize that he has something special to offer, not in 2012 or 2016, but right now." LINK

The Associated Press reports that John Edwards needs to raise some "quick cash" as three other Democrats seeking the presidential nomination have over $10 million while Edwards has none. The AP has former Rep./Edwards campaign manager-in-waiting David Bonior (D-MI) adding, however, that "he's not going to have to spend millions introducing himself to voters. Our dollars are going to go further the second time around." LINK

Gov. Vilsack touts energy independence as a path to security at a luncheon with USA Today. LINK

2008: Independents:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Bolton's departure from the United Nations the result of "a cheap political stunt" and he went on to label it an "outrage," reports the New York Post's David Seifman. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

President Bush is scheduled to meet with leaders of the conservative Blue Dog and New Democrat coalitions on Friday, the Hill reports. LINK

2008: House:

Nancy Pelosi could make a decision on the next DCCC chairman by the end of the week reports The Hill. On the short list to replace Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) are Reps. Chris Van Hollen (who was stellar when he filled in for Emanuel opposite Rep. Tom Reynolds at the National Press Club), Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Arthur Davis, Kendrick Meek, Mike Thompson and Xavier Becerra. LINK

The Hill's Cameron Joseph reports that incoming NRCC Chair Tom Cole (R-OK) is moving Pete Kirkham, his chief of staff from his House office, to the NRCC , where he will become executive director. LINK

Rice and Kerry:

ABC News' Jonathan Karl reports that "in a bit of post-election outreach to Democrats, Condoleezza Rice hosted Sen. John Kerry at the State Department yesterday for a one-on-one discussion on Iraq. And it wasn't just Kerry. Secretary Rice had a separate meeting today with Vermont Democrat Pat Leahy (you know, the guy Cheney once told to 'F--- off')."

"The Leahy meeting is not a surprise. He's about to become the chairman of the Senate appopriations subcommittee that funds the State Department."

"But the Kerry meeting is unusual. It happened because a short while ago, Kerry called Rice to talk about Iraq. Several minutes into that discussion, Rice invited him down to the State Department for a face-to-face meeting. As you might expect, they had a good meeting and 'a frank exchange of views.'"

Cheney's daughter expecting a baby:

Mary Cheney, the Vice President's openly gay daughter, is expecting a baby this spring with her longtime partner Heather Poe, the Vice President's office confirms to ABC News' Karen Travers.

"The Vice President and Mrs. Cheney are looking forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of their sixth grandchild," spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride tells ABC News.

More from the Washington Post: LINK

And the Associated Press: LINK


Christine Jennings (D-FL) said she intends to contest the results of the Nov. 7th congressional election which put her 369 votes behind Vern Buchanan with the House Administration Committee. She and her lawyers have already had meetings with Democratic staff members on the committee.

The Hill has more: LINK

Casting and counting:

A federal panel has voted to start a plan that would lead to most of the country switching to paperless electronic voting machines. The Washington Post has the story. LINK

Political potpourri:

The plan to add two additional seats to the House of Representatives -- one likely Republican one from Utah and one likely Democratic one from Washington, DC -- has been scuttled for now. The New York Times' Kirk Johnson has the story. LINK

More from the Washington Post: LINK

A group of the West's most influential Democrats is creating a new organization to try and capitalize on Colorado's Rocky Mountain region in the 2008 presidential election, Notes the Denver Posts' John Aloysius Farrell. LINK

(Former NBA superstar Doug Sosnik is running the show - which may (or may not) comport with the declaration from one Western Democrat that the group is not "organizing to advocate specifically for one candidate.")

Additional schedule items:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and First Lady Maria Shriver induct 13 legends, leaders and trailblazers into the first-ever California Hall of Fame at the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento, CA at 7:00 pm ET.

At 9:00 am ET Speaker-designate Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Democrats hold a closed forum on the economy with former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Attorney for the ACLU and Human Rights First case hold a news teleconference at 10:00 am ET about the case charging Secretary Rumsfeld and three senior military officers alleged allowed abuse and torture to occur under their command.