The Note

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8

Things to watch for in the coming hours, days, and weeks:

1. The House ethics committee report on the Foley scandal. Does it get dumped out with the trash this Friday? Will the outgoing and incoming majorities work equally hard at trying to move beyond it quickly?

2. The planning conversations and intimations between and among Beth Myers, Patti Solis Doyle, David Bonior, Terry Nelson, and David Plouffe to try and avoid five top-tier presidential contenders "announcing" their candidacies in the same news cycle. (Don't forget to watch for those "I've decided not to run" announcements too.)

3. President Bush's job approval rating on that pre-Christmas day he delivers his "way forward" in Iraq to the country. The drumbeat and thumb-sucking begins.

4. LA-02 and TX-23

5. Secretary of State Bill Gardner's New Year's Eve toast for any clues on how the Gang of 500 plans to spend the holidays next year.

As for what else to watch today, President Bush met with bicameral/bipartisan congressional leadership at the White House this morning. ABC News' Jessica Yellin reports that at the end of his meeting with congressional leaders this morning, President Bush took no questions. He thanked the leaders for a "constructive conversation" on Iraq and promised to have "an open door policy" in the future so that Democrats feel welcome to come and talk with him. The President also thanked Speaker Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Frist for their service.

Mr. Bush plans to hold a closed meeting at 10:50 am ET with members of the Blue Dog Coalition at the White House. At 1:15 pm ET, the President welcomes President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to the White House.

First Lady Laura Bush visits the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC at 11:45 am ET.

At 10:15 am ET, Democratic Senate leaders Reid, Durbin, Schumer, and Murray hold a pen and pad press briefing "to discuss the close of the Do Nothing 109th Congress."

The AFL-CIO kicks off its "Organizing Summit" with remarks from its president, John Sweeney, at 11:25 am ET at the Hyatt Regency in Capitol Hill. At 12:15 pm ET, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), and Sweeney participate in a rally in support of the Employee Free Choice Act. At 7:00 pm ET, former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) receive the Paul Wellstone Awards. The event will run through Saturday.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) holds a press conference with Apollo Alliance president Jerome Ringo and United Steel Worker president Leo Gerard on clean energy at 10:00 am ET at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) is spending the night in the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola to highlight the success of faith-based initiatives in prisons around the country.

Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) holds a press conference regarding minority-owned businesses in Iowa at the state capitol in Des Moines, IA at 2:30 pm ET.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) kicks-off "Conversations with Kirkland" at 4:30 pm ET at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) is in China.

At 2:00 pm ET, Gov. Huckabee (R-AR) presents the "Jermain Taylor Day" proclamation to Middleweight Boxing Champ Jermain Taylor in Little Rock, AR. Gov. Huckabee hosts a reception for the "Farm Family of the Year" at 3:00 pm ET.

Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) is scheduled to give the noon ET keynote address for the Center for American Progress's "Economic and Policy Implications of the Housing Bubble" in Washington, DC.

Real-Estate mogul R.C. Tolbert hosts an inaugural gala honoring Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA), Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and others at 6:00 pm ET at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, MD.

At 10:00 am ET Gov.-elect Charlie Crist (R-FL) participates in a bipartisan meeting of Florida's congressional delegation in Washington, DC.

Judicial Watch holds a discussion at the National Press Club on "Hillary and the Presidency: Ethics, Policy, and Bill" at 2:00 pm ET in Washington, DC.

On Saturday, Louisiana holds its runoff with all eyes on the outcome of Rep. Bill Jefferson's (D-LA) contest in the second congressional district.

From 6:45 pm - 8:00 pm ET, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) attends a meet and greet reception hosted by his All America PAC in Manchester, NH.

Today and tomorrow Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) meets with former Republican governors in New York City to discuss the future of the party. Gov. Pataki appears on Fox News at 2:30 pm ET for a live interview.

On Sunday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) makes his inaugural trip to New Hampshire -- which will likely garner a bit more network television coverage than Sen. Bayh's trip to the Granite State this weekend. Sen. Obama signs copies of his book at 10:00 am ET in Portsmouth, then attends a 2006 election celebration with the New Hampshire Democratic Party in Manchester, NH at 4:15 pm ET. (You may have heard that the event is sold out with more than 1,500 people expected to attend.)

Also on Sunday, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) attends a reception at the Symposium Cafe in Spartanburg, SC at 4:00 pm ET. Spartanburg's largest industrial firm (Milliken and Co.) is reportedly quite fond of Rep. Hunter, according to a Palmetto State GOP source.

Along with many of you, The Note will spend its holiday season awaiting the shaking out of who's in and who's out in the 2008 presidential field and looks forward to returning on January 2, 2007 - a mere 12 months before the voting begins. Thanks much for your readership in 2006. Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. Until then, please be sure to enjoy our 2006 archives to catch up on any Notes you may have missed: LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker and Robin Wright report that President Bush "expressed little enthusiasm" for the central ideas in the ISG Report. LINK

The Los Angeles Times breaks down exactly what parts of the report President Bush took issue with at his press conference with Tony Blair yesterday. LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead sees a post-ISG report President Bush who is running out of people to turn to for political support and denying his denial of the woes in Iraq. LINK

Bill Nichols of USA Today reports on some of the Iraq Study Group "skeptics" up on Capitol Hill. LINK

In an exit interview with Kathy Kiely of USA Today, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) tells the newspaper, "We need to find a way to get out of Iraq that doesn't cover us with dishonor." LINK

U.S. military commanders in Baghdad are advancing a plan to increase the number of American troops involved in training Iraqi soldiers, report the Wall Street Journal's Greg Jaffe and Neil King Jr.

Be sure to go back and read Sen. Gordon Smith's (R-OR) floor speech on Iraq yesterday.

The economy:

"Employers boosted payrolls by a respectable 132,000 in November, but the unemployment rate edged up to 4.5 percent as jobseekers streamed into the labor market by the thousands with the approaching holidays," reports the Associated Press.

More AP: "The tally of new jobs added to the economy last month marked an improvement from the 79,000 new positions generated in October and was the most since September, the Labor Department reported Friday. It mostly a cheerful message at a time of year when shopping peaks."

Politics of Foley:

The Washington Times waits with bated breath for the Foley report from the House ethics committee. Democratic agenda:

The Wall Street Journal's Harwood reports that skeptics see deficit-reduction pressures limiting what the new Congress can deliver on its promise to make college more affordable.

Harwood also reports that Peter Orszag is a "prime candidate" to head the Congressional Budget Office under the Democrats. Orszag has been working with former Treasury Secretary Rubin on the Hamilton Project to develop centrist Democratic economic policies.

Ben Evans reports for the AP that Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI) will replace Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. LINK

Robert Pear of the New York Times writes up how the new lobbying-reform minded Democratic majority hasn't yet seemed to change its usual fundraising ways among the K-Street crowd. LINK

Speaker Pelosi is considering a tobacco ban in the Speaker's Lobby outside the House chamber. LINK

"I'm not an advocate of smoking," Pelosi said yesterday, adding that she hadn't yet decided on a ban. "I think it's dangerous to your health." The San Francisco Chronicle on same: LINK

2008:

In this week's National Journal, James A. Barnes reports that Democratic insiders predict that Sen. Clinton will be their party's presidential nominees, but they're not convinced she'll be the strongest candidate the party could field. GOP insiders, for their part, are looking to Sen. McCain. LINK

Note that Sen. Obama first appeared on the Democratic Insiders' top 10 rankings for 2008 this May, when he occupied the lowest spot. He remains "well behind Clinton, but his celebrity has propelled him past everyone else."

You can see National Journal's "Top 10" from both parties here: LINK

David Saltonstall of the New York Daily News can't resist the Gotham reporter's dream of a Hillary Clinton vs. Rudy Giuliani showdown courtesy of some new Marist Institute poll numbers. LINK

2008: Republicans:

Scott Helman reports in the Boston Globe that in 1994 Gov. Romney -- who was then running for Senate -- seemed somewhat less supportive of a federal ban against same-sex marriage than he is now. LINK

"Comments Governor Mitt Romney made during his 1994 Senate bid, in which he said the gay and lesbian community 'needs more support from the Republican Party,' resurfaced yesterday, posing a potential hurdle as he appeals to conservatives for a probable presidential campaign," writes Helman.

"Bay Windows, the Boston-based gay and lesbian newspaper, republished excerpts from an August 1994 interview the paper did with Romney during his campaign against Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In the interview, Romney said it should be up to states to decide whether to allow same-sex marriage and he criticized Republican 'extremists' who imposed their positions on the party."

Make sure you read all the way to the bottom for a hint of the kinds of questions you may see asked when Gov. Romney decides to enter the Sunday morning network television fray.

Romney spokesguy Eric Fehrnstrom says the governor's main concern is activist judges taking such issues into their own hands.

Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla takes an in-depth look at Gov. Romney's burgeoning campaign and the headway he is making among some traditionalists who are looking for an alternative to Sen. McCain. LINK

Note that Romney is planning to roll out his position on international affairs next year, he is looking for ways to sharpen his differences with McCain on immigration, and he is developing ideas for simplifying taxes and spurring capital formation.

In a preview of Democratic (and Republican) talking points on the governor, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) swipes Romney for the way his positions seem to have changed over the years.

"'Romney ran as a moderate Republican twice, and he's now gone to the right on stem-cell research, the environment, gay rights, abortion -- virtually everything you can think of,' said Rep. Frank. 'Either he was blatantly lying to people to get elected, or he just decided because the Republican Party is where it is today.'"

(Note: See Boston Globe story above.)

Gov. Romney's Commonwealth PAC announced that former state House Speaker Allan Bense, former state Republican Party Chairman Al Cardenas and outgoing LT. Gov. Toni Jennings (R-FL) have all joined the PAC's steering committee in preparation for Romney's potential White House run, Notes William March of the Tampa Tribune. LINK

(All three are quite familiar with Gov. Jeb Bush.)

More from the Tallahassee Democrat: LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood reports that Sen. McCain has bolstered his policy team with former CBO chief Holtz-Eakin. "'He thinks things should add up, and I like that,' says Holtz-Eakin, a one-time Bush White House official."

Harwood also reports that FEC Chair Michael Toner will leave his post by year's end, and he may join a Republican presidential campaign.

Sen. McCain's man in New Hampshire, Mike Dennehy, has been tapped as national political director for McCain's likely presidential campaign. The Associated Press has the story. LINK

The New Hampshire Union Leader's John DiStaso reports Dennehy will be responsible for structuring McCain's campaigns in all 50 states. LINK

In the forthcoming edition of the New Republic, Noam Scheiber takes a look at the many conversions of Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS): from moderate to pro-lifer back in 1994, from Gingrich revolutionary to devout social conservative in 1996/97, and from evangelical to Catholic in 2002. LINK

While the conversions are many, the change of heart is depicted as sincere.

2008: Democrats:

"The 100-member Senate has never run short of presidential wannabes," write the Washington Post's Charles Babington and Shailagh Murray in a front-page must-read about Sens. Clinton and Obama, "but this time, Democrats worry that the clash of titans will overshadow their legislative agenda, leaving mere mortals grasping for notice and potentially compromising the party's efforts to expand its Senate majority." LINK

Be sure to Note that the Washington Post duo report that some Obama allies suspect that Clinton supporters generated recent rumors that former Vice President Gore is weighing a 2008 bid, "hoping to discourage donors from signing up with Obama just yet."

(Keep your eyes on the eBay bids for those "Don't tell Mama, I'm for Obama!" t-shirts.)

In his National Journal column, Charlie Cook writes, "For Democrats, the only significant remaining question is whether Obama runs. A fairly persuasive argument can be made that a freshman U.S. senator only two years removed from the Illinois Senate shouldn't run for president yet. That argument is quickly drowned out, though, by the cacophony of pleas from Democrats urging him to run. And such a courtship can be quite seductive. Personally, I don't think Obama will run this time, but I find it impossible to separate my sense that it's too early from my sense that he won't do it."

In a New York Post op-ed, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann explain why the 2008 race for the Democratic nomination is Hillary Clinton's to lose. LINK

The AP reports that while Sen. Hillary Clinton held a double digit lead over her Democratic rivals in a poll done by Marist College, 47 percent of registered voters would definitely not consider voting for her. LINK

Thomas Cole of the Albuquerque Journal writes up FOX News' interview with Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) in which he said "I am Hispanic, which I believe is an asset. But I'm not running as a Hispanic. I am running as an American who is proud to be Hispanic." LINK

Although it's no secret that Richardson is seriously looking at a presidential run, spokesmen for his campaign called the inference "absolutely false" and issued a statement denying that the Governor had announced his candidacy claiming that "comments from the interview were taken out of context based on a hypothetical question that FOX News posed about the Governor's strengths should he run for President."

Steve Terrell of the Sante Fe New Mexican also Notes that Richardson announced he was running "followed quickly by a denial" in February 2005 and in "at least two appearances before out-of-state audiences Richardson has said in English he's not running, followed by his own 'translation' in Spanish that he is running." LINK

The Washington Times reports on Gov. Richardson's call for the Democratic Congress to abandon building a fence along the Mexican border. LINK

Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack made a follow-up campaign trip to New Hampshire after her husband's initial presidential campaign swing took him to the Granite State last week, reports Tom Beaumont of the Des Moines Register. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Harwood reports that as part of a broader effort on the part of business to curry favor with the new Democratic majority, PACs for MetLife and Northwestern Mutual each sent post-election donations of $5,000 to Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), the incoming chair of the committee overseeing their industry.

House of Labor: "As the AFL-CIO gathers in Washington today for a post-election organizing summit," reports the Washington Post's Dale Russakoff, "the labor movement is assured of a seat at the table in the new Democrat-controlled Congress, and it has an ambitious agenda: raising the minimum wage, restricting trade agreements, beefing up worker health and safety protections and rewriting the National Labor Relations Act to make it easier to organize unions." LINK

Amidst the unity on most issues, be sure to Note the split on immigration.

"The SEIU is aggressively organizing low-wage janitors whose ranks are heavily immigrant and undocumented." Thus, it supports the immigration bill sponsored by Sens. Kennedy and McCain that would "create an expansive guest-worker program for immigrants. The AFL-CIO and several other Change to Win unions view temporary workers as ripe for exploitation – and also a threat to jobs and higher wages."

Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Miller are expected to rally today in support of a measure to make it easier for workers to unionize -- a measure that many businesses and Republicans oppose writes Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times. LINK

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Iowa:

"One Iowa, One Unlimited Future," that will be the theme for the three-day celebration for Gov.-elect Chet Culver's (D-IA) inauguration, Notes the Des Moines Register's Jonathan Roos. LINK

2006:

The New York Times' Kirkpatrick blogs about the latest FEC reports showing most campaign committees in debt (not uncommon in the post-election reports), but questions if the NRSC was in deep enough debt. LINK

FL-13:

Jeremy Wallace of the Herald Tribune reports that after gaining the support of Howard Dean, Democrat Christine Jennings has confirmed that she expects to contest election results officially in her race against Rep.-elect Vern Buchanan (R-FL), "I think we should go through the court process," Jennings said at a press conference. LINK

LA-02:

James Hill of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes, "If Congressman William Jefferson, can win re-election Saturday, anything is possible. Well, maybe not anything. Elvis may live, and Iraq may be transformed into a peaceful democracy but we will never get the 'honorable explanation' Jefferson promised for the loot the feds found in his freezer." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Erika Lovley takes a lovely look at the two Louisiana Democrats -- Rep. Jefferson and state Rep. Karen Carter (D-LA) -- who are "arguing over which one is more corrupt." LINK

The New York Times curtain-raises the race as well. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Simmons seems to see white voters as the key to scandal-entrenched Rep. Jefferson keeping his seat in the House. LINK

TX-23:

Suzanne Gamboa of the Associated Press reports that Rep. Bonilla's cash on hand is roughly 10 times the amount of his opponent, Ciro Rodriquez, who has received over $800,000 from the DCCC. LINK

Frist's farewell:

The Washington Post's Lois Romano captures the "fuzzy" moment which took place yesterday when incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "unexpectedly reeled Frist in" for a hug. LINK

The New York Times: LINK

Cheney's daughter expecting a baby:

Under a "reality is a blessed event" header, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus laments that Vice President Cheney's openly gay daughter did not get pregnant during the 2004 campaign. LINK

Be sure to Note the comments from Robert Knight of the Media Research Center and Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America which will have to be "put up on the screen" the next time a Republican '08er goes on Sunday morning television.

Politics of same-sex marriage:

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that New Jersey's civil union bill has passed committee, but opponents and supporters alike are less than satisfied. LINK

Political potpourri:

Jimmy Carter defends his book in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Incoming Gov. Martin O'Malley (D-MD) is seeking donations of as much as $25,000 for his inaugural party, report the Washington Post's John Wagner and David Nakamura. LINK

The Detroit News reports that Dick DeVos (R-MI), former candidate for governor, spent a whopping $41.6 million ($35 million out of his own pocket) in his campaign to try to topple Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), who spent $14 million. LINK

Casting and counting:

Major changes in the way Americans cast their ballots and how ballots are counted are expected to be implemented in time for the 2008 presidential campaign. The New York Times has the story. LINK

Weekend politics:

On Sunday, President and Mrs. Bush attend "Christmas in Washington" at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC at 6:00 pm ET. At 10:15 am ET Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) attends a meet and greet in Keene, NH before heading to Cornish, NH at 12:30 pm ET for an event hosted by New Hampshire Democrats. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is the keynote speaker at Yeshiva University's annual dinner at 7:00 pm ET in New York City. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) hosts New Hampshire activists at her home in Washington, DC for a sit-down dinner.

Intern for the ABC News Political Unit:

The ABC News Political Unit is now seeking full-time interns for the spring semester. There are a few requirements you should know about before applying for the internship

- You must be either a graduate student or junior or senior in college.

-You must be able to work long days, starting early, Monday through Friday.

-If your school gives credit for internships, you must receive credit.

-The internship begins Jan. 8 and runs into May.

Not only will you get to write for The Note, but ABC News Political Unit interns also are afforded the opportunity to help manage ABC's Political Radar, cover political events around town, and conduct research used by ABC News broadcasts.

If you write well, don't mind getting up early, and have some familiarity with web publishing, send a cover letter and resume to teddy.davis@abc.com as soon as possible, with the subject line: "INTERN" in all caps.

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