The Note: Sentimental Journey

f. Sitting at a rain-drenched ceremony near Karl Rove is fascinating (if you are a Democrat who has never seen him in person).

g. Nancy Heinreich truly defies all known information about science, nature, and the process of (not) aging.

John McCain went to New Hampshire, did an interview with the Union Leader, and left the 2008 door open wider than the facade of Little Rock's Peabody hotel. LINK

The New York Times' Steven Weisman on the rising voices of hard-liners in the Administration about Iran's nuclear program and the potential for that country to define the President's foreign policy choices over the next year. We are still unsure whether Arlen Specter's chairmanship is, shall we say, conditioned enough to call this a victory for social conservatives -- or a reminder of their place in the firmament.

Wraps: LINK and LINK

From Helen Dewar in the Washington Post: "The ordeal demonstrated the clout of conservative groups in the GOP but also underscored its limits in a chamber that values its traditions and personal relationships."

From Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times: "Mr. Specter's conservative critics seemed resigned to that outcome. When the news conference ended, the senator said he was headed to a meeting with three conservative leaders: Gary L. Bauer, the former presidential candidate; Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council."

"Afterward, Mr. Perkins issued a statement saying he hoped the senator would 'be true to his promise.'"

The New York Times' Carl Hulse warns Republicans about excessive enthusiasm by dint of goo-goo types and Harry Reid. LINK

While attention has rested on the Democrats in Little Rock this week, Ken Mehlman and other GOPers have arrived in the Big Easy for the RGA meeting. They are basking in the glow of their recent victories and Mehlman is leading tutorials on how it was done. The Washington Post's Dan Balz reports. LINK

"Mehlman, whom Bush has tapped to become chairman of the Republican National Committee, said, 'Our strategy was to offer a big choice on the biggest issues of the day,' citing terrorism, the economy and values as the pillars of that message."

"But Mehlman also said another crucial strategy was the decision to try to tarnish Kerry with a series of attacks that began immediately after the Massachusetts senator effectively wrapped up the Democratic nomination in early March. 'Defining John Kerry was one of the most important things I think we did in the spring,' he said,'" with his own penchant for understatement.

"The Bush campaign developed what Mehlman described as 'a very aggressive and very . . . different multimedia' strategy to disseminate its message, concluding that traditional media and major networks no longer have a monopoly on reaching voters".

"Among swing constituencies, Bush won a majority of the Roman Catholic vote and more than 40 percent of the Latino vote, which Mehlman called 'the single most important number that has come out of the election.' Future Republican majorities will depend in part on the party's ability to expand its support among Hispanic voters, and 2004 may have been a significant step in that direction if GOP candidates can build on it."

Mehlman looks so young, so handsome, and so darned rested in a Rogelio Solis Associated Press photograph that accompanies Adam Nagourney's N'Orleans dispatch. LINK

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