The Note: Looking Down at the Shoes of Life

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26

In the grand tradition of Cathie Martin, The Note presents our weekly Friday Follies, in which we dump all the best stuff late, in order to get limited pick up in Saturday papers (and/but what a big news political weekend it is going to be -- with Bush war counseling, Hillary Clinton Hawkeye Stating, Rudy Giuliani Granite Stating, and anti-war protesters protesting):

Ring One -- Iraq: Facts on the ground are still not apparently good . . . everyone love David Petraeus (But what's love got to do with it? Russ Feingold asks)…Iran talk doesn't do anything to strengthen the White House politically (and the "leak to Sanger-Pincus-newsmags" strategy isn't looking so efficacious right now)….the Old Media will cover the weekend anti-war rallies with gusto. . .and the ultimate resolution of the Iraq situation remains in the hands of the Four Johns (Warner, Boehner, Edwards, and Murtha) against the One John (the less-and-less Happy Warrior, McCain).

Ring Two -- the rest of the legislative agenda: The Gang of 500 declares Bush's agenda on health care, energy, immigration, etc. dead on arrival, too much, too little, and impossible to forge a bipartisan consensus on in the midst of the crossfire of Ring One.

Ring Two A -- US v. Scooter: There are at least 7 Paul Krugman columns, 3 Jon Stewart monologues, 11 Eric Alterman rants, 101 Huffington posts, and 1 Frank Rich book in the comic-tragic intra-Bush Administration warfare storylines of the Scooter Libby trial (and the immunized Ari Fleischer hasn't even taken the stand yet!!!!).

Ring Three -- 2008: Where we have only money questions: How much has John Edwards raised online in January (off of the war)?... How much have Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama netted on the web this month (off of their announcements)?....Raise your hand if you think Chuck Hagel or Mike Huckabee can raise $15 million this year. . .

Sen. Clinton, who has not been to Iowa since 2003, makes her way to the Hawkeye State today to start courting the state's influential voters.

Insiders will be watching the tussle over tight pool rules; how much is blatantly ripped off from the 20000 Listening Tour; and the location (and outcome) of the Senator's secret meetings that are not on her public schedule. The next co-centric circle out will watch to see how she balances regal versus accessible (any special instructions, for instance, to the USSS?) and if anti-war protestors are allowed to question her (and, if so, how she answers).

On Saturday, the Woman Who Would Be 44 meets with the Iowa Democratic Party Central Committee at 12:30 pm ET at the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines, IA. She then conducts a town hall-style "Conversation with Iowans" at the Des Moines East High School Community Center at 1:30 pm ET. (This event will be carried live on C-SPAN).

Sen. Clinton holds a house party at 7:00 pm ET in Cedar Rapids, IA. At 9:30 am ET on Sunday, Sen. will be in Davenport, IA at the Hickory Garden Family Restaurant for a house party-style "Conversation with Iowans" and then she will hold a press availability at Central High School at 1:30 am ET.

(Saturday Clinton is expected to kiss the Beaumont and Glover rings, and perhaps others).

As part of a series of planned national protests -- and as part of the environment for Sen. Clinton's first trip, a coalition of antiwar groups under the umbrella of Unitedforpeace.org assemble on the National Mall at 11:00 am ET on Saturday. The Rev. Jessie Jackson, Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-PH), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Danny Glover are among the expected to speakers. On Monday, the groups turn to lobbying in DC and targeted states. The Los Angeles Times has the preview. LINK

Be sure to tune into "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos goes "on the trail" with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) to talk about his just-announced presidential campaign. Back in studio, Sens. Joe Biden (D-DE) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) talk about the war in Iraq.

Before heading to Iowa today, Sen. Clinton will be one of five Democratic '08ers to take questions at a closed press event from the board members of the Service Employees International Union (See below for a preview.). Three more hopefuls speak tomorrow.

President Bush makes remarks to the House Republican Conference at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay at 12:10 pm ET in Cambridge, Md.

Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) plans to fall in the Brownback/Hagel anti-surge camp as opposed to the McCain/Giuliani/Romney pro-surge camp when he delivers a major speech on the Iraq war at Georgetown University at 11:00 am ET. The Associated Press has the story. LINK

More from the AP: "While Pataki's comments appeared as a sharp departure from his past support of Bush on the Iraq war, the former governor began expressing reservations about the U.S.-Iraq policy after a November trip to the war zone."

The AP Notes that Pataki's eldest son is a Marine facing possible deployment to Iraq.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) delivers a "major address" on Iraq at 10:00 am ET at the Falk Auditorium in Washington, DC

As part of his continuing push to get America "Back On Track," Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) was scheduled to speak at the Families USA Health Action Conference at 9:00 am ET.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), along with his son Tagg Romney, attend a luncheon with Iowa GOP Activists at Beck's Pub and Grill today at 12:30 pm ET in Waterloo, IA. At 3:00 pm ET, Romney tours Hawkeye Renewable, a renewable energy company in Fairbanks, IA. At 7:00 pm ET, the former governor moves on to the Best Western Midway Hotel in Dubuque, IA to meet with local voters.

The National Review Institute's conservative summit entitled "Claiming the Future" begins today at the JW Marriot Hotel in Washington, DC. The event, which will feature conservative thinkers, authors, and policymakers, kicks off with a cocktail reception honoring UN Ambassador John Bolton at 6:00 pm ET.

On Saturday, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's (R-GA) speaks at 8:00 am ET, former Gov. Jeb Bush's (R-FL) delivers remarks at 12:00 pm ET and Romney delivers the dinner address at 7:00 pm ET.

After appearing on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AK) speaks at 10:00 am ET to the National Review conference. White House press secretary Tony Snow also plans to speak Sunday.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation on a fact-finding mission to Iraq. The trip comes as the Senate prepares to confirm the Army general President Bush has chosen to lead a new effort to secure Baghdad.

First Lady Laura Bush Speaks at the launch of the Hugh Sidey Scholarship for Print Journalism at 2:30 pm ET in the East Room.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) makes his first trip to New Hampshire since forming his presidential exploratory committee. He attends a Chamber of Commerce event this evening in Bretton Woods, NH, and addresses the New Hampshire GOP convention on at 10:00 am ET in Manchester, NH.

Former Sen. John Edwards' (D-NC) One Corps proclaims Saturday its National Day of Action.

SEIU Gets a Crack at the Democratic '08ers:

Over the next two days, the roughly 60 people who sit on the international executive board of the Service Employees International Union will get to question the Democratic presidential hopefuls at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.

The presidential hopefuls participating today are Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). On Saturday, SEIU's board members will meet with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and will hear from Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) via satellite.

Today's one-on-one closed press meetings with Democratic '08ers start at 9:00 am ET and will run all day. Each candidate will appear for about 30 minutes with about 15 minutes devoted to prepared remarks and 15 minutes devoted to answering questions that SEIU board members pose.

People on the board represent about 90 percent of SEIU's members: they are the leaders of the local unions that SEIU has around the country. It is believed that each of the Democratic '08ers will be introduced by an SEIU board members who has worked with that particular political figure in the past on legislation or an organizing campaign.

"We want to know where the candidates stand on issues that matter most to our members: affordable health care, good jobs, and retirement security," said SEIU's Stephanie Mueller.

SEIU plans to pressure each of the Democratic '08ers to attend the health-care forum that the union is holding in Las Vegas, NV on March 24.

(Side Note: after initially indicating that he wanted to a Q&A session with SEIU's board members, Gen. Wesley Clark notified SEIU on Thursday that he would not be appearing before the group either in person or via satellite).

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

For "Good Morning America," ABC News' Kate Snow previewed Sen. Clinton's first campaign trip to Iowa this weekend. The last time Sen. Clinton campaigned there in any significant way was fifteen years ago when her husband was running for the Democratic nomination. With former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) "all over" Iowa, Sen. Clinton plans to begin by replicating parts of her 2000 New York Senate race, by visiting living rooms in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque.

Here's more from Snow on ABCNews.com: LINK

ABC News' Maddy Sauer reports Sen. Clinton's brother, Tony Rodham, is in financial and legal trouble this week, accused of failing to repay $109,000 in loans from a carnival company whose owners received controversial pardons issued by President Bill Clinton in the last hours of his presidency. LINK

The Bend Weekly's Phyllis Schlafly reports that Sen. Clinton will use a 'mom' strategy in her campaign, which will help her on the Iraq issue. LINK

"The poll knocks down some negative perceptions about Clinton's likability and electability - the two issues that most concern her supporters," writes Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News on the Time poll. LINK

ABC News' Paul Fidalgo covered Sen. Clinton's speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where Sen. Clinton reaffirmed her commitment toward universal health care, joking that she will send President Bush a suit of armor to President Bush for his healthcare proposals. LINK

The Des Moines Register has Sen. Clinton's Iowa schedule and takes particular Note of her hiring veteran Iowa campaign leader JoDee Winterhof to handle the state. LINK

For those of you who can't get enough... the Quad-City Times has even more Clinton trip details: LINK

Politics of Iraq:

Jeff Zeleny and Carl Hulse of the New York Times take a look at the political pressure being applied to Senators by anti-war activists. The Timesmen also size up the current state of play on the competing anti-surge proposals floating around the Senate. LINK

"Feingold Pushes Plan to Cut Off War Funds," reads the Politico headline above John Bresnahan's story showing that even in the world of former-potential-2008-presidential-candidates-trying-to-become-the-voice-of-the-Senate-on-Iraq, John Kerry is not the only game in town. LINK

Bloomberg's Laura Litvan and Nicholas Johnston reports now that Democrats control Congress, they are feeling the wrath of MoveOn.org over the troop escalation plan in Iraq, with MoveOn Washington director Tom Matzzie saying, "It is political malpractice for the Democrats not to work to stop the president." LINK

ABC News' Karen Travers reports Tony Snow essentially said "bring it on" to members of Congress about their displeasure with the troops escalation plan, with Snow saying the White House is not worried about the party splitting over Iraq but they believe that the President's plan is the best way to achieve the U.S. objectives in Iraq. LINK

Libby trial:

Josh Gerstein at the New York Sun reports that the trial of former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is revealing, "how the White House scrambled to contain the damage after the credibility of a claim that President Bush made about Iraq's nuclear program came under public attack in July 2003," with testimony from Catherine Martin, the former head of the Vice President's public affairs staff, and the first current White House staffer to testify. Ms. Martin said, "Hadley raised the evening news report by Andrea Mitchell and said there had been suggestions that the White House was pushing blame towards the CIA," Ms. Martin then recalled Mr. Hadley saying, "That was not what we should be doing, and that was not helpful."

Addressing the decision to give former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer immunity, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said, "Frankly, I didn't want to give him immunity because I didn't know what we were getting. I was buying a pig in a poke." LINK

Scott Shane of the New York Times provides a colorful scene setter on what it's like inside the "bland sixth-floor courtroom with a stopped clock" where Scooter Libby is on trial. LINK

ABC News' Jason Ryan covers the trial too: LINK

In a recap of yesterday's news form the Libby trial, with the headline, "Ex Aide Says Cheney Led Rebuttal Effort" , the Washington Post's Carol D. Leonnig and Amy Goldstein write that yesterday's testimony and evidence portrayed Vice President Cheney "as a general on a political battlefield--enmeshed in tactics." LINK

Sketchy Dana Milbank scores the front page: LINK

2008:

Karen Tumulty leads Time's package on the 2008 race with Huckabee acknowledging he had to move up his decision-making timetable due to the more intense early start to the race. And, of course, lots of poll numbers to enjoy as well. LINK

Time's 8 keys to the 2008 race: LINK

2008: Republicans:

Former Gov. Paul Cellucci (R-MA) is backing Giuliani over Romney, reports the Boston Globe. LINK

2008: Republicans: Hagel:

In an interview with the Washington Post, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) said he is discussing his options with his family and other confidants and will make a decision in the next six weeks. LINK

He "joked" about "teaming up with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a moderate Republican, "and also floated the possibility of joining a bipartisan unity ticket with a Democrat -- with his name first, of course."

2008: Republicans: McCain:

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal on state power broker George Dean Johnson signing on to Sen. McCain's finance committee. LINK

The Associated Press says that Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama will serve as Southeast co-chairman of Sen. McCain's presidential exploratory committee. LINK

The Los Angeles Times Norm Leavey reports that Sens. McCain and John Cornyn (R-TX) are working on "alternative legislation that would attach specific 'benchmarks to the White House plan."LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani:

Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press flushes out the can-Giuliani-win-a-GOP-nomination question. Citing his general popularity and his "America's Mayor" mystique, she quotes Republican Alex Vogel who says, "The question is: Can you win a Republican primary a different way? History keeps saying no. But history has never presented us with someone whose favorability numbers are as high as Rudy's." LINK

2008: Republicans: Hunter:

The New York Times' Abruzzese writes up Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-CA) throwing his hat into the presidential ring with the apparent intention to run as a pro-war, pro-life, pro-free trade Republican. LINK

Rep. Duncan Hunter announces his intentions for '08 (again), the AP reports. LINK

2008: Republicans: Brownback:

Scott Rothschild of the Lawrence Journal on Sen. Sam Brownback's (R-KS) support for a smaller troop increase in Iraq and his opposition to a Senate resolution which passed earlier this week. LINK

2008: Republicans: Tancredo:

The Hill's Klaus Marre looks at Rep. Tom Tancredo's (R-CO) call for an end to "race-based" caucuses. LINK

Washington Times on the same: LINK

2008: Democrats:

"Star Wars: Hollywood Split Over Top Dems," blares the New York Post wood. Niles Lathem and Ian Bishop of the New York Post have all the details on Spielberg diversifying his portfolio, Elizabeth Taylor's support for Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama's Hollywood buzz, and three upcoming (Feb. 11, Feb. 22, and Mar. 23) trips to Los Angeles for Sen. Clinton. LINK

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Bill Zwecker writes Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama are both Tinseltown-bound, looking for cash. On Feb. 11th, financiers Sim Farar and Haim Saban will host two "meet 'n' greets" with Hollywood types for Sen. Clinton -- and on Feb.20th, movie moguls Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen will host a fund-raiser at the Beverly Hilton for Sen. Obama. LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

Following up on a story he did about Sen. Obama last night for Nightline, ABC News' Jake Tapper asks on ABCNews.com: "How on earth did we get to this point? Where a United States Senator is explaining that he went to a normal elementary school and not a terrorist recruiting center?" LINK

In response to Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson vehemently denying that the Clinton campaign played any role in the smear, Jeffrey Kuhner, editor of Insight Magazine told ABC News that his message to the Clinton campaign is: "Sue us."

"'If he's so confident that this is a National Enquirer-style made up story,' the editor said, 'He and Hillary should sue the pants off us, because if they're right they could make millions and millions of dollars. But then we'll depose the investigators who have been conducting the investigation into Obama's background and they know it. This story is multi-sourced … I have never been more sure of a story in my life.'"

In a statement to ABC News, Bill Shine, Senior Vice President of Programming for FOX News acknowledged that "the hosts of 'Fox & Friends' gave too much credence to the Insight magazine report and spent far too long discussing its premise on the air. Those remarks, however, were clarified on the next 'Fox & Friends' program. Furthermore, when John Gibson focused on the item, he, like other news outlets, presented Senator Obama's statement on the subject. We consider the matter closed and believe the senator feels the same way."

Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet writes the Democratic candidates are vying for an edge in their health care agendas, with Sen. Obama saying he wants health care coverage for every American by the end of 2012, and Sen. Clinton saying, "we still need to make a commitment to universal health care." LINK

ABC News' Tahman Bradley has Sen. Obama telling Families USA: "In the 2008 presidential and congressional campaigns all across the country, affordable, universal healthcare for every single American must not be a question of whether, it must be a question of how." LINK

Sen. Obama upped the star power -- and turnout -- at Sen. Tom Harkin's press conference to introduce his bill on renewable fuels, the Des Moines Register reports. LINK

In his New York Times column, Paul Krugman keys off Sen. Obama's call for an end to the bitter partisanship that exists and writes, ". . . the nastiness of modern American politics isn't the result of a random outbreak of bad manners. It's a symptom of deeper factors -- mainly the growing polarization of our economy. And history says that we'll see a return to bipartisanship only if and when that economic polarization is reversed." LINK

The Boston Globe's Ellen Goodman wonders if questions about Obama's age have something to do with the aging of the baby boomers. LINK

With Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) officially out of the race, prolific fundraiser Alan D. Solomont has signed on with the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Brian C. Mooney of the Boston Globe reports. Solomont has close ties to the Clintons, but says of Sen. Obama that he is "the sort of person America wants right now in the White House." LINK

2008: Democrats: Biden:

Twenty years after his presidential ambitions went down in a blaze of plagiarism, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) might be the electable, national security choice in 2008, writes Wayne Woodlief of the Boston Herald. LINK

2008: Democrats: Dodd:

Beth Dufresne proposes in The Day that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) could build a presidential campaign using his expertise on Latin American affairs.LINK

Sharpton coverage:

Rev. Al Sharpton made the rounds on Capitol Hill for his '08 "comparison shopping," as the New York Times' crafty Pat Healy puts it and emerged from his meetings apparently sounding somewhat more comfortable and impressed with Sen. Clinton than with Sen. Obama. Sharpton also met with Sens. Dodd and Biden. Rev. Sharpton plans to whether or not to seek the presidency again in 2008 at some point this spring, reports Healy. LINK

The Washington Times' front page has a large photo of Sen. Obama with Sharpton under a "Shaprton: Step up or I'll run in '08" header. LINK

The New York Daily News' Bazinet and McAuliff use the Sharpton peg to take a look at the battle for black voters in the Democratic nomination contest. LINK

ABC News' Jennifer Parker on Sharpton's meetings with Democratic '08ers. LINK

On the heals of Sen. Obama's meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton yesterday, Christi Parsons of the Chicago Tribune reports that Sen. Obama is not worried about whether "a biracial Harvard-educated lawyer, will prove 'black enough' to black voters in a national election." LINK

Sweet also has Obama downplaying the Notion that he would have trouble winning the votes of African-Americans: "If you look at the black vote in my U.S. Senate race or my approval ratings back in Illinois, I feel pretty confident that once folks know who I am, then we will be just fine." LINK

Kerry bows out:

In an interview with the Boston Herald's Dave Wedge, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) says of his inner-circle, "Nine-tenths of them wanted me to run. I had an enormous amount of pressure to run. But I had to go with what was in my gut. My gut told me this was not the right time. Period." LINK

The Globe's Rick Klein has his own interview covering much the same ground as well. LINK

2008: Senate:

Rob Christensen of the News and Observer looks at the way in which Sen. Elizabeth Dole's (R-NC) 2008 re-election campaign might be impacting her Iraq stance. LINK

New Hampshire:

ABC News' Aaron Katersky reports from New Hampshire that some locals are amazed that presidential hopefuls are already visiting New Hampshire, a year before the primary. This weekend the Granite State will play host to Giuliani and Tancredo. Romney and Clinton will swing through the state next week.

Helen Kennedy of the New York Daily News offers up a look at the '08 Granite State landscape in advance of Giuliani's trip there this weekend. LINK

Democratic agenda:

Politico's Josephine Hearn takes a look at the temporarily dry powder between Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and Speaker Pelosi. LINK

DLC Chairman Harold Ford, Jr.:

Mike Allen of Politico writes up Harold Ford's Christian Science Monitor breakfast appearance and the former Congressman's continued refusal to cede moral or religious ground to the GOP. LINK

SOTU: editorials and op-eds:

"As I read the president's remarks, listened to the tepid public reaction and looked at his latest polls, which show Mr. Bush to be wildly unpopular, it seemed to me that the American people basically fired George Bush in the last election. We're now just watching him clean out his desk. Both his energy proposals and his recent Iraq surge were about the best he could muster, given his pink slip," writes Thomas Friedman in his New York Times column. LINK

Political potpourri:

Is Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) the anti-hypocrisy Senator? The New York Times' Kirkpatrick takes a look at the provision Inhofe added into the recently passed ethics reform bill requiring each Senator who votes against a pay increase for Senators to not get the increase despite the likely result that the Senate will collectively vote to pass the increase. Beware the conference report. LINK

In memoriam:

The AP reports Eleanor McGovern, the wife of former Sen. George McGovern, died Thursday, at 85 of unknown causes, but had battled heart problems for five years and underwent bypass surgery last year. LINK

More schedule items:

Today, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and retired Gen. Wesley Clark attend the Douglas County Democratic Central Committee's 3rd Annual "Turn Nevada Blue Dinner" on at 4:00 pm ET at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden, NV.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) speaks at a forum sponsored by local organizations at 4:00 pm ET at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco. On Sunday, Rep. Kucinich will be in Culver City, CA to unveil a new national health insurance plan, and at 1:00 pm ET he attends another forum hosted by the Whittier Area Peace and Justice Coalition at the St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Whittier, CA.

First Lady Laura Bush Speaks at the launch of the Hugh Sidey Scholarship for Print Journalism at 2:30 pm ET in the East Room.

On Saturday, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) makes his first trip to New Hampshire since forming his presidential exploratory committee. He attends a Chamber of Commerce event this evening in Bretton Woods, NH, and addresses the New Hampshire GOP convention on at 10:00 am ET in Manchester, NH.

Former Sen. John Edwards' (D-NC) One Corps proclaims Saturday its National Day of Action.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and retired Gen. Wesley Clark attend the Douglas County Democratic Central Committee's 3rd Annual "Turn Nevada Blue Dinner" on at 4:00 pm ET at the Carson Valley Inn in Minden, Nevada.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) speaks at a forum sponsored by local organizations at 4:00 pm ET at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco. On Sunday, Rep. Kucinich will be in Culver City, CA to unveil a new national health insurance plan, and at 1:00 pm ET he attends another forum hosted by the Whittier Area Peace and Justice Coalition at the St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Whittier, CA.

On Sunday, former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) heads to Iowa this weekend arriving at Carver Hawkeye Arena at 12:30 pm ET Iowa City, IA. The former governor attends a Big Ten Basketball match up between Wisconsin and Iowa at 12:00 pm ET. In the afternoon, Thompson interviews with the Iowa City Press Citizen, places calls with supporters at 4:30 pm ET and attends a Johnson County Meet & Greet at Wig & Pen Pizza Pub at 5:30 pm ET.

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