The Note: 41+42-43=44?


She can't sing (Thanks, MSNBC LINK), and she is often accused of dancing and acting too much, and/but. . . Hillary Clinton just might be the next president of the United States.

The RNC knows it. (They hit her on her ethanol gymnastics yesterday -- but do they remember George W. Bush's Des Moines Marriott conversion on the issue in 1999, a moment that made even Howard Fineman blush?)

The White House knows it. (They hit her on her uppity Iraq comments yesterday -- but do they know that the war is politically over?)

The Obama and Edwards campaigns know it. (They are giving an awful lot of thought to how to play this weekend's DNC meeting, as part of an effort to beat her unconventionally and without nearly the same amount of money -- but do they know that running against Mark Penn won't work?)

John McCain knows it. (Look at this "people will say we're in love" photo from yesterday's event in San Antonio LINK -- but does Kevin Madden already have it clipped from the New York Post hard copy and tacked up above his desk?)

The Old Media and New Media know it. (The question might be asked: IS there ANY story about the Clintons that is too minor to get expansive coverage on TV, talk radio, and at Manhattan watercoolers -- but the answer ("NO!!!") is obvious.)

The Bush 43 political team knows it. (But they have bigger fish to fry.)

And now, amazingly, mark your calendars: Bush 41 seems to be showing his hand.

The Union Leader's Mark Hayward reports that former Presidents Bush and Clinton will jointly deliver the commencement address at the University of New Hampshire on May 19. LINK

Read to the end to find out that Professor Scala agrees that this helps Sen. Clinton big time with her biggest problem: "The more Bush-41 and Bill Clinton appear together, the less vulnerable Hillary Clinton is to very vitriolic Republican attacks."

After a day of official business, Sen. Clinton hosts the hot 2008 event of the news cycle when she throws a book party for her Empire State colleague Sen. Chuck Schumer at Hunan Dynasty in Washington, DC. (Perhaps the Schumer household made sure to put out the huge news about Commissioner Weinshall leaving the Bloomberg Administration yesterday so as not to step on Sen. Schumer's book party coverage tomorrow. LINK)

Not to be outdone, President Bush tours Caterpillar, Inc at 12:10 pm ET in Peoria, IL, and then delivers remarks on the economy at 12:40 pm ET. The President plans to showcase the Caterpillar plant as an example of how his Administration's trade agreements and tax breaks can boost global sales and create jobs for American workers.

But the trip to the heartland and the focus on the economy (even with a high-profile network interview with ABC News' Betsy Stark, which you can watch on "World News with Charles Gibson") is not likely to move Iraq off the front burner.

To wit. . . House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and fellow CODEL members hold a 3:00 pm ET press conference where they will share their thoughts and observations from their recent trip to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The co-chairmen of the Iraq Study Group, James Baker and Lee Hamilton, testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today at 1:00 pm ET. Earlier in the day, Chairman Biden's committee holds hearings on the nomination of John Negroponte to be Deputy Secretary of State.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) chairs a full Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled, "Exercising Congress's Constitutional Power to End a War" at 10:00 am ET.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a hearing on Allegations of Political Interference with the Work of Government Climate Change Scientists at 10:00 am ET. In his preview of the investigations to come, ABC News' Jake Tapper reported this morning on "Good Morning America" that "the Democrat who took on Big Tobacco is taking on the White House."

Starting at 9:00 am ET in Dirksen 406, a handful of '08ers are expected to make pitches on climate change when the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee holds the first congressional hearing of the 110th Congress on the "increasingly sexy topic" of global warming, reports the Washington Post's Paul Kane. LINK.

"At least three of the lawmakers on tap to testify about their own proposals are running for the White House": Sens. Biden, McCain, and Obama. "If that's not enough," Sen. Clinton "is a member of the committee and expected to be on hand for at least some of the hearing -- meaning she would have the chance to question, interrogate and joust with Biden, Obama and McCain about their plans."

ABC News' Jason Ryan reports that former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer's testimony contradicted Scooter Libby's and previews what promises to be a week of high profile witnesses, including today's planned appearance by former New York Times journalist Judith Miller. LINK

The Senate Armed Services Committee with '08ers galore holds a hearing for the nomination of Admiral William Fallon to be commander of U.S. Central Command at 9:30 am ET.

Today is Vice President Cheney's 66th birthday.

Find out what the rest of the presidential field is doing today in our expanded 2008 daybook below.

Politics of Iraq:

Democrats are skeptical of the GOP using all the time available to them on the minimum wage bill, in which case the debate on Iraq resolution(s) will most likely begin at the end of the week at the earliest, per Roll Call trio John Stanton, Emily Pierce and Jennifer Yachnin.

At the New York Times' Caucus blog, Sarah Wheaton writes up the latest television ad aimed at GOP Senators. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

The Associated Press' Andrew Taylor writes up the Democratic omnibus bill funding the federal government at 2006 levels under the headline, "Democrats Unveil Massive Spending Bill." LINK

Faced with a Feb. 15 deadline, Democrats put the final touches on a $463.5 billion spending bill designed to keep the government operating for the rest of the fiscal year and bridge the gap left by the collapse of the budget process last fall," reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers, in a story we challenge you not to skim.

The politics of rhetoric:

"Bush Says Missing '-ic' Was an Oversight," reports the Washington Post's Michael Abramowitz. LINK

And don't miss that new daily White House week ahead schedule -- the first of which changed "Democrat" to "Democratic" for Saturday's event.

"Who knows what it is. But I'm not that good at pronouncing words anyway," said President Bush, Notes Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times. LINK

Bookish Maura Reynolds of the Los Angeles Times with a serious look at the history of Republicans using "Democrat." LINK

Democratic agenda:

The US House delegation from the Bay State has "emerged as key tacticians and advisers" to House Speaker Pelosi, reports the Boston Globe's Rick Klein. LINK

First the use of Jane Fonda, now this: Boy, somewhere Karl Rove is rolling over in his grave. The Democrats are, apparently, fearless now.


The Associated Press has the latest Quinnipiac University poll numbers out of the Buckeye State showing that Ohio is likely to keep its battleground status and offering some additional talking points to Team Clinton for its "electability" argument. LINK

"'Those who say Sen. Hillary Clinton can't win the White House because she can't win a key swing state like Ohio might rethink their assumption,' said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute."

More: "The survey found hypothetical contests between Clinton and Giuliani, Clinton and McCain, Obama and McCain, and Edwards and McCain all within the margin of error."

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Avery Miller take a look at the 'authenticity' of the presidential candidates as they begin making their push for the nominations. Are these the real people talking or are they just saying what they believe voters want to hear? LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne seems to understand that by moving its contests forward, big states might actually enhance the importance of the outcomes in Iowa and New Hampshire. But he apparently still wants to see California, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida "and who knows who else" move up so that "many more voters, and many more kinds of voters," are let in on "an important choice." LINK

The New York Times' John Broder reports that because of the Senate's "close partisan divide, most members are reluctant to miss votes to hit the campaign trail."LINK

But they will!!! The New York Post's Niles Latham writes up the captured moment between Sens. McCain and Clinton yesterday. LINK

With all the nomination contest front-loading, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ed board laments Ohio's eroding primary status, saying, "It may be too late for 2008, but both parties need to restore some sanity. Start with tests in small states where message might outweigh money." &LINK

ABC News' Nitya Venkataraman looks at the new/old political trend that every presidential candidate's is pursuing in some way, "bipartisanship," and looks at the goal of the new movement, Unity '08. The Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that conservative Republicans "from consultants, to bloggers, to talk show hosts," are beginning to show some lack of interest in the current likely GOP candidates for 2008. LINK

2008: Republicans: Romney:

Arguing that presidents and presidential candidates are defined by their original occupation, Boston Globe columnist Peter Canellos wonders if former Gov. Romney's venture capitalist background will be enough to convince the nation to give him the keys to the White House. It's a must-read. LINK

Romney is facing Democratic criticism for not being more skeptical in a Nightline interview towards former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's early assessment that the Iraqi insurgency consisted simply of a "few dead enders," reports ABC News' Teddy Davis. LINK

At National Review's "The Corner," Rich Lowry writes that he found it "almost offensive" that Gov. Romney did not talk about the Iraq war in his remarks to the National Review Institute on Saturday. LINK

Bruce Smith of the Associated Press writes up the Palmetto State endorsements Gov. Romney scooped up yesterday including from former Gov. Jim Edwards (R-SC), former Rep. Tommy Hartnett (R-SC), and Republican National Committeewoman Cindy Costa. LINK

In a front-page story that is less-than-meets the eye, the Wall Street Journal's Jeanne Cummings looks at the ways in which Romney's donors were able to contribute to an array of state-based fund-raising committees before he set up a presidential exploratory committee. According to her tally, Romney has 16 donors who were able to contribute more than $100,000. All legal, all business as usual.

The Hill's Sam Young Notes that Romney has, for the most part, kept quiet on the issue of immigration. LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani:

Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh talked to New Hampshire conservatives about Rudy Giuliani's recent trip to the Granite State and found that some of them were at least willing to listen to the former mayor. LINK

The New York Post's Maggie Haberman reports that Rudy Giuliani supporters claim he won't support a federal ban on assault weapons, although he did when he was Mayor of New York City, but the supporters insist that Giuliani's position hasn't changed. LINK

More to come on this one, wethinks.

"Rudolph Giuliani's alliance with a Texas law firm may help the former New York mayor gain regional appeal and cash as he prepares for a possible Republican campaign for president," ledes Thom Weidlich of Bloomberg News. LINK

Giuliani has picked up Wayne Semprini to run his New Hampshire operations reports the New York Daily News' David Saltonstall.LINK

2008: Republicans: Huckabee:

During a Monday conference call with reporters, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said that some candidates raise a lot of money "and then go shopping for a message," but Huckabee doesn't see himself as one of those candidates reports James Q. Lynch of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. LINK

2008: Republicans: Hagel:

Sen. Chuck Hagel has a total of $140,000 total cash on hand and leaves open the possibility of retiring from the Senate, Notes The Hill's Aaron Blake. LINK

2008: Democrats: DNC meeting:

Lynn Sweet pens in her Chicago Sun-Times blog that the upcoming DNC winter meeting will give lesser known Democratic presidential hopefuls a chance at the spotlight. LINK

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

"Rumors are speculating has to where Hillary Clinton will be visiting," writes Granite State blogger Brian Lawson at New Hampshire Presidential Watch. LINK

"As of right now, it appears that Hillary will visit Concord High School on Saturday and make another stop in Manchester. Also, on Sunday she will be visiting Keene. Kevin Landrigan is reporting that Clinton might also make a visit somewhere in the northern part of the state."

Under a "Stand By Your Man" header, NBC's Andrea Mitchell looked at Sen. Clinton laughing off her "evil" joke for "Today."

"New York Sen. Hillary Clinton came and left Naples early Monday with few people knowing she was in town," reports the Naples News. LINK

"Clinton, who is running for president in 2008, spoke to a leadership group of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) meeting Monday at the Naples Grande hotel. She had been expected to come to Naples today instead of Monday."

Read all the way to the bottom to learn about Stage 2 jets.

Under a "Clinton wows Central audience" header, Bill Wundram of the Quad-City Times recounts that when Sen. Clinton was hosting a reunion of her Wellesley College Class of '69 at the White House, "she wanted to serve the college's traditional Christmas dessert, peppermint ice cream. The only place it could be found on the Internet was Whitey's in the Quad-Cities. By Fed-Ex, they shipped 12 gallons to D.C." LINK

White House press secretary Tony Snow is "jumping" on statements by Sen. Clinton claiming they "hurt the morale of the US troops in Iraq," writes the New York Post's Geoff Earle. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper muses on the Madison Avenue support that Sen. Hillary Clinton is already gathering in 'Political Punch'. LINK

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

John Edwards is trying to drum up business for his DNC speech on Friday. His campaign's "National One Corps" director George Stern sent an email to supporters urging them to attend the DNC meeting on Friday to hear Edwards speak at 10:40 am ET.

"This is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate Senator Edwards' grassroots support," writes Stern. "We'll have a table with stickers, t-shirts, flyers and other materials, and laptops to sign up new One Corps members."

"Edwards did not take any questions from reporters after the event. But as he prepared to leave Wake Forest, a member of the crowd asked him why he was a better candidate than Illinois Sen. Barack Obama -- also a 2008 Democratic hopeful," reports the Associated Press on Sen. Edwards' North Carolina event yesterday. LINK

"'Experience,' Edwards responded. 'I've been through a presidential campaign.'"

2008: Democrats: Vilsack:

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) raised $1.1 million between Nov. 9 and Dec. 31, meeting his year-end fundraising goal, reports the Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont. &LINK

Vilsack "boasted" that his fundraising amount was double what Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Howard Dean raised in the same stretch in the 2003-04 election cycle. The AP's Mike Glover adds, however, that in this campaign, Sens. Clinton and Obama can "easily raise vast sums quickly, increasing expectations for other candidates." LINK

Vilsack's burn rate for those final seven weeks of the year hovers around 66%, but as one Vilsack aide Notes the campaign incurred some one-time costs such as a five-state announcement tour and the opening of a national campaign headquarters.

Vilsack has been tapped by Drake University Law School to teach a May interim course on policies such as the 2007 farm bill and various state and federal rural development programs, reports the Des Moines Register's Tom Barton. LINK

Vilsack told a group of supporters yesterday that his positions on the war in Iraq, energy and health care would help him win the Iowa caucuses and send a message to the rest of the country that he should be the Democratic Party's nominee for president in 2008, reports Orlan Love in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

The Los Angeles Times' Mike Dorning picked up on Sen. Obama's criticism of the Bush Administration's pace of Katrina aid. LINK

This New York Times editor's Note explains that Ron Klain's Biden affiliation should have been disclosed in Sunday's story on Sen. Obama's law school days which included a not totally flattering Klain quote on Obama. LINK


A group of state Democratic lawmakers is pushing a statewide public and workplace smoking ban that would include restaurants, bars and casinos, reports Charlotte Eby of the Quad-City Times. LINK

The Libby trial: Ari Fleischer's day on the stand:

At the Scooter Libby trial, Ari Fleischer provided some "damaging testimony" to Libby's case reports the New York Times' Neil Lewis. LINK

With more on Mr. Fleischer from Scott Shane of the New York Times. LINK

The AP's Michael Sniffen on Fleischer's testimony.LINK

The New York Daily News' James Meek on Libby trial testimony. LINK

2008: Senate:

Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is a die-hard Republican and there is some chatter that he could be challenging Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) for his seat in the Senate in '08, but not likely to happen with that new plan of his to pitch in the 2008 season. LINK

Political potpourri:

"The mayor of Los Angeles is fighting back against an attorney for the school board who compared the mayor's effort to bring area schools under his control to placing Jiffy Lube in charge of more than 700,000 California students," reports ABC News' Teddy Davis. &LINK

"'I thought it was a trite and offensive remark unbecoming of the school district and, or, its lawyer,' Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told ABC News last week during an interview in Washington, D.C."

2008: Daybook:

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) travels to Iowa today. He partakes in an interview on the Jan Mickelson Show at 11:30 am ET in Des Moines, has lunch with the Dallas County Republicans at Philly's Finest Restaurant at 1:00 pm ET in Waukee, and returns to Des Moines at 8:00 pm ET for a "Meet Mike Huckabee" event at the Iowa Welcome Center.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) begins a four state weeklong campaign tour starting today in Iowa where Mr. Brownback holds a media availability at 3:00 pm ET at Cedar Rapids Crown Plaza Hotel in Cedar Rapids, IA and holds a reception for a Republican candidate for Linn County Auditor in Cedar Rapids, IA at 7:00 pm ET.

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) hosts an open house at the grand opening of his field office in Ames, Iowa at 6:00 pm ET.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) and his son Tagg Romney were scheduled to meet with area residents at 8:30 am ET at the Lizard's Thicket in Columbia, SC.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) attends a fundraiser sponsored by Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA). It's a golf event hosted by Edra Blizset at her Porcupine Creek home and gold course in Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs, CA.