The Note: Agree to Disagree


Whether you have a Lauriol Plaza brunch scheduled, a POTUS bike ride on the docket, or just plan to attend a boring Super Bowl party, once again, The Note is here to equip you with what you need to gab knowingly about the three (still) enduring rings of American politics.

Ring 1 -- Iraq:
The White House, lulled into a false sense of reality by Democratic squabbling over the non-binding Senate resolution and confirmation of its military bigs, apparently still doesn't realize that the war is politically over. The National Intelligence Estimate, the CBO report, and Dr. Howard Dean's manifest oats-feeling in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Teddy Davis all tell the current chapter of the tale. LINK

Ring 2 -- other legislative business:
The latest proof (as if any more were needed) that next week's Bush budget will be deader on arrival than, say, a vintage '80s Reagan budget: Robert Pear's Medicare/Medicaid story in the New York Times. LINK

Ring 3 -- 2008:
The Big Three in each party (Rs: McCain, Romney, Giuliani; Ds: Clinton, Obama, Edwards) are going at it with January, 2008 intensity. They are competing ferociously over money, endorsements, money, policy, money, travel schedules, staff, money, and money. Must-reads to get the point: the New York Times' Healy and Zeleny on fundraising among the Democrats' Big Three, with enough spinnin' and spittin' to keep insiders buzzing through lunch. LINK And the New York Post's Haberman and Dicker on Empire State jockeying. LINK

The super delegate festival (a/k/a: the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting) gets underway in earnest today, with marquee speeches at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC.

The day begins at 9:00 am ET with a speech by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) followed by words from DNC Chairman Howard Dean.

Then 2008 presidential hopefuls deliver back to back speeches beginning with Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.), former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY).

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attends a George Mason University College Democrats rally in conjunction with Students for Barack Obama at the George Mason University Fairfax Campus at 1:00 pm ET.

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK), and former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) speak on Saturday.

Each candidate has been asked to keep their remarks to no longer than seven minutes.

"The long-awaited National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq will be released today," reports ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "The full classified report will be sent to Capitol Hill, and, in a shift from previous practice, a summary of findings will be declassified and publicly released."

At 12:30 pm ET, the DNI will post that summary of findings on its website.

ABC News' Karen Travers reports that NSA Stephen Hadley briefs on camera at 3:15 pm ET.

ABC News' Ann Compton reports that an NSC source tells her "the underlying intel in the NIE was used to formulate the President's new strategy, it's further, clear evidence why a new strategy is necessary. It paints a picture of a very serious and complex situation on the ground. It also says that rapid withdrawal would only lead to further deterioration."

ABC News' Dan Arnall reports, "The government says that American companies added 111,000 new workers to their payrolls during January. This is below the expected jobs growth of 150K that economists were predicting for the month."

Also today, the DNC Executive Committee holds a meeting at 6:30 pm ET, with Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Mayor Adrian Fenty (D-DC), Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin (D-GA), and DNC Vice Chair & ASDC President Mark Brewer.

At 11:30 am ET TODAY, National Security Advisory Stephen Hadley will hold a briefing at the White House.

President Bush meets 2006 Stanley Cup Champions, the Carolina Hurricanes, for a photo op at 2:45 pm ET in the White House.

After some morning show business, First Lady Laura Bush promotes "Wear Red Day" for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Red Dress Project. Mrs. Bush Participates in a roundtable discussion with cardiologists, survivors and partners at 9:45 am ET at the Bryant Park Hotel in New York City, and then at 11:05 am ET attends the Heart Truth 2007 Fashion Show.

Govs. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ) and Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) address the Center for American Progress on the subject of "Governing for the Common Good" at 2:00 pm ET in Washington, DC.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) addresses the Council for National Policy at 11:00 am ET at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, FL.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) speaks at the Republican Study Committee retreat at 12:30 pm ET in Baltimore, MD. Romney's speech today is expected to continue the discussion of how, on the issue of life, this fiscal conservative became a social conservative as well. It will also offer a critique of Sen. Clinton's speech on Iran last night in New York City.

The New York Post's Haberman suggests the AIPAC crowd did not like Clinton's remarks. LINK

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) campaigns in Portland, ME, where he appears on Community Television Network's "We the People" at 6:00 pm ET, immediately followed by a reception, and then a public discussion at 8 pm ET.

Sen. McCain and Sen. Hagel each join ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" to discuss the Senate clash over the President's plan to increase troops in Iraq and much more. David Brooks, Donna Brazile and George will appear on the 'Roundtable." Check local listings. LINK

See the end of The Note for the full weekend in politics schedule.

Politics of Iraq:

USA Today's Kathy Kiely reports that President Bush is inviting GOP senators to the White House today to sell the more skeptical members on his Iraq policy, including Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) who said, "I don't think there is any lack of appetite for clashing with the executive in both parties." LINK

"The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that Bush's plan to deploy roughly 20,000 additional U.S. combat troops to Iraq is likely to require at least 15,000 support personnel, and possibly as many as 28,000," write the Washington Post's Murray and Weisman. LINK

"That could mean the plan would involve up to 48,000 troops and contractors, at a cost of between $9 billion and $13 billion for the first four months and up to $27 billion for the first year."

The Hill takes a look at the CBO report too. LINK

2008: Democrats: DNC winter meeting:

Four years after Howard Dean ignited his presidential campaign by forcefully identifying himself as representing "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," ABC News' Teddy Davis looks at the ways in which the 2008 presidential campaigns of Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have each, in their own way, paid homage to Dean's anti-Iraq war, pro-universal health care, and Internet friendly campaign. LINK

"'The American people have granted us power for two years,' Dean told ABC News. 'This is an audition period.'"

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

"Clinton Setting $1 Million Goal for Donors," headlines the New York Times' Healy and Zeleny's look at Sen. Clinton's fundraising benchmark for upper echelon donors. Note too, that there is apparently no love lost between Howard Wolfson and Team Edwards. Wolfson slyly bemoans Edwards expectations setting while pivoting to do the same for Sen. Obama. And Ann Lewis reportedly is hitting the road as one of the top-tier draws for Clinton fundraising; remember how much Shrum could raise for Kerry!!! LINK

As part of the expectation triathlon, an Obama aide tells The Note that the Palmieri and Wolfson quotes "made me think I was reading the Onion, minus the wit and social commentary."

The Obama aide went on to say that Wolfson's $40 million first quarter expectations setting for Sen. Obama is "outlandish, absurd, and not related to any fact-based reality I've heard of."

To (re)state the obvious: This is THE story folks will be talking about at the Washington Hilton today.

Karen Tumulty of Time scored an interview with Sen. Clinton a few days after her inaugural campaign trip to Iowa. Tumulty writes of some Iowa Democrats still hoping to hear a full Clinton mea culpa on her Iraq war vote, but the Senator tells Tumulty she believes the focus needs to remain on President Bush and Vice President Cheney's failures. Note, too, the subtle distance Sen. Clinton tries to create between her husband and herself on NAFTA. LINK

Interview excerpts: LINK

Ron Fournier on Hillary Clinton's need for some do-overs.">LINK


"The Federal Election Commission said yesterday that it will police '527' groups, political organizations that largely operated outside the new campaign finance limits during the 2004 presidential election, by looking at how the groups word their appeals for contributions, how they describe themselves, and how they spend their money," the Washington Post's Matthew Mosk reports. LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

"President Bush will ask Congress in his budget next week to squeeze more than $70 billion of savings from Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years," reports Robert Pear of the New York Times. LINK

Politics of immigration:

In his first interview with the Washington Times since becoming RNC chairman, Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) said: "'My views on immigration are not well understood. I did support Kennedy-McCain. I did vote for that, but I had some amendments to that bill that made it, I think, more conservative. We need border security and strong assimilation. I voted for the 700-mile fence on the border. I'm a strong advocate of these things,' he said. 'But I don't wake up every morning worrying about the issue. It's an important issue. It needs to be dealt with. But I don't have some agenda here,' he said." LINK

2008: Republicans:

Billy House and Matt Dempsey of The Arizona Republic take a look at the end of year FEC reports and write that six weeks after forming his exploratory committee, Sen. McCain has raised nearly $565,000 in contributions from all 50 states without holding a major fundraiser, but trails Rudy Giuliani, who has raised nearly $1.3 million. LINK

The State reports on its blog about a GOP survey that reveals a majority of potential Republican primary voters in South Carolina believe that global warming is a real problem that needs to be addressed. According to pollster Whit Ayers, "This says that a flat denial of global warming no longer has any credibility. The debate now is over what we do about it.'' LINK

Politico's Jonathan Martin Notes Sen. McCain and Mayor Giuliani skipping some conservative events. LINK

2008: Republicans: McCain:

Washington Post's Thomas Ricks on Sen. McCain challenging Gen. Casey on the Iraq war. LINK

Washington Post: "In His Own Words: War Supporter McCain Laments 'Missteps' in Iraq" LINK

In an effort to slow the momentum behind Warner's Iraq resolution, Sens. McCain and Lieberman announced at a "hastily called press conference" that they want a vote next week calling on the Baghdad government to 'make visible concrete progress' toward 11 political, military, and economic benchmarks," reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers.

Per a campaign press release: "Senator John McCain's exploratory committee today announced the addition of De Byerly, a key social conservative grassroots activist in Iowa."

The Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow claims that Sen. McCain's presidential aspirations "stand to suffer a stunning setback if California Republicans carry out a plan to move part of their nomination process up from June to Feb. 5 next year." LINK

2008: Republicans: Romney:

The Boston Globe's Ellen Goodman writes that Romney's "shtick" is that if he can make it as a conservative Republican in Massachusetts, he can make it anywhere. "There's only one small problem: He didn't make it here as a conservative. Romney ran and won as the fourth in a direct line of moderate GOP governors." LINK

The Boston Herald's ed board raps the Romney campaign for circulating a Terry Moran missive on the former Massachusetts governor which left out a few of Moran's more analytical statements. LINK

Deirdre Shesgreen of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that former Sen. Jim Talent (R-MO) has signed on with Gov. Romney's campaign as a domestic policy adviser. LINK

And on this day before Gov. Romney heads to Louisville, KY to headline the Kentucky GOP Lincoln Day dinner, his campaign announced the support of Reps. Hal Rogers (R-KY), Ron Lewis (R-KY), and Ed Whitfield (R-KY).

2008: Republicans: Giuliani:

The New York Post's Maggie Haberman and Fredric Dicker have "one Giuliani supporter" saying that the New York GOP chairman's decision to line up Sen. McCain to star at a major party fund-raiser alongside Giuliani is a "slight" to the former mayor. LINK

McCain is not the only other '08er who has been invited -- Romney, Bloomberg, and Pataki have also been invited.

Giuliani is "holding back from submitting the simple one-page form declaring himself a possible candidate, despite raising $1.4 million to run. And asked what party he belongs to on a different form, Giuliani didn't say - he left the answer blank," reports Newsday's Craig Gordon. LINK

Bennett Roth of the Houston Chronicle reports on Mayor Giuliani's fundraising trip to Texas, where "hard right" Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace said that despite Mayor Giuliani's stand on social issues, conservatives could "back the former New York mayor for pragmatic reasons." LINK

2008: Republicans: Hunter:

William W. Welch of USA Today has Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) making the case for his candidacy as "a conservative's conservative." LINK

2008: Democrats:

The AP's Nedra Pickler reports that representatives for Sens. Clinton and Obama met with DNC executive director Tom McMahon to ask him to bring order to the bevy of joint candidate appearances being scheduled in 2007. LINK

Molly Ball of the Las Vegas Review-Journal writes that Nevada Democratic officials have been promoting their presidential forum to be held in three weeks, but so far only Govs. Bill Richardson and Tom Vilsack have RSVP'd. LINK

2008: Democrats: Dodd:

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman and Shailagh Murray report that two Democratic senators," Chris Dodd (CT) and Russ Feingold (WI), "came out forcefully against the compromise, saying the newly worded resolution goes too far toward GOP positions. Dodd called it "essentially an endorsement of the status quo" in Iraq, while Feingold denounced it as "a deal with the devil." LINK

2008: Democrats: Biden:

The State's Aaron Sheinin writes that some South Carolina state Democratic Party officials said that Sen. Joe Biden's comments regarding Sen. Obama are unlikely to hurt him in the Palmetto State primary. LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

Rachel Swarns of the New York Times continues to explore whether or not Sen. Obama can appeal to and court black voters. LINK

In his column, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson writes that Biden's description of Obama as articulate were "like fingernails on a blackboard" to his ear. LINK

Steve Westly, the former eBay executive and California state controller, has endorsed Sen. Obama for president in an email to supporters.

Westly, who lost the Democratic primary for governor to Phil Angelides in 2006, is considering another run for governor in 2010.

"Just four months ago," Westly writes, "I campaigned with the Senator in Los Angeles where he spoke to a crowd of Californians at USC. I remember seeing young students who had stood in the sun for over an hour holding copies of Time Magazine with Barack on the cover. There was a sense of raw excitement and energy in the crowd that I haven't seen since Boddy Kennedy."

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire Notes that Obama has raised the subject of a ban on trade in mercury. Environmentalists are pressing the Bush Administration to back such a ban at a global diplomatic gathering in Nairobi next week. The State Department is still "mulling" the issue.

2008: Democrats: Richardson:

Leslie Linthicum of the Albuquerque Journal tells of Don Imus' seven minute rant at the expense of Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), where he called the governor a "fat sissy," and a "fat baby" and told him in Spanish to "kiss my ..." LINK

Richardson's campaign communications director Pahl Shipley came in for some ribbing too, but handles the response in gentlemanly fashion.

2008: Democrats: Vilsack:

If you can't wait until February 15 to see Evan Smith's "Texas Monthly Talks" interview with Tom Vilsack LINK -- or if you don't get the signal of any of the Lone Star State PBS stations that will air the deal -- you should know that Vilsack covers a lot of ground in the colloquy, including Iraq, ethanol, being a pro-choice Catholic ("my faith defines who I am"), and more.

Those who think it is still all about Al Gore will be interested to know that Vilsack called the former veep yesterday to congratulate him on his Nobel nod. Those who believe in the Kevin Bacon theory of life will appreciate that Vilsack (Hamilton College '72) and Smith (Hamilton '87) got to talk about the Vilsack boy who is Hamilton '00.

Gov. Vilsack will be a consultant on renewable energy and the environment to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., Jane Norman of the Des Moines Register reports. LINK

The Libby trial:

Washington Post: "Libby Left Out Some Facts In Interviews, FBI Agent Says" LINK

Washington Post's David Ignatius: "A Failed Cover-Up" LINK

Casting and counting:

Florida abandons the touch-screen voting machines. Might this be the start of something? Abby Goodnough and Christopher Drew of the New York Times report. LINK

Political potpourri:

The Democratic Party is $19.9 million in debt with the Republicans not too far behind/ahead with $16.2 million in debt, reports Aoife McCarthy for Politico. LINK

ABC News' Marcus Baram reports on San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's apology for having an affair with a (former) top aide's wife. LINK

Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at the implications that Newsom's affair may have on his future political aspirations. LINK

Per the Wall Street Journal's Wirey John Harwood, "former Democratic congressional aides form lobby group with connections to Baucus of Montana and Rangel of New York, now presiding over Senate and House tax-writing committees. Their firm, Capitol Counsel, including five Democratic alumni of tax panels, will give corporations 'the best opportunity to present their case,' says principal John Raffaelli."

"Most lawmakers from Illinois and Indiana, fearing adverse publicity and new rules, shun Bears-Colts clash in Miami. Politicians and aides can accept tickets from corporations for face-value price, but Chicago-area Reps. Emanuel and Kirk opt to remain home," reports Harwood.

Weekend politics:

On Saturday, the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting continues.

President Bush addresses House Democrats during their winter retreat in Williamsburg, VA.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) travels to Keene, NH where he will appear on WSCA, Portsmouth Community Radio at 8 am ET, visit with Keene City Democrats and Cheshire County Democrats at 12:00 pm ET, attend the Keene Ice and Snow Festival at 1:30 pm ET, visit with the Swing the Vote Steering Committee at 3:30 pm ET, and with Mothers Uniting at the Keene UU Church at 7:00 pm ET.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) lunches with Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, and Seminole County Republican Party Chairman Jim Stelling at 12:00 pm ET in Orlando, FL. Hunter also attends a cookout at the farm of State Rep. Randy Johnson in Lamont, FL. On Sunday morning at 6:00 am ET, Rep. Hunter goes on a hunt with Florida developer Hurley Booth at 6:30 pm ET.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) holds a media availability at the Naples Grand Resort at 10:00 am ET in Naples, FL.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) delivers the keynote address at the Kentucky Republican Party Lincoln Day at 7:00 pm ET in Louisville, KY.

On Sunday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is in Portsmouth, NH where he is scheduled to appear on Democracy for New Hampshire at 10:30 am ET, go to River Run Books at 12:00 pm ET. At 1:30 pm ET he will visit with Stratford County Democrats at the Dover Public Library in Dover, NH, and then travel to the Governor's Inn at 3:30 pm ET, ending with a private reception at 6:00 pm ET.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) speaks to the American Academy of Dermatology Association at the Washington Convention Center at 1:00 pm ET.