The Note: In It (to Win It)


Rank these items from "most likely" to "least likely" to play a decisive role in determining the identity of the next president of the United States:

A. This paragraph from the New York Times' Steve Weisman news analysis about the Bush budget and the opposition party: "[I]n practice, Democrats know that the only way they can find the revenue to restore the administration's proposed spending cuts would be to cut back on military spending, delay their stated intentions to balance the budget or rescind the Bush tax cuts in future years. They are not especially eager to do any of these."

B. The "logic" of John Podhoretz's Rudy-is-The-Man New York Post op-ed. LINK

C. CBN's muckraking David Brody unveiling (the first of many) Rudy Giuliani golden oldies (this one from a July 2005 "Hannity and Colmes"):

Alan Colmes: Now, Roe versus -- now, you are pro-choice. How important is it to you as a pro-choice Republican to have a pro-choice on the court as someone... Giuliani: That is not the critical factor. And what's important to me is to have a very intelligent, very honest, very good lawyer on the court. And [John Roberts] fits that category, in the same way Justice Ginsburg fit that category. I mean, she was -- she maybe came at it from a very different political background, very qualified lawyer, very smart person. Lots of Republicans supported her. I expect, and listening to Senator Nelson, I expect that John Roberts will get support from a lot of Democrats.

D. Governor Romney's Wednesday Detroit Economic Club speech.

E. Judith Nathan telling Harper's Bazaar: "What people don't know is that Rudy's a very, very romantic guy. We love watching 'Sleepless in Seattle.' Can you imagine my big testosterone-factor husband doing that?" LINK

F. Barack Obama's smoking LINK and worshipping LINK, as chronicled by a Chicago Tribune that is becoming positively Boston Globeian in its hometown candidate obsession.

G. 41's (teary?) West Coast Reaganesque remarks this evening.

H. The ability of each of the Big Six to break $20 million gross from 1/1 through 3/31.

I. The thesis of the Boston Globe's Peter Canellos, who writes in must-read fashion that the Democrats have opened to "huge crowds and intense national interest" while GOPers are suffering from a lack of someone the base fully embraces. LINK

J. The Senate Republicans' filibuster gambit on Iraq.

While the gentlemenly Leaders Reid and McConnell work on a solution to the Senate Iraq impasse, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans hold their weekly policy luncheons at 12:30 pm ET, at which Democrats will wonder why the press isn't siding more with them, and Republicans will eye the exits and wonder how committed George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are to winning back the majority in 2008.

Floor debate breaks on the Senate between 12:30 pm ET and 3:30 pm ET for those lunches, followed by an intelligence briefing. Then, in theory, the chamber resumes consideration of a bill that would address President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq. How and when the impasse ends is anyone's guess at this writing.

Meanwhile, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) joins Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA), an Iraq war vet, and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) for a 10:15 am ET press conference to discuss recent legislation they introduced calling for redeployment for all combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.

One day after presenting his $2.9 trillion budget, President Bush travels to Manassas, VA to deliver 10:35 am ET remarks at Micron Technology. The President plans to discuss "fiscal responsibility" as well as his commitment to reforming earmarks and holding down taxes, ABC News' Karen Travers reports.

Several panels take up President Bush's budget on Capitol Hill today, including the Senate's Armed Services and Finance Committees which will hear from Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, respectively, at 9:30 am ET and 2:45 pm ET.

OMB Director Rob Portman appears before the House Budget panel and HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt appears before the Energy and Commerce panel. Both hearings start at 10:00 am ET.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, kicks off three days of oversight hearings about Iraq at 10:00 am ET.

The basic subject of today's hearing: how did the U.S. lose $8.8 billion into Iraqi thin air? Testifying will be Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and Paul Bremer, who will testify for the first time since leaving Iraq. The State Department is blocking testimony from Tim Carney, the Coordinator for Economic Transition in Iraq, reports ABC News' Jake Tapper.

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is in Washington, D.C. for two days of private meetings with members of Congress, media, and others. This morning he was feted at the Christian Science Monitor's breakfast.

Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA), former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) congressional liaison, announces Romney's congressional whip team at a 2:45 pm ET presser at the Capitol Hill Club.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) delivers 7:00 pm ET remarks at a "Night to Honor Israel" event sponsored by Christians United for Israell at Furman University in Greenville, SC.

Following their weekly House Democratic Caucus meeting, the House Democratic leadership team plans to hold a 1:00 pm ET availability in the House Radio-TV Gallery.

Two hours earlier, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) holds his pen and pad presser.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will be at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. today for a 6:30 pm ET congressional dinner sponsored by the Washington Press Club Foundation.

On the left coast, former First Lady Nancy Reagan will present the 2007 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award to former President George H.W. Bush at a gala dinner at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Big Casino budget politics:

The Wall Street Journal's David Rogers describes the budget battle between the White House and lawmakers on taxes, domestic spending, and the war in Iraq.

"For a president less than two years from the end of his second term, and with his poll numbers low, it was a defiant statement of the principles he has championed for years: the power of tax cuts to drive the economy, the need to spend what it takes to succeed in Iraq and in the broader struggle against terrorism and the necessity of reining in spending on much of the rest of what government does," writes Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times in the paper's main budget story. LINK

The Washington Post team of Abramowitz and Montgomery write that President Bush plans to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while reining in spending on heath care, education, and other domestic programs. LINK

"Bush Defense Budget Biggest Since Regan Era: Iraq and Afghanistan Spending Top Vietnam War," headlines the Washington Post's Ann Scott Tyson. LINK

"The coming face-off over outlays for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, social programs and tax cuts will offer a preview to the debates likely to dominate the 2008 elections," write the Los Angeles Times' Joel Havemann and Maura Reynolds about the president's proposed budget. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar on the budget's proposed changes to Medicare. LINK

"The president's plan for 2008 is much like the budgets he has presented for the past six years, averting new taxes and limiting spending in many 'discretionary' areas while boosting defense spending.... What is different is the political environment in which the president is delivering his newest spending plan," writes the Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva on the budget proposal. LINK

"By criticizing such reductions, Democrats have created a situation where they now must deal with the program's huge future costs and perhaps craft reductions of their own if they are to have any credibility with the public," writes William Neikirk of the Chicago Tribune on the daunting task of drafting their own budget. LINK

The Hill's John Snyder reports on the reception to President Bush's budget by lobbyists and in the Congress. As one Democratic lobbyist said, "It's a dead-on-arrival document that gets everyone in a tizzy," and Snyder says the budget "may have as much to do with what the government ends up spending as Punxsutawney Phil's shadow has with the arrival of spring." LINK

Politics of Iraq:

They weren't able to get an actual vote, or dominate the evening and morning electronic chatter as much as they had hoped, but Democrats did score this New York Times headline above the Gray Lady's lede story: "G.O.P. Senators Block Debate on Iraq Policy" LINK

(A 'block' in which two GOP Senators up for reelection in Blue States next year -- Sen. Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Coleman (R-MN) -- did not partake.)

The USA Today headline ("Vote on Iraq is blocked by GOP") was similarly Reid-friendly.

". . . Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said that 'time was tenuous' and that he would not guarantee that Democrats would try again to bring up the resolution. He did promise that there would be more clashes over Iraq policy as the Senate turned to measures like the president's request for $100 billion in emergency Iraq spending," write Timesmen Carl Hulse and Jeff Zeleny.

Note, too, Sen. Sununu's kicker quote about the American people wanting more votes and less talk out of the Senate despite his vote against cutting off debate on this matter.

In the New York Times' "Political Action" column, Jeff Zeleny Notes the "long political shelf lives" votes on the Iraq war seem to have and suggests GOP Senators up for reelection next year may soon see their votes this week in a campaign ad in the not too distant future. LINK

Per Roll Call's John Stanton, Senate Democrat leaders are encouraging their members to do state-wide television and radio interviews as part of their PR blitz to frame the GOP filibuster as an endorsement of Bush's policies. Stanton predicts that the Senate will likely "remain at a standstill at least until Wednesday when [Majority Leader] Reid has said he will take up a continuing resolution to fund the government through fiscal 2007."

Bloomberg's Nicholas Johnston writes about the 2008 congressional politics of it all. LINK

The Hill's Elana Schor: LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Aamer Madhani reports on the filibuster that "underscores the political peril and gamesmanship on both sides." LINK

By waging war to save the surge, Bush backers are saying one thing and doing another, columnizes E.J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post. LINK


The New York Times' David Halbfinger (or someone writing a parody piece under his name) looks at '08ers doing star turns in Hollywood. LINK

The New York Daily News looks at the 2008 presidential frontrunners as surrogates on the Long Island campaign trail yesterday in an upcoming special State Senate election. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Atlantic Monthly's Ross Douthat looks at the form of politics that President Bush has created during his tenure known as Bushism. To some, it would seem that for any 2008 GOP presidential hopeful, it'd be near political suicide to run on the same platforms that Bush stands for now, but look at the candidates now. "Someone must have forgotten to tell the GOP presidential field. If you consider how the nation's most ambitious Republicans are positioning themselves for 2008, Bushism looks like it could have surprising staying power."

Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times looks at Mitt Romney's leading in the "early buzz and insider enthusiasm" in the battle for the Republican nomination in the Sunshine State. LINK

Be sure to Note that Sen. McCain's campaign opposes an October Florida GOP straw poll, per Smith.

The Houston Chronicle's Kristen Mack and Bennett Roth report this morning on Republicans making appearances in the Lone Start State not only for the potential electoral support, but also for that cold hard cash. McCain was in Texas Monday, Romney will be in today, and Giuliani will be at a dinner later this week. LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani: the FNC appearance:

Rudy Giuliani appeared last night on "Hannity and Colmes." Some highlights:

On IRAQ: Giuliani spoke about Iraq as a part of the broader war on terror. He reiterated his support for Bush's surge: "I support what the President has asked for support to do and what General Patreus has asked for support to do, not because there's any guarantee it's going to work-- there's never any guarantee at war-- But if we can come out with a correct solution or a better solution in Iraq it's going to make the whole war on terror go better. We gotta get behind it."

"Whatever happens in Iraq-- success or failure, success will help us in the war on terror. Failure will hurt us. But the war's still gonna go on. They're still gonna want to come here and kill us."

On ABORTION: "Where I stand on abortion is I oppose it, I don't like it, I hate it, I think abortion is something that is a personal matter that I would advise somebody against, however, I believe in a woman's right to choose. I think you have to ultimately not put a woman in jail for that. I think ultimately you have to leave that to a disagreement of conscience."

He also took credit for the number of abortions falling in NYC while he was mayor and adoptions rising.

On JUDGES: Says he'd pick justices like Alito, Roberts, Scalia. He would want "justices who interpreted the Constitution rather than invented it." Roe v. Wade, he predicted, will not be overturned but will be limited. He carefully avoided answering whether it should be overturned or not, but called it "precedent."

2008: Republicans: Giuliani: analysis:

In his New York Post column, John Podhoretz works to debunk the Notion that Giuliani is too liberal on some social policies for the GOP faithful. (Podhoretz also Notes that Giuliani has the same position on same-sex civil unions as Dick Cheney.) LINK

Writing under a "Giuliani Run Poses Conundrum" header, the Wall Street Street Journal's Christopher Cooper has Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council saying: "I don't see anyone getting the Republican nomination who is not pro-life and a staunch defender of traditional marriage. . . . We may not be a large enough group to elect a president, but social conservatives can keep someone from getting the nomination."

"California would seem to be prime territory for Mr. Giuliani, so this is a big opportunity for him to begin collecting what could be some valuable political chits," writes the New York Times' Adam Nagourney -- in the paper's "Political Action" column -- about Giuliani's upcoming trip to Sacramento, CA to address the California Republican Party convention. LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza report: "Giuliani's challenge, aides believe, will be to convince Republican primary voters that, despite his disagreements with conservatives, he will not overturn what has been party orthodoxy on many social issues." LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani: news of day:

ABC News' Kate Snow looked at Giuliani's latest moves for "Good Morning America."

Sounding nearly Clintonian, Giuliani told Fox News last night that he is "in this to win," per the New York Times. LINK

"Hoping to squelch whispers that he isn't a serious presidential contender, Rudy Giuliani filed a 'statement of candidacy' yesterday and hours later declared, 'I'm in this to win,'" writes David Saltonstall of the New York Daily News. LINK

Per the gossipy Rush & Molloy of the New York Daily News, former Giuliani aide Cristyne Lategano Nicholas is drumming up support among her former City Hall colleagues urging them to attend a breakfast fundraiser on Friday at the Regency Hotel in New York City. LINK

Judith Giuliani's upcoming Harper's Bazaar interview gets big play by the New York Post's Gaskell and Sheehy. The former mayor's love for "Sleepless in Seattle," his three to four hours of sleep a night, and his concern that his prostate cancer surgery not be shown on television all provide some insight into the presidential contender. LINK

The New York Post editorial board appears pleased that Giuliani will likely be in the presidential mix and goes beyond his 9/11 hero status and reminds readers about his crime-fighting record in New York City. LINK

Bloomberg's Catherine Dodge and Kristin Jensen wrap up Giuliani's announcement. LINK

More from the AP: LINK

"Lost the playbook, and now her job," reads the New York Daily News headline above Saltonstall's story looking at Anne Dickerson's move from fundraiser-in-chief to an outside fundraising consultant role in Rudy Giuliani's campaign. LINK

2008: Republicans: McCain:

The Dallas Morning News' Wayne Slater writes this morning about Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) trip to Texas and his attempt to reconcile with conservative evangelical Christians who he criticized in 2000, costing him key votes. LINK

2008: Republicans: Romney:

Roll Call's Lauren Whittington reports that among the endorsements to be announced today for Romney are those of "Reps. Rodney Alexander (La.), John Linder (Ga.), Ralph Regula (Ohio), Bill Shuster (Pa.) and Mike Simpson (Idaho)."

Kenneth Vogel of Politico writes up Gov. Romney's remaining $1.9 million in state-based PACs that can't be utilized in his presidential run. LINK

Todd Gillman of the Dallas Morning News reports that Mitt Romney met privately with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on Monday looking to line up her endorsement, but some speculate it was to interview her for his running mate. LINK

Note the McCain kicker quote.

2008: Republicans: Huckabee:

Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) threw on his political pundit hat this morning at a breakfast meeting with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

When asked about his current poll position far behind the "800 pound gorillas" John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, Huckabee said this about "gorillas": "When they fall they make a huge thud and leave a big whole in the ground," said Huckabee.

"If you are in first place right now, there is only one direction you can go -- and it is not a good one," added Huckabee.

The man seeking to become the second president from a place called Hope, also set some clear expectations and benchmarks he must meet in order to continue his fight for the GOP nomination.

"If after the Iowa straw poll. . . I'm still in the second or third tier, then I've got a problem," said Huckabee referring to the Iowa Republican Party straw poll scheduled to take place in Ames, IA on August 11 which Huckabee predicted will be the first real "breakaway" event of the 2008 GOP contest.

"If I don't do well in Iowa -- get one of the top three tickets out -- then it will be very challenging to go on from there."

The Southerner also said that "South Carolina will be important to me. I don't think I have to win there. I think if I did poorly there, it would be difficult to move forward."

Huckabee picked up the support of New Hampshire State School Board member and two-time gubernatorial candidate Fred Bramante, reports the Boston Globe's James Pindell. LINK

2008: Democrats:

Roger Simon of Politico writes of the debate dilemma that currently exists inside frontrunning Democratic campaigns. Participate in early debates and risk a stumble or refuse to participate in early forums and debates and risk alienating key constituency groups? Simon writes that Sens. Obama and Clinton have not yet accepted any debate invitations and "may just say no. They might do the unthinkable and just refuse to show up." LINK

Simon makes no mention of George W. Bush's choosing SMU over New Hamsphire in 1999 and the problems that caused.

Since Sen. Clinton and Sen. Obama didn't "blow away the field" last weekend at the DNC's winter meeting, there could be an opening for Sen. Edwards and Gov. Richardson writes the Washington Post's David Broder. LINK

It is easy to overlook the other Democratic presidential contenders unless their last name is Clinton, Edwards, or Obama, but Greg Giroux of CQ gives a very thorough analysis of each candidate following last week's DNC winter meeting. LINK

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

The New York Post's Bishop looks at Sen. Clinton's expenditures at the end of the year which include some nice bonuses for her top-tier advisers Patti Solis-Doyle, Lorraine Voles, and Capricia Marshall. LINK

Note, too, the $1.5 million paid in December to Mark Penn for his polling and direct mail work conducted during Clinton's 2006 landslide reelection.

Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph previews Sen. Clinton's trip to New Hampshire this weekend and analyzes the pros and cons (but mostly the pros) of staying out of the Granite State for 3700 days like Mrs. Clinton has. LINK

Be sure to Note Clinton skeptic Arnie Arnesen complaining that Democrats are "sick" of calculation from candidates while admitting that after a 15-minute conversation with the Senator said, "She charmed the pants of me."

2008: Democrats: Obama:

In a must-read, the Chicago Tribune's Manya A. Brachear and Bob Secter report that conservative critics of Obama are taking issue with his adherence to the creed of the prominent South Side church he attends, Trinity United Church of Christ. "The congregation posits what it terms a Black Value System, including calls to be 'soldiers for black freedom' and a 'disavowal of the pursuit of middleclassness.'" LINK

"In an interview late Monday, Obama said it was important to understand the document as a whole rather than highlight individual tenets. 'Commitment to God, black community, commitment to the black family, the black work ethic, self-discipline and self-respect,' he said. "Those are values that the conservative movement in particular has suggested are necessary for black advancement."

"'So I would be puzzled that they would object or quibble with the bulk of a document that basically espouses profoundly conservative values of self-reliance and self-help.'"

The Chicago Tribune's Christi Parsons and Manya Brachear take a look at Sen. Obama's effort to quit smoking. LINK

Obama: "… I've got an ironclad demand from my wife that in the stresses of the campaign I don't succumb. I've been chewing Nicorette strenuously."

"Obama said he isn't using the patch because he worries that it's too strong for him."

"'I'm not somebody who's all that hooked,' he said. 'I didn't want more nicotine coming to me than I had been ingesting.'"

Americans are becoming more acquainted with Sen. Obama on a daily basis but his early childhood and upbringing still appears to be a mystery to some. The AP's Brian Charlton takes a look at Barry Obama's (as he was called in school) childhood in Hawaii as a student at a privileged school and as one of the few black kids around. LINK

ABC News' Quiana Burns explores the contest for black support between Sen. Obama and the wife of "the first black president," Sen. Clinton. LINK

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

Edwards will not use public funds for his presidential primary or for the general election, reports USA Today's Jill Lawrence and Fredreka Schouten. LINK

Sarah Lueck of the Wall Street Journal reports that Edwards' health plan will be matched by rivals like Sen. Clinton who wants to "build the consensus" on health care first "so that when the Harry and Louise ad comes on, you'll say, 'Turn that off!'"

"Mr. Edwards's plan is ambitious and expensive, adding as much as $120 billion a year to the nation's health care bill. Money for the proposal would come from increased taxes on well-to-do families, from new fees to be paid by companies that refuse to provide health insurance for their workers and through steps to streamline the delivery of health services," writes John Broder of the New York Times on Sen. Edwards plan to provide universal health insurance. LINK

Jim Morrill in the Charlotte Observer's "Eye on Edwards" column examines Sen. Edwards' recent leftward tilt. Having once been cast as a Southern moderate, Morill writes, "Now, as he throttles toward 2008, Edwards has veered left, outflanking Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and several other presidential rivals for his party's liberal base." LINK

"I think it's appealing across the ideological and political spectrum," says Edwards of his health plan in an interview with the Los Angeles Times' Michael Finnegan. LINK

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Paul Fidalgo look at shots being fired at Edwards' health-care plan by the conservative Club for Growth, as well as his new aggressive early campaigning style and the softening of his concern about the deficit as compared to other priorities. LINK

2008: Democrats: Vilsack:

Radio Iowa Kay Henderson reports this morning on Tom Vilsack's interview with CNBC Monday night where he called for an end to tariffs that block the import of ethanol from Brazil. Vilsack said, "Bring the Brazilian ethanol into this country, create a demand for E85, put pressure on Detroit to create more flexible-fuel vehicles." LINK

ABC News' Tahman Bradley reports that Vilsack will talk energy next week in San Francisco. LINK

2008: Democrats: Richardson:

Gov. Richardson (D-NM) is scheduled to be the featured speaker at the Concord City Democrats "3rd Annual DemSocial" on Saturday Feb. 17 at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers' (IBEW) Hall in Concord, NH.

2008: Senate:

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Cynthia Burton Notes that despite Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) turning 83 last month, he's filing paperwork and holding fundraisers for a re-election bid in 2008. LINK

San Francisco mayor:

In a week clouded with controversy, Celia M. Vega and Heather Knight of the San Francisco Chronicle report this morning that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is going to seek professional help for his alcohol dependency. LINK

The Libby trial:

ABC News' Jason Ryan and Pierre Thomas have the story on the grand jury audio tapes heard at the trial of Scooter Libby. The tapes contained Libby's apparently contradictory statements to the grand jury on 2005 of what he knew about the identity of Valerie Plame Wilson, and when. LINK

The New York Times on the same: LINK

Democratic agenda:

Pegged to today's planned oversight hearing on reconstruction projects in Iraq, the New York Times' Shenon profiles the new "cop on the beat," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA). LINK

Jonathan E. Kaplan of The Hill reports on the agreement reached between Speaker Pelosi and Energy and Commerce Committee chair Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) on the parameters of the new select committee on global warming. LINK

With the Employee Free Choice Act scheduled to be introduced today, labor activists and business lobbyists are readying for a showdown. Sean Lengell of the Washington Times has the story. LINK

Political potpourri:

David Kirkpatrick takes a look at some of the folks who lost tough contests in last year's congressional elections who didn't go "all in" according to the campaign dollars left in their bank accounts. LINK

Politico's Doolittle looks at the uptick in interest in the House page program since Mark Foley helped the program get onto the front pages. LINK

In the forthcoming issue of the Atlantic, Joshua Green tells the story of Colorado millionaire Tim Gill and former tobacco lobbyist Ted Trimba who have concluded that the majority of antigay legislation is coming from state legislatures, and by focusing money and resources on those races, they have a chance to "snuff out rising politicians."

"The strategic piece of the puzzle we'd been missing -- consistent across almost every legislature we examined -- is that it's often just a handful of people, two or three, who introduce the most outrageous legislation and force the rest of their colleagues to vote on it," Gill told Green. "If you could reach these few people or neutralize them by flipping the chamber to leaders who would block bad legislation, you'd have a dramatic effect."