The Note: Romney (Re)Considered


Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) officially declared his presidential candidacy at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI at 9:00 am ET.

Later, Romney travels to Iowa where he delivers remarks at 2:00 pm ET at the state fairgrounds in Des Moines.

The AP's Liz Sidoti raises the curtain on Romney's announcement by offering a Romney 101 course for those just tuning in. LINK

The Michigan papers are oddly absent of tee-up coverage, and the Boston Globe's piece is short and almost indifferent, although the paper gets in this hostile (if factual) graph:

"Recent polls show Romney has significant ground to gain. A Detroit Free Press-Local 4 (WDIV-TV) poll earlier this month put Romney a distant fourth behind McCain, former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who hasn't committed to running. Romney's campaign downplayed the results, saying it was early in the nomination fight. But political observers were surprised he didn't fare better." LINK

Mitt Romney's biggest asset in this race: he has the eye of the tiger.

And his CEO and gubernatorial experience give him the executive mindset that voters have chosen in seven of the last eight presidential elections.

Along with John Edwards, he most closely embodies the totality of the sign in the Little Rock War Room: 1. Change versus more of the same. 2. It's the economy, stupid. 3. Don't forget about health care.

So Romney has a lot to offer. Here's what some of the other candidates would like from him:

John McCain wants Romney's: vigga (as they say in Massachusetts)

Rudy Giuliani wants Romney's: hair

Hillary Clinton wants Romney's: success on health care

Barack Obama wants Romney's: ability to eschew cigarettes

John Edwards wants Romney's: placement in his party's horserace

But Romney is not flawless. Here's what Romney would like from some of the other candidates:

Romney wants McCain's: war record

Romney wants Giuliani's: ability (so far) to avoid real scrutiny on heretical positions

Romney wants Clinton's: fundraising capacity

Romney wants Obama's: Oprah connection

Romney wants Edwards': killer instincts

Shortly after Romney outlines his vision for the nation before in his native Michigan, the team of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) shows its own killer instincts when he receives the support and endorsement of Michigan elected officials at a press conference organized by his presidential exploratory committee at the Radisson Hotel at 11:30 am ET in Lansing. Sen. McCain will not be in attendance.

The House of Representatives was scheduled to begin floor debate on the Iraq War Resolution at 9:00 am ET. Speaker Pelosi is expected to take the floor around noon ET.

"At the end of the debate, we will vote on a straightforward proposition: whether we support the President's plan or oppose it. That vote will signal whether the House has heard the message the American people have sent about this war; the current policies have not worked, will not work, and must be changed," Pelosi is expected to say, according to excerpts of her planned remarks released by her office.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) delivered 8:30 am ET remarks at the AARP's annual policy meeting at the Reagan Trade Building in Washington, DC.

Sen. Clinton also was expected to hold a news conference at the Capitol to introduce the Calling 2-1-1 Act with Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), United Way president Brian Gallagher, United Way Board of Trustees Chairman Rodney Slater, and United Way of the Midlands chairman Jamie Moore.

Tonight, Sen. Clinton receives a "National Service Lifetime Leadership Award" at a 6:30 pm ET reception of a coalition of national service and AmeriCorps organizations at Union Station in Washington, DC.

President Bush participates in a 10:00 am ET briefing on volunteerism at the White House, and visits the Anthony Bowen YMCA in Washington, DC at 3:00 pm ET.

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) delivers a major speech on energy security to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, CA at 2:30 pm ET, where he will also outline his plan to run an Al-Gore-style carbon-neutral campaign.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) delivers an 11:30 am ET speech at the opening ceremonies of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, CA.

RNC Chairman/Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) talks Iraq and other topics with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC at 4:45 pm ET. Chairman Martinez plans to dedicate some of his afternoon to doing national radio calls as well.

Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) plans to appear on Bloomberg's "Money and Politics" from Santa Fe, NM at 5:36 pm ET. The conversation is expected to focus on energy independence, his plans for immigration reform, and the economy.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) is expected to appear on MSNBC at 11:00 am ET.

At 9:30 am ET, The Commission on "No Child Left Behind" released its final recommendations for reauthorization of the law, with former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), and former Gov. Roy Barnes (D-GA among participants. Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Miller hold a news conference to introduce a bill to boost college scholarships at 12:00 pm ET.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) hold a briefing in his office on Iraq and Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts at 11:00 am ET.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, and Caucus Vice Chairman John Larson hold a 1:30 pm ET press availability.

The Senate Democratic and Republican party luncheons occur behind closed doors in the Capitol at 11:30 am ET.

2008: Republicans: Romney announces:

"More members of Congress have announced support for Romney than for McCain: 26, including former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)," write the Los Angeles Times' Janet Hook and Tom Hamburger on Romney's increasing support inside the Beltway.LINK

John Weaver and Mark Salter have to wonder where all the gratitude went for all those trips their guy did on behalf of House candidates in the last few cycles.

The Des Moines Register's David Yepsen on the "meaty" questions Romney faces on social issues. LINK

On "Good Morning America," ABC News' Kate Snow looked at Romney's history and prospects.

On "Today," NBC News' Campbell Brown did the same.

"Plenty has been written about Romney's conservative conversion on social issues, but you in the New Hampshire GOP have historically been more concerned with how a candidate's record affects your wallet than your bedroom. And on that score, Romney's candidacy should give you pause," opines self-avowed "Republican operative turned journalist" Virginia Buckingham in her Boston Herald column. LINK

USA Today's Jill Lawrence Notes a new USA Today/Gallup Poll, which shows Romney's Mormonism as a potential hurdle in his presidential bid, where 72 percent of those polled say they would vote for a qualified nominee who is Mormon, compared with 94 percent for a black nominee and 88 percent for a female nominee. LINK

"Mitt Romney's flip flops are enough to make John Kerry blush," reads a Brownback campaign press release distributed to reporters on the eve of Romney's formal entrance into the presidential race.

Politics of Iraq:

USA Today's Susan Page reports on the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, which reveals 63 percent of those polled calling for a timetable for troop withdrawal by the end of 2008 and 57 percent who want a cap on troop levels while 58 percent oppose cutting off funding for troops. LINK

"The House will begin debate today on a simple, tightly worded resolution opposing the deployment of additional combat troops to Iraq, even as Democratic leaders move forward on binding language that would curtail those deployments and begin to bring troops home," reports the Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman. LINK

"Waiting in the wings is binding legislation that would fully fund Bush's $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but add four conditions: Soldiers and Marines could be deployed to Iraq only after being certified as fully trained and equipped. National Guardsmen and reservists could be subject to no more than two deployments, or roughly 12 months of combat duty. The administration could use none of the money for permanent bases in Iraq. And additional funding for the National Guard and reserves must be spent to retool operations at home, such as emergency response."

The Washington Times on the same: LINK

On the "Early Show," CBS News' Bob Schieffer said the key thing to watch for in the House is how many Republicans vote with the Democrats. Schieffer predicts that at least 24 Republicans will side with the Democrats and it's possible as many as 60 will go against party lines. "If that happens, it will be difficult for the President to go forward" said Schieffer.

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein reports on some liberal congressional Democrats' disappointment to be voting on "a two-paragraph, non binding resolution disagreeing with Bush's decision to send additional troops to Iraq," rather than debating cutting off funding entirely. LINK

And/but: "The Iraq debate in Congress is quickly moving beyond nonbinding resolutions of disapproval to the question of how far lawmakers will go to restrict funding for the war," reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers, a/k/a: "the 536th Member."

"Without an opportunity to offer a substitute ensuring our commitment to the troops and their mission, this non-binding resolution is meaningless as legislation and disastrous as policy," said Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) in a press release previewing some of the GOP talking points to come as he decried the unanimous Democratic push to not allow substitute amendments in the current debate.

President Bush's C-SPAN interview:

In an interview with C-SPAN, President Bush commented that the news on Iraq is taking a toll on his father, Bush 41. "I'm actually more concerned about him than I ever have been in my life because he's paying too much attention to the news" said Bush. ABC News' Teddy Davis has more. LINK

The Washington Times on the same: LINK

"I've got a full day tomorrow. I mean, it's not as if the world stops when the Congress does their duty," said President Bush of the House debate on Iraq in an interview with C-SPAN and quoted by the Los Angeles Times' Noam Levey and Richard Simon in their look the President's "notable (sic) departure" from his previously active role in legislation. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

In a speech to the Sangamon County Republican Party, Karl Rove discussed the "new political reality in Washington," while also reminding his audience of the need to "continue to advance a conservative agenda." LINK

Libby trial:

"After making a star turn observing courtroom proceedings last week in Washington, former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., is now publicly railing against Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's prosecution of I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, calling it a 'travesty and injustice,'" writes ABC News' David Chalian. LINK

ABC News' legal team has the latest from inside the courtroom. LINK

Six journalists testified yesterday that Libby "never mentioned an undercover CIA officer to them -- and some said they learned about her identity from other administration sources," reports the Washington Post's Carol Leonnig and Amy Goldstein. LINK

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank Sketches yesterday's star witnesses. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Schmitt and Grey Miller: LINK


"'I think there's going to come some point this year where people are going to basically be saying: 'I'm largely disinterested in the contest,''" Karl Roves tells Politico's Mike Allen and John Harris in an exclusive must-read interview. LINK

Be sure to Note Rove's expected role as liaison between the 2008 GOP nominee and the White House during the (looooooong) general election phase of the campaign and Rove's hat tip to John Edwards for putting forth his national agenda. We wonder how the Edwards' camp will use that with donors.

The San Francisco Chronicle pair Matier and Ross on the 2008 heavyweights, including Giuliani, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards flocking to California for speaking events, luncheons, and fundraisers. LINK

An ethics bill that would ban all federal candidates from accepting discounted rates for private jets could give a logistical edge to 2008 presidential candidates not currently serving in Congress, blogs David K. Kirkpatrick for the New York Times' "Caucus." LINK

2008: Republicans:

In a story looking at the competition between McCain and Romney over conservatives, the Washington Post's Alan Cooperman and Chris Cillizza report that Romney will hold "a private reception for Christian radio and television hosts during the National Religious Broadcasters' annual meeting next week in Orlando, and he is expected to be the commencement speaker at the Rev. Pat Robertson's Regent University in May. Not to be outdone, McCain will be feted by Falwell at a reception at the religious broadcasters' convention, the latest sign of detente between onetime adversaries." LINK

The Boston Herald's Casey Ross writes about some Republican donors shifting support from Romney to McCain reporting that "McCain operatives flooded reporters' inboxes yesterday with news of defection from Romney's campaign, ratcheting up the brewing Republican primary battle as Romney begins a five-state announcement tour." LINK

2008: Republicans: McCain:

Sens. McCain and Lieberman pen an op-ed in the Boston Globe in support of their Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act. LINK

The Washington Post offers a correction to its Sunday front-page headline about some of Sen. McCain's money men. LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani:

Mary Anne Ostrom of the Associated Press reports on Mayor Giuliani's courting of Silicon Valley, and how he is only the first (this week) of a storm of presidential hopefuls about to descend upon California. LINK

Per the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci, Giuliani said he "definitely" believes the science that global warming exists and humans contribute to it. In his speech to Silicon Valley's business leaders, Giuliani praised Schwarzenegger's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. LINK

On the same day that former Mayor Giuliani declared that he's "100 percent committed to a White House bid," a website "published a copy of a book of opposition research Giuliani ordered to be done on himself for his 1993 mayoral race," The New York Post's Ian Bishop reports. LINK

2008: Republicans: Huckabee:

Gov. Huckabee received the endorsement yesterday of Iris and Mike Campbell, wife and son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell. John O'Connor of The State has a full report. LINK

ABC News' Brandon Odoi on the same. LINK

2008: Republicans: Thompson:

Gov. Thompson is running for the GOP's presidential nomination as an avowed proponent of school vouchers. But when he unveils the findings of the Commission on the No Child Left Behind Act today, the former governor of Wisconsin refuses to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

"'If you were a benevolent dictator,' Thompson told ABC News, 'you could do all these great things, but you're not, you're co-chair of a commission that's trying to do things. You do the best that you possibly can, and try to get as much as you can, and then decide if, at the end of the day, you can support the total project.'"

ABC News' Teddy Davis previews the commission's findings on the "Political Radar." LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Associated Press has Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor turning down Vilsack's challenge to debate when he is in Iowa and not able to travel to Nevada for an AFSCME forum. LINK

"'Sen. Obama looks forward to participating in a number of debates during this campaign, but first he wants to personally meet with and hear from as many Iowans as possible about how we can change our politics,' Vietor said."

The Chicago Tribune's Mike Dorning takes a look at the differences between Clinton's and Obama's handling of Iraq war. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper reported last night that for Obama and Clinton, in order to get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the road through Baghdad must first be traveled. LINK

More on Jake Tapper's 'Political Punch' blog: LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet Notes Obama's "first stumble" at a press conference in Iowa where he later recanted his use of the word "wasted" in describing American soldiers who lost their lives in the Iraq war. LINK

The New York Daily News has more on Obama apologizing for his "wasted' remark. LINK

Keying off Sen. Obama's "troops wasted" comment, the New York Daily News editorial board writes that the Senator's remarks "reflected, at best, a tendency to let glibness get the better of him," and at worst that he is not "serious" and "sober" enough for the times. LINK

In a news analysis, the Washington Post's Dan Balz has Robert Gibbs saying that Sen. Obama will "talk at length about policy, they say, but as Gibbs put it: 'I don't think you veer out of your way to all of a sudden make him this superman of white papers.'" LINK

Sen. Obama subtly resorted to finger-pointing toward some of his fellow presidential candidates at his first house party in the Granite State, saying his colleagues who voted to authorize the war have a greater hand in "the situation we're in now." The Union Leader's John DiStaso has more.LINK

Clynton Namuo of the Union Leader describes Obama as an American Idol contestant at his UNH appearance last night. LINK

"Obama may be no Lincoln, but Lincoln was no Obama," opines the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn on the announcement posturing.LINK

In the Obama/John Howard bout, the New York Post ed board unsurprisingly sides with the Australian prime minister. LINK

The New York Post's Geoff Earle writes up Michelle Obama's pointed remarks at a fundraiser Sunday in Chicago, where the Senator's wife ripped her husbands rivals for peddling "baseless claims." LINK

Seth Gitell Notes Sen. Obama's "Facebook" presence in the New York Sun. LINK

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

"I don't want to know how President Bush failed Hillary Clinton. I want to know how she failed her country," writes the Washington Post's Richard Cohen, in his first must-read column of the month. LINK

"When Hillary Rodham Clinton declared in New Hampshire last weekend that she had merely voted to give President Bush 'the authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth' in Iraq, and not 'to authorize preemptive war,' she was putting her own generous spin on a resolution that was unambiguous in granting the power to go to war in Iraq," begins Peter Canellos in his weekly Boston Globe column. LINK

Canellos goes beyond Sen. Clinton's attempt to defy the political reality of her vote and looks at how a reluctance on the part of a Democratic Congress to pass such resolutions in the future may backfire and hasten military action.

Opining for the Rocky Mountain News, Paul Campos calls Sen. Clinton's candidacy into question due to what he sees as her misrepresentation of her original Iraq position, writing, "Clinton seems determined to create the illusion that she didn't really support the invasion." LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Dick Polman explains why he thinks Sen. Clinton will never apologize for her 2002 Iraq vote. LINK

Politico's Roger Simon predicts Sen. Clinton will admit her 2002 Iraq vote was wrong before the Iowa caucuses. LINK

Owning the 42-44(?) relationship and producing a must-read that he apparently wrote in the Charlie Rose greenroom, the New York Times' Pat Healy takes a look back at Sen. Clinton's New Hampshire visit where for "the first time in her bid for the White House, Mrs. Clinton directly laid claim to the legacy and popularity of former President Bill Clinton -- and did so in a crucial primary state where her husband showed his resiliency in 1992, when he finished second despite weeks of troubles." LINK

"In 1992, Bill Clinton popped from a Democratic pack because it became apparent that he knew what he wanted to do -- move beyond the 'brain-dead politics' of right and left -- and how he wanted to do it. Although she starts as front-runner, it's not yet clear that Hillary does," columnizes Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe on Clinton's nascent campaign. LINK

Lois Ludtke of Davenport, IA writes a letter to the Quad City Times explaining that Sen. Clinton has won her over. LINK

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

Days after Edwards "decided against firing two liberal bloggers with a history of inflammatory writing, one resigned last night with a blast at 'right wing shills' for driving her out of the campaign," reports the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz. LINK

The Associated Press on the same: LINK

Erik Ose, in an op-ed for the Raleigh News & Observer, wonders how the Edwards campaign could have let bloggers into their ranks without proper vetting. LINK

"Edwards, like the rest of the field, is making it up as he goes along in attempting to re-create the Internet magic of Howard Dean's amazing money-harvesting machine in 2004," writes Ose.

SIGHTINGS: Author Terry McAuliffe and John Edwards, running into each other last night at The National Hotel in Miami's famed South Beach.

2008: Democrats: Vilsack:

At the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Gov. Vilsack plans to call for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 75 percent in the next half-century, reports the Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont. LINK

"Vilsack hopes to one-up his rivals by running a 'carbon-neutral' campaign. For every emission to the atmosphere the campaign creates, through airplane or auto travel, the campaign will purchase credits for emission reductions achieved by projects elsewhere, such as wind farms or solar installations."

2008: Senate:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Hotakainen and Lopez chat with political pros Duffy, Todd, and Gonzales and discover that the Ciresi vs. Franken battle for the DFL nomination may not remain a two-man race. LINK

Eric Black of the Star Tribune gives a look at the possible contenders for Sen. Norm Coleman's (R-MN) Senate seat. LINK

The economy:

"There are troubling signs the U.S. may be losing its traditional appeal as a destination for foreign investment, the White House says, a veiled warning to legislators now contemplating tighter controls over such investment," reports the Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip.

Politics of pork:

The Bush administration says members of Congress "quietly have been calling federal agencies demanding their pet projects still be funded weeks after they swore off pork-barrel spending," reports the Washington Times' Stephen Dinan. LINK

Political potpourri:

The Wall Street Journal's ed board praises Gov. Mike Beebe (D-AR) as a "voice for tax relief within his party."

The Washington Post's Peter Baker reviews Terry McAuliffe's book under a "It's His Party, He'll Dish if He Wants To," headline. LINK