The Note: Trouble, My Friend, Right Here

"Seeking to stem eroding support among GOP voters, Sen. John McCain confirmed yesterday that he's in the 2008 race for the presidency, with a formal announcement set for April," write Celeste Katz and David Saltonstall of The New York Daily News. LINK

Sen. McCain's Letterman announcement was "no joke and no surprise" per NBC's Today Show. As Sen. McCain makes his presidential bid "more official," Andrea Mitchell said that he is "trying to recapture the magic of his 2000 campaign."

According to Tim Russert, the "Late Show" appearance "needed to be done" in light of Sen. McCain's sagging poll standing against Mayor Giuliani, due to "something going on within the Republican psyche" as the party faithful seem to be prioritizing a tough stance on terrorism over conservative social credentials.

Los Angeles Times' Dan Morain reports that Sen. McCain's 13 national finance committee co-chairmen include five Californians: Orange County billionaire Donald Bren; investor George Argyros; Univision Chairman A. Jerrold Perenchio; Cisco Systems Chief Executive John Chambers; and San Francisco venture capitalist J. Gary Shansby. LINK

Sen. McCain also tapped Schwarzenegger's lead fundraiser, Marty Wilson, as part of his California finance committee.

Jill Gardiner of the New York Sun reports on a surprise drop-in by former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) during Sen. McCain's swing through New York City. Gardiner writes that Gov. Pataki's appearance provided an "interesting twist" due to the two Republicans' "strained relationship after the governor backed President Bush in 2000 and attempted to knock Mr. McCain off the New York ballot. Both contended last night that they had mended the wounds years ago." LINK

Opportunity 08: ABC News-Brookings Forum:

One day after an ABC News-Washington Post poll showed Sen. McCain losing ground to Giuliani, Washington veterans Tom Donilon and Ken Duberstein debated McCain's standing vis a vis the former New York City mayor. LINK

"'In a change dynamic, McCain is the un-change,' said Tom Donilon, a former Clinton administration official who has served as senior adviser to Democratic presidents and presidential candidates for 20 years."

"Former Reagan chief of staff Ken Duberstein disagreed with Donilon on the question of whether McCain's presidential bid has suffered a 'collapse' as a result of embracing President Bush's" proposed troop surge.

"The key for McCain, Duberstein told ABC News following the forum, is for him to 'talk about the future as a change agent.'"

2008: Republicans:

As the CPAC gathering of conservative grassroots activists gets underway in Washington, DC today, the overarching storyline for the Republican presidential field for some continues to be the search for an allegedly true conservative candidate.

The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan has Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, saying: "'For years, the party was completely president-centric, and put all their efforts into keeping the presidency. But going into 2008, it's going to be equally important to pick up the House and Senate. Now, people recognize you can govern from either body, not just the White House." LINK

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