The Note: Absolutely Nothing


First names are not needed among Note friends.

Schumer wants Gonzales gone; Schumer wants Rove to testify; Schumer has the bit in his mouth.

DeFrank says Cheney offered to step down in 2004; DeFrank says Cheney won't step down now; DeFrank says Bush got elected because of Cheney. LINK

Hagel decided not to decide; Hagel decided deciding later is better; Hagel decided.

Pace has views; Pace has opinions; Pace has a problem.

Thompson is loved by Frist; Thompson is lived by Graham; Thompson is loved by the bored press and the bored base (for now).

Republican Senators and '08ers will be asked about Gonzales; Republican Senators and '08ers will be asked about Gonzales; Republican Senators and '08ers will be asked about Gonzales.

If you are a Democratic press operative -- or that Senator named Schumer -- your day is likely to be the shooting-fish-in-a-barrel variety.

The twin stories that kicked off ABC's newsy "Good Morning America" are both unwelcome developments to the (travelin') folks at 1600, the Republican presidential hopefuls, and Martinez/Duncan/Cole/Ensign.

Story #1: The Washington Post's Dan Eggen and John Solomon review documents showing that the White House and other Administration officials were "more closely involved in the dismissals, and at a much earlier date, than they have previously acknowledged." LINK

"The role of the president and his advisers in the prosecutor shakeup is likely to intensify calls by Congress for an investigation. It is the worst crisis of Mr. Gonzales's tenure and provoked charges that the dismissals were a political purge threatening the historical independence of the Justice Department," writes the New York Times' David Johnston and Eric Lipton on the White House "deep involve[ment]" in the dismissal of federal prosecutors. LINK

ABC News' Pierre Thomas confirmed on "Good Morning America" that AG Gonzales' chief of staff's resignation will likely be announced today, per ABC News sources.

Story #2: "Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday that he supports the Pentagon's 'don't ask, don't tell' ban on gays serving in the military because homosexual acts 'are immoral,' akin to a member of the armed forces conducting an adulterous affair with the spouse of another service member," reports the Chicago Tribune's Madhani. LINK

"Those comments by Gen. Pace are sure to spark a firestorm on Capitol Hill," reported ABC News' Jonathan Karl.

Karl also said that a spokesperson for Gen. Pace told ABC News that Pace was asked to provide his personal opinion and he provided it.

As of this writing, no Pentagon press briefing has been scheduled and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales doesn't seem to have a public schedule.

The folks at the Wall Street Journal ed board have some deciding of their own to do today.

Democratic and Republican policy committees meet separately for their 12:30 pm ET weekly lunches at the Capitol. Stakeout sound on Pace, Gonzales, and the status of the Iraq debate will be sought.

NRSC Chairman Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) holds a 12:30 pm ET press availability in the Senate studio on the US Attorneys story.

Three Democratic presidential hopefuls, one in-cycle GOP Senator from a Blue State, and one of ABC's own address the National League of Cities' Congressional City Conference at the Washington Hilton and Towers in Washington, DC. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) begins the morning with a 9:10 am ET address, followed by the trio of presidential candidates: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) gives a 9:30 am ET address, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) appears at 9:50 am ET, and Sen. Chris Dodd gives a 10:10 am ET address. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos appears at 2:15 pm ET.

Early this morning, Sen. Clinton and DNC Chairman Howard Dean were scheduled to speak at a 7:00 am ET breakfast for Democratic municipal officials.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a 11:00 am ET fundraising breakfast at the Mission Inn in Inland Empire, CA, followed by a 2:30 pm ET fundraiser in Los Angeles, CA.

Press availabilities are expected after his breakfast in Riverside at about 12:30 pm ET and before his lunch in Beverly Hills at 2:30 pm ET.

While Sen. McCain is busy in the Golden State, Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) moves in on his home turf with a 6:00 pm ET media availability at Arizona Republican Party Headquarters in Phoenix, AZ.

Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) holds a 4:15 pm ET rally at Bennett College in Greensboro, NC.

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush hold a 12:40 pm ET meeting with President Felipe Calderon of Mexico in Temozon Sur, Mexico.

Vice President Dick Cheney participates in a 2:30 pm ET award ceremony for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program at the Mellon Auditorium in Washington, DC.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) were scheduled to attend a 9:00 am ET conference with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) holds an 11:00 am ET pen and pad briefing for reporters in the U.S. Capitol.

Stars of the music world are on Capitol Hill today, as Wynton Marsalis testifies before a 10:30 am ET hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on creativity and the arts, and (DNC Chairman Dean's favorite) Wyclef Jean gives 2:00 pm ET testimony before a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Haiti.

To celebrate the opening of his new Washington, D.C. headquarters, Clinton guru Mark Penn is throwing a 6:00 pm ET party for his polling (Penn, Schoen & Berland), p.r. (Burston-Marsteller), and lobbying (BKSH & Associates) ventures.

Politics of prosecutorial independence:

Members of the Judiciary Committees in the House and Senate want testimony from Karl Rove on the attorney firings, but according to the Washington Post's Paul Kane, "it's unclear whether either of the panels will actually subpoena his appearance." LINK

Lara Jakes Jordan of the Associated Press reports on congressional Democrats' sharpening focus on Rove. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The Washington Post ed board delivers a must-read editorial taking Speaker Pelosi to task for her Iraq war proposal. LINK

"In short, the Democratic proposal to be taken up this week is an attempt to impose detailed management on a war without regard for the war itself," writes the ed board.

The editorial concludes thusly: ". . . aggressive oversight is quite different from mandating military steps according to an inflexible timetable conforming to the need to capture votes in Congress or at the 2008 polls. Ms. Pelosi's strategy leads not toward a responsible withdrawal from Iraq but to a constitutional power struggle with Mr. Bush, who has already said he will veto the legislation. Such a struggle would serve the interests of neither the Democrats nor the country."

In an effort to build unity on Iraq, House Democrats stripped language from a $124.1 billion wartime spending bill that sought to bar President Bush from taking unauthorized military action in Iran, reports the Wall Street Journal's David Rogers.

The Associated Press on the same: LINK

The Washington Times' Jon Ward on Vice President Cheney urging The Hill to OK funds for the troop surge. LINK

Sheryl Stolberg has the write up of Vice President Cheney's remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in which he said that preventing the President from spending money on the Iraq war would equate to "undermining the troops" in what Stolberg dubs the "most pointed warning to date from any administration official." LINK

Peter Pace calls homosexuality "immoral":

The AP on Pace's comments: LINK

2008: Republicans: Hagel punts:

ABC News' David Chalian reports that "after a drumbeat of weekend hype and in one of the more bizarre press conferences of this political cycle, Sen. Chuck Hagel took to the stage in Omaha, NE. . . and said, 'I am here today to announce that my family and I will make an announcement on my political future later this year,' in essence punting his decision as to whether or not to enter the presidential race." LINK

Watch ABC News' "Politics Live" on Hagel's non-decision: LINK

The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny writes up Sen. Hagel's announcement, simply Noting, "even as he walked away from the microphone, three possibilities remained: running for president at the 11th hour, seeking re-election to a third term in the Senate or retiring from politics." LINK

Jonathan Martin of Politico recalls Gov. Cuomo's presidential Hamlet act in 1991 in his write-up of Hagel's day. LINK

2008: Republicans:

"G.O.P. Voters Voice Anxieties on Party's Fate," headlines the New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee write up of a New York Times/CBS News poll that shows the Republican party to be "divided" and "compared with the Democrats, Republicans appear far less happy with their choice of candidates for 2008 and are still looking for someone who can improve the party's prospects."LINK

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne opines that the "Hagel Hint" and the "Thompson Tease" are "disturbing news" for Giuliani. LINK

"While much of the political press traveled to Omaha, Neb., vainly hoping for news that Mr. Hagel would enter the presidential race," writes the Washington Times' Ralph Z. Hallow, "Mr. Paul stayed in Washington and announced his candidacy on C-SPAN's 'Washington Journal.'" LINK

2008: Republicans: Giuliani:

In a "Political Radar" item looking at Giuliani saying that it is "premature" to discuss a Libby pardon, ABC News' Teddy Davis and Paul Fidalgo Note Giuliani's "thinly veiled dig" at the "controversial pardons that former President Clinton issued just before leaving office." LINK

Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press reports on Giuliani's survival so far among conservatives. LINK

The New York Daily News' on Giuliani's backing from Louisiana Sen. David Vitter. LINK

The New York Post on the Vitter endorsement: LINK

Politico's Roger Simon explores the conventional wisdom in Giuliani's candidacy and concludes that the GOP nomination is perhaps not as unattainable as previously believed. LINK

Writes Simon , "Maybe some Republicans figure they are going to need something more than the same old buttons they have pushed time and time again. Maybe they believe that if a Republican is going to win in 2008, the party must do something other than just 'grow the Republican base,' which has been the mantra for a while now.'"

Robert Polner of Salon, citing the Democrats' shock over the Swift Boaters' attacks on Sen. Kerry's war record in 2004, suggests, "Should Rudy Giuliani be the Republican nominee in 2008, Democrats can create the same doubt about him, but without relying on distortion. They could instead use the truthful words of sympathetic subjects who credibly blame Giuliani for the loss of their loved ones on Sept. 11." LINK

Jonathan Martin Notes on his Politico blog that a Washington fundraiser later this month could rake in a cool $1 million for Rudy Giuliani, as the soiree's guest list is stocked with GOP heavy hitters. LINK

Martin also has a copy of the invite: LINK

And the Giuliani camp announced this morning that he plans to hold New York City fundraiser tomorrow night with former SNL cast member Dennis Miller handling the emcee honors.

2008: Republicans: Romney:

Seth Gitell of the New York Sun reports that Gov. Romney, utilizing his business and Olympic connections, "is planning to plunge into the heart of Giuliani country next week in an attempt to raise big dollars for his campaign." LINK

2008: Republicans: McCain:

Despite his opposition to a higher minimum wage and support for personal Social Security accounts, Pat Toomey, the president of the anti-tax Club for Growth, slams Sen. McCain's record in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

Toomey hammers McCain for opposing President Bush's tax cuts using "class-warfare demagoguery" indistinguishable from rhetoric used by Democrats like Sen. Kennedy or Sen. Kerry. Toomey also hits McCain for teaming up with former Sen. Edwards on the HMO Patients' Bill of Rights, and for attacking political speech through his push for campaign finance regulation.

The Hill's Elana Schor is reporting that McCain plans to skip the Club for Growth's winter meeting in Florida. The Club will hear from several of McCain's rivals, including Giuliani, Gov. Romney, and Sen. Brownback. LINK

This is the fourth conservative gathering in two months that McCain has skipped. The Arizona Senator has also skipped the Conservative Political Action Conference, the Heritage Foundation's members' retreat, and the National Review Institute's conservative summit.

The McCain camp tells ABC News that the Arizona senator will be in Iraq during the Club for Growth's winter meeting.

John Ellis of the Fresno Bee reports on Sen. McCain's visit to Fresno where he was endorsed by Mayor Alan Autry who said the Senator "by and far is the right man at the right time in history." LINK

Sen. McCain handled the age question in an interview with the Bee, saying, "I work seven days a week. . . I hiked the Grand Canyon in August with my Naval Academy son from rim to rim. I'm in great shape."

"Former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas was tapped Monday to serve as co-chairman of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign," reports the San Antonio Express-News. LINK

Forget your office pool! Sen. McCain's campaign website is offering you the opportunity to create your own NCAA tourney brackets with the chance to win a McCain fleece! LINK

2008: Republicans: Fred Thompson:

New York Post columnist John Podhoretz calls Sen. Thompson's potential candidacy a 2008 GOP "boomlet" and writes that Thompson would make a "thrilling" candidate. LINK

"I believe Fred Thompson should run for President," wrote Sen. Frist in an email to supporters of his political action committee, per ABC News' Political Radar. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' web site has video of a KTLA package about Sen. Thompson's possible entrance into the race which includes positive soundbites from McCain supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS). LINK

2008: Republicans: Brownback:

ABC News' Teddy Davis reports that Bobby Schindler, the brother of the late Terri Schiavo, has endorsed the presidential bid of Sen. Brownback. "The pro-life movement needs a leader we can trust in 2008 and I know Sam Brownback is that leader," said Schindler. LINK

2008: Republicans: Gilmore:

Per a Gilmore campaign press release: "Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, today wrote the Ron Nehring, Chairman of the California Republican Party, urging him to block U.S. Sen. John McCain's attempt to change GOP nomination rules to allow independents to vote in the Feb. 5 California Republican Primary."

2008: Republicans: Tancredo:

Rep. Tom Tancredo admitted he was a long shot for the White House when he stopped by Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire yesterday to discuss his immigration platform with students. The Union Leader's Son Hoang has more. LINK

2008: Republicans: Paul:

The Houston Chronicle's Michelle Mittelstadt describes Ron Paul as "iconoclastic" while Noting the peculiar platform of C-SPAN to announce his bid. LINK

Per the AP, Rep. Paul admits he lacks the fundraising prowess compared to some of his opponents, but Paul says, "I think we can become very competitive." LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Las Vegas Review-Journal's Molly Ball writes that in two weeks Democratic presidential hopefuls will participate in a forum at UNLV, although it is unclear if the rest of America will be able to watch because a television partner has not been found yet. And yes, this time Obama will be there, although Biden will not. LINK

2008: Democrats: Clinton:

Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh assesses Sen. Clinton's appearance at the annual fundraising dinner in Nashua last Saturday and finds that many were impressed -- "judging from the response she got from the party establishment, that was clearly the overall verdict." LINK

"Watching Clinton and her operation at work, a strong impression is given of an extremely competent, highly organized, very focused and enormously disciplined candidate and campaign, not going for home runs or even triples, but consistently punching out singles and doubles. No one was jumping up and down on chairs, or sobbing with emotion, but most seemed very favorably impressed," writes Charlie Cook on his impressions from his Granite State weekend visit in his CongressDaily column.

More Cook: "A visible stream through this 2008 campaign is of romantic, idealistic voters on both sides. Conservatives and even evangelicals are clutching to former Republican New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's strength in leadership, seemingly oblivious of his positions on issues that have historically been of great importance to them."

"And, on the Democratic side, we see Clinton's rival, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, as the modern day John F. Kennedy, based on a projected image rather than a track record or experience. Clearly Clinton is not trying to out-Kennedy Obama, is not playing the passion card hard. She's playing her own game, solidly and competently, almost serenely, betting that Obama's aura will fade as the caucuses and primaries near."

The New York Post's Geoff Earle writes up the Post exclusive on Sen. Clinton's "superdelegates" who would "sway the outcome of the Democratic convention should it come to that." LINK

The New York Daily News' Helen Kennedy on the backlash from Sen. Clinton and others on Halliburton's move to Dubai. LINK

2008: Democrats: Obama:

Per the Chicago Sun Times, Rev. Al Sharpton had some cautionary words yesterday for Sen. Obama and warned him not to take the black vote for granted. LINK

The Chicago Sun Times' Hunter writes that Sen. Obama may have to play "back-porch" politics in Iowa. LINK

2008: Democrats: Edwards:

The New York Daily News briefly writes up former Sen. Edwards fundraising effort, hosted by Michael J. Fox, in Manhattan last night. LINK

2008: Democrats: Dodd:

Rinker Buck of the Hartford Courant has the highlights of Dodd's appearance last night on the 'Daily Show with Jon Stewart' where Dodd said, "I'm here to announce that I'm here," an obvious jab at Hagel. LINK

2008: Democrats: Biden:

The Delaware News Journal's Nicole Gaudiano writes up Sen. Biden's new website,, petitioning for support of the Senator's Iraq resolution. LINK

2008: Democrats: Richardson:

Bill Richardson gets some major Scot Lehigh love in the Boston Globe. LINK

The Albuquerque Journal's Guzman reports that Gov. Richardson signed into law New Mexico's ban on cockfighting, cleansing the state of its "dirty secret," and leaving Louisiana in the dust as the last bastion of what the governor called an "outdated practice." LINK

2008: Democrats: Gore:

Gloria Borger of CBS News offered up this nugget from the latest CBS News/New York Times poll numbers: ". . . for the first time since 2000, more people polled like Al Gore more than they dislike him."


Politico's Carrie Budoff warns of "the Senatorial curse" that has prevented but two senators in United States history from reaching the White House and ponders the current field. LINK

The First Family's pets always seem to become instant celebrities and 2008 will likely be no different. Will it be Clinton's lab Seamus, Brownback's two cats, or McCain's own version of Noah's Ark with a total of 23 animals? Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune has a full run down of potential First Pets. LINK

Chuck Raasch of Gannett News Service offers a look at which of the 'Big 6' candidates has the fewest blemishes on their record. LINK


In his always must-read column, David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register writes the Democratic candidates are clearly in two tiers, although "second tier" candidates Biden, Richardson, and Dodd are still in a good position. On the Republican side, Iowa is a murkier picture because Giuliani is leading in the polls but has not yet campaigned in Iowa and Gingrich who is ahead of Romney in the polls has yet to decide if he will run. LINK

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray reports that former ethanol opponents Clinton and McCain are now touting ethanol's benefits. She Notes, however, that its campaign value "may be dropping." LINK

2008: House:

Bloomberg's Laura Litvan looks at freshmen Reps. John Hall's (D-NY) and Nick Lampson's (D-TX) disparate views on Iraq and writes of the shaky ground they could be on with their constituents. LINK

2008: Governor:

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, Alan Cooperman, and Michael Shear on whether former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) is considering a Louisiana gubernatorial bid. LINK

Politics of immigration:

In the interest of consensus on immigration, Sen. Kennedy is planning to adapt legislation from last March (when Republicans were in control) in order to gain key Republican support, reports the New York Times' Rachel Swarns. LINK

"Senior aides in both parties said Mr. McCain told several colleagues last week that he was stepping away from the bill because he was troubled by labor provisions it included. Eileen McMenamin, a spokeswoman for Mr. McCain, disputed that assertion, saying he 'remains committed to passing a comprehensive immigration bill.'"

"President Bush is using his Latin America tour to kick off a make-or-break debate over immigration overhaul in the U.S," writes the Wall Street Journal's John D. McKinnon. "But while many analysts say the 2006 election vindicated his support for immigrant-friendly policies, his waning political strength will make it difficult to muster the Republican votes needed for Congress to pass them into law."

The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan reports that President Bush said yesterday that he wants the House and Senate to pass immigration bills by August while adding that the U.S. will continue to send home illegal aliens caught in the meantime, "disappointing his Guatemalan hosts who wanted all deportations to end." LINK

Vice President Cheney:

"No way embattled Cheney will resign - or Bush will even hear of it," subheadlines the New York Daily News' Thomas DeFrank's analysis piece on continued fallout from the Libby trial. LINK

Politics of Halliburton:

ABC News' Jake Tapper reports on Halliburton's plans to pick up and move to Dubai, plans that prompted Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to say that it "just doesn't look good, doesn't sound good, doesn't smell good." LINK

See the video report here: LINK

Political potpourri:

Do not miss ABC News' Jake Tapper's report on the Capitol Hill Animal House. Watch the video here: LINK

In his "Political Punch" blog, Jake Tapper talks Halliburton, sloppy Senators, and Sen. Dodd's "backstage pass" at "The Daily Show." LINK

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun reports that Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-CA) has identified himself as the highest-ranking acknowledged atheist in American politics. Stark told the Sun, "When the Secular Coalition asked me to complete a survey on my religious beliefs, I indicated I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being." LINK