The Note: Digging In

WASHINGTON, Mar. 21

House Democrats are not yet at 218 for the war funding bill, a defiant President Bush seems to have bought his Attorney General some time, and Gore mania sweeps Capitol Hill today.

In the Washington, DC version of "Deal or No Deal," a House Judiciary subcommittee meets at 10:00 am ET to vote on subpoenas for Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and others to testify about the controversial firings of eight US Attorneys. Be on the lookout for a Senate committee vote tomorrow and/or a possible deal between the White House and Congress.

Vice President Gore was scheduled to deliver 9:30 am ET testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Science and Technology Committee in Rayburn House Office Building. He then testifies before a 2:30 pm ET Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on global warming.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) attends a HELP Committee Hearing into 9/11 related health issues. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC) plans to testify at the invitation of Sen. Clinton. The hearing is scheduled to start at 10:00 am ET. Sen. Clinton also plans to attend EPW Committee hearing featuring Al Gore.

(Gore and Bloomberg are two potential opponents, Sen. Clinton probably hopes remain on the sidelines of the 2008 presidential contest. Watch her body language toward both today.)

ABC News' Jake Tapper reports that tonight "at the posh Northern Virginia estate of local real estate magnate Albert Dwoskin, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will host one of its most expensive events in recent memory -- $28,500 per couple -- featuring access to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and 10 powerful House committee chairmen."

"The event will be one of the highest-dollar fundraisers since the McCain-Feingold campaign finance limits were enacted in 2002 and it opens Democrats -- who campaigned against the GOP's 'culture of corruption' last November -- to charges of hypocrisy," adds Tapper.

President Bush holds an 11:10 am ET Oval Office meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark in the White House.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) hosts a 12:00 pm ET news conference in Cannon House Office Building in support of the Republican Study Committee's American Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) will ring the NYMEX Bell at 2:00 pm ET in the World Financial Center, New York, NY.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) attends a (closed press) 6:30 pm ET fundraising dinner at the Mandarin Hotel in Washington, DC after spending a day in Florida at various finance and political events.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) delivers 9:30 pm ET remarks to the Nevada AFL-CIO Legislative Conference at Carson Nugget in Carson City, NV. He will then speak at 10:45 pm ET as part of the Carson City Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Presidential Series at the Silver Oak Golf Club also in Carson City.

Must-reads: politics of prosecutorial independence:

On "Good Morning America," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos explained the White House's attempt to buy some time and said that the fear in the White House is that if Democrats score a Gonzales departure too quickly, they will smell blood in the water and go after White House officials too.

The President showed "he is willing to fight because he is afraid if he doesn't, the Democrats" will drum up one investigation a week, added Stephanopoulos.

In a New York Times op-ed, fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias describes the conversation he had with Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) about sealed indictments pertaining to a corruption case involving local Democrats, followed by a call to his home by Sen. Domenici. LINK

ABC News' Jan Crawford Greenburg writes that the White House is digging in and prepared to battle Democrats in a showdown over White House advisers providing testimony to Congress. LINK

The White House and Congress--coequal branches of government--seem headed for a clash over executive privilege, a legal concept which scope remains largely unsettled, writes the New York Times' Adam Liptak in his news analysis. LINK

ABC News' Jonathan Karl and George Stephanopoulos write that a Republican close to the White House said "'We all know how it is going to end.'" LINK

"Senior Justice Department officials began drafting memos this month listing specific reasons why they had fired eight U.S. attorneys, intending to cite performance problems such as insubordination, leadership failures and other missteps if needed to convince angry congressional Democrats that the terminations were justified," leads Richard A. Serrano of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

ABC News' David Chalian reports on the first DCCC campaign ad of the 2008 cycle, which targets Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) for her pre-election phone call to now-fired US Attorney Iglesias in which, Iglesias claims, Wilson inquired about "sealed indictments." Note, too, the NRCC response reminding that the DCCC has failed to successfully oust Wilson in the past, despite her constant presence on the target list. LINK

The New York Times and Albuquerque Journal on the same: LINK and LINK

Must-reads: politics of Iraq:

Speaker Pelosi is wielding a big stick -- committee assignments -- over members on the Iraq war funding bill, reports the Hill's Jonathan Kaplan. LINK

In his New York Times column, Tom Friedman wonders if the "Pelosi-Petraeus-Bush troika" is exactly what is required to achieve some policy success on the ground in Iraq. LINK

Must-reads: 2008:

The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut and Chris Cillizza write up the flurry of fundraising among 2008 contenders in advance of the March 31 first quarter deadline. LINK

Be sure you don't miss this buried graph: "In a significant change, strategists on both sides of the aisle agree, Democratic contenders could wind up with more money than their Republican counterparts."

The Clinton-Clinton team was back at it again last night for a fundraiser in DC taking the stage hand-in-hand, reports ABC News' Sunlen Miller. LINK

Sen. Clinton announced that her DC fundraiser raked in $2.7 million and that the Sunday NY fundraiser, Tuesday DC fundraiser, and upcoming Saturday Beverly Hills fundraiser may total to more than a $10 million haul, reports the New York Daily News' Michael McAuliff. LINK

As Clinton uses her heavy bat, former President Clinton to fundraise in New York City, Obama is going through the heartland, which David Axelrod says is 'healthy', writes Bloomberg's Kristen Jensen and Jay Newton-Small. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Jonathan Greenberger take a look at the Clinton campaign's attempt to pushback against the perception among some that Sen. Obama's opposition to the Iraq war is pure and without nuance. LINK

"Yet in drawing attention to Obama's early views on the war, the Clinton campaign risked appearing overly defensive on a subject that has long bedeviled the New York senator," write Anne Kornblut and Dan Balz of the Washington Post. LINK

John DiStaso of the Union Leader reports that New Hampshire attorney Bill Shaheen, husband of former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), will co-chair Sen. Clinton's national and state campaigns. LINK

Eli Lake of the New York Sun reports that Sen. Obama is backing away from George Soros' calls for Democrats' "liberation" from the pro-Israel lobby, and other Democrats are following suit. LINK

Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer traveled to Chicago to provide a look inside the Obama campaign operation. Horowitz takes a look at the people populating the press, finance, political, and new media departments and places David Axelrod in a gray beard-esque category. LINK

The FBI is probing five-year-old contributions made to Sen. Edwards by the family of a Mississippi trial lawyer and Democrats familiar with the investigation say no one from Team Edwards -- past or current -- appear to be targets of the investigation, reports Politico's Ben Smith. LINK

The Des Moines Register's Tony Leys reports on Sen. Edwards' pitch for his "aggressive" energy plan Nevada, Iowa. LINK

Sen. Edwards cancelled a campaign event in Iowa to be with his wife during a medical appointment, reports the Associated Press. LINK

Here is the campaign statement in full: "Mrs. Edwards is having a follow-up medical appointment tomorrow to a routine test she had on Monday. She's had similar follow-ups in the past and they've all resulted in a clean bill of health, but Senator Edwards has gone with her to these appointments and he wanted to be with her tomorrow too."

Sen. Edwards defends his 28,000-square-foot estate as energy efficiency, reports the AP's Mike Glover. LINK

Politico's Jonathan Martin uses John McCain's fumble on a question about condom distribution in Africa -- in the 2008 new media environment -- to demonstrate that the Straight Talk Express may encounter a few more bumps this time around than it did in 2000. LINK

"Romney isn't the First to Flip on Abortion," headlines Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times' look at how some prominent politicians have adjusted their view on the contentious issue. LINK

The Boston Herald's Dave Wedge follows up on former Gov. Romney's gaffe in Miami. LINK

The Associated Press writs up the opening of Sen. Dodd's Iowa campaign headquarters. LINK

The AP's Liz Sidoti writes about Sen. Brownback's campaign swing through Iowa where he touted his credentials as a right-leaning GOPer, but Sidoti ponders if he may be too conservative to win. LINK

The White House or bust! The Hill's Betsy Rothstein reports that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) will not seek re-election in 2008, making way for his son's run for his seat. LINK

John Nichols of The Nation on Rep. Kucinich's liberal use of the "I"-word: "impeachment." LINK

The Dallas Morning News wisely Notes that if the Lone Star State moves up its primary to February 5, it may not acquire any greater significance in selecting the nominee due to that increasingly crowded day on the calendar. LINK

'Who dunnit?' is the question everyone asks about the '1984' web video and the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marainucci offers some of the theories in play. LINK

Jim Kuhnhenn of the Washington Post reports on the Clinton "1984" YouTube ad, and the new "guerilla politics" it exemplifies. LINK

On his "Political Punch" blog, ABC News' Jake Tapper gives kudos to Sen. Clinton and her campaign team for their "classy" response to the web ad. LINK

Columbia's The State reports that Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) wants to take the presidential candidates on a bike ride. LINK

Gore:

ABC News' Jake Tapper raises the curtain on Gore's big day on the Hill. LINK

"The last time Al Gore appeared publicly inside the United States Capitol, he was certifying the Electoral College victory of George W. Bush. He returns on Wednesday, a heartbreak loser turned Oscar boasting Nobel hopeful globe trotting multimillionaire pop culture eminence," write Mark Leibovich and Pat Healy of the New York Times in their curtain raiser. LINK

USA Today on same: LINK

Washington Post: LINK

On a blog run by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) -- a longtime critic of environmentalists' crusade against global warming -- on the EPW's web-site, a committee staffer writes that Al Gore has broken committee rules requiring him to submit his opening statement in writing before testifying. LINK

Blanco bows out:

"Dogged by delays in her hurricane recovery program, dismal poll numbers and pressure from her own party, Democratic Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced Tuesday that she will not seek a second term this fall," reports Ed Anderson of The Times Picayune. LINK

The New York Times on same: LINK