THE NOTE: Rudy, Mitt Rumble on Fred's Night


First Lady Laura Bush is stepping up her political activism over the protests in Myanmar. In an interview with USA Today's David Jackson, she warned that her husband's administration "is prepared to slap additional sanctions on Burma's military government if it does not start moving toward democracy 'within the next couple of days.' " She said, "My influence is really in being able to shine a spotlight on human rights situations that I want the American people to look at, and I want the people in those countries to know that the American people are with them."

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, she delivers more messages from the Bush administration: "This swelling outrage presents the generals with an urgent choice: Be part of Burma's peaceful transition to democracy, or get out of the way for a government of the Burmese people's choosing. Whatever last shred of legitimacy the junta had among its own citizens has vanished. . . . The regime's position grows weaker by the day. The generals' choice is clear: The time for a free Burma is now."

Bloomberg's Ed Chen talks to some of the families of soldiers killed in Iraq for insights into those private meetings with President Bush. "Participants and witnesses say the sessions provide a window onto Bush's compassionate side," Chen writes. "They also reveal his distaste for engaging those who question his policies. Rather than entering into a substantive debate with angry relatives, he disengages."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is pushing back at the perception that Democrats are caving to President Bush on a new wiretapping law. "This isn't about Democrats being concerned about the next election," she told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor lunch, per ABC News. "This is about Democrats saying: The law needs to be followed, and we will collect whatever information -- intelligence -- we need to protect the American people under the law."

And Pelosi -- who will be Stephanopoulos' guest on ABC "This Week" on Sunday -- is sounding a bit testy when it comes to war critics -- who are blasting her leadership, even though she wants to end the war, too. "Her spirits soured instantly when somebody asked about the anger of the Democratic 'base' over her failure to end the war in Iraq," The Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes. Says Pelosi: "If they were poor and they were sleeping on my sidewalk, they would be arrested for loitering, but because they have 'Impeach Bush' across their chest, it's the First Amendment."

Wonder why Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., was the one delivering the GOP's harsh request that Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, make good on his resignation promise? It's Ensign "the enforcer," as the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee "National Republican Senatorial Committee -- handed a simply awful electoral map -- "has become one of the GOP's most aggressive players," Roll Call's Erin Billings writes. "He not only jumped headfirst into the party's thorniest public relations battle of the year, but also has recently waded willingly into some of his leadership's more contentious legislative fights."

A 9/11-themed ad is airing in the special election for former rep. Marty Meehan's, D-Mass., House seat. Republican candidate Jim Ogonowski -- whose brother, John, was aboard hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 -- has a new ad up that features "a photograph of one of the planes about to strike the World Trade Center," The Boston Globe's Eric Moskowitz reports.

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