The Note: If You Guessed This One Is Not Like the Others...

6 days to the Inauguration


Today, President Bush travels to Jacksonville, FL to chat about on higher education and job training at Florida Community College at Jacksonville.

This will be the President's second foray into education this week. On Wednesday, he focused on extending the accountability and flexibility of the No Child Left Behind Act to the high-school level .

In Florida, Bush will tie education to economic growth and job creation, focusing on community colleges and job training programs.

Bush frequently spoke on this issue on the campaign trail, highlighting what he called a "skills gap" for students who do not have the education and training to take advantage of job opportunities in a changing economy.

At the White House Economic Conference on Dec. 16, Bush called community colleges "market-oriented places of higher education" because they are "affordable, they're accessible, and they're able to adjust to the demands of the local economy.

By the way: do not expect a Director of National Intelligence announcement today.

Tomorrow, the DNC chair candidates will attend a joint forum at the St. Louis Airport.

And on Sunday, be sure to watch "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" for a preview of Mr. Bush's second term and for an interview with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

And we leave you, as we do every Friday, with The Note Quiz:

What do each of these pairs have in common?

Bernie Toon and Amanda Crumley.

Dick Wadhams, circa 2004 and Mitch Bainwol, circa 2000.

Roger Goodman and Living Legend.

"Ashley's Story" and "Courage."

Bob Zoellick and Blaise Hazelwood.

Elisabeth Bumiller on Roland Betts and Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson.

John Kerry's decision to meet with Jacque Chirac and the Pittsburgh Penguins hiring of David Morehouse to help them get some slot machines.

Rep. Tom Davis, circa 2002 and Rep. Tom Davis, circa 2005.

Sen. John Edwards and Eli Manning.

Bill Clinton and Payton Manning.

Bill Bradley in 1986 and Max Baucus in 2004.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tom Tancredo.

Nissan's new car "the Note" and a certain online daily political digest. LINK

(Answers will be given during the Halftime Report.)

President Bush's 20/20 interview:

More excerpts from tonight's broadcast of "20/20," in which Barbara Walters exclusively interviews the First Couple:

On the tsunami:

Barbara Walters: "Do you think that, because of the kind of aid that we're giving, because of the leadership that we're giving, that this could make a difference in the Muslim world?"

President Bush: "Absolutely. I think it can. Our public diplomacy efforts aren't . . . aren't very robust, and aren't very good, compared to the public diplomacy efforts of those who would like to spread hatred and . . . and vilify the United States. And, uh, but in the … responding to the tsunami many in the Muslim world have seen a great compassion in the American people. Our troops are providing incredibly good service. I mean, we are saving lives, and flying supplies, and I … people … aside from the propaganda, many people, outcasts, are coming over some of those stations, um, apart from that, or in spite of that, I guess is the best way to say it, people are seeing the concrete actions of a compassionate country."

On his legacy:

President Bush: "Well, one piece, I hope that 50 years from now people will look back and say, 'Thank goodness old George W. stuck to his beliefs that freedom is … is an agent for change, to make the world more peaceful, and that all people deserve to be free. At home I . . . two legacies. One would be a country in which our education system is the best in the world, and secondly that this concept of civic participation, the great compassion of the country has been re-energized, so that neighbor loves neighbor just like they liked to be loved themselves."

On Florida Gov. Jeb Bush:

President Bush: "He's a wonderful guy. I don't think he wants to run for President.. Because I know he's loved being the Governor of Florida. But I don't think he's interested in running."

During the course of the visit, First Lady Laura Bush gives Walters the first-ever look at the newly decorated Lincoln bedroom and the Cabinet room. And Miss Beazley makes an appearance.

The full exclusive interview airs tonight on ABC News' "20/20 "(10:00 -- 11:00 pm ET).

The inauguration:

Chief Justice William Rehnquist visited Capitol Hill yesterday and Vince Morris caught a glimpse. LINK

If you're interested in the fact that Barbara Bush didn't pay retail for her inaugural gown from Derek Lam, be sure to read Katherine Rosman's meshing of campaign finance and style reportage on page W1 of the Journal.

Fay Fiore of the Los Angeles Times looks at the fine line between the traditional pageantry of an inaugural celebration and a more toned-down batch of festivities honoring U.S. service men and women. LINK

AP's Sharon Thiemer wraps the corporate celebrations during the Inauguration festivities. LINK

Bush agenda:

The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick on the (not so conservative) abortion views of the person Ken Mehlman wants to be the next party co-chair. LINK

This could go away, or become a story. We dunno.

So maybe Karl Rove really is targeting Connecticut. Or maybe the Hartford Courant was chosen for Rep. Rob Simmons' sake. But in any event, David Lightman of the Courant was one of the dozen or so regional journalists who interviewed President Bush yesterday.

Key excerpts: LINK

"In a first-term press conference, he said he could not remember any mistakes. Thursday, Bush was more reflective."

"'I think one of the things I've learned is that sometimes words have consequences you don't intend them to mean. 'Bring them on' is a classic example,' he said, recalling his challenge in July 2003 to Iraqis who attacked U.S. forces."

" … I was really trying to rally the troops and make it clear to them I fully understood what a great job they were doing. Those words had an unintended consequence. Some interpreted them to be defiance in the face of danger. That certainly wasn't the case.' As usual, Bush was restless, and animated, leaning forward, grinning broadly and thrusting out his hands as he recalled a scolding from first lady Laura Bush when he said he wanted Osama bin Laden 'dead or alive' in September 2001."

"During the interview, Bush reached regularly for a quip and kept crossing his left leg over his right as a sign of impatience. The body language changed when troops were the subject. Now he sat up very straight and sounded authoritative in explaining that he could not say how long the war would last. 'I don't have a timetable,' he said. 'The mission is to help those good folks have an election.'"

"But there are also lots of Democrats, and some Republicans, who see no reason to change Social Security now. And many see no reason to create a way for workers to divert some of their payroll taxes to personal accounts. Bush would not get into specifics. He would not explain how the already debt-ridden treasury would fund a transition to personal savings accounts that could cost at least $1 trillion, or whether he would agree to benefit cuts for future retirees. The friendly Bush grin was back."

"As we start to discuss an issue about Social Security, I get asked all kinds of questions about the solution, which is like playing cards before everyone else plays their cards. We are open-minded to a lot of solutions if it fixes the system.' And that's as far as he'd go, except for this: Despite its complexity, Social Security can be fixed in a matter of months, not years. 'I'd like to get it done the first five months of this year. That's what we're aiming for,' Bush said."

See below for more on Social Security.

Save Bumiller's profile of the President's Democratic bosom buddy, Roland Betts, for afternoon tea. And savor this crumpet, which will surely enhance speculation about what the two men do talk about. "'I don't think he's as conservative a person as the media generally characterizes him as,' Mr. Betts said." And read on for Mr. Bush's apparently private explanation of why he and Cheney appeared together before the Sept. 11 commission. LINK

David DeCamp of the Florida Times-Union previews President Bush's visit to Jacksonville today to talk about job training and education. But the question on residents' minds is the fate of the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier, which could end up shutting down in 2006 rather than 2018, according to the President's budget. LINK

"The White House has deflected questions on the Kennedy's fate or whether the president will address it."

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman previews the White House's budget plan for the Department of Housing and Urban Development — to "dramatically shrink" the agency's $8 billion community branch, reasoning that the economic development programs are duplicative and ineffective. LINK

AP's Jennifer Loven takes her turn at profiling White House Chief of Staff Andy Card. LINK

Social Security:

In his Oval Office interview with USA Today's Judy Keen and Richard Benedetto, President Bush said that Social Security benefit cuts aren't necessarily an done deal in the overhaul, that his 2006 budget would help trim the deficit by not funding some programs at all, that he disapproved the Department of Education paying commentator Armstrong Williams to support No Child Left Behind, and that he still expects violence in Iraq to continue after the Jan. 30 elections. LINK

But wait: Bush doesn't say how he would avoid cutting benefits, so we're not sure what to make of the USA Today's headline, which reads "Bush says benefit cuts not inevitable."

We do know that it appears that Judy Keen relaxes the President more than David Lightman does.

Transcript: LINK

The President on his legacy: LINK

On Williams: LINK

Keen also spent some time with First Lady Laura Bush: LINK

Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei of the Washington Post turn in a must-read about how Campaign 2004 hasn't really ended — it's just morphed into a policy initiative. Led by Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, the Bush Administration plan to rally support for its Social Security plan, using the machinery of their political victory to try to pull off another one on Social Security, complete with market research, campaign-style events, and lobbying. LINK

"Mehlman, who was the Bush-Cheney campaign manager and is the RNC's incoming chairman, said the campaign apparatus — from a national database of 7.5 million e-mail activists, 1.6 million volunteers and hundreds of thousands of neighborhood precinct captains — will be used to build congressional support for Bush's plans, starting with Social Security."

The article correctly Notes that the White House will work with Progress for America to help persuade. We mistakenly wrote Tuesday that the White House could not coordinate with the group, but, of course, they certainly can, since we're not near an election and the "event" in question is legislative, not electoral. (The White House can't urge big donors to give soft money to the group, but that's not what's going on here.)

Washington governor's race:

The Seattle Times' David Postman reports that Washington state Republicans are seeking a copy of the state's criminal records database, to compare it with the names of those who voted for governor. Meanwhile, Democrats are seeking to delay discovery in the lawsuit until some legal questions are answered — an issue that Chelan County Judge John Bridges will take up at today's hearing. LINK

The Seattle Times' Andrew Garber and David Postman take a look at how the hand recount was funded, and found that because campaign finance limits did not apply, interest groups like labor unions, tribes and trial lawyers paid a large part of it. Of the $2 million Dems raised, $720,000 came from labor unions, and tribes and lawyers came up with $120,000. LINK

Meanwhile, Gov. Gregoire hit the road. LINK

Dems regroup:

As y'all must know by now, former Rep. Tim Roemer did not show up at yesterday's America Votes conclave, provoking much tittering. We checked the Roemer camp's explanation, and the weather out of Albuquerque was very not good. Which is a shame, because many America Votes members really wanted to question Mr. Roemer, particularly about social issues.

According to America Votes, either CEOs or political directors from all organizations were represented at the meeting — about 50 people in the room. They'll meet in 10 days with a full board to discuss again.

Several sources say that the assembled AV folks thought former Rep. Martin Frost and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean came off particularly well.

The AP Noted Joe Andrews' endorsement of Simon Rosenberg, interpreting it as a slight to his fellow Indianan. LINK

The granddaddy of DNC chairs (and we mean that in the prestige sense) Robert Strauss endorses his old Carter-Mondale North Texas Chairman, Martin Frost.

After their second forum in St. Louis on Saturday, several DNC candidates have meetings with caucuses of Democratic mayors in Washington, D.C. next week.

Also yesterday, the Association of State Democratic Party Chairs announced their executive committee would meet with the candidates in New York on Jan 29.

The problem of endorsing late, as labor, the governors, and ASDC seem wont to do, is that "Howard Dean could have already won by then," according a senior adviser to a leading candidate.

The Washington Post LINK

In his monthly column on the Washington Post's op-ed page, TNR editor Peter Beinart argues that the Iowa caucuses, and the dovish tendencies of Iowa voters, tend to keep Democrats pigeon-holed in a position of weakness on national security, and calls on Howard Dean as a de facto and potentially official leader of the Democratic Party to push for a different role and approach for Iowa in the presidential nominating process. LINK

But Tom Beaumont writes that Dean said in an interview with the Des Moines Register on Thursday that the caucuses work just fine where they are in the process. "Dean is the first candidate for chairman to say publicly he is not convinced the nominating system needs changing," and he and Simon Rosenberg both say they favor leaving Iowa and New Hampshire in their hallowed places, Beaumont reports. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's story about Jerome Armstrong ( and Markos Zuniga ( being paid by the Dean presidential campaign strikes us as slightly overblown in the sense that the two had already disclosed, on their Web sites and in person to reporters and others, their affiliation with (and for) the former Vermont governor during the presidential campaign.

Not to say that Zephyr Teachout's concerns about blogger ethics is unwarranted at all, just that Kos and Armstrong are not necessarily the poster boys for the problem. (Teachout, on her blog this morning, calls the Journal story "silly.")

During the campaign both gentleman openly discussed with ABC News the work they did for Dean, based largely (at first) on admiring him and then, consulting on his Web-based campaign.

As the Journal article Notes: "The two men, who jointly operated a small political consulting firm, said they didn't believe the Dean campaign had been trying to buy their influence. Both men noted that they had promoted Mr. Dean's campaign long before they were hired and continued to do so after their contract with the campaign ended. Mr. Zuniga said they were paid $3,000 a month for four months and he noted that he had posted a disclosure near the top of his daily blog that he worked for the Dean campaign doing 'technical consulting.' Mr. Armstrong said he shut down his site when he went to work for the campaign, then resumed posting after his contract ended."

Anyway, here's Ms. Teachout's original post: LINK

And here's the Daily Kos/Jerome Armstrong joint responses: LINK


The Sacramento Bee's Aurelio Rojas looks at the campaign and the political career of Doris Matsui, Noting that when a widow runs for her husband's seat, she holds a clear advantage over her opponents. LINK

But she faces a challenge from bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, who filed papers to run for the seat. LINK

James Dao on the push by Republicans to overhaul med-mal rules in many states. LINK


Reports Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: House Democrats, naming Maryland's Van Hollen to head candidate recruitment, eye at least seven Republican seats where representatives may seek higher office, including Harris of Florida and Nussle of Iowa. "We're not taking it seriously until they announce," a Republican spokesman says, but "retirements are going to be a key."


Page Six hears what we've heard: "THAT it could get crowded for the Democrats in 2008. John Kerry has said he won't rule out running again, and now comes word Tipper Gore is telling friends that Al is eyeing another race himself." LINK

Another Friends of Hillary letter from Patti Solis Doyle ends with a campaign-style sound bite:

"Quietly but deliberately, President Bush and his right-wing allies have been chipping away at women's rights but Hillary, with your help, is hoping to build on the progress that has been made — and fight those who continue to try to reverse."

The Boston Globe's Scott Greenberger wraps Gov. Mitt Romney speech, which focused the legislature on job creation and health care. LINK

And Romney's tone was far more collegial than combative, Notes the Globe's Frank Phillips. LINK

The Boston Herald on a happier Ms. Heinz Kerry. LINK


The Chicago Tribune's John Chase and Rick Pearson look at the latest conflict in the fight between Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his father-in-law, Alderman Richard Mell — the investigation by state and county attorneys into Mell's allegations that an adviser to the governor traded political appointments for campaign contributions. As do the Chicago Sun-Times' Dave McKinney, Chris Fusco, and Fran Spielman. LINK

Next week:

We know there's a lot going on next week, so as a service, we decided to condense one of the bigger conferences to their must-attend essentials for smart people. So, at the U.S. Conference of Mayors:

Tuesday, Jan. 18: Sen. Sam Brownback and others (Rep. Conyers and Davis) keynote a panel on faith-based initiatives at 7:30 am ET. At 8:30 am ET, New York Times welfare guru Jason DeParle keynotes a panel on the American Dream with a heavy emphasis on economic development.

From 11:00 am ET to noon ET, Ken Meyer, the deputy assistant secretary for governmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Education will tell mayors at a panel what to expect from President Bush's second term in terms of learnin' and schoolin'. At 12:30 pm ET, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will be among the award recipients.(So will Peter Yarrow and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley).

At 2:30 pm ET, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Laredo, Texas Mayor Elizabeth Flores will participate in a panel on homeland security and cities and borders. Lots of DHS officials will be on hand.

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, DHS Secretary Tom Ridge speaks to a plenary session beginning at 9:30 am ET. And Sen. Harry Reid speaks at the closing luncheon at noon ET.