The Note: March From Madness

McCain's Middle East trip (like the last one) isn't all roses. Democrats are pouncing on a McCain flub -- one you can count on the Democratic nominee harping on in the general election.

McCain "incorrectly asserted Tuesday that Iran is training and supplying al-Qaeda in Iraq, confusing the Sunni insurgent group with the Shiite extremists who U.S. officials believe are supported by their religious brethren in the neighboring country," Cameron W. Barr and Michael D. Shear report in The Washington Post.

"Mr. McCain has based his campaign in large part on his assertion that he is the candidate best prepared to deal with Iraq, and the Democrats wasted little time in jumping on his misstatement to question his knowledge and judgment," Michael Cooper writes in The New York Times. (And the statement would have gone uncorrected if not for a whisper from Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.)

Obama campaigns in North Carolina on Wednesday. Clinton hits West Virginia after her morning stop in Detroit, and her husband spends the day in Pennsylvania. Get all the candidates' schedules in The Note's "Sneak Peek."

Also in the news:

The Rev. Al Sharpton is supporting Obama "but he's made the strategic decision to keep his support quiet," according to -- Al Sharpton? "I won't either endorse you or not endorse you," Sharpton said he told Obama, per the New York Daily News' Adam Serwer and Michael Saul. They write: "According to Sharpton, Obama protested and asked for his public support. 'No, no, no. I want you to endorse,' Sharpton recalled Obama saying. Sharpton told Obama that it would be better strategically for him to remain publicly neutral."

(Still looking for East Paraguay, reverend?)

ABC's Martha Raddatz interviews Vice President Dick Cheney during his Middle East trip. "There's a general consensus that we've made major progress; that the surge has worked," he said. "That's been a major success."

Told that two-thirds of the American people tell pollsters that they don't think the war is worth fighting, Cheney responded (with one of THOSE smiles), "So?"

Raddatz: "So -- you don't care what the American people think?"

Cheney: "I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. Think about what would have happened if Abraham Lincoln had paid attention to polls, if they had had polls during the Civil War."

So how about this? The New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn looks at the war's costs: "At the outset of the Iraq war, the Bush administration predicted that it would cost $50 billion to $60 billion to oust Saddam Hussein, restore order and install a new government," he writes. "Five years in, the Pentagon tags the cost of the Iraq war at roughly $600 billion and counting."

President Bush delivers remarks Wednesday morning at the Pentagon to celebrate recent successes in Iraq. "The surge has done more than turn the situation in Iraq around -- it has opened the door to a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror," he plans to say, per excerpts released by the White House.

It's a big day for anti-war demonstrations in Washington.

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