The Note: April Foolishness

Consulting those who are certainly no fools, we offer A Peppering of Robustly Insightful Learnings From Otherwise Occupied Lawyers, Socialites, Deities And Yeomen:

Donna Brazile knows that, after Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton finally agree to join forces, they'll come together to select the keynote speaker for the Democratic National Convention -- and will promptly rule each other out.

Scott Reed hears that the Clintons have already booked their house on Martha's Vineyard for Labor Day -- with an option for keeping the place for all of September.

Kevin Madden sees green rooms stocking up on hairspray just in case Mitt Romney gets the VP nod (and has it on good sourcing that Rudy Giuliani will go back to being a Yankees fan now that New Hampshire doesn't matter to him -- like it ever did).

And a few headlines we wouldn't be shocked to read on this of all days:

Forget Gore: It's Draft Dean

Clinton Finally Faces Fire: Penn, Ickes Gunfight Wounds Three

Messiah Endorses Obama; Clinton to Challenge Lord in Credentials Committee

Wright: 'Cosby Show,' 'Fresh Prince' Reruns Too Loved by White People

Cubs Win Series; Clinton Won't Concede

Fed Bailout Boosts Clinton Campaign

Gore to Earth: 'What Have You Done for Me Lately?'

So the calls continue for Clinton to make way for Obama, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn't joining them -- despite her endorsement of the nomination going to the delegate leader.

An intriguing comment from Pelosi, D-Calif., on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Tuesday makes a version of the Clinton argument for staying in the race: "I would not assume that Sen. Clinton would not be going to the convention as the frontrunner. We don't know what these next elections will do. We will do not know what the conduct of the campaigns, the next four to six weeks, will produce," Pelosi said.

Is the speaker saying that conduct matters too -- that Clinton would be justified in waiting around for an Obama mistake? Maybe not. . . . She added: "But I do think that as it evolves, one of them, one of them is going to have to realize that the numbers" will seal the nomination. (And who might that be?)

Pelosi has this in common with the vast majority of uncommitted superdelegates: She's not crazy about talk of the fight going to Denver: "I do think that it is important for us to get behind one candidate a long time before we go to the Democratic National Convention if we expect to win in November."

Pelosi also dropped a political issue on President Bush's lap Tuesday, telling ABC's Robin Roberts that China should never have been awarded the Olympics, and urging the president to consider boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing games: "I think boycotting the opening ceremony, which really gives respect to the Chinese government, is something that should be kept on the table," Pelosi said. "I think the president might want to rethink this later, depending on what other heads of state do."

Meanwhile, recalling the accuracy of all those forecasts of Sen. John McCain's demise, it's worth considering how this week's biographical tour -- conducted as the presumptive Republican nominee, while former rival Romney practically begs for a spot on his ticket -- would once have sounded like a stellar prediction for April Fools Day.

Yet here he stands this week, with the Democrats in their own peculiar purgatory of paralysis, and him with a chance to reintroduce himself without the clutter of actually having a political opponent at the moment.

His trip highlighting important sites in his background started in Mississippi on Monday, near the airfield named for his grandfather, and continues Tuesday in Alexandria, Va., at the high-school he attended (and where the would-be oldest president picked up the nickname "Punk.")

The tour is bringing his memoir to life (and television visuals), per ABC's Bret Hovell. "For those members of the general electorate who have not read Faith of my Fathers, Sen. John McCain's bestselling memoir, worry not -- the presumptive Republican nominee has delivered a speech for you," Hovell writes.

In his tour, "he will highlight formative experiences in his upbringing, and how they have shaped his character and political experience. Monday's speech, focusing on his family, touched on many of the themes of his standard stump speech through that prism."

"Aides hope the week-long trip will cement in the public's mind McCain's personal history and his military service," Michael Shear writes in The Washington Post. "The tour will end Saturday with a rally in Arizona on the courthouse steps where then-Sen. Barry Goldwater announced his presidential bid in 1964."

Said McCain, on "GMA": "I'm not running on the Bush presidency. I'm running on my own service to the country, my own record in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, and my vision for the future."

McCain on Tuesday will call for expanded school vouchers and merit pay for teachers, and will endorse retention of the No Child Left Behind Act.

This on the legend that is his temper: "As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone whom I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect. Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life," McCain plans to say, per excerpts released by his campaign.

"In all candor, as an adult I've been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my years and station when I believe I've been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve. Self-improvement should be a work in progress all our lives, and I confess to needing it as much as anyone. But I believe if my detractors had known me at Episcopal they might marvel at the self-restraint and mellowness I developed as an adult. Or perhaps they wouldn't quite see it that way."

McCain caps his April Fools Day with an appearance on Letterman Tuesday night, with Clinton scheduled to hit Leno on Thursday.

McCain's fund-raising -- while still lagging -- is picking up. McCain "has moved to transform his ragtag primary campaign into a general-election operation by boosting fundraising, establishing control over the Republican National Committee, and beginning a conversation with voters who live in states where he has not campaigned," Michael Shear and Dan Balz write in The Washington Post.

And McCain is enjoying the full-throated backing (at least for now) of congressional leaders whom he's never been particularly close to.

"A Republican leadership strategy memo calls for an all-out attack on Democrats' 'misinformation' campaign against the Iraq war as both parties refocus on the issue ahead of next week's update from Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq," S.A. Miller and Christopher Dolan report in the Washington Times. "The memo instructs Capitol Hill Republicans to court conservative bloggers on conference calls and talk-radio hosts -- including by holding a nationwide 'radio row' on April 9 -- to fend off Democrats' desire to 'ignore reality and insist on immediate retreat.' "

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, kicks off the effort Tuesday with a 9:30 am ET speech to the American Legion. "The war is winnable," Boehner plans to say, per excerpts provided by his office. "The success of the surge -- which Sen. McCain supported all along -- proves it. And the consequences of failure would be devastating."

And this: "I agree with the United States Senator who once said 'we shouldn't play chicken with our troops' when it comes to funding our troops in harm's way. I agree with the United States Senator who in January 2007 urged General Petraeus to request 'every possible piece of equipment and resource necessary' to keep our troops safe," Boehner will say. "Unfortunately, the former senator was Barack Obama. The latter was Hillary Clinton."

While McCain has a clear shot to deliver his message, it's not clear that it's being heard, at least not how he wants it to be. Consider the handful of times his voice has broken through in recent weeks -- when he seemed to confuse Sunni and Shiite groups, and with his now famous "100 years" remark -- and McCain has had something of a rough stretch, considering the circumstances.

Even on Monday, McCain "quickly veered off script to express surprise at the Iraqi government's crackdown on Shiite militias," AP's David Espo writes. "He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had acted without consultations with the United States, adding, 'I was surprised because I didn't think he'd do it yet.' "

Though he's repeatedly explained his reference to "100 years" referred to a possible continuing US troop presence in Iraq -- and not active war -- the fact that he's still explaining himself speaks to the political peril. "With that comment, McCain handed his Democratic opponents and war critics a weapon with which to bludgeon him all the way to Election Day in November," ABC's Ron Claiborne reports. "And it didn't take long for the bludgeoning to begin."

Obama has used the "100 years" comment as a regular attack line, and has gone perhaps a tad too far. "Obama deviated from McCain's comment on more than one occasion," ABC's Teddy Davis and Talal Al-Khatib report.

Asked Monday if his comments amounted to the same kind of distorting politics he regularly decries, Obama replied: "No, no, no, no. I don't think. I don't think. I don't think it's unfair at all," said Obama (ignoring comments he made in Maine and elsewhere). "I mean we can run the YouTube spot."

(Does he really want to establish the YouTube standard for this campaign? Let's see what Jeremiah Wright and Deval Patrick are up to . . . )

Actually, we'd like to learn more about Wright -- but something's gone missing from his church's Website.

"The website for Sen. Barack Obama's church -- Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago -- not long ago described the 'Black Value System' in the 'About Us' section of its website," ABC's Jake Tapper reports. "And it used to provide a link to the Trumpet Magazine that once gave an award to Louis Farrakhan -- a magazine published by Rev. Jeremiah Wright's daughter. No longer."

This is some of what Trinity United may not want out there now that one of its own is running for president: "The church where Sen. Barack Obama has worshipped for two decades publicly declares that its ministry is founded on a 1960s book that espouses 'the destruction of the white enemy,' " the Washington Times' S.A. Miller writes. "Trinity United Church of Christ's Web site says its teachings are based on the black liberation theology of James H. Cone and his 1969 book 'Black Theology and Black Power.' "

Wright's comments have broken through with voters, despite what polls show, Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla writes from Indiana. "Interviews with dozens of Democrats in this overwhelmingly white region -- where voters will go to the polls in the May 20 primary -- suggest residual concerns over the controversy involving Obama's former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright," she writes. "To be sure, this flies in the face of most polls taken after Obama's widely praised March 18 speech on race and the Wright controversy. . . . Still, there are stirrings of unease among white voters, including those who fear the issue will hurt Obama in a general election."

The pitch is changing with his audience. "He is grounding his lofty rhetoric in the more prosaic language of white-working-class discontent, adjusting it to the less welcoming terrain of Pennsylvania," Michael Powell writes in The New York Times. "His preferred communication now is the town-hall-style meeting."

On the whole, Wright's comments don't seem to have fazed the Obama campaign. The outsider is becoming the insider -- and he'll gladly take these kinds of backers.

Obama "is increasingly benefiting from institutional support -- bolstering his campaign during a rough month when he lost two key primaries and faced questions about his spiritual mentor," Scott Helman writes in The Boston Globe.

"That trend is increasing pressure on Clinton, who trails Obama in two other important benchmarks - total delegates and the overall popular vote - to consider stepping aside. What has been striking over the past month is that Obama has racked up key endorsements during a relatively turbulent period in his candidacy."

The latest superdelegate endorsement -- by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. -- "followed Friday's endorsement of Obama by Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey," Thomas Fitzgerald writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Obama strategists said Casey's backing would help introduce their candidate to white blue-collar voters, a bedrock Casey constituency that has been a key part of Clinton's winning coalition in other states -- and a major reason she holds a double-digit lead in Pennsylvania polls."

As she took the stage to the theme from "Rocky," Clinton declared Monday night: "Well, one thing you know about me, I don't quit."

Yet what does she sacrifice if she stays in too long? "For the long run, it is neither sexism nor insiderism to say that unless she sweeps in Pennsylvania and also in primaries in places such as Indiana and North Carolina, the decision to end the race by dropping out will fall upon Clinton," E.J. Dionne writes in his Washington Post column.

"But there is a more immediate question facing her: As long as she is in the race, how will Clinton choose to win? The Clinton campaign needs to examine not what this fight has done to Obama but what it is doing to her. For all Democrats, the worst thing that has happened since January is the tarnishing of the Clinton brand."

Her strategy of taking to the fight to the convention may not pay off -- and not just because it could turn off superdelegates. "Hillary Clinton will not have enough pledged votes on the 169-member Credentials Committee to deliver a majority decision in her favor, according to an analysis conducted for Politico," David Paul Kuhn writes.

"Her only hope of getting the key committee to vote out a 'majority report' supporting her position rests on her ability to persuade an as-yet-undetermined number of the 25 members appointed to the committee by party Chairman Howard Dean to cast votes for her position."

(Anyone expect Chairman Dean to come to Hillary Clinton's rescue, for the sake of prolonging the nomination fight?)

The New York Times' Katharine Q. Seelye and Julie Bosman provide a history lesson: "Convention fights often spell ruin for a party. The 1980 experience for Democrats -- as well as a fight in 1968, and one in 1976 for Republicans -- all suggest that a bruising primary carried through the summer can contribute to defeat in November."

Still, they write, "Many historians and analysts say that while protracted primaries can weaken a nominee, bigger factors are usually at play. Voters are often swayed by whether they feel the country is headed in the right direction. They take into account whether primary battles are personal or political. They want to see whether the winner and the loser can patch things up. And time can make a difference."

But here's one reason we won't be hearing much from Obama about how Clinton should get out of the race: "One of the reasons that we're ahead in this race is, unlike some other campaigns, we think every state is important. And we compete in every state," Obama tells the Allentown Morning Call's John L. Micek. "We don't cherry-pick. We don't say, 'Oh, that's a caucus. That's a primary. That's a state with no African-American population or a big African-American population.' My attitude is that every state deserves our efforts."

He's not cherry-picking Pennsylvania counties, either. Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer marvels at the fact that Obama's bus tour stopped in Lancaster County: "Are you kidding me? This, for national Democrats, is a dead zone," Baer writes. "Yeah, many mainstream Democratic leaders are against him and all the usual trends point to Clinton winning PA, possibly big. But, trust me, Obama's planning, organization and site selection suggest an effort not interested in usual trends -- or in writing anything off."

Maybe Obama's watching the trends, with Republican pockets of the state gaining more Democratic voters. "In traditionally Republican Cumberland County, the Democrats saw a 15.9 percent increase in new registrations, closely followed by Chester County, in suburban Philadelphia, with a 15.6 percent increase in newly registered Democrats," Mackenzie Carpenter writes for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

And three weeks out, he's playing the expectations game early and often. "What kind of margin must Hillary Clinton win by to make a strong argument to superdelegates that she is the more electable candidate in the general election?" the Morning Call's Josh Drobnyk writes. "Double digits, at least."

While McCain visits his old high school, the Democrats hit Pennsylvania on Tuesday (and practically cross paths in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area), while President Clinton hits Montana.

Get all the candidates' schedules in The Note's "Sneak Peek."

Also in the news:

Dueling party messaging through the magic of Web videos this Tuesday.

From the RNC -- it's a new "Super-Delegate" Web site -- complete with a flying donkey ready to take votes away from the people.

And the DNC offers some "great moments in presidential speeches" -- heavy on President Bush and John McCain sounding alike.

A glimpse of why the Bosnia flap matters: "Sen. Hillary Clinton not only lags Sen. Barack Obama in the race for delegates, she also is losing ground in her effort to convince voters that she is trustworthy," Amy Chozick writes in The Wall Street Journal. "The New York senator suffered a setback last week when she admitted to overstating the danger she had faced on a 1996 trip to Bosnia as first lady."

Said Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf: "The problem is not that she exaggerated her record; the problem is she exaggerated her record and she's Hillary Clinton."

A new Michigan proposal, from Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich. (and uncommitted in the race). "Stupak suggested awarding the 83 pledged delegates from the state to be decided upon at congressional district conventions next month based on the results of the disallowed primary election -- with 47 going to Hillary Clinton and 36 who voted "uncommitted" going to Barack Obama," per the Detroit Free Press' Todd Spangler.

Ask John Kerry how much fun it is to run for president while in the Senate. "With Congress returning today after a two-week break, leaders from both parties are preparing legislative agendas -- on issues including the economy, Iraq and immigration -- designed to present the three remaining White House candidates with dangerous political choices," Jonathan Weisman and Paul Kane write in The Washington Post.

"The obstacle course begins immediately, with a Democratic-sponsored Senate vote today on legislation to ease the mortgage crisis. Next week, Iraq will dominate, when Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker testify before two committees on which Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) serve."

The candidates won't want to miss that day on the Hill. Clinton, Obama, and McCain "will drop off the campaign trail on Tuesday, April 8, to return to the Capitol for hearings on the Iraq surge featuring Gen. David Petraeus and Amb. Ryan C. Crocker," Lynn Sweet reports in the Chicago Sun-Times.

In Europe on Tuesday, President Bush offered his full support for Ukraine's bid to join NATO. "Your nation has made a bold decision and the United States strongly supports your request," Bush told Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, per the AP's Matthew Lee.

The Democrats are stepping up their efforts to reach Catholic voters,'s Dan Gilgoff reports. "In a sign of the intensifying battle for Catholic voters between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, particularly ahead of next month's Pennsylvania primary, both candidates have brought Catholic outreach coordinators aboard their campaigns," he writes.

A story off of the Hill that could have legs: "Prior to the Easter recess, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to intervene with Defense Secretary Robert Gates in order to get Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin's domestic partner on a military flight for a congressional fact-finding trip to Europe," Politico's Patrick O'Connor and David Rogers write. "The speaker succeeded, but the issue continues to simmer for both sides."

Who's afraid of a little debt? ABC's Jake Tapper has the read-out on the money owed by the Clinton campaign, including $280,000 in healthcare bills, $1,851.08 owed for port-a-potties, and $3,161 due to Maine South High School in Park Ridge, Ill. -- Clinton's own alma mater.

The campaign continues to insist that money's not a problem -- but why all the desperate-sounding financial appeals? Rick Pearson and Mark Silva, in the Chicago Tribune: "In a new Internet video, Hillary Clinton acknowledged to potential contributors Monday that 'running for president is an arduous undertaking.' In the extended battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, it's also an expensive one."

She can't even hold on to 50 Cent. "To be honest, I haven't been following that anymore. I lost my interest," the rapper told MTV News, explaining that, after supporting Clinton, he's now undecided.

He's not the only one growing tired of the race. "Democratic voters have smashed primary turnout records in more than 20 states, and Republicans have set new marks in nine states. Yet campaign experts do not expect voter enthusiasm to keep up that pace through the November election," ABC's Mark Mooney reports.

The kicker:

"I'm sure there are things in your family that you don't think are anyone's business either." -- Chelsea Clinton, again asked about Monica Lewinsky at a college event.

"It's one of the longest things I have ever done. It's longer than being pregnant." -- Hillary Clinton, on the campaign that will not end.

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