The Note: Pumpin' Up the Volume, Breakin' Down to the Beat

There's a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll of 223 DNC members, USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports, and they think the party should focus on outreach, not compromise, and work with Republicans on specific issues . In terms of pinning the culprit for the 2004 presidential loss, "about half said Democrat John Kerry lost the presidential race because he was up against an incumbent president in wartime. Twenty percent said inferior grass-roots efforts were the main culprit, and 16% said it was Kerry's fault." LINK

The Washington Post's Dan Balz takes an excellent look at the questions that remain for a jittery party about to choose Dean as its chairman tomorrow -- namely, whether or not he's the person to cure Democrats' image ills, and whether he can make the party competitive again in Red States. LINK

John Harwood in the Wall Street Journal writes about nervous Democrats -- there's a reassuring Steve McMahon, but also jittery Doug Schoen and Tim Penny. And Molly Beth Malcolm, who in print is mildly critical but who yesterday made sure to buttonhole Dean as he left the ASDC meeting and chatted amiably with him.

Why does Anne Kornblut of the New York Times, in an otherwise fine article, say that Dean kept out of public view yesterday? He was at the DNC winter meeting and spoke in front of cameras twice, roamed the halls and chatted with reporters, and even attended the TRM Tribute. (See below). LINK

Dean told The Hill his meeting with Reid and Pelosi went well. LINK

Karl Frisch makes his quotatatorial debut in the New York Times, and if you're wondering why that belongs in this section, just ask him. LINK

Deb Orin of the Murdoch Empire columnizes that Dean's ascension makes Sen. Clinton look good. LINK

Tribute to TRM:

At a crowded, sentimental farewell to Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, President Clinton and Sen. John Kerry offered up forceful arguments that reports of the Democratic Party's demise have been greatly exaggerated -- and with the cadence of a preacher at the pulpit, Clinton outlined a blueprint for Democratic victory: unity; clarity of message; aggressive campaign tactics to match those of Republicans; a national message; and hard work.

He didn't specifically say the party needs to run for the center, but instead urged Democrats to find their center, saying that the plan is clear and will work if the execution is right.

He also answered critics ("people who call themselves liberal") who said he'd abandoned the liberal base during his own presidency, vehemently ticking off gains for the middle class, the poor, women, gays, and minorities on his watch.

"All we disagreed about by the end was trade," and that wasn't much of a disagreement, he claimed. "We need to stop beating on each other and work together," and build the party together, Clinton went on to say.

"We will not, however, win again until we learn a few lessons," Clinton said stressing that Democrats need to support Howard Dean, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and state parties. Democrats need better tactics, he said, and need to brand themselves better. "Too many voters didn't know why we were Democrats except that we were against the President's policies."

"We need a national message," Clinton said. "Every time we have a national message, we do well" -- begging a question or two about John Kerry, who was sitting right there and who Clinton otherwise praised.

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