WASHINGTON, March 4 --
In this corner -- weighing still more than he would like -- the President of the United States, George W. Bush!!!
And in THIS corner -- weighing all sorts of different things -- various United States Senators of the Democratic stripe.
It is a day of big-time dueling photo opportunityish, campaign-style, rough-and-tumble Social Security events in the Tri-State area.
The President conducts his half of the long-distance slugfest over Social Security from the Garden State, as he heads to Westfield to talk at 10:40 am ET.
He then is off to the Midwest in the afternoon for another conversation on Social Security at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN, at 4:20 pm ET.
This morning, some leaders of the effort on the other side take their swings in the Social Security argument in Gotham City, as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid joins Sens. Clinton, Schumer, Durbin, Dorgan, and Kerry at Pace University for a 10:00 am ET event.
If you are a betting sort, wager now: which of these events will make the network news tonight on broadcast television and what will the soundbites be?
Will the President's "money" words be about:
A. personal accounts?
B. the need for the country to bravely face the necessity of benefit cuts to save the system for future generations?
C. how he has just begun to fight?
D. how the Democrats are the do-nothing party?
And out of the marquee Democratic event in downtown Manhattan, will the Senator most likely to make the news be:
Place your bets now. The answers come at 6:40 pm ET, or whenever the Martha Stewart packages clear off of the first block.
And if you are a strategist on either side of this fight, you would be wise to heed the words of the Smartest Man in the World -- Jim Baker, who told the President's panel on tax reform something that is equally applicable to the Social Security fight.
Per the New York Times, Baker said this yesterday:
"'This is a political exercise as much as it is an economic exercise,' Mr. Baker noted. (sic) 'A basic recognition of political reality will help you shape recommendations that can survive the legislative process.'"
Amen to that, Brother Baker of Houston.
At 2:00 pm ET, Sens. Reid, Durbin, and Dorgan join Gov. Ed Rendell and Reps. Chaka Fattah, Bob Brady, and Allyson Schwartz at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia for another Social Security event.
On Saturday, Reid, Durbin, and Dorgan head for Phoenix, where they join Rep. Ed Pastor and Raul Grijalva at 1:00 pm ET. Then the Senators Three hit the bright lights of Vegas for a 5:00 pm ET event at UNLV.
At 8:40 am ET today, President Bush announced Steven Johnson as his choice to be the new EPA Administrator.
The Labor Department announced this morning that 262,000 jobs were created in February -- a healthy number that surprised forecasters. The unemployment rate rose 0.2 percent to 5.4 percent, reflecting a larger number of job hunters entering the market.
Leader/Sen./Dr. Frist is in New Hampshire this weekend.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) is the keynote speaker at the Colorado Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Day dinner tomorrow night in Denver.
The National Association of Counties Conference kicks off today in Washington, DC.