The Note: Brackets

WASHINGTON, March 18 --

NEWS SUMMARY

May we present our favorite political pairs for the day.

A Note Notebook to anyone who can get any of these duos together to watch basketball this weekend:

1. Jim Nussle and Gordon Smith.

2. Chairman Greenspan and Sen. Clinton

3. John Kerry and Ann Lewis

4. Chris Lehane and the word "figuratively"

5. John McCain and Tom DeLay

6. a McCain operative and a DeLay operative

7. Jenny Backus and Jonathan Prince

8. Kevin Sheekey and Chad Clanton

9. Paul Wolfowitz and Paul Krugman

10. Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire

11. the Bushes and the Clintons (unless they are in fact already planning to watch together . . . )

President Bush heads to Pensacola, FL, this morning, for an 8:55 am ET conversation about Social Security at Pensacola Junior College. He visits with seniors in Orlando at 1:10 pm ET, then delivers remarks on Social Security at the YMCA Family Center, Orlando, FL.

Surely, today is not make-or-break for the President's push to change Social Security for future generations.

But this is the start of the Easter break; this is Florida; and interested observers will be watching (even on a Friday). So get out your scorecards.

Watch the language (safety nets, progressivity, compromise, empowerment, etc.).

The President then heads to his ranch in Crawford, TX, for the weekend.

Looking ahead, President Bush will meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at his ranch on March 23, and the White House announced today that President Bush will welcome Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to his ranch in Texas on Monday, April 11.

At 12:30 pm ET, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin addresses a National Economists Club luncheon on the CBO's analyses of the proposals to change Social Security and their effects on the economy, the budget and beneficiaries.

The House convenes at 10:00 am ET.

At 9:00 am ET, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld holds a Department of Defense town hall meeting with Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At 11:00 am ET, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff joins former DHS chief Tom Ridge and Commandant Admiral Thomas Collins in a U.S. Coast Guard 'Change-of-Watch' Ceremony at National Defense University.

Also Friday. Majority Leader/Dr./Sen. Frist begins a two-day visit to New Hampshire.

Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of the war in Iraq.

On Sunday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld joins George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" to talk about the war, how it's gone, and where things go from here. And Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also joins, to talk about the baseball steroid hearings and Iraq.

Baseball's been very very good to . . . Congress:

The Washington Post's Dave Sheinin paints a genuinely tragic figure of homerun hero Mark McGwire and does a very good wrap of the days events and the controversy surrounding America's pastime. LINK

McGwire walked, writes the Washington Post's Dana Milbank. LINK

The Washington Post's Thomas Heath looks at how the players' testimony may affect public perceptions of their records. LINK

Los Angeles Times: LINK

The Boston Globe: LINK

Social Security:

The Orlando Sentinel's Tamara Lytle previews the President's visit to Florida to talk Social Security today, Noting the difficulty even sympathetic lawmakers have in supporting his plan, given their constituents' thoughts on it. LINK

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