The Note: Special Relationships

John DiStaso thinks Chuck Hagel is funny, saying all the right things with just the right touch of self-awareness at the Politics and Eggs breakfast. DiStaso also Notes that Hagel's in favor of up-or-down votes on judicial nominations, but said he's not sold on changing the filibuster rules, criticized No Child Left Behind as a "federal land-grab," and "[s]aid the Republican Party has 'lost its moorings' by presiding over the largest budget deficit in history, by 'falling down on fair trade,' and by 'moving away from strong engagement in the world.'" LINK?body=By%20JOHN%20DISTASO">LINK

Hagel was encouraged by his Granite State reception, writes Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal Star. LINK

Another great DiStaso tidbit: RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will be a guest on the new Saturday morning talk show on FM 107.7 co-hosted by Republican lobbyists Jack Heath and Brad Card.

Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix breaks some code by sizing up Mitt Romney's communication strategy for 2006 and concludes that "[w]hether or not Romney runs again -- and if he does, whichever Democrat he'd prefer to face -- the challenge facing Reilly and Patrick in the coming months is clear: they can't allow Romney to continue dictating the terms of the Democratic gubernatorial campaign. With his death-penalty initiative and renewed push for a tax cut (which was bolstered by the state's unexpectedly strong revenues in April), Romney is guiding the political conversation and keeping his would-be challengers on their heels. And by doing so, the governor -- whose ability to accomplish anything substantive will always be limited by the Democrats' overwhelming state legislative majority -- is again demonstrating his tactical acumen." LINK

Frank Phillips follows up on his Boston Globe story yesterday regarding allegations that Mitt Romney's political consultants billed an extra $100,000 to corporate sponsors after a RNC event during the New York convention last summer. Democrats responded in outrage at the story and want to know exactly where the money went. Romney's camp declined to comment and a political consultant said the Globes story was 'silly and misleading." Massachusetts campaign finance law does not permit corporate donations to political candidates. LINK

The last paragraph is sort of the rub, ain't it Frank?

Yesterday Massachusetts lawmakers passed the embryonic stem cell bill, now headed for Romney's desk. The legislation would let scientists create cloned embryos and extract stem cells for research, and is expected to survive the governor's threatened veto. LINK

How many of you were recently thinking, "Gee, with all that press access on the Straight Talk Express in 2000, did Sen. McCain ever allow a journalist to interview him at Hidden Valley?"

The answer: Not until now. Take a look at what Men's Journal magazine has in store for you in its upcoming issue.

From the press release:

"For the first time, maverick Senator John McCain invites a journalist to his private Arizona getaway in Hidden Valley and opens up to Men's Journal writer Paul Alexander about his plans for the White House, his health, the war in Iraq, his enemies, and the environment."

To call the interview "wide-ranging" would be a severe understatement. Here are a couple of samples just to whet your appetite, but we urge you to pick a copy of the article when the magazine's June issue hits newsstands on May 10.

Men's Journal: "So will you run in 2008?"

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