More than a dozen Clinton luminaries raised dough for North Carolina Senate candidate Erskine Bowles in Washington last night. No word on the take, but a spokesperson said it would be "significant." ( http://www.newsobserver.com/thursday/news/nc/Story/905708p-904308c.html )
Norm Coleman, the popular former mayor of St. Paul who is challenging Minnesota Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, raised more than $2 million last year, financial disclosure records show. Coleman has $1.4 million on hand, compared to Wellstone's $1.2 million. The big numbers reflect, in part, Republican coordinated efforts to prop up Coleman's candidacy as much as possible, given the slim hold the Dems have on the Senate. ( http://www.startribune.com/stories/587/1119506.html )
And the Democrats remain in overdrive, trying to link Elizabeth Dole to Enron in any way they can, and having some success with the North Carolina papers. ( http://www.newsobserver.com/thursday/news/Story/905709p-904308c.html )
Bush Administration Strategy/Personality
John Harwood writes up the new Wall Street Journal /NBC News poll, with emphasis on the president's popularity and the fact that only 5 percent of Americans blame him for the recession.
The Los Angeles Times' Brownstein looks at Karl Rove's controversial comments last week from a different direction: whether or not he's RIGHT in suggesting "that GOP congressional candidates can build their campaigns around the administration's success in prosecuting the war." Not necessarily, Brownstein argues. ( http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-000006188jan24.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Da%5Fsection
"In the first election after the beginning of each of the five major U.S. wars in the last century, the president's party has lost seats in Congress. That's been true whether the war at the time was going well (as in World War I) or badly (as in World War II, Korea and Vietnam) or just gearing up (as in the Persian Gulf). This year might be different, some analysts say, because terrorism represents a more direct threat to voters on the home front than any of those earlier conflicts. But the precedent is that, in congressional elections at least, traditional domestic concerns have tended to overshadow war.
"Yet even if Democrats can limit the war's influence in the midterm election, some key party strategists fear that Rove's argument could prove powerful two years from now, in the 2004 presidential race.
"Several recent polls have found Bush opening huge leads over Democrats on issues demanding toughness, such as safeguarding national security and combating terrorism. And that could signal a reversion to the partisan alignment that existed during the quarter century before Bill Clinton, when Democrats led on the issues of social compassion often critical in congressional races but were found wanting in the tests of strength that loom larger in presidential contests."
Bill Safire wrote two laudatory columns early in George W. Bush's run for the presidency that helped the Texas governor establish some foreign policy bona fides with the chattering class. In his New York Times effort today, Safire says the president's strong foreign policy record is silencing critics and opening doors all over the world. ( http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/24/opinion/24SAFI.html )
The War Over Here