The Note

ByABC News

W A S H I N G T O N, Jan. 17&#151;<br>, 2004 -- TODAY SCHEDULE AS OF 9:00 am (all times ET):

— 9:00 am: Rep. Richard Gephardt attends a "Countdown to Victory" event at the public library, Solon, Iowa— 9:00 am: Gen. Clark attends a pancake breakfast event at the Belknap Mill, Laconia, N.H. — 9:15 am: Gov. Howard Dean attends a pancake breakfast at Music Man Square, Mason City, Iowa— 9:30 am: Sen. John Kerry attends a "Rally for America's Future" event at the Eagle Point Park Lodge, Clinton, Iowa— 10:30 am: Sen. John Edwards holds a rally at his campaign headquarters , Des Moines, Iowa— 11:00 am: Rep. Kucinich attends the annual convention of the Dine Bidziil Navajo Strength Coalition, Farmington, N.M. — 11:00 am: Rep. Gephardt attends a canvass staging at UAW Local 1024, Cedar Rapids, Iowa— 11:30 am: Sen. Kerry attends a "Town Hall for America's Future" event at the Radisson Quad City Plaza, Davenport, Iowa— 12:00 pm: Gen. Clark hosts a "Conversations with Clark" event at Holderness Central School, Holderness, N.H. — 12:45 pm: Gov. Dean attends a "Caucus for Change" event at Woodrow Wilson Jr. High School, Council Bluffs, Iowa— 1:00 pm: Rep. Gephardt attends a "Countdown to Victory" event at the Sundance Lodge, Clinton, Iowa— 2:00 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Jackson County Democrats at the Public Library, Maquoketa, Iowa— 2:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends the Tri-State Presidential Candidates Forum, Dubuque, Iowa— 3:00 pm: Rep. Gephardt attends a "Countdown to Victory" event with singer Michael Bolton at the Coliseum Ballroom, Davenport, Iowa— 3:15 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Dubuque County Democrats at the Grand River Center, Dubuque, Iowa— 3:30 pm: Gen. Clark attends an "All-America Day Rally" featuring Michael Moore and Rep. Charles Rangel at Pembroke Academy, Pembroke, N.H. — 3:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends the Tri-State Forum, Dubuque, Iowa— 3:45 pm: Gov. Dean attends a "Caucus for Change" event at the Woodbury County Courthouse, Sioux City, Iowa— 5:00 pm: Rep. Gephardt attends a "Countdown to Victory" event at a UAW hall with singer Michael Bolton, Burlington, Iowa— 5:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a "Caucus for Peace, Jobs and Health Care" event, Maquoqueta, Iowa— 5:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a rally with Polk County African American Democrats, Des Moines, Iowa— 5:30 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Black Hawk County Democrats at the Waterloo Center for the Arts, Waterloo, Iowa— 6:15 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a get out the vote rally at the YMCA, Clinton, Iowa— 6:30 pm: Rep. Gephardt attends a "Countdown to Victory" event at the Iowa Wesleyan Chadwick Library, Mount Pleasant, Iowa— 7:00 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Butler County Democrats at Dee's Place, Parkersburg, Iowa— 7:30 pm: Gen. Clark eats with supporters at the Puritan Backroom restaurant, Manchester, N.H. — 8:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a "Rally for America's Future" event at the Old Capitol Mall, Iowa City, Iowa— 8:15 pm: Sen. Edwards meets with Hardin County Democrats at the Ellsworth Community College, Iowa Falls, Iowa— 8:30 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends the Scott County Red, White & Blue Dinner, Davenport, Iowa— 8:45 pm: Rep. Gephardt attends a "Countdown to Victory" event at the VFW Hall, Ottumwa, Iowa— 9:00 pm: Rep. Kucinich attends a get out the vote rally at the LULAC Center, Davenport, Iowa— 9:45 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a "Rally for America's Future" event at Coe College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa


Just your typical Iowa Saturday before an election:

-- lots of candidate events in every corner of the state (but none in intention or execution seemingly poised to make new news);

-- lots of biggish named surrogates crisscrossing as well;

-- a bunch of national reporters (including the biggest of the big feet) setting the bar at about the same place -- only attending events within a 30-minute radius of the Des Moines Marriott;

-- ABC News journalists, on the other hand, free to roam from Maquoketa to Council Bluffs because of the liberating broadcast media freedom provided by the innovative, jam-packed ABC News campaign buses;

-- candidates talking about their upbeat closing messages, while the attack e-mails, mailings, and cable appearances from their staffs (not to mention the heavy-handed transom work with Drudge...) continue unabated;

-- newspapers reporters killing themselves to write good stories, not fully realizing that no political or media professionals in Iowa have time to read them;

-- Gordon Fischer trying to finish his pledge - revealed for the first time on Thursday's episode of "Politics Live" -- to place a call to every precinct chair before Monday night to see whatssup.

And then, of course, there is what REALLY matters -- the expectations game.

The Note continues along the parallel tracks to which it was condemned several months ago: with one hand, we continue to denounce the expectations game as craven, unfair, insane, undemocratic, random, and wack.

On the other hand, resigned to our fate, we strive to give you the world's best analysis of the groupthink of those who will set the expectations -- and effectively determine who the party is allowed to nominate.

In restaurants all over Des Moines last night, senior Gephardt, Kerry, Dean, and Edwards campaign officials dined with major league reporters to feel each other out on how the press will (and -ha! - "should") play all the various scenarios that could happen Monday night.

So as we all wait until around 9:30 ET tonight for the Mother of All Expectation Setters -- the Des Moines Register's final poll -- let's review where we are:

1. Nobody knows what is really going on and likely to happen, and nearly every reporter covering this race will tell you that.

2. In the next breath, mostly keying off of polling and anecdotal cowpies that they will admit are sketchy at best, many of these same reporters (Are you listening, Beltway Boys?) will tell you things like "Kerry is surging still, and so is Edwards," or "Gephardt is dead in the water," or "Dean is up again," or "Dean is still sinking."

3. Edwards probably can't finish first, but he can finish 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. The other three can finish in any of the four slots. It all depends (duh) on turnout and late deciders.

4. Of course, as the campaigns try to divine -- by ungraciously debriefing the very journalists who are buying them dinner -- what kind of finish it will take to "beat" expectations and get a "ticket" or a "bounce" or "some momentum" or "a win" out of Iowa, they are focused not just on the ORDER of finish, but how close they are to the candidates who finish in front of them.

Thus the phrases "a strong third" and "a strong fourth" were heard as often at Centro and 43 and 801 last night as the phrases "Did you see spokesmodel David Ginsberg's first TV appearance EVER last night on Fox?!?" and "Zephyr Teachout sure is nice."

5. As for the Register poll, most election-eve polling in campaigns generally is seen through the prism of creating a bandwagon effect (if a given candidate is doing well) or (seemingly in contradiction) creating complacency among supporters (if a given candidate is doing well).

The Register poll could have either or both of those results as well, but, clearly, its more pivotal role will be to set expectations for the Gang of 500 and the 19 of them who are journalists and get to decide what the real results on Monday mean.

We won't run through all the permutations here (You can thank us later...), but suffice to say that everyone believes that all four candidates will be bunched up in the high teens to mid 20s, and heaven help any candidate who doesn't make it to at least the low end of the cluster.

We Noted last eve the changed dynamic -- from targeting one another, Camps Dean and Gephardt have now turned their fire on one Sen. John Kerry.

The New York Times' David Halbfinger and Todd Purdum pick up on this change of hunting seasons, too. LINK

"4 at the Top; 3 days to go." The Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and John Harris report that the presidential candidates have removed the personal attacks to focus on "what all consider the two keys to victory: organizing supporters and winning over undecided Iowans doing last-minute shopping for the best candidate to defeat President Bush." LINK

The Washington Post's John Harris second guesses the Bus Fuss, writing that "If Dean does not win the Monday caucus voting, and recent polls suggest his lead has evaporated, among the many factors his strategists and free-lance second-guessers may cite is how he spent his last days in Iowa" LINK

The Boston Globe's Glen Johnson writes that "in recent days, a sustained series of attacks by other Democrats appears to have thrown Dean off his equilibrium." LINK

While Jim Rutenberg writes that the once-warm relationship between Gov. Dean and the media has cooled, using ABC News to illustrate"how much Dr. Dean's relationship with the national news media has changed." LINK

The AP's Ron Fournier sees "suddenly tight races" as "a test for Dean." LINK

Joe Lieberman is trying to spin a tight Iowa race as a sign that voters are taking a second look at the race, especially at presumed frontrunner Howard Dean. LINK

David Maraniss reports from Dubuque to Note that "a reverse variation of the old Churchillian saying" holds true there: "Rarely have so many worked so hard to persuade so few." LINK

The Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont has Tom Vilsack saying that even more than organization "it's the sophistication of the people at the caucuses to persuade uncommitted Democrats." LINK

The New York Times' Rachel Swarns writes that Rep. Gephardt has "turned up the fire" on his stump speech "that once conveyed more plain-spoken sincerity than flash or flair." LINK

Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times Notes "the stakes are highest" for Gephardt.LINK

The Des Moines Register writes up Gephardt's day under a not-so-positive headline: "Gephardt predicts victory, but doesn't sway everyone." LINK

"Momentum," The New York Times' Carl Hulse writes, "the holy grail of political campaigns, is evidently spreading through the Democratic presidential candidates like the flu" -- most referenced these days by Rep. Gephardt, Sen. Kerry, Sen. Edwards… and even Sen. Lieberman. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Barabak writes this one may go down as the most negative in caucus history. LINK

The Boston Globe's Anne Kornblut and Patrick Healy write on the surging Kerry camp and offers a look-ahead to Jan. 27, Noting that "Kerry has put all his chips on Iowa, spending 13 of the last 17 days in the state, possibly at the expense of building support in New Hampshire." LINK

Los Angeles Times La Ganga reports that Kerry is "surging in the polls" and "courting undecided voters at a frenetic pace." LINK

Richard Doak writes an op-ed for the Des Moines Register in which he says that their endorsement of a candidate has never caused as much of a stir as the Edwards one did. LINK

The AP's Ron Fournier writes up the technology and the talking points that the campaigns will employ on caucus night. LINK

President Bush is at Camp David today.

Gov. Dean, Rep. Gephardt, and Sens. Edwards and Kerry all campaign in Iowa today.

Gen. Clark is in New Hampshire.

Rep. Kucinich is in New Mexico this morning and Iowa beginning this afternoon.

Sen. Joe Lieberman and Rev. Al Sharpton have no public events.

Today's other top clips:

David Sanger wraps up the Democratic candidates' fight to convince America the nation would be safe in their hands, writing that "each major candidate has reached for a different blend of engagement and toughness, and devised arguments about how he could accomplish many of Mr. Bush's goals without employing his tactics." LINK

Meanwhile Wes Clark tells the folks at the Boston Herald that "if he were president, Osama bin Laden would already be captured or dead." LINK

Sen. Ted Kennedy continues to beat the drum he sounded in his speech on Iraq this past week, writing in the Sunday Washington Post that "If Congress and the American people had known the truth, America would never have gone to war in Iraq. No president who does that to our country deserves to be reelected." LINK

The Chicago Tribune writes up Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi's comments on Carol Moseley Braun. LINK

U.S. News reports that Clark advisers are "bracing for an attack campaign next week" with The General's past lobbying gigs a very expected area of attack. LINK

Look, it's already begun! The Union Leader's John DiStaso reports that "as a lobbyist before running for President, Wesley Clark helped a data collection firm win a federal contract for a key component of a controversial air travelers screening program." LINK

Meanwhile Clark has challenged his rivals to "join him in releasing financial and other personal records, a clear prod at Howard Dean," reports the AP's Tom Raum. LINK

The Boston Globe's Joanna Weiss writes of Clark's vigorous defense of "the controversial academy once known as the US Army School of the Americas." LINK

The AP's reports that "Three lawyers, including a supporter of Wesley Clark, are requesting an inquiry by federal regulators into Howard Dean's sale of about $15,000 in stock in five Vermont banks in 1991, arguing that the then-governor might have engaged in insider trading." LINK

The Union Leader has Clark's responses to 20 detailed questions posted on its Web site. LINK

The Los Angeles Times looks at the families of the Democratic contenders and sees "the homes of Democratic hopefuls" with its "two religions, two incomes, kids from two marriages" as reflecting "new times, not campaign fliers of old." LINK

The Washington Post did a little digging into the donor database and came up with labels like ""Bohemian Mix," "Young Digeratei," the "Up and Comers" and "Movers and Shakers." See if you can match the candidate to the label! LINK

The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus Notes that Judith Steinberg Dean would be a very different first lady than her predecessors: "She's not signed up for baking cookies or making policy." LINK

The Union Leader's DiStaso reports on Carole King and her campaign promise to try for more free concerts next week. LINK

The candidates drew places for the Jan. 22 St. Anselm debate yesterday. "Standing on the stage from left to right will be Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, John Edwards, Joseph Lieberman, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich." LINK

The Washington Post's Darryl Fears handicaps the Feb. 3 South Carolina primary. LINK

Clark doesn't think the Confederate flag should fly from the South Carolina Capitol, The New York Times reports. LINK

Looking ahead, writing in Sunday's Washington Post Outlook, one Michael Signer writes up America's quest for "authenticity" in its candidates, Noting that "while Dean seems to be the most authentic of all the current candidates, people are now asking whether his irrepressibility will become instead irresponsibility. They have a right to wonder." LINK

And the Washington Post looks out at the politics of patronage, where pork barrel is policy. LINK

David Broder says Sunday that the "the very outspokenness and independence that marked O'Neill's tenure at Treasury (and earlier as CEO of Alcoa) is what makes the newly published volume on his experiences in Washington an important document." LINK

David Brooks grades the candidates through his conservative lens (Dean's highest grade is a "C"; Lieberman's lowest grade is an "A-") but writes that aside from Dean and Gephardt, "if any of the other guys were elected, the country would be fine, and we right-wingers would still find plenty to fume about." LINK

Elizabeth Bumiller and Sheryl Gay Stolberg report that "President Bush is expected to propose a health care initiative in his State of the Union address to help the uninsured and the underinsured, White House advisers said on Friday." LINK

The Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear Democrats' emergency appeal of the Texas redistricting plan. LINK

No Senate run for Katherine Harris says the New York Times. LINK

Gary Hart writes in the same Sunday Outlook on his secret talks with Libya more than a decade ago. LINK

The Washington Post's Mike Allen and Helen Dewar report on the recess appointment of Charles Pickering, writing that President Bush's decision to bypass the Senate threatens "to poison White House relations with Democrats further at the start of an election year." LINK

Neil A. Lewis also writes the appointment up. LINK

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