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First, in this highly competitive political journalism environment, no self-respective news organization can simply sit back and not take advantage of the success of others.

So, the Walt Disney Co. is announcing that starting today, at 2PM ET, on ABC Family on cable, the ABC News Political Unit will produce a one-hour show all about American government and campaigns called "Really Inside Politics."

Because it is our first show, and there is a lot going on in politics, we are going to review all the mega-stories that are floating out there.

And to take advantage of the capacities of the World Wide Web, we are annotating our line-up with links to other places where you can read in to each topic in advance of the show.

Here's the top of our line-up for today's show:

1. Snazzy, modern, highly produced open

2. Page 2: anchor TBD briefly welcomes viewers to new show

Like most good cable news shows, we won't actually finalize the line-up until about 40 minutes before air, but here is what we plan to cover, in some order, with some combination of anchor readers, taped pieces, and live guests (seriously TBD, because two of our bookers just called in sick, and while Googling monkeys are great at Googling, their booking skills are de minimis).

We are going to lead with the economy, what with the Fed expected to cut interests rates today, and because you don't have to be stupid or smart to know that the economy is going to play a big role in President Bush's re-election prospects.

The AP's Will Lester uses the latest CNN- USA Today -Gallup poll to trigger a 43/41 economy deja-vu story. LINK Lester writes, "President Bush basks in high approval ratings, but when potential voters are pressed about giving him a second term, the numbers drop, a reflection of worries about the struggling economy and a general wait-and-see attitude so far ahead of the election."

"Bush's overall approval ratings have remained at 60 percent or higher in most polls since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

Lester writes that even without a clear Democratic frontrunner, the president seems to be faced with at least a little about which to be concerned.

"But now that the electorate is turning to thinking about Bush's handling of the economy and wondering who the Democrats will nominate, the president's re-elect numbers are at 50 percent or lower in several polls."

In the poll, "50 percent said they would vote for Bush and 38 percent backed the unknown Democratic candidate, with the rest undecided. Those numbers aren't very different from those garnered by Bush's father in June 1991, when the commander in chief was praised for the U.S. success in the Persian Gulf War and the Democrats were scrambling for a candidate."

And in case you forgot … .

"Bill Clinton defeated George H.W. Bush in the 1992 election."

Lester Notes: "Bush's re-elect numbers are even lower in the Ipsos-Cook Political Report tracking poll, which showed a drop for the president from April to June, a time when the nation's focus shifted from the U.S.-led war against Iraq to the economy, Medicare and tax cuts."

We'll also cover the Democrats' on-going search for an economic message to take advantage of these bad times, and the Los Angeles Times Mark Z. Barabak might be a good guest for us (handsome, snappy dresser).

Barabak has a take on the Democrats and taxes, which mentions 1984, repeats Democratic assertions that, somehow, 2003 is worse than 1984, and even quotes a guy named "Robert G. Beckel." (Note to Producer: Let's super him as "Bob Beckel" if we have him on!) LINK

"The effort by the party's presidential candidates — who favor repealing all or part of President Bush's tax cuts — turns years of political experience on its head.

Republicans have long championed lower taxes, and Democrats have largely shrunk from the fight, fearing the dreaded tax-and-spend label. But now, Democrats are attempting to move off the defensive and recast the tax debate as a matter of choices."

"Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean put it this way during a campaign stop last week in San Francisco: 'Would you rather have the president's tax cuts, or would you like health care that can never be taken away and is affordable? Would you rather have the president's tax cut, or should we fully fund special education, so your public school system will be stronger? Would you rather have the president's tax cut, or would you rather start to balance the budget?'"

"Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts plays off a line Bush has used to press for lower taxes. 'It's your money,' Kerry tells audiences."

"The key — and it is tricky, party strategists acknowledge — is turning the tax debate into a discussion of fairness and making voters feel the pain that Democrats anticipate from a downsized federal government."

"'It's going to require somebody that can get that message down and make it clear and not make it geeky,' said Robert G. Beckel, who managed Mondale's 1984 campaign and believes the budget deficit was too abstract an issue then to resonate with voters. 'It can't be policy wonkish, and it can't be overly political. It has to be a statement of facts and it has to be provable in some real examples.'"

"GOP strategists relish a debate on taxes with Democrats," Barabak Notes.

And the candidates, we would Note, can't talk about the economy until they get this taxes thing down pat.

We'll also remind viewers that we are as a nation in the midst of the MoveOn.org primary, with most of the campaigns not named "Dean" questioning how the process is working. There is still skepticism that Dean will get to the 50% threshold, but no one really knows. See the "MoveOn" section below for more on that.

While the other Democratic candidates are mostly Invisible this week, as they focus on raising money, once again today's news cycle is being dominated by former Vermont governor Howard Dean, what with a major address to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, which will have taken place by the time you read this.

And Dean doesn't stop there this cycle. There's a traffic change in the Hawkeye State.

"With a new TV ad and a major foreign policy address, the former Vermont governor is portraying his stance against President Bush and the U.S.-led war as an act of political courage," AP's Fournier writes.

"'I do not accept that a candidate's national security credentials should be considered suspect for opposing the war in Iraq at the time it was initiated with the limited level of international support we had, the lack of postwar planning that had been accomplished and the failure to make the case that the threat was imminent enough to justify' war, Dean said in remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington." LINK "Dean also was telling the group that his anti-war position demonstrates his toughness and strength to lead on foreign policy, according to a summary of the speech provided by his campaign."

"The address comes as Dean is trying to broaden his underdog candidacy after getting off to a surprisingly strong start, largely due to his opposition to the war. The stance excited Democrats eager to attack Bush even as their party leaders shied from confrontation."

(And we should say that we love and respect Fournier, but we totally disagree with him about that "largely due" part.)

"He's addressing the issue in another way, by casting his opposition to the war as an example of how he'll take tough stands, even when unpopular. Dean is now promising to fight special interests and corporate America with the same vigor he opposed the war."

"It is no accident, aides said, that Dean was introduced for a Tuesday night speech as 'Give 'em hell, Howard Dean.'"

"A new television ad airing in Iowa, site of the first voting of 2004, shows Dean striding purposefully toward the camera as he declares 'the only way to beat George Bush is to stand up to him.' Deans then trumpets his opposition to the war. "

The AP's Glover has more lines from the ad:

'''As governor, I made sure that every child in my state had health insurance,' said Dean. 'We added jobs, we raised the minimum wage and we balanced budgets.'''

'''I opposed the war with Iraq when too many Democrats supported it,' said Dean." LINK See our "Dean" section below for the full text of the spot. (Our graphics department is working up a groovy 2004 "ad box" to put it in for the show.)

Seven of the nine Democrats running for president (sans Lieberman and Kerry) will be at a DNC fundraiser in Washington tonight. Senator Kerry talks to voters in Laconia, New Hampshire. And Senator Lieberman plans to spend the day in California.

With the end of the second-quarter fundraising period just 5 days away, the candidates are all working hard to have their best showing.

(The Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood has a must-read on the dangers of spending too much of what is raised, complete with John Kerry opening offices; Shari Yost's big salary; and the legacy of Phil Gramm '96.)

As for Republican cash, Mrs. Bush has two events and two Bush-Cheney re-election fundraisers today. Her events — promoting reading in Philadelphia and Cincinnati-- are open to the press. The fundraisers, held at private homes, are not. (ABC's Ann Compton says the Cinci fundraiser will held at campaign money-meister Mercer Reynolds' home.)

And to prove that our show will cover more politics than just what happens inside the Beltway, we will go out west to the Golden State, where there are multiple big doings in the effort to recall Governor Gray Davis.

With the latest signature totals suggesting that the pro-recall forces are well on their way to getting this on the ballot, Phase II of Team Davis's efforts to fight back would appear to be in place, what with a bit of journalistic scrutiny on Representative Issa, who has been leading the recall funding effort, despite (or is it "because of") his "complicated" background.

Lance Williams, Carla Marinucci, and Chronicle staff writers write a lead today that lands with a thud similar to that of an oppo research binder hitting a journalists desk.

"Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the driving force behind the effort to recall Gov. Gray Davis, was prosecuted with his brother in San Jose in 1980 for allegedly faking the theft of Issa's Mercedes Benz sedan and selling it to a car dealer for $16,000, according to court records." LINK

"Issa, in a phone interview with The Chronicle Tuesday, blamed his brother for the car theft, which was detailed in documents on file in Santa Clara County Superior Court and which has never been made public."

"'I do not steal,' Issa said."

"In the San Jose case, Issa, who at the time was a 27-year-old U.S. Army officer, and William Issa, 29, were arrested by San Jose police on a felony auto-theft charge in February 1980."

"They were accused of a scheme in which Issa's brother allegedly sold Issa's cherry-red Mercedes 240 to Smythe European Motors in San Jose for $13,000 cash and three $1,000 traveler's checks. Within hours, Issa reported the car stolen from a lot at the Monterey airport, near his Army post at Fort Ord."

"Issa and his brother pleaded not guilty. A judge ordered them to stand trial on felony charges, saying he had a 'strong suspicion' that the men had committed the crime, according to the records."

"But in August 1980, a prosecutor dismissed the case for lack of evidence. The men later were charged with misdemeanors, but that case was not pursued, said retired police Detective Richard Christiansen, lead investigator in the case."

Apparently the CNN interview was only just part of the PR rollout this week in an attempt to fight back against the recall.

This story is rich with bathos since Representative Issa claims it was his brother's car stealing which caused him to get into the business of car alarms, where he made millions of dollars some of which he has spent on funding the recall effort against Gray Davis.

And we might have Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times on the show (although we are still checking — somebody here thinks Ron might already have some sort of cable-exclusive deal … ).

As only Brownstein can do, he straddles the 3,000 mile wide gap between the Golden State and Washington, DC as he delves into why national Democrats and Republicans are laying low in the battle to recall Governor Gray Davis. LINK

Mr. Brownstein (and California Republicans) are particularly interested in how the folks at 1600 would like to see this play out.

"The White House has held its cards so closely that activists on each side of the recall battle are convinced it is working against them. Bush has said nothing publicly about the anti-Davis effort, and administration officials say they are playing no role in the fight."

(Note Note: Will there be any itty bitty subtle references to the recall effort during this week's California campaign swing, we wonder?)

"'To the people that are pushing the recall, [the White House] is saying: 'We are going to watch it but we're not involved,'' said one California GOP activist working hard to oust Davis. 'But the donors seem to get a different message. I think it's subtle in that [administration officials] communicate to the donors that they don't think it's a good idea, and that detracts.'"

Brownstein weighs all the pros and cons in the Republican debate about what's better for the president's reelection efforts in 2004 … a highly unpopular Democratic governor or a Republican governor who may have assumed that office with a very small percentage of the vote in a successful recall?

And then Mr. Brownstein floats the idea that the White House take on the recall might come down to what's good for Dr. Rice.

"Others note yet another potential complication. Some GOP strategists believe White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice may want to run for governor in 2006. A run by Rice, an African American, would greatly advance Bush's goal of presenting a more diverse face for the GOP. But a Rice candidacy would likely be precluded if another Republican wins the governorship in a recall election."

And then, of course, we will end the show with our wacky show closer.

On Slate yesterday, Timothy Noah posted a story with exclusive peeks at what was billed as the near-official-but-unready Bush-Cheney 2004 Web site. LINK

Noah reports, "Presumably by accident, somebody left a live prototype [link to picture] of President Bush's 2004 campaign site on the Web for a few hours today. (It's locked up behind a password now, so all links in this item are to snapshots Slate took earlier.) At least Chatterbox thinks it was a live prototype."

The Note is still trying to figure out how Noah and friends found out about that, and more importantly why someone didn't tell The Note sooner.

On Tuesday, The Note talked to Bush-Cheney 2004 Press Secretary Nicolle Devenish to find out what happened.

Ms. Devenish said, "It gives new meaning to the term 'sneak preview.'"

"It's not the campaign's Web site. It's a development site."

"The design is a good indicator of where we're heading."

She also said that work on the Web site did not begin until the re-election committee was officially formed.

So, let's see how we fit all that into an hour, with gobs of commercials.

Actually, to be honest, we aren't really doing a show. That was just a joke, and a device to try to get you through the summary creatively.

In fact, we do have one REAL announcement, and in the best tradition of journalism, we will slightly re-write a press release that went out from ABC News yesterday:

Lisa Todorovich, a journalist with significant experience reporting on national politics, has been named the deputy political director of ABC News, it was announced today by ABC News president David Westin, and we couldn't be happier.

Ms. Todorovich starts with us next week, and we know you readers will like her as much as we do. Not to mention R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

If you want to read all about her, here's the full release. LINK We wish farewell and the best of luck to Elizabeth Wilner in her new job at NBC News. Here's to a great campaign season for us all.


MoveOn moved a little too slowly for some of its users yesterday.

--"Activists staging a massive online Democratic presidential primary ran into some technical problems Tuesday as a flood of Internet voters briefly overwhelmed the MoveOn.org Web site and halted the voting process for more than an hour." LINK --"Contending candidates cried foul," notes the Von Drehle/Faler duo. LINK

MoveOn PAC director Zack Exley blamed the delay on "a little bit of a line at the polls."

He said the MoveOn server was sluggish due to a larger-than-expected number of people seeking their ballots.

"There will be problems here and there," he said. "There will some people who don't get their ballot because of incorrect spam blocking."

MoveOn set up a reclamation page to allow folks who haven't been sent their ballots to request new ones individually. Exley said that everyone who requested a ballot would get one before the "polls" close tomorrow morning at midnight ET. Ballots returned after midnight won't be counted, Exley said.

MoveOn will release its results sometime Friday after comparing the raw totals to a Stan Greenberg-conducted exit poll.

Exley wouldn't say how many ballots had so far been cast.

Incidentally, MoveOn got a full-throated endorsement from an ailing-throated Ron Brownstein on IP; Exley got kid-glove awe-inducing questions from Lester Holt on MSNBC.

Here's some news we can advance: Exley told us that MoveOn was not 100 percent committed to staging another primary if no candidate gets more than 50 percent this time around.

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary, foreign policy

Before Howard Dean's foreign policy speech, The Note conducted one of those modern e-mail interviews with Alton Frye of the Council on Foreign Relations about The Doctor's address.

In 2000, the CFR maintained one of the best political resources on the web, with lots of carefully crafted and cutting-edge use of the medium to provide information about the candidates' positions on foreign policy.

Check out their impressive 2004 site here, which does for foreign policy and the presidential candidates what somebody smart somewhere should be doing for domestic stuff. LINK

You'll be blown away by how deep and thorough it is.

So: here's our interview with Frye, who is the presidential Senior Fellow and Director for Congress and U.S. Foreign Policy at the CFR.

He is an expert on national security strategy and arms control. He often consults both the legislative and executive branches on these matters. LINK

The Note: How well does the foreign policy community in Washington know Governor Dean? Has he been active in the Council's world?

Frye: "Governor Dean remains a largely unknown quantity in the foreign policy community, but he is arousing a degree of curiosity comparable to that in the wider political world. He certainly got attention for his early and insistent challenge to the justification and wisdom of the war in Iraq. It is possible that that are some aspects of his experience that will emerge as relevant to current international issues — obviously, his medical background might give him a purchase on the global crisis in HIV-AIDS."

The Note: "Bill Clinton got to the 'right' of the first George Bush on the issue of China and human rights. Is that something that Governor Dean or another Democratic could or should do?"

Frye: "Reports of Governor Dean's political dexterity suggest that he will look for some positions to flank President Bush, quite possibly on issues of human rights. I think it doubtful, however, that on these questions his maneuver would be to the right of Mr. Bush. More likely, especially in the context of widespread concerns over domestic civil liberties issues after 9/11, one speculates that he might move left on those issues."

"Bush has been, to use a poor term, less 'accommodationist' than some leaders with regard to China's or other governments' human rights practices — his rhetoric has been pretty direct in challenging those governments even while he has addressed particular issues with them in a pragmatic manner. (An exception is Bush's relatively soft comments on Russia's campaign in Chechnya.) So it will be hard to get to the president's right in that zone. More likely, one might think, would be outflanking Bush by asserting that he has been insufficiently attentive to crucial alliance relations, especially in NATO. The tattered state of those relations could invite conservative attack, on the grounds that traditionally important institutions have been damaged in recent months."

The Note: Amongst Democrats you know who worked on foreign policy in the Clinton years, is there a lot of interest in or support for Howard Dean?

Frye: "I would characterize their attitude as wary curiosity. There is concern that, to the degree his current themes and appeals are successful in mobilizing support among Democratic partisans, he could make it harder to produce a united party able to challenge Bush in the center. That is the clear message of the sharp critiques he has excited from circles around the Democratic Leadership Council."

The Note: "Have any of the candidates established themselves as the Council front-runners?"

Frye: "Since the Council never develops an institutional position on any candidate, no one can answer that question. At this stage Council members are beginning to listen, but I doubt that many have formed even preliminary views about their preferences among the Democratic contenders. Republicans among the diverse Council membership seem to parallel the national distribution of opinion in solid support for the president's foreign policy --- despite serious currents of unease about the prospect of protracted, inconclusive engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The Note: By what measures/standards will Governor Dean's audience today judge his remarks?

Frye: "As with all politicians, a lot of the reaction will be a matter of personal chemistry and subjective inclinations in the audience. Added to that, however, people will certainly be looking to see if there is depth, rather than superficiality or pre-cooked comments, in the Governor's assessment of the international scene. His skepticism about the policy in Iraq is already known, so members will be interested to learn how cogent an argument he develops on that issue."

"More important will be what Dr. Dean has to say about other pending challenges to American foreign policy. What issues attract his attention? What insights does he bring to bear on them? Does he have any novel and plausible approaches to healing the breach in Transatlantic relations, to shaping a modus vivendi with Russia and China, to forging a more effective campaign against terrorism, to reinvigorating the faltering non-proliferation regime in North Korea and Iran, etc. The list is very long indeed."

The Note: Beyond the war against Iraq, are there divisions or schools within the Democratic party that you see on foreign policy? If so, where are they?

Frye: "In the general mood compelling Democrats to demonstrate that they are strong and reliable on national security issues --- not a new problem for the party but one greatly exacerbated by 911 — there seems to be a fault line, rather vague, between those Democrats who believe that the way to do so is by supporting large increases in defense spending and those who feel that the party now needs to emphasize a responsibly frugal approach to security investments. A main theme will likely center on tradeoffs between dollars for defense modernization and dollars for additional measures of homeland security. One may also anticipate a significant cleavage among Democrats over aspects of international trade policy, as one recalls from the party divisions over NAFTA and other such undertakings over the last decade when Republicans saved the deals in Congress by supporting proposals that originated in the past Democratic administration."

ABC 2004: The Invisible Primary:

USA Today 's Walter Shapiro looks at the "anything-can-happen" Democratic race. It's worth reading in full; here are some highlights: LINK " … it is hard to recall another presidential contest in which this many candidates were so tightly bunched at the half-mile mark with no clear favorite."


"—In the past six months, Howard Dean has transformed himself from an ego-powered dreamer into an enthusiasm-fueled candidate on par with his established Democratic rivals. Yes, other maverick candidates such as Jimmy Carter (1976), Gary Hart (1984) and John McCain (2000) have surged out of nowhere to upend a presidential race. But never before has a play-by-his-own-rules insurgent made a dash like Dean's so far in advance of the primaries."

"—Next week, the candidates will report their fundraising totals for the second quarter of the year. Five are likely to have each collected more than $4 million in the past three months, meeting the threshold pace for political respectability. Only Joe Lieberman, who is leading in many national polls, is thought to be battling an embarrassing financial shortfall. While John Kerry and Edwards are likely to continue to hold a fundraising edge, Dean, Gephardt and Bob Graham may come in with second-quarter figures close to parity."

"—For all the importance lavished on Iowa's caucuses (Jan. 19) and New Hampshire primary (Jan. 27), this time three serious candidates boast strategies premised on waiting to make a breakthrough in the next round of Sun Belt primaries (Feb. 3). North Carolina's Edwards and Florida's Graham, along with centrist Lieberman, all hope to surge to the forefront with victories in South Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma and New Mexico."

"The great imponderable is what will be the next issue to boost a candidate's public standing with Democrats much as opposition to the Iraqi war did for Dean. Take, for example, the possibility that a Supreme Court justice will announce his or her retirement when the current session concludes on Thursday. Such a high court opening would virtually guarantee a blistering confirmation battle in the Senate this fall. And taking center stage would be Edwards, an adroit courtroom questioner who is the only Democratic presidential candidate on the Senate Judiciary Committee."

"This, of course, is only one scenario. But presidential nominations can pivot on such accidents of timing."

Hidden on Page B5B of the Wall Street Journal (We can't find it on the web.) is a story by Lauren Bayne Anderson about African-Americans pushing to get more representation on the the campaign staffs of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Those quoted include Donna Brazile, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Rich Galen, Ron Walters, Maurice Daniel, and Jenny Backus, and a stranger political story you won't find in the papers today.

The New York Times ' Carl Hulse breaks no new ground in his overview of those members of Congress who happen to be running for president and happen to be missing a lot of votes. LINK

The hard-copy photos are of Senator Graham (holding his mouth in a perfect oval) and Senator Kerry (letting the world know how big the last fish he caught was).

"New York's GOP presidential primary will become a winner-take-all contest under legislation proposed by Republican Gov. George Pataki and approved by the Legislature," writes the AP's Marc Humbert. LINK Humbert also reports, "While Assembly Democrats were bowing on Friday to GOP wishes, Pataki and the Senate's Republican majority refused a Democratic request to move the state's March 2 presidential primary up by a week to increase the state's clout in choosing a Democratic candidate."

Handsome Democratic National Committee chair Andy Tobias has lent his name to an e-mail fundraising solicitation. "[I]f you respond before our June 30 Federal Election Commission filing deadline, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar doubling the impact of your personal commitment to break the right-wing Republican lock on power," his e-mail says.


The new Iowa Dean ad, which began to air yesterday, will replace the previous version.

No word on when, or whether, the third ad in the series will be broadcast.

The buy runs out July 2.

"I'm Howard Dean."

"I'm running for President because the only way to beat George Bush is to stand up to him."

"I opposed the war with Iraq when too many other Democrats supported it because I want a foreign policy consistent with American values."

"I want to repeal the Bush tax cut so we can make healthcare available for every American."

"As Governor, I made sure that every child in my state had health insurance."

"We added jobs, we raised the minimum wage, and we balanced budgets. "

"I'm Howard Dean and I approve this message because it's time to take our country back."

Correction: Yesterday, we reported that Howard Dean wrongly referred to "Meetup.org" as "Meetup.com" in his announcement speech. In fact, Dean said "Meetup.com," which is correct.

The Note regrets the error more than you know.

The Dean campaign says that the period after Dean's announcement was the best 24-hour web fundraising period of the campaign; rather than playing dead, Kasey the dog was seen smiling ear-to-ear.

The Associated Press surveys New Hampshire editorial reaction to Monday. LINK KERRY

The Boston Globe 's Scot Lehigh pokes a little fun at Senator Kerry via the gargantuan seven-part Globe series, which, Lehigh writes before offering some whimsical edits, "inspires a peculiar mix of admiration and reservation: admiration for Kerry's courage, intelligence, and ability, colored by reservations about his egotism, expediency, and self-absorption." LINK The New York Post 's Cindy Adams makes an attempt at a Kerry joke, using Heinz products. LINK LIEBERMAN

Yet another e-mail fundraising solicitation for Senator Lieberman:

"People say George Bush can't be beat, or that it's tough to stand out in a nine-person Democratic field. But I've faced tough fights before. I was a longshot in my first Senate campaign in 1988. No one thought I'd beat the popular incumbent. But with the support of thousands of people like you, I did it."

"Now, I'm running hard for President. And I intend to win. But I can't get there without your help, and the next 5 days are critical for my campaign. "

"After next Monday, my campaign will report on how much money we've raised so far. The national press will be looking closely at those fundraising reports."

Gallup's numbers continue to show Senator Lieberman topping the '04 Democratic presidential primary preference poll. LINK

But do the potential donors care?

The Hartford Courant's David Lightman has all the details on Senator Lieberman's mad dash for California cash from San Francisco's Il Fornaio to the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. In addition to possibly leaving himself open to criticism for missing senate Medicare votes this week, Senator Lieberman is taking another risk as well, according to Lightman. LINK

"Lieberman is taking another kind of risk this week. If he digs up enough campaign cash, his campaign next week will be touted as the comeback story of 2004. If he fails, he's in for lots of media and insider gloom."

"Lieberman raised what political pros considered an unimpressive $3 million in the first quarter of 2003, behind North Carolina Senator John Edwards, Kerry and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt — and just ahead of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean."

"Lieberman knows the stakes this time, so he has virtually no public schedule this week. Instead, he began a California whirlwind that will take him to seven fund-raisers in three days."


The Hand of the Axe: Senator John Edwards is taking the straight talk express to New Hampshire this summer with a series of a dozen town hall meetings set for July and August reports the Raleigh News & Observer's John Wagner. LINK

The AP has it too. LINK GEPHARDT

Knight Ridder's Steven Thomma writes that Representative Gephardt "is in a surprisingly strong position to compete for the Democratic nomination." LINK Thomma writes that Gephardt's prospects in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan are good, and, "For a 62-year-old longtime lawmaker from Missouri who was widely written off as a has-been just last year, Gephardt looks strikingly formidable. How did he do it? By careful organization, hard work and in no small part by reinventing himself, or at least how he presents himself."

Chris Cillizza of Roll Call writes that 31 members of Congress will be hosting a fundraiser tonight for Gephardt and will raise $250,000 for his campaign. This article also provides a quick rundown of where the other candidates stand in fundraising efforts.

Gephardt officially picks up the endorsement of New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Peter Burling today.


In our hard-copy edition of the New York Times , there seems to be a photo snafu involving a picture of the governor of Iowa.

To be clear: this is Rosa: LINK , and this is Vilsack: LINK


After attending a midtown fundraiser yesterday, Carol Moseley Braun traveled to the Upper East Side's "Session 73" to talk to DL21C, a group dedicated to mobilizing young Democrats.

Ms. Moseley Braun was introduced by her friend Gloria Steinem who performed her duties a la David Letterman with a top 10 list enumerating the reasons why the former ambassador should become president.

Number 10 was her drive to take down the "white male only" sign on the White House and reason number 7 was because "unlike George Bush, she knows there is a world outside of the United States."

In an exclusive interview after the event, ABC News asked Gloria Steinem if her introduction was to be considered a formal endorsement.

Steinem: "It's much too early for an endorsement. But you should know that I have only publicly campaigned for Governor Dean and for Carol."

Ms. Steinem and Moseley Braun shared stories of their campaigning through the Chicago snow together in 1992 when apparently Ms. Steinem was wearing open toed sandals.

Ambassador Braun then got completely Dowdian with the crowd of about 100 when she repeated the word "Dubya" four times consecutively before mentioning "Rummy" when criticizing the administration's foreign policies.

Note to the staff at Joe Scarborough's MSNBC, uh, "show."

(a) it's "Ambassador," not "Senator" (just ask her).


(b) Moseley Braun has no hyphen.

Bush-Cheney re-elect, the money:

The Boston Globe 's Names column offers a look at the local luminaries who attended the Dick "Mr. Charisma" Cheney fundraiser at Richard Egan's home. LINK

Bush-Cheney re-elect:

And just in case it wasn't Shermanesque enough already, The New Republic's Michael Crowley "recently caught up with McCain adviser John Weaver, who, in contrast to tantalizing hints coming from McCain's camp a year or two ago, left little doubt about his boss's plans. 'He's not running,' Weaver flatly stated. 'I don't think there's any way. He's just not going to.'" LINK

Big Casino budget politics, taxes:

Dr/Sen/Leader Frist and Leader DeLay say a matter of simple "logistics" is going to keep the Congress from getting to the child tax credit conference soon, giving rise to two questions:

1. Will the Democrats be able to get the PR machine on this cranked back up?

2. Will The New York Times ' David Firestone get a book out of this story? LINK

Big Casino budget politics, Medicare:

The Washington Post and New York Times round-up of the day's Medicare events, with a focus on the killing of most of the Senate amendments, and presidential and leadership efforts to keep conservatives on board. LINK and LINK David Rogers' excellent Wall Street Journal overview of the same stuff includes this:

"Looking ahead to negotiations after the July Fourth recess, Democrats fear President Bush will tip the talks in the House's favor and that added to the bitterness of Tuesday's losses for labor, which fears that changes will have the unintended consequence of encouraging companies to drop drug coverage for their retirees."

One of the more extraordinary features of the legislative battle to expand Medicare's prescription drugs entitlement is the degree to which GOP stalwarts had to aggressively lobbying their own colleagues to convince them that the bill wouldn't do what some liberal Democrats hoped it would do: persuade more and more private employers to drop their own benefit coverage and rely on a government plan.

The Los Angeles Times' Hook Notes: "Bush planned to meet as soon as today with restive House Republicans to build support for the measure that would provide a prescription drug benefit under Medicare. Many conservatives say the push for Medicare reform does not go far enough to curb costs in the financially troubled program and give the private sector a bigger role in delivering medical care to seniors." LINK

Still, The Washington Times ' Amy Fagan reports that House conservatives are so concerned about the bill, expected to come to the floor tomorrow, that some are considering joining with Democrats to defeat the measure. LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence looks at the side effects a successful bill could have for Democrats.

"Democrats once viewed their crusade for prescription-drug benefits as the path to electoral salvation. But now, with just such a landmark expansion of Medicare speeding through Congress, the issue looks more like a trap." LINK Lawrence takes Note of where the DLC comes down on prescription drugs:

"Bruce Reed, president of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, says passage could help both parties: 'Bush will increase the number of his domestic achievements to two, and Democrats won't delude themselves into thinking they can win the next election on an issue that hasn't won them the last three.'"

California recall:

The Washington Post 's Rene Sanchez does a fine job of bringing readers up to date on all things recall including the spinning of the signature submissions from both sides. LINK "Leaders of the recall effort called the latest total a clear sign of the movement's momentum. Several hundred thousand more voter signatures already have been collected, they say, but were not sent to state officials in time to meet the most recent reporting deadline because the campaign had not yet verified their authenticity."

"We're very confident we'll make it,'' said David Gilliard, who is managing a recall group called Rescue California. "There's so much voter anger out there. Every week we're seeing more of it."

"But opponents of the recall scoffed at the latest tally, saying it shows that organizers are having difficulty attracting the support they need from voters, with little time to spare. 'This is just another indication that the recall hype doesn't match the evidence,' said Carroll Wills, a spokesman for a group known as Taxpayers Against the Governor's Recall."

The New York Times ' John Broder writes up the effort to recall Gray Davis in the context of the state's $38 billion budget crisis. LINK "Sacramento is in a state of near-perfect political meltdown."

"With the constitutional deadline for passage of a state budget less than a week away, the governor and legislative leaders are nowhere near agreement on how to address California's $38 billion two-year deficit. And the drive to recall Gov. Gray Davis is gathering steam, adding to the sense of crisis here."

The Contra Costa Times reports Senator Joe Lieberman came out against the recall yesterday before starting a fundraising swing in the Bay Area. LINK The San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci reports, "Arnold Schwarzenegger chatted on the air with shock jock Howard Stern Tuesday about nude scenes, his political ambitions, physical equipment and whether he wanted to have sex with his movie co-star. In the process, he illustrated why juggling entertainment and politics might be tougher than saving the world in 'Terminator 3.'" LINK

"Schwarzenegger, a likely GOP candidate for governor if the effort to recall Gray Davis goes forward, called Stern a 'good friend' — but he's also a controversial radio personality best known for racy features like 'Lesbian Dial-a-Date' and 'Butt Bongo Fiesta.'"

House Of Labor

John Bresnahan writes for Roll Call that "AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is scrambling to convene a meeting of top union officials Thursday in a bid to heal a growing rift within the labor movement that threatens the Democratic Party's prospects heading into the 2004 elections."

"Sweeney is attempting to mediate a nasty internal dispute among senior labor leaders, including Gerald McEntee of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Andrew Stern, head of the Service Employees International Union, over a planned multi-million dollar political operation run by Steve Rosenthal, the former AFL-CIO political director."

"House and Senate Democratic leaders, as well as the campaigns of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, are also monitoring the situation closely, although they know there is little they can do at this point, despite the key role that union get-out-the-vote efforts will have at the polls in November 2004."

Politics: Rainy? Hot? Rainy?

Take a wee Scottish vacation with Johnny Apple, where the food, wine, and scenery are all a delight. LINK

Apple raves about the luster and skill of some new Scottish chefs, and describes "the heart-stirring landscape, whether the serene valley of the Tay at Kinnaird, with cows grazing languidly beneath hillsides carpeted with golden gorse, or the panorama of islands and islets floating dreamily in the Sound of Jura opposite the Crinan Hotel on the west coast, or the vast moors and majestic pines surrounding Darroch Learg at Ballater on Deeside, near the royal family's much-loved Balmoral Castle.

The RIAA good-bye party for Hilary Rosen drew a packed bipartisan crowd of 500 people to Charlie Palmer's in Washington, DC.

Organizers presented a video which consisted of a mock VH1 Behind the Music piece called "Hilary Rosen, The Woman … Behind the Music" immediately followed by tributes from her friends including The Clintons, Al and Tipper Gore, Ann Richards, Bob Barnett, Lisa Myers (offering advice on being a TV commentator), Melissa Etheridge, Gloria Estefan, Jack Valenti, Matt Drudge, Sen Tom Daschle, Sen Orrin Hatch, and many more.

Two of the funniest lines of the evening came courtesy of the Clintons of Chappaqua.

Senator Clinton: "So, Hilary is finally leaving. Now I know the Republicans have been waiting to hear that sentence for years."

FPOTUS: "Well this is what my life is like nowadays, following Hilary."

One attendee tells us that Billy Tauzin and Mary Bono rapping was a show stopper as well.

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

The Chicago Sun-Times' Courtney K. Wade reports, "Former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday pointed his finger at the Bush administration, saying it is erasing accomplishments that he worked hard to achieve." LINK Wade Notes, "Although Clinton began several sentences with the phrase, 'When I was president,' he did praise the Bush administration for continuing to fight AIDS and giving assistance to poor countries to grow their way out of poverty."

The Chicago Tribune's Glenn Jeffers and Gayle Worland write, "While Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton supported the Supreme Court's affirmative action ruling Tuesday, both criticized Bush economic policies, charging that they undermine efforts to level the playing field between rich and poor." LINK

Following Jackson's speech to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition conference in Chicago, "Clinton's speech to a crowd of 750 Tuesday afternoon likewise condemned Bush administration policies that he said are undoing progress made during his presidency and that are delaying progress toward affirmative action goals."

"In his folksy style, the former president departed often from his prepared remarks and referred to his host as 'Brother Jackson.' His speech focused primarily on the Bush tax cut, which Clinton said would yield him--as a member of a high-income bracket--an extra $80,000 a year."

The New York Daily News' Rush and Molloy have some assorted tidbits about Bill Clinton (and family). LINK

National security politics:

The New York Times breaks a story about a State Department intelligence analyst who said he has felt pressure to "tailor" his analysis, although exactly how and on what is unclear. LINK

Hans Nichols of the Hill reports that House Democrats are contemplating how hard to come down on Bush for the WsMD situation. LINK

The AP's Alan Fram reports, "Republicans are congratulating themselves for whisking the first bill financing the new Homeland Security Department through the House, winning unanimous Democratic support." LINK "Despite their votes, Democrats said the $29.4 billion measure came up short."

Judicial confirmation battles:

With the public not paying much attention on either side (Sorry, Nan; sorry, Boyden … .), Senate Republicans move closer to getting their filibuster-buster bill to the floor, and continue to talk up the nuclear option, which Senate Democrats seem to think is both unthinkable and, well, nuclear. LINK and LINK David Broder columnizes on how to head off a SCOTUS opening fight — and it's David's normal solution of a little bipartisanship. LINK A coalition of conservative groups will ratchet up the pressure on the Bush administration to appoint solidly pro-life nominees to the nation's appellate and Supreme Courts. They call themselves Project Rosebud, and they'll unveil their political and lobbying plans at the National Press Club today.

Keying off of a gathering that took place at the Heritage Foundation on Monday night, The Washington Times trio of Stephen Dinan, Ralph Z. Hallow and Charles Hurt report that the affirmative-action rulings have made conservatives "all the more convinced that President Bush must be careful in picking a Supreme Court nominee." LINK


In his Roll Call column, Reformin' Norm Ornstein writes that while legislative supporters and the Supreme Court may have put BCRA on the "fast track," "another area of campaign finance is not much in the news-- financing of presidential campaigns. It should be. The presidential campaign financing system, crafted a quarter century ago, is broken."

Ornstein had a long Wednesday last week … ..

"Last Wednesday, word emerged that Howard Dean will spend $300,000 over the next few weeks on commercials in Iowa, trying to define himself and stake out his rhetorical and policy turf before the other Democratic candidates do so. It was a bold move, but one fraught with danger-because the presidential funding system puts spending caps on all the states."

"Also last Wednesday, I had my own headache-getting my car out of my parking lot at 7 pm, through the gridlock downtown caused by a limo backup at the major Bush fundraiser at a nearby hotel. President Bush is the most active fundraiser in history, vastly outdistancing Bill Clinton in the time he is spending on fundraising and the success he is having bringing in the bucks."

Alexander Bolton writes this morning in the Hill that low fundraising totals from political action committees have some legislators "panicked" and scrambling to raise money before the end of the month. LINK

Bush Administration strategy/personality:

: The Washington Post 's Mike Allen and Alan Cooperman report, "President Bush called on Congress yesterday to make it easier for federally funded religious groups to base their hiring decisions on a job candidate's religion and sexual orientation." LINK Allen and Alan write, "H. James Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said in an interview that he found great confusion about hiring laws when he met with officials of charities throughout the country. 'It's been abundantly clear that the religious hiring issue is a real barrier for a lot of faith-based organizations,' Towey said. 'And if faith-based organizations are deterred from providing services, the real losers are the poor.'"

The New York Post 's Cindy Adams seemingly ties the consideration of a New Hampshire locale for next year's G-8 summit to the fact that "White House insider Andy Card, who's closer to the president than a little boy and his dog, is from New Hampshire." LINK