The Note: Not for Attribution

— -- WASHINGTON, July 25

In a story whose backstory and aftermath will be even better than the story itself, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank turns in a must-read on a visit with an anonymous Republican candidate for Senator, who lunched with reporters to deplore the Administration for their work in Iraq and the poor response to Hurricane Katrina. LINK

Not holding back, he exclaimed of his party affiliation, "It's an impediment. It's a hurdle I have to overcome," he said. "I've got an 'R' here, a scarlet letter."

Quick: where did Sen. DeWine dine yesterday for lunch? (Either we are right, or we have done you all a service and crossed one name off the list.)

Quick: where did Maryland Senate candidate Michael Steele dine yesterday for lunch? (blah blah blah)

A man who already knows who had lunch with Dana Milbank yesterday -- President Bush -- meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in the Oval Office at 9:35 am ET today. The two leaders last met in Baghdad during the President's surprise trip to Iraq on June 13. At 11:25 am ET, the two move to the East Room to field questions from the press, with the number of questions (and, thus, the amount of streaming video content, TBD, or, perhaps, TBA).

The New York Times curtain-raises the meeting with Maliki's likely wish-list. LINK

DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) are circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to other members of the House, urging House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to cancel Wednesday's address to Congress by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on the theory that his condemnation of Israeli attacks on Lebanon put him at odds with U.S. policy.

The letter reads: "The Speaker's podium reflects our nation's values. We the Members of the House, under your leadership, decide who receives that honor, and the list should not include anyone whose interests conflict with the United States."

The Democratic House members wrote to inquire about how Maliki was chosen to receive the honor, and have asked for an apology.

Emanuel spokeswoman Kathleen Connery tells ABC News that as of last night, they had "approximately 20 signatures." Emanuel's staff is not going to release the letter until mid-morning when they are done collecting signatures and have forwarded the letter to the Speaker.

More from the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet: LINK

Hastert spokesguy Ron Bonjean tells ABC News: "The Prime Minister Iraq where we have 130,000 troops stationed fighting a Global War against terror is expected to speak tomorrow before a Joint Meeting of Congress. This is political gamesmanship during an election year by the Chairman of the DCCC to cover for Minority Leader Pelosi's refusal to cosponsor the resolution supporting Israel."

ABC News' Jake Tapper muses in his Political Punch blog about Emanuel's "rather deep" ties to Israel. LINK

At 9:30 a.m. in the Senate's Mansfield Room, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and senior officials from the Center for American Progress will discuss a new mid-year report assessing the Bush Administration's record in taking steps to ensure that 2006 is a period of significant transition.

In an effort to strike a pre-election Republican compromise on immigration, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will unveil a plan in the Senate Radio and Television Gallery at 10:00 am ET that would allow most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States a chance to work here legally, but only after the government certifies that U.S. borders have been sufficiently secured.

Per the Washington Post's Jim VandeHei and Charles Babington, the proposal would "pressure illegal immigrants to 'self-deport' to their home countries within two years of the law's enactment and apply for a new kind of visa that would allow them to return to the United States quickly and work legally if a job awaits them. They would have to work here for 17 years, however, to be eligible for U.S. citizenship." LINK

MikeAllentime.com/aol/24hournews/pryoffhisfaceplate.com has more. LINK

At 10:00 am ET, Lynn Cheney presents a $10,000 award to Tonya Bolden, author of "Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl," which tells the story of a freeborn, African-American girl's childhood days in New York City and Rhode Island. The ceremony takes place at New York City's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Mrs. Cheney appeared at home base on the Fox News Channel this morning.

Former President Bill Clinton helps raise money for Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-NY) reelection campaign at a Friends of Hillary event geared towards "young professionals," each of whom will pay $75 to attend the event at Capitale nightclub in New York City at 8:00 pm ET. Each ticket holder is entered in a raffle to see Jon Bon Jovi with Mr. and Mrs. Clinton on Aug. 12. Sam Arora (who The Hill seems to think is not as handsome as Kevin Madden, but still darn handsome LINK) is helpfully pointing reporters to nearby wireless venues.

Oklahoma holds its primary election today. The state's 5th District is the site of a competitive Republican primary which many predict will result in a run-off. Also of interest are both parties' primaries for lieutenant governor, an office whose importance may greatly increase if it becomes the tiebreaker in a deadlocked state legislature. Polls opened at 8:00 am ET and close at 8:00 pm ET. Thirty percent of registered voters are expected to turnout today, reports the Oklahoman. LINK

Eliot Spitzer and Tom Suozzi square off at Pace University from 7:00 to 8:00 pm ET tonight in a Democratic gubernatorial debate that will be broadcast live on cable television and on several radio stations.

The "Governator" continues his statewide "Protecting the California Dream Tour" with a Southern California jaunt: at 12:30 am ET, Gov. Schwarzenegger holds a town hall meeting at the Harry Griffen Park Amphitheater in La Mesa; at 3:15 pm ET, he shoots the breeze with Temecula residents at Sweet Lumpy's Barbeque; and at 6:00 pm ET he heads to Rancho Cucamonga to meet with voters at the Victoria Gardens Cultural Center.

At 11:30 am ET, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) speaks about expanding access to quality early education at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC.

Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) join others as witnesses at a 2:30 pm ET Health Care Subcommittee hearing on "CHIP (Child Health Investment Partnership) at 10: A Decade of Covering Children" at Dirksen Senate Office Building.

A 12:00 pm ET news conference on the introduction of legislation that would reduce the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity features a number of Senators: Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Ken Salazar (D-CO).

The National Press Club's Newsmaker Luncheon Program takes the form of a 1:00 pm ET discussion with Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) on "the need for federal media shield legislation."

House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) gives a pen and pad only news conference at 11:30 am ET.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) gives his own news conference at 12:30 pm ET, which is followed by a news conference to announce a "major" energy bill promoting energy independence and biofuels.

At 11:00 am ET, Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tom Price (R-GA), John Tierney (D-MA), and Bob Beauprez (R-CO) brief the press on bipartisan health care reform bill intended to cover the 45 million-plus uninsured Americans.

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH), Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), and Rep. David Hobson (R-OH) will remark on a screening of "Combat Diary: The Marines of Lima Company," a film featuring the travails of a Columbus, OH based unit that fought in Iraq between February and September of 2005. The screening begins at 5:00 pm ET at the Capitol.

From 10:00 am ET to 12:00 pm ET, Heritage Foundation hosts a discussion entitled, "Border Security Better, Faster, Cheaper," featuring remarks by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Management, Integration, and Oversight.

Americans for Peace Now, which demands that nations "balance smart bombs with smarter diplomacy," holds a telephone press conference at 1:00 pm ET to express its support for Israel while calling for more U.S. diplomatic leadership and engagement with non-traditional partners.

President Bush meets with Maliki:

The AP curtain raises President Bush's meeting with Maliki.

The Hill's Jonathan Allen reports that Sen. Conrad Burns' much touted interior appropriations bill -- full of juicy earmarks for his Montana constituents -- likely will not reach the Senate floor before his November reelection. Allen cites many reasons for the disappointment: fear of Democrats riddling the bill with amendments, worry of Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) war on earmarks, and anxiety that the Burns could receive bad publicity during the bill's difficult journey to approval. LINK

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his Democratic colleagues in the New Jersey congressional delegation presented a united front yesterday, attempting to portray Tom Kean, Jr. as a close ally of President Bush in his quest to introduce private accounts into Social Security. The New York Times' Chen has the story. LINK

In one telltale sign of his increased power, Minority Harry Reid (D-NV) is fast becoming one of the most lucrative and oft-requested names in Democratic fundraising, given that his Searchlight PAC has raised and donated $1.6 million used to benefit Nevada congressional candidates and Democratic contenders across the country. "He's a player," says one commentator. Another Notes: "One thing Reid's doing is paving the way for a continuation in his leadership post, in what he hopes would be a majority position." The Las Vegas Sun's Lisa Mascaro: LINK

2006: landscape:

Keying off the recent Allen-Webb debate, the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne writes: "I have no idea whether Allen will get a boost from his quiz-show moment of triumph and the implication that he delivered big-time for Virginia. What's interesting is the extent to which Allen and other Republican incumbents around the country are talking up how they brought big government's largess to their constituents." E.J. lays bare with TV-friendly examples how rhetorically fiscally conservative Republicans up for re-election are stressing their pork-barrel bona fides and "independence." LINK

The New York Daily News' Bazinet and DeFrank write up President Bush's electronic fundraising appeal on behalf of the RNC as an indication of panic in the White House. LINK

"A top Bush political adviser said yesterday that Republicans remain confident of retaining the Senate in November, but 'the House is definitely in play.'"

2006: House:

Roll Call's Laura Whittington leads with a headline that should make Emanuel stop swearing -- for a bit: "Cash Lead May Equal House Win."

Helped by large donations from the anti-tax Club for Growth, GOP challenger Tim Walberg has a viable chance to unseat one-term incumbent Joe Schwarz (R-MI) in the August 8 primary, reports Roll Call's Nicole Duran.

2006: Governor: