The Note: Gone Fishin' (2006)

ByMark Halperin, David Chalian, Teddy Davis, Emily O'donnell, Matt Stuart, and Nitya Venkataraman With Michelle Dubert, Alison Pipitone, And Daniel Wenger

— -- WASHINGTON, August 11

After an eventful political week (something happened with Joe Lieberman, if we recall) and in the midst of the elevated terror threat blotting out everything for the foreseeable future, The Note is going dark after today, until right after Labor Day.

While we're gone: read a novel, hug a loved one, practice flying without lotion, and watch the first season of "Gilmore Girls" on DVD.


1. Make flash cards in order to memorize all 32-58 competitive House races. LINK

2. Read back issues of The Note and see if we have EVER published a real leaked memo. LINK

3. Pre-buy a copy (or two) of "The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008," the upcoming Random House book by John F. Harris of the Washington Post and Mark Halperin of ABC News. LINK (Read's Mike Allen here for his take on the book -- and on The Note -- in his latest blog post: LINK)

4. Send Sen. Elizabeth Dole an "atta-girl!!" e-mail. LINK

5. Get in on the ground floor of HOTSOUP. LINK

6. Tell anyone at a Hampton's cocktail party who wants you to speculate about what happens if Senator McCain or Senator Clinton doesn't run for president, "Why don't we just wait and see?"

As for the latest in the Old New Normal (or, perhaps, the New New Normal, or, as the New York Times calls it, an "August surprise"), there may be very little or no impact on voters come November, but the all out effort from Bush, Cheney, Rove, Mehlman, to seize this moment speaks volumes about the Republican game plan - one that looks quite similar to the party's successful efforts in 2002 and 2004.

But as our ABC News/Washington Post polling indicates and as Democratic pollster Mark Mellman tells the Washington Post this morning, 2006 is a significantly different political climate than '02 and '04. (He also indicates terror-related breaking news causes him some political agita, but, then again, he is prone to that.)

Democrats continue to pound the idea that the unpopular war in Iraq (and America's 130,000 troops there) is a distraction from the most important task of being able to nimbly deal with every potential danger that threatens America's security.

Republicans are eager to debate the war on terrorism (even if their advantage on that issue has been diminished) and Iraq as a piece of that war rather than simply debating the continued troubling news out of Iraq.

Democrats chided the RNC yesterday for exploiting the terror news by blast emailing a fundraising appeal by Rudy Giuliani during yesterday's unfolding events. The RNC blamed the poor timing on a low-level staffer and acknowledged that the appeal (which had been in the pipeline for days) should not have been sent.

And hawkish Joe Lieberman quickly put the news of day to use yesterday to explain why his security policies are precisely what the country needs right now and why he continues to pursue his independent candidacy in Connecticut after losing Tuesday's Democratic primary.

One Democratic operative working on 2006 midterm election strategy offers this Frank-Rich-column-in-the-making timeline to The Note this morning.

A profile in politicizing terror:

Wednesday: Weeks after the White House learns that the London terror plot will be uncovered, Cheney says Lamont victory will encourage "al Qaeda types."

7:42 a.m., Thursday: The White House announces that the threat level has been raised to 'Red.'

10:54 a.m. (CDT): The President announces, on his way to a Wisconsin fundraiser for congressional candidate John Gard, that the arrests in London are "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."

12:26 p.m.: The RNC sends out a fundraising email penned by Rudy Giuliani saying "In the middle of a war on terror, we need to remain focused on furthering Republican ideas more than ever before. Please make your commitment felt with a financial contribution for $500, $250,$100, $50, $35 or $25 to the Republican National Committee today."

2:53 p.m.: Bush official celebrates the terror plot. The AFP reports,"'Weeks before September 11th, this is going to play big,' said another White House official, who also spoke on condition of not being named, adding that some Democratic candidates won't 'look as appealing' under the circumstances."

4:22 p.m.: The RNC follows with a statement attempting to elevate the war on terror above those who would crassly use it for politics sake: "On a day when American authorities are working with our allies to stop a global terror plot, instead of focusing on political attacks, we should focus on the fact that we are at war and need every tool to win the War on Terror."

President Bush has returned to his Crawford ranch and is scheduled to attend a Republican National Committee closed-press reception in Crawford, TX at 1:15 pm ET. RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is expected to introduce the President. The event is expected to bring in $750,000 from the anticipated 350 attendees who will be munching on BBQ for lunch.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) joins former U.S. Army Captain/Iraq veteran/Pennsylvania Democratic congressional candidate Patrick Murphy for a press conference call to discuss the war in Iraq and their criticisms of incumbent Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick for failing to offer a new strategy on the issue. The call is scheduled to take place at 10:30 am ET.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean joins prominent California Democrats -- California Democratic Party chairman Art Torres, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Mayor Gavin Newsom, and others - at a rally for gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides in San Francisco, CA at 1:00 pm ET.

Gov. Mitt Romney makes his postponed-from-yesterday announcement about the Commonwealth's energy needs at 11:30 am ET in Boston, MA.

This week on C-SPAN's "Road to the White House," Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) delivers the keynote address at the Republican Party of Iowa Chairman's Dinner. The event was held in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, July 29. You can catch the always must-watch show at 6:30 pm and 9:30 pm ET/PT.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) joins Democratic congressional candidate John Cranley for a 2:00 pm ET press conference in Cincinnati, OH on implementing all the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Prior to the press conference, Bayh will attend a Cranley fundraiser.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) holds his second online listening session today at 2:00 pm ET to answer any questions listeners might have about a range of issues. His first session in March of this year discussed NSA spying, Iraq, health care, and energy independence, and was very similar to the listening sessions he holds throughout his home state of Wisconsin each year.

In his efforts to call upon the black church to denounce the Christian Right as well as conservative black leaders, Rev. Al Sharpton delivers the keynote address at the Progressive Black Convention held in Cincinnati, OH. Sharpton plans to criticize these conservative black leaders for their "misuse" of the church to focus on particular issues while ignoring the real moral issues of today, including the war, healthcare, and education. Sharpton will deliver this address at the convention at 7:30 pm ET.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) addresses the topic of education at the Politics and Eggs: 2006 Issues Forum in Bedford, NH and later plays with his band, "The Capitol Offense," at a campaign kick-off rally for State Senate candidate Nancy Wall in Hollis, NH.

Today marks day one of a week full of Iowa stumps by presidential hopefuls as the Iowa State Fair is set to take place from August 10-20 in Des Moines. Likely excited to be able to campaign in his home state, Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) continues to attend events at the Fair, with plans to attend the Governor's Life Saving Awards Ceremony and spend time at the Governor's and Democratic Party booths. Former Rep. Newt Gingrich also attends the Fair with plans to participate in a book signing. Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) plans to visit the Fair in the morning with plans later to campaign for state candidates.

Elsewhere around the state, Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) stumps for state candidates, while Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) is scheduled to participate in a roundtable discussion on domestic violence before attending a barbecue for Democratic activists in Dubuque, IA.

Be sure to check out our look at the weekend in politics below.

Politics of terror:

"It's a Safety Dance," ABC News' Jake Tapper sums up the never-ending national security debate that will ensue from yesterday's terror threats with his continued emphasis on the competition between Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Democratic primary victor Ned Lamont. LINK

"Both Parties Claim Edge as Terror Is Reinforced as a Campaign Topic," Washington Post. LINK

"Unlike in the 2004 election, when Republicans clearly benefited from the terrorism issue and a general sense of insecurity among many voters, the politics are muddled this year. The latest Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted last week, found Democrats with an eight-point edge when people were asked which party they trusted more to handle terrorism issues."

"'I can't help but admit that I had a small knot in my stomach this morning,' said Democratic pollster Mark Mellman. 'It was eerily familiar. But upon reflection, we are in a fundamentally different place in 2006 than we were in 2002 and 2004. For two or three generations, Republicans have, in the main, had a very substantial advantage on national security. The reality is, they have squandered that advantage in the sands of Iraq.'"

The Wall Street Journal's news section doesn't buy the Notion that the politics of terror have changed.

"Foiled Plot Swings Voter Attention to Terror War: Focus Shifts from Iraq Woes, Democrats' Central Issue, To a Republican Strength," Wall Street Journal's John D. McKinnon on the way in which the foiled bombing plot is "likely to benefit President Bush and the Republican Party, at least in the short term, by reminding voters of national-security concerns and the war on terror -- two areas where the president and his party have earned high marks from U.S. citizens."

More McKinnon: "News of the plot also may help moderate, more-hawkish Democrats, who have been losing ground to their party's liberal wing."

"Arrests Bolster G.O.P. Bid to Claim Security as Issue," the New York Times' Nagourney reports on Republican efforts to use the arrests of terrorists in the UK yesterday to their advantage. LINK

"London Terrorism Arrests May Aid Republican Political Strategy," Bloomberg News. LINK

"Politically, a chance to score some points," the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage sees politicians on both sides of the aisle taking advantage of the would-be terrorism. LINK

"Analysis: Plot Feeds Political Frenzy," the Associated Press. LINK

"Dem Doves on Defense: Lieberman & GOP Seize on Busts to Rip 'Soft' Foes," the New York Post.

"Scramble Starts for Political Advantage," Washington Times on the politics of terrorism. LINK

Chuck Todd's sound bite in David Gregory's package on NBC's "Today" show: "It's absolutely a short term positive for the White House. Anytime the conversation is about the war on terror and not the war in Iraq, it's a positive for the White House.""In visit, Bush's message turns to security," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. LINK

"Bush: U.S. under threat," the Green Bay Press Gazette on Bush's comments during his trip to Wisconsin. LINK

"Dems tear into GOP," New York Daily News on Democrats accusing the White House and Republicans of politicizing terrorism. LINK

"Once in a while, we are provided with a clarifying moment in the jumble of news we have to sort through on a daily basis. This morning, we had one," wrote Peter Wehner of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives -- perhaps hoping Americans consider the daily drumbeat of bad news out of Iraq part of the non-clarifying jumble. LINK

More Wehner: "George W. Bush, for whatever complaints some may have about him, understands, with extraordinary clarity, the great struggle of our time."

The Wall Street Journal's ed board contends that the terror plot was exposed by policies -- like surveillance and ethnic profiling -- that many Democrats oppose.

2006: landscape:

"GOP Candidates Facing Troublesome Trend," the AP on a recent AP-Ipsos poll showing the President's approval rating has sunk to 33 percent, causing a possible increased political liability to GOP candidates running this fall. LINK

"More sobering for the GOP are the number of voters who backed Bush in 2004 who are ready to vote Democratic in the fall's congressional elections -- 19 percent. These one-time Bush voters are more likely to be females, self-described moderates, low-to middle-income and from the Northeast and Midwest."

"'Bush Boom' Softens as economy shows new weakness," Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire.

"When Incumbency Loses Some Shine," Charlie Cook's National Journal column in which he writes that Tuesday's primary results "indicate a very volatile, turbulent election year, the kind that incumbents hate for good reason. The advantages of incumbency count for less in such years."

Lieberman vs. Lamont: the poll:

"My Left Nutmeg" has the results of the first post-primary poll courtesy of Rasmussen. LINK

Lieberman 46%

Lamont 41%

Schlesinger 6%

Those results are probably enough to keep the calls from a critical mass of Democrats for Lieberman to drop his bid at bay. . . For now.

(Note, too, the blog item about John Edwards heading to Connecticut next week to campaign with Lamont.)

Lieberman vs. Lamont:

The Lieberman campaign has launched a 60-second television ad of the Senator talking straight to camera explaining why he intends to stay in the race. The campaign expects the ad will be running at least through early next week and possibly longer and claims to have put a substantial buy behind it, running on all the major broadcast networks. The spot was produced by outgoing Lieberman media pal Carter Eskew, before he and the campaign parted ways.

In the spot, Lieberman bemoans the politics of partisanship and polarization and reasserts his call for a politics of unity and purpose. Lieberman also says, "And I'm staying because I want to help end the war in Iraq -- in a way that brings stability to the Mideast and doesn't leave us even more vulnerable."

"Lieberman, on the Offensive, Links Terror Threat and Iraq ," the New York Times. LINK

"Independent Lieberman says he can now be himself," the Associated Press on Lieberman's independent bid, which he says "gives me the opportunity to be what I always have been -- an independent Democrat." LINK

"Democrats Knifed Lieberman on Eve of Airliner Plot," Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger. "The $$$enate race: Who backed who," New York Daily News on who backed Lamont and Lieberman respectively. LINK

Lieberman vs. Lamont: op-eds and editorials:

"No leftist purge of Lieberman," Scot Lehigh's Boston Globe column. LINK

"Short-Term Gain, Long-Term Pain," the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer on the "desolation" facing Democrats in the long term if they follow Ned Lamont's "endless accommodationism." LINK

"Why the Nation Won't Go As Connecticut Went," thoughts from USA Today founder Al Neuharth. LINK

"Facing the fight: Now is no time to go wobbly," the Union Leader's ed board demands a "strong, competent and clear-sighted Democratic Party to counter the bumbling Republicans." LINK

Politics of Iraq:

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports that one option being considered by U.S. military leaders, dubbed "the indirect approach," would shrink the U.S. force "to about 50,000 troops from 130,000. The U.S would double the number of advisers and use savings to equip Iraqis."

"Both sides agree no major change -- or troop reduction -- will take place before next month's Ramadan or November U.S. elections."

Bush Administration agenda:

"President Remains Eager to Cut Entitlement Spending," Washington Post in a headline that the Campaign for America's Future and Americans United will love.LINK

At a time of piece, this story would be a mega must read.

On Thursday, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI), and pollster Guy Molyneux joined representatives of Campaign for America's Future on a conference call intended to brief the press on how "Social Security's guaranteed benefit is at stake in this years midterm election." In honor of the upcoming 71st birthday of the Social Security system -- and in an effort to thwart what they consider the "privatization" of Social Security -- CAF is releasing a comprehensive report on the Social Security positions of candidates across the country. For its part, Americans United is planning television spots in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, and Montana on Social Security. LINK

2006: House:

Nancy Pelosi is determined to ascend to a "new level of power" for women by becoming Speaker of the House, reveals Deborah Solomon in her Q&A with the House Democratic Leader (set to appear in your New York Times Magazine this weekend). Rep. Pelosi is cautiously optimistic about her party's chances of recapturing the House this November: "If the election were today, we would win. But it's not today. It's in 86 days. And every day is a lifetime in politics." Hopefully, Leader Pelosi's sweet tooth--she is "obsessed" with chocolate--will give her some solace during the long weeks of waiting ahead.

"Sekula-Gibbs announces candidacy for DeLay seat," Houston Chronicle on the Houston city councilwoman's bid to replace the former Speaker; she joins former Sugarland mayor David Wallace, who announced yesterday that he would run as a write-in Republican as well. LINK

"Petro OKs 2 Avenues for Padgett Candidacy," Columbus Dispatch. LINK

"When Politicians Outrun Themselves," the New York Times editorial on the withdrawal of Bob Ney from the ballot. LINK

"Rep. Kline Claims Challenger Rowley Tried to Infiltrate His Campaign," USA Today on the "double agents" and "dirty money" in Minnesota's 2nd District. LINK

"Gard: President discussed need for focus on terror," the Green Bay Press Gazette reports on Bush's speech at a closed-press Gard for Congress fundraiser. LINK

"Braley stresses family's history," Des Moines Register reports on Democratic House candidate Bruce Braley's speech at the Iowa State Fair's political "soapbox," in which he stressed "troop reductions in Iraq and a sharper focus on bread-and-butter issues important to Iowa seniors." LINK

2006: Senate:

"GOP Uses Bomb Threat as Fodder in Attack on Brown," Columbus Dispatch on Republicans' efforts to use recent terror threats to criticize Ohio Democratic Senate candidate Sherrod Brown. LINK

"Santorum Accuses Dems of Politicizing Terror War," Pittsburgh Post Gazette. LINK

"DeWine, Brown Defend Votes During First Debate," the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the face-off which was taped for "possible" later broadcast. LINK

"Chafee on the offensive in WHJJ debate with Laffey," the Providence Journal. LINK

"When 'fancy' is a fighting word," Chicago Tribune editorial on the art of political rhetoric and persuasion in Tennessee. LINK

"McCain backs Rich Tarrant," Rutland Herald on Vermont's Republican Senate candidate scoring a key endorsement. LINK

"Edwards boosts Klobuchar's bid," the Grand Forks Herald on Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) stumping for Minnesota senatorial candidate Amy Klobuchar, telling fellow Democrats his desire to "live in an American where my party shows some backbone." LINK

"Long Shot Josh Rales Trying to Get Noticed," the Washington Post. LINK

2006: Governor:

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire writes that the next vulnerable incumbent is Gov. Frank Murkowski (R-AK). "Tom to give it up, Dems tell Suozzi," New York Daily News on pressure from Democrats for Tom Suozzi to give up his bid for Governor of New York. LINK

"Dems Urge Suozzi to Bail Out," the New York Post on the same. LINK

"Nussle focuses on quality-of-life issues," Des Moines Register on Iowa Republican gubernatorial candidate's Jim Nussle's speech at the Iowa State Fair yesterday. LINK

"Strickland Airs Radio Spot Meant for Black Audiences," LINK

"Gallagher vows to stay in race, says he's a true conservative," the Florida Times-Union on the rumors circulating about Gallagher's gubernatorial bid.LINK

"Sanford Gets Head State on Campaigning," The State. LINK

"Gubernatorial debate scheduled," Dallas Morning News on the decision to put the single debate including all four gubernatorial candidates on the night of the Texas-Oklahoma football game, for which independent candidate Carole Strayhorn criticized incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX): "Surely Rick can muster up the courage to face the people for at least a series of prime-time debates." LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

"Is Angelides Running Out of Time, Money? Clinton Brings in $1 Million But It May Not Be Enough," the San Francisco Chronicle. LINK

2008: Republican National Convention:

"GOP Event Has Cities Tallying its Impact," Cleveland Plain Dealer on the four finalist cities for the RNC in 2008. LINK

2008: Republicans:

"Romney cancels Milwaukee visit," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the governor's change of plans. LINK

"Romney cancels out-of-state political visits to focus on antiterrorism strategies," the Boston Globe. LINK

"Mitt will miss these waning days as caped crusader," Howie Carr's Boston Herald column. LINK

"Mitt seized spot on national stage," the Boston Herald LINK

"Gov yanks Rev's $350G award," the Boston Herald on Gov. Romney's new income source. LINK

"Huckabee says London events show value of surveillance," New Hampshire Union Leader. LINK

"Huckabee jams at pig roast," the Union Leader on Gov. Mike Huckabee's (R-AR) appearance with his band, "Capitol Offense," at a fundraiser for a local candidate; this marks his fourth trip to New Hampshire. LINK

"The Only Option Is to Win," Newt Gingrich in a Washington Post op-ed challenging Richard Holbrooke for downplaying the relative threat posed by an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. LINK

2008: Democrats:

"Biden: Terror plot proves war's misguided Iraq focus," Des Moines Register on Sen. Joe Biden's (D-DE) at an Iowa campaign stop yesterday, where he claimed the foiled terror plot proves "how badly we have neglected our homeland security." LINK

"'Camp Bayh' looks to light political fire," the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette on Sen. Bayh's PAC funding and sending campaign staffers to states such as Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and Indiana. LINK

"'Camp Bayh' trains political wannabes," the Indianapolis Star. LINK

"Bayh PAC readies 50 people for Democrat campaigns," the Associated Press. LINK

Barack Obama:

Jacob Weisberg profiles Barack Obama in a cover story for the September/October issue of Men's Vogue ("The Path to Power") on the Illinois Senator mixing religion with politics, his $1.9 million contract for his second book "The Audacity of Hope" (plus another as yet-unannounced title), and his possible presidential ambition. Weisberg points out that Obama is "too candid" to deny that he's thinking about a presidential run. The author continues, "Obama is well aware of the obstacles he would face, including his limited experience in foreign policy, and Hillary Clinton's embedded position as frontrunner. It's also not lost on him that much of the next president's job will be 'cleaning up the mess,' which is as close as he comes to trashing the Bush administration." Weisberg, a writer's writer and proud member of the Conde Nast family, paints Obama a bit more poet than pol in this must-read look at the Democratic superstar. The Obama issue of Men's Vogue (a/k/a "the gold standard of taste and style") hits newsstands on August 15.The hard copy of the Washington Post previews the Annie Leibovitz shots, about which Robert Gibbs will tease the Senator forever. LINK

New Hampshire:

"Battle rages on over GOP phone-jamming," the Union Leader on the latest in the ongoing trial over the GOP's allegedly illegal 2002 Election Day tactics. LINK


"Groups Seek Female Candidates," USA Today on the drive for female candidates in state-level offices across the country in an effort to enhance the debate and dialogue. LINK

Weekend politics:

President Bush wraps up his summer vacation at his Crawford, TX ranch this weekend and is due back at the White House on Sunday.

The stumping in Iowa continues as numerous candidates appear at the State Fair and around the state for local candidates. Former Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-VA) attends an 8:00 am ET "Breakfast with Newt" followed by a Renewable Fuels Dialogue at the Fair with Gov. Tom Vilsack (D-IA) at 10:00 am ET. Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) speaks to the Marion County Democratic Party before returning to Des Moines to campaign for local candidates, while Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) delivers the keynote address at the Republican Party of Iowa fundraiser. Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) is scheduled to campaign for local candidates all day Saturday and attends brunch with Des Moines Democratic Activists and then attends the Fair all day Sunday.

Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) continues his visit to New Hampshire with plans to play with his band at a concert in Manchester on Saturday. He then attends a Manchester Young Republicans Summer Social Cookout on Sunday.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events