The Note: A Ballet Being Fought Out in the Alley

ByMark Halperin, David Chalian, Teddy Davis, Tahman Bradley, Sarah Baker, Matt Stuart and Angie Hu With Catrin Jones, Mona Raphael, And Daniel Steinberger

— -- WASHINGTON, Oct. 17

Eleven things to remember with three weeks to go:

1. There are no network/AP exit polls in House races on Election Day.

2. As the Washington Post reminds us with numeric precision today, most House Republican candidates in tough races are better funded than their Democratic rivals. LINK

3. Bill Clinton is more popular than George W. Bush and most Republicans don't know why that is.

4. Five people you should assign tails to if you want to know what is actually happening: Sara Taylor, Michael Whouley, Tom Reynolds, Ron Brownstein, and everyone from POS. LINK

5. No one can possibly know how well Big Labor will do in turning out the vote on November 7.

6. The Old Media is totally unqualified to track robo-calls, direct mail, radio ads, and church fliers (and campaigns know this).

7. Someday, someone will explain why George W. Bush's Justice Department is engaging in investigations that are deleterious to the chances that Republicans will retain control of Congress.

8. Every case of malfunctioning voting machines or voter fraud is a serious matter, but not every case of malfunctioning voting machines or voter fraud is part of a conspiracy directed by trial lawyers or Karl Rove.

9. At some point, President Bush will stop doing fundraisers and start doing huge crowd events (but when and where? The Note wonders. . . ).

10. Saying "I won't get Swiftboated!!!" is not the same thing as not getting Swiftboated.

11. There are (still) no network/AP exit polls in House races on Election Day.

Today's consensus snapshot of where things stand, courtesy of Roll Call: "One GOP consultant familiar with fresh polling conducted last week said it showed Republicans in districts across the country in the worst shape yet this cycle.""'If it doesn't get any better than it was last week, it's going to be a bloodbath,' the consultant said. 'We'll see if it gets worse, or stays the same or gets better.'"

The conspiracy of silence among the Gang of 500, which is NOT to be shared with anyone else: the name of the current House member who just might have his own page problem.

(Pause for anger, confusion, shouts, murmurs, and demands.)

As for today:

President Bush signs the "Military Commissions Act of 2006" -- a bill that establishes guidelines for the interrogations and trials of terrorism suspects -- at 9:35 am ET in the East Room at The White House. Mr. Bush then participates in a ceremonial swearing-in for Transportation Secretary Mary Peters at 1:20 pm ET at the Transportation Department. The President's final public event on his schedule is at 2:30 pm ET when he meets with Prime Minister Ivo Sanader of Croatia in the Oval Office in Washington, DC.

ABC News' Karen Travers reports, "White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said there will be no signing statement to go along with the bill signing because Congress 'did a really good job this time' on the legislation and the White House is satisfied with it."

Today's Wall Street Journal has a letter to the editor from House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), arguing that the Military Commissions Act is "not tough enough on terrorists because there is no certainty the act will withstand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. If the act is tied up in litigation and eventually struck down, convicted terrorists could have a 'get-out-of-jail-free' card."

Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) new book, "The Audacity of Hope," hits bookshelves. Obama does some signings at Chicago bookstores before appearing on Oprah tomorrow.

DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (D-NY) holds a pen and pad briefing to discuss the latest developments in the Senate races at 2:30 pm ET at the Mott House in Washington, DC. Today's Quinnipiac University poll showing Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) with a 53 to 41 percent lead over Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) among likely Buckeye State voters, combined with yesterday's New York Times story about plans to shift some national GOP money away from the DeWine race should make for an interesting briefing. (The Ohio Poll out of the University of Cincinnati this morning shows Brown's lead at seven points, 52 to 45 percent.)

Sen. John McCain attends a rally for GOP congressional candidate Jon Gard at the Copper Leaf at 1:30 pm ET in Appleton, WI. Gard is battling Steve Kagen (D-WI) for Wisconsin's 8th congressional district seat.

Karl Rove attends a reception in Washington, DC for Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who is fighting Democrat Patty Wetterling for the seat being vacated by senatorial candidate Mark Kennedy (R-MN).

First Lady Laura Bush attends "Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure or URSA Major" at 12:30 pm ET at the JFK Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) attends a lunchtime fundraiser at Vito's Restaurant for gubernatorial candidate Chet Culver (D-IA) at 1:00 pm ET in Iowa City, IA.

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) attends a number of events in Iowa City, IA today, chief among them is a 5:00 pm ET speech to the University of Iowa College of Law and a 7:00 pm ET fundraiser for House candidate Dave Loebsack (D-IA). Sen. Dodd also headlines a reception for returned Peace Corps volunteers in Iowa City, IA at 8:30 pm ET. (Peace Corps volunteers are to Dodd what Mormons were to the Hatch for President juggernaut.)

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) debate at 10:00 pm ET at Montana State University in Billings, MT.

Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) attends the Michigan Republican Party's Countdown to Victory Dinner in Grand Rapids, MI at 6:30 pm ET.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) attends a media availability with Labor Secretary Elaine Chao at 11:00 am ET in Philadelphia, PA.

Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) participates in a roundtable discussion at 11:30 pm ET on competitiveness and innovation with Secretary Margaret Spellings at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. The two will then hold a media availability at 12:30 pm ET.

Gen. Wesley Clark is busy campaigning in Florida today. First he attends a news conference at 10:45 am ET in Palmetto to talk about port security with House candidate Christine Jennings (D-FL) and 9/11 Commissioner Tim Roemer. He then appears with House candidate Tim Mahoney (D-FL) in Port Charlotte to talk about national security and the war on terror at 11:30 am ET. Clark and Mahoney appear together again in West Palm Beach, FL at 2:00 pm ET. Mahoney is the Democrat hoping to pickup the seat vacated by former Rep. Mark Foley.

The Rev. Al Sharpton delivers a keynote address at Yale University in New Haven, CT at 7:30 pm ET to discuss "the backlash of the Christian right" and mobilizing the Christian left.

At 10:30 am ET, Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen, holds a telephone press conference to release a report on how much money members of Congress have received from special interest groups.

2006: landscape:

In a must-read, the Washington Post's Jeffrey Birnbaum and Zachary Goldfarb report that GOP incumbents in highly competitive House races "have a substantial cash advantage going into the final weeks before the midterm elections." LINK

According to a Washington Post analysis, "Democrats spent more heavily over the summer and early autumn than their Republican rivals in pivotal House districts, leaving themselves at a disadvantage of more than 2 to 1 in money on hand."

GOP candidates hold an average cash advantage of $450,000 in 25 of the most competitive districts, according to an NRCC memo given to the Washington Post by a Republican.

USA Today focuses on the somewhat less pertinent 3rd quarter fundraising figures and reveals that Democratic candidates in nearly half of the most competitive races raised more 3rd quarter money than their Republican counterparts. Jill Lawrence adds up the numbers. LINK

On "Good Morning America," ABC News' Claire Shipman looked at the efforts to get single women to the polls in November and potential record breaking numbers of women serving in Congress. "Women stand to play an enormous role this election, both as candidates and as voters," reported Shipman. In her report, Shipman included Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway saying, "Female candidates are looked upon by both sexes as being more ethical."

Kristen Mack of the Houston Chronicle profiles Republican money man Bob Perry's and writes that his $8 million in donations makes him the top GOP-leaning donor this year according to Congressional Quarterly. Perry, a Houston home builder has financed such groups as the Economic Freedom Fund, the Free Enterprise Fund, and most recently, Americans for Honesty on Issues. LINK

The recent GOP scandals are rallying the Democratic troops, writes Thomas Fitzgerald of the Philadelphia Inquirer: "A Democracy Corps poll released Friday surveying 1,200 likely voters in 49 competitive Republican-held House districts found Democrats with a 49 percent to 45 percent lead. It also found greater intensity among those who intend to vote Democratic, with 66 percent saying they were "very interested" in the elections, compared with 56 percent of Republicans." LINK

The New York Sun's Josh Gerstein reports that Patrick Rooney's America's Pac "began running ads last month in more than two dozen congressional districts. The campaign discusses issues ranging from warrantless wiretapping to school choice, but the most inflammatory spots pertain to abortion." LINK

"'Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies,' a female announcer in one of the ads says, as rain, thunder, and a crying infant are heard in the background. 'The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote. Why don't they want our lives?"

Rockefeller Republicans to the rescue! A group of former and current CEO's and corporate lawyers have formed a new group called "Republicans Who Care," which has raised $385,000 through September 30 for moderate Republican candidates. Michael Forsythe of Bloomberg News has the story. LINK

The Way to Win:

It is easy to write a book that is attacked by the Right. It is easy to write a book that is attacked by the Left.

And/but in increasingly polarized America, it is also quite possible -- with the right formula -- to produce a book about American politics that is savaged by both sides.

Get out your Google and see why The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, by Mark Halperin of ABC News and John F. Harris of the Washington Post, is causing such a stir on both ends of the spectrum. LINK

Of course, there must be some reason why both Bill Clinton and Karl Rove (not to mention Dick Cheney and scores of top political operatives in both parties) agreed to do interviews about campaign strategy for the book.

See what all the fuss is about by buying your copy here. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

The New York Times' Jim Rutenberg reports on a private, off-the-schedule meeting President Bush had last month with several prominent conservative talk show hosts that "was part of an intensive Republican Party campaign to reclaim and re-energize a crucial army of supporters that is not as likely to walk in lockstep with the White House as it has in the past." LINK

President Bush's latest electronic appeal to the GOP grassroots through the RNC email list begins thusly, "In 2004, you were part of a historic nationwide organization that propelled my campaign to victory. Together we delivered a clear message to the American people about the need to keep our Nation safe and secure, the need to keep our taxes low to continue creating jobs."

Four of the six paragraphs in the letter utilize nostalgia for his successful 2004 reelection campaign as a motivating tactic.

"Like a rock star coming to town," is how one person describes Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Topeka, KS to the New York Times' Mark Leibovich. Topeka is just one of many stops that has allowed the Vice President to raise $40 million so far this year. LINK

Front-Page Leibo's anecdotal lede is to die for.

GOP agenda:

House Majority Leader Boehner sent his members some messaging advice yesterday in a "confidential" memo obtained by The Note. Boehner declares the Foley matter behind them and his party as back on offense. The three top line messages Boehner encourages his members to sell on the stump:

"- Republicans are resolute in our efforts to give the President the tools he needs to combat terrorism. Democrats are divided and have no national security strategy, except to relent and retreat in the face of adversity. Obstruction is not an agenda."

"- Republicans are the Party of secure borders and strong enforcement of our immigration laws. Democrats are the Party of open borders that will only lead to more illegal immigration."

"- Republicans are the Party that works to keep taxes low and exercise fiscal discipline. Democrats are the Party addicted to tax hikes forever scheming to raid taxpayers' wallets to fund more massive government programs. Their voting record proves it."

Harry Reid and the GOP oppo machine:

John "Shoe Leather" Solomon of the AP writes that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) used campaign funds for the Christmas bonuses he gave to employees at the Ritz-Carlton where he has an apartment, breaking the FEC regulation baring candidates from using campaign money for personal use. LINK

Reid preemptively announced yesterday that he intended to reimburse his campaign with his personal money.

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reports that Sen. Reid's actions "are proving to be a headache for Democrats as they press their case that Republicans have succumbed to a 'culture of corruption.'" LINK

The politics of lobbying:

USA Today's cover story is a must-read about the spouses and relatives of lawmakers who are hired by special interests to use their personal connections to influence appropriations, champion special projection and influence votes. Matt Kelley and Peter Eisler report that appropriations bills in 2005 contained roughly $750 million for projects that were pushed by lobbyists whose relatives were involved in writing of the bills. LINK

2006: House:

"When it comes to House races, President Bush is dropping into solidly Republican districts to shore up incumbents who seem vulnerable, as his party turns up the pressure on a handful of Democratic incumbents who face tough challenges, including Representatives Darlene Hooley in Oregon, Melissa Bean in Illinois and Leonard L. Boswell in Iowa," writes John Broder in the Political Action column of the New York Times.LINK

The New York Times' David Johnston writes up the FBI search of four homes yesterday as part of an investigation into whether Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) "improperly aided" his daughter and political associate in "efforts to obtain lobbying and public relations contracts."LINK

Two of the raids were in the Philadelphia area and two in Jacksonville, FL, report John Shiffman and Todd Mason of the Philadelphia Inquirer. LINK

The Washington Post's Leonnig and Smith report that the FBI's investigation of Rep. Weldon -- who never tires of reminding people that he was a Russian Studies major in college -- focuses on Rep. Weldon's support of the Russian-managed Itera International Energy Corp., one of the world's largest oil and gas firms, while that company paid fees to Solutions North America, the company that Karen Weldon," the congressman's daughter, and Charles Sexton, a Pennsylvania political ally, operate. LINK

Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) changes course and suggests a timeline for withdrawing American troops from Iraq within a year during campaign debate, reports Erin Jordan of the Des Moines Register. LINK

Stuart Rothenberg writes in a Roll Call op-ed that he has yet to add Reps. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Mark Souder (R-Ind.), Jim Ryun (R-Kan.) to his list of threatened GOP incumbents: "While I can't completely rule out the possibility that some or all of them could drown in a Democratic tsunami, I believe the chances are so small that I can't bring myself to put them on a list of endangered incumbents."

The New York Times' Carl Hulse reports that the "National Republican Congressional Committee has recently thrown nearly $500,000" into the campaign for Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) who faces a strong opponent in former Microsoft manager Darcy Burner.LINK

The Charleston Gazette has a report on the fundraising efforts that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is making for House candidate Chris Wakim (R-WV). The NRCC recently cut Wakim's television advertising budget, writes Andrew Clevenger. LINK

Eric Warner of the AP writes that new campaign finance reports reveal that Rep. Jon Doolittle (R-CA) has paid a lawyer $38,000 to contact the Justice Department regarding the Jack Abramoff investigation. A Doolittle spokesperson, however, said that Rep. Doolittle "has no reason to believe that he is the target of an investigation." LINK

Malia Rulon of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that in a surprising find from the latest campaign finance reports, Democratic challenger Victoria Wulsin has raised more money, and has more money in the bank than Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH). Wulsin had $263,000 cash on hand compared with Rep. Schmidt's $224,000. LINK

Steve Tetreault of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Rep. John Porter (R-NV) spent $1.48 million in the past two months on media buys, leaving him with only $188,000 cash on hand to fight off Democrat Tessa Hafen, who reported $456,000 cash on hand. LINK

The Arizona Daily Star takes a look at the money war in the race for the Rep. Jim Kolbe's seat in Arizona's 8th congressional district. LINK

The NRCC's recent purchase of three weeks worth of ad time in Idaho's 1st district, according to a Democratic source, is the "latest example of GOP worries about holding onto traditionally staunchly Republican seats," writes Roll Call's Lauren Whittington.

Foley: political fallout:

Giving back tainted Foley money becomes the center of a congressional debate in Iowa reports, Ed Tibbets from the Quad City Times. LINK

Foley: ethics committee investigation:

ABC News' Dean Norland reports, "After his testimony Rep. Kildee (D-MI) came to the pool camera outside the ethics committee door and spoke and said there had been two conference call meetings of the House page board during the past eight days. One was last Monday and one yesterday. He said the purpose of yesterday's call was to discuss other allegations. He said these other allegations were not about Foley. He just said they were other allegations and would go no further."

Foley: FL-16:

The candidates vying for Foley's seat are receiving national attention, reports the Miami Herald's Beth Reinhard. Republican Joe Negron will campaign today with RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman while opponent Tim Mahoney will campaign with retired Gen. Wesley Clark.LINK

2006: Senate:

On "Good Morning America," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos looked at the GOP strategy to keep control of the Senate. "They are pouring most of their money to build a firewall in Tennessee, Virginia, and Missouri," Stephanopoulos told GMA's Chris Cuomo. Stephanopoulos went on to say that whoever wins two out of three of those states will likely win control of the Senate.

The Pennsylvania Senate debates may not have illuminated the views of its contenders, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA). Instead, write Per Carrie Budoff and Thomas Fitzgerald of the Philadelphia Inquirer, "The three-debate series broke little new ground on issues . . . it served more as a soapbox for Santorum and Casey to hash out their differences." And last night's match-up, co-moderated by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, was no exception. LINK

Under a provocative "Giant-Killer Lamont Stumbles" headline, the Washington Post's Dan Balz looks at the troubles Lamont is having in his bid to unseat Sen. Lieberman. Balz names Lamont's victory celebration when he was flanked by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, Lamont's decision to go on vacation following his primary win, and the unsuccessful effort to challenge Sen. Lieberman's claim to have been involved in the civil rights movement as a college student. LINK

"'We kind of went to sleep,' said Tom D'Amore, a senior Lamont adviser. 'We were led to understand, as naïve as it sounds, that there were forces at work' trying to persuade Lieberman to give up his independent candidacy for the good of the Democratic Party."

Note that Lieberman broke down and told Balz that, yes, indeed, he would like to see Nancy Pelosi as Speaker.

The New York Times' Jennifer Medina writes up the Schlesinger-Lieberman-Lamont debate in which Sen. Lieberman emphasized his experience, Mr. Lamont pushed his role as an outsider, and Mr. Schlesinger ("who has barely registered in the polls") enjoyed "his first significant statewide audience."LINK

Medina also adds that, "After months of fighting over Iraq, the candidates for Senate barely mentioned the war in their first general-election debate."

Mark Pazniokas of the Hartford Courant reports Senate candidate Alan Schlesinger (R-CT) reminded voters not to forget about him saying "I'm here to tell you today, I've come up off of that ground! I'm brushing myself off!. . . and look out Ned and Joe, here I come, baby!" LINK

Michelle R. Smith of the AP reports on the struggles of Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) as he tries to balance the fine of being a Republican -- but not too Republican -- in Rhode Island. LINK

David Ammons of the AP reports that Senate candidate Mike McGavick (R-WA) called for the removal of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with words that implied that his view was aligned with Sens. Warner (R-VA) and Hagel (R-NE). LINK

"Warner quickly distanced himself from McGavick's proposal," reports Ammons. When asked about President Bush during an ed board meeting with the Washington Times, Sen. George Allen (R-VA) said the President is "welcome in Virginia" while adding that he disagrees with President Bush on immigration reform, No Child Left Behind, and the nomination of Harriet Miers. LINK

He also said that he learned too late about the real costs of the prescription-drug program.

"'Clearly, the facts were not accurate,' he said."

The Washington Times' Amy Fagan reports that the "same Democratic leaders who have long hoped to regain control of Congress by blasting a Republican 'culture of corruption' are in danger of losing their shot at the Senate because of accusations of corruption against Sen. Robert Menendez."LINK

The Chicago Tribune cites a political analyst who calls Rep. Harold Ford (D-TN), who is trying to become the first black Senator from the South since Reconstruction, part of a new generation of African-American leaders who "with elite education backgrounds and views that are far more conservative than their predecessors, appeal to a wider audience." LINK

Per Anita Wadhwani, Bonna de la Cruz, and Kate Howard of the Nashville Tennessean, Dr. James Dobson visited Nashville yesterday to raise questions about the power and motivation of the Christian conservative vote: "Dobson told the approximately 3,000 people assembled at Two Rivers Baptist Church not to count out the conservative vote just yet -- especially in Tennessee where a ballot initiative defining marriage as a one man-one woman union is an issue of key importance to Christian conservative voters." LINK

2006: Governor:

With nautical metaphors and promises of prosperity, the Michigan gubernatorial candidates, Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI) and Dick DeVos (R-MI) sought to point out the differences between them in their final debate. As Charlie Cain and Mark Hornbeck of the Detroit News write: "She supports abortion rights; he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, he said. She supports embryonic stem cell research; he does not. She's four-square behind public education; he backed a voucher plan. She supports universal health care; he says the best health care plan is to get a job, she added." LINK

Mark Naymik of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that in an effort to invoke the Foley scandal, gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell (R-OH) continues to bring up apparently discredited claims that his opponent, Ted Strickland (D-OH), hired a child abuser. LINK

Cincinnati Enquirer with more on the Blackwell vs. Strickland debate: LINK

Bill Clinton makes a trip up to the Bay State to help fundraise and campaign for gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick (D). Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe reports that Clinton helped raise $2 million dollars in funds and declared his adoration of Patrick, " 'I'm sitting there listening to him speaking and I'm, `Oh, you just keep on talkin'.'" LINK

Note Clinton's continued obsession with quiet.

The Boston Herald has more: LINK

Gubernatorial candidate Kerry Healy (R-MA) finds herself having to defend Gov. Mitt Romney's "prerogative" to come out and speak against same sex marriage, reports Kimberly Atkins of the Boston Herald. LINK

"We don't negotiate with terrorists," said independent candidate for Governor of Texas Kinky Friedman when asked by the Democratic candidate, Chris Bell, to quit the race, reports Mark Leibovich of the New York Times. LINK

The Schwarzenegger Era:

The New York Times' Sewell Chan reports on the camaraderie between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R-NYC).LINK

Even though his gubernatorial opponent Phil Angelides (D-CA) has the support of the teachers unions -- who say Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-CA) can't be trusted -- California voters do not appear ready to abandon Schwarzenegger on education, reports Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Jim Carlton Notes that Phil Angelides'' wife, Julie, "admits her husband gets down sometimes. But to keep his spirits up, she says she and the couple's three daughters now follow some advice given to Mr. Angelides by Mr. Clinton and former Vice President Gore. 'We try to hide the newspapers from him,' she says." LINK

Note the reference to former Bill Clinton/Gray Davis advance man Ed Emerson contrasting his life leading cheers of "Phil! Phil! Phil!" with his days "standing before tens of thousands at outdoor stadiums on the Clinton campaign trail."

The San Francisco Chronicle's Notes that Phil Angelides may raise the issue of character in his campaign. LINK

2006: Ballot measures:

For the Washington Post's front page, Chris Jenkins reports that 53% of Virginians back the state's same-sex marriage ban. LINK


Jonathan Roos of the Des Moines Register reports that candidates in Iowa are reaping the benefits from presidential prospects for 2008 with many campaign donations and PAC benefits. LINK

Note well the Edwards' strategy outlined at the end of the piece.

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

Former President Bill Clinton will headline a $1 million fundraiser in San Francisco on Nov. 1, with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) listed as hosts, per the San Francisco Chronicle's Carla Marinucci. LINK

Bill Clinton was in Rhode Island last night energizing more than 1,100 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, per Scott MacKay of the Providence Journal. LINK

"'I've never seen the American people so thoughtful, so concerned and so eager for someone to talk to them,' said Mr. Clinton. 'Things are out of whack.'"


Sen. Hagel, Sen. Feingold, and Sen. Clinton are saluted in the forthcoming issue of Esquire as "pillars of Congress." Sen. Hagel is called "independent, thoughtful, and big enough to see the virtue in the arguments of his opponents." Sen. Feingold is called "the kind of Democrat every Democrat should aspire to be." Sen. Clinton is said to have "confounded every last paranoid delusion that the wing nuts had about her."

Two potential '08ers made it onto Esquire's list of the worst members of Congress: Dr./Leader/Sen. Frist is called "probably the person most responsible for Congress ceasing to be a co-equal branch of government." Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is simply called "Tancrazy."

2008: Democrats:

The New York Times' Anne Kornblut reports on Sen. Hilary Clinton's (D-NY) travel schedule and her refusal (yet) to campaign in Iowa, suggesting that "crossing the border into a state that will matter early in 2008 would set off a cascade of attention and be tantamount to an official announcement that she is running for president." LINK

Kornblut uses lots of fretful Democratic activist quotes from the crowd at the Iowa J-J about Clinton's electability, as well as a standard-issue Fischer kicker.

Sen. Clinton is getting "organized" for her debates this weekend, report the New York Times' Healy and Hicks. LINK

With bizarro world timing, the New York Times' Hakim decides it is time to tell the world that Sen. Clinton was not named for Sir Edmund Hillary, "the conqueror of Mt. Everest," which would have been very impressive given she was born in 1947 and Sir Edmund did not climb Everest until 1953. LINK

The New York Sun's Seth Gitell gives Team Kerry a nice clip with his review of Kerry's New Hampshire Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson dinner speech. LINK

"He can now give a crisp, energetic, relatively brief speech. Well, sort of brief. It was more than 30 minutes. And there was at least one 'my friend,' that old phrase he ought to have removed from his lexicon . . ."

". . .Activists in the room were still undecided about which candidate to back in the 2008 cycle. Still, the sentiment was that his performance was impressive."

Scot Lehigh of the Boston Globe Notes in his op-ed column that Senator Kerry needs to decide between being president or being senator. LINK

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) in New Hampshire tells the crowd to put more Democrats in office, reports the Union Leader. LINK

2008: Republicans:

The Washington Post's ed board excoriates Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) for "reaching for the smelling salts" and "blocking the nomination" of a federal judge on the basis that she once attended a commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple. LINK

Political potpourri:

US News & World Report's Paul Bedard reports that former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN) is already filling in for Paul Harvey on ABC Radio. LINK

Note that Thompson's wife is due to "deliver their second child, a son, any day now."

Another indication that My Sapce and You Tube political stories are sucking up the placeholder oxygen held by blog stories in the 2004 cycle, Judy Keen of USA Today with another look at politicians campaigning in the digital space. LINK

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