The Note: Reasoning Adroitly and Speciously . . .

— -- WASHINGTON, Oct. 25

While we wait for President Bush's 10:30 am ET press conference -- with a longish opening statement on Iraq expected -- please review The Note's First Principles of the 2006 midterm elections, all of which are well known to the commander in chief:

1. All that matters substantively and politically is who controls the House and Senate come January.

2. The overall national climate is fantastic for Democrats, who will gain seats in both the House and the Senate, and might not lose a single incumbent.

3. On the current trajectory, most Republican and Democratic strategists agree, Democrats will take control of the House, and end up with 48, 49, 50, 51, or 52 Senate seats.

4. There are no network/AP exit polls that allow the projection of House races.

5. This election has to a large extent been nationalized, which favors Democrats over Republicans.

6. President Bush's insistence on being prominent in the closing days of the election will reinforce the national nature of the contests, but, he hopes, nationalize them more around national security and taxes than around Iraq -- even when he talks about Iraq!!

7. All indications are that there will be no pre-election Foley revelations, ethics committee leaks, or ethics committee report that will stoke the page scandal to the detriment of either side.

8. Uttering the phrase "have you seen Drudge?" is not necessarily the only way to cover political news in America.

9. Despite the national climate -- as reflected in national public polls and most district and state private polls -- Republicans have a lot of fight left in them.

If you want to follow the subtle shifts, if you host your own conservative radio show, and/or if you blog in your pajamas, you need to start your day looking at the little wisps out there that might -- just might -- mean Republicans can keep from being completely massacred (while still losing seats).

A. The flaps over the RNC ad attacking Harold Ford and the Michael J. Fox ad are a three-fer for the Republicans:

1. They get the national debate focused away from Iraq. Every day for the next two weeks that the network news says the election is about ANYTHING but Iraq is a good day for George W. Bush's party. (Now: why President Bush plans to use a press conference to put Iraq front and center is beyond The Note -- and, we would say, beyond the many Senate and House candidates of the president's party. Note to Paul Begala: the POTUS must be putting nation ahead of politics, right?)

2. They give Republicans some sense of hope that their negative messaging might finally break through and define Democratic candidates as liberal and unacceptable.

3. They produce an Old Media reaction (pro-stem cell research, pro-Fox, pro-Hollywood, pro-Ford) that Republicans can use to go to the base and say, "Don't let the Old Media steal this election!"

B. Read the fine print on the national and state polls carefully. Who is being surveyed? Registered voters? Likely voters? Who does the pollster think a "likely voter" is? Will more Democrats or Republicans turn out to vote? Ask yourself: who is more likely to turn out: a committed conservative (who hates abortion, loves guns, and thinks Nancy Pelosi is an advanced scout for Hillary Clinton) or an independent who doesn't like the war in Iraq? (Michael Barone, thinking along these lines, crunches the numbers and suggests a bare Democratic majority is coming in the House -- but perhaps not one that will be clear on election night, or one that will necessarily produce a Speaker Pelosi. LINK

C. Read Jackie Calmes' Wall Street Journal story for a portrait of faithful Lori Viars and Jim Winters, Ohio Republican activists who do not want to let George W. Bush down. (and read it for a closing paragraph that will rally the anti-Old Media GOP base even more.) LINK

D. Dan Bartlett's clever stagecraft is creating impressions through devices such as this Wall Street Journal lede: "With few military options left to counter the violence across Iraq, top U.S. officials are shifting more of the onus onto Baghdad's beleagured political leaders to broker compromises they hope might stem the rising bloodshed." Not the "American troops heading home by the thousands" that Republican candidates had hoped and assumed they would see before Election Day, but better politically than the status quo.

E. As the Wall Street Journal hints this morning, the next two weeks are going to see major corporate spending by the pharmaceutical industry and other interests who have a Roveian sense of the stakes involved. Spending tens of millions of dollars now can potentially save these companies hundreds of millions -- maybe billions -- down the road.

F. As the Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times polls in key Senate races suggest, Republicans continue to have some white male/religious conservatives/rural mojo.

G. In the space of one Dana Milbank column, Charlie Cook goes from saying he would be "surprised" if Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) can "survive," to BlackBerrying that "Montana is closing more than thought . . . Burns might not be dead yet."

H. The Washington Post makes clear today that polls suggest -- counter to the CW -- that Democrats are in fact not necessarily more energized than Republicans.

"In the most recent poll, 29 percent of self-identified conservatives said they plan to vote for Democrats for the House, compared with 17 percent in 2004. Among white evangelical Protestants, 30 percent favor Democrats, compared with 25 percent two years ago. At the same time, Republicans report being as enthusiastic as Democrats about voting this year, belying the assumption that they might stay home."

And then there is what could happen in New Jersey today. If the state Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage, it might not dominate the network news and big papers for the next two weeks, but it will become a key part of the targeting message operation of the RNC and its allies in nearly every competitive race in the country. Even Blue states and districts have plenty of anti-gay-marriage voters.

The decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to be issued at 3:00 pm ET today. The decision is expected to be the last of Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz's 10-year career, she is stepping down due to an age limit.

The battle for the Senate will be front and center today when Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the chairs of the NRSC and DSCC, respectively, speak at the National Press Club at 1:00 pm ET. Democrats need six seats to win control of the Senate. The three most closely watched races at this time are Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia.

On Wednesday, President Bush meets with the President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandez in the Oval Office at 1:15 pm ET.

While the President stays off the campaign trail, his more popular wife has a busy day of campaigning. First Lady Laura Bush campaigns for Michelle Bachman (R-MN) at 10:00 am ET in Minnetonka, MN. Bachman is the Republican running against Patty Wetterling, the first Democrat to run a Foley-related ad, in Minnesota's sixth congressional district. Mrs. Bush then travels to Rochester, MN for a 12:05 pm ET rally followed by another rally in Columbus, IN. ABC News' Claire Shipman traveled with the First Lady today and plans to air her "Day in the Life with Laura Bush" tomorrow morning on Good Morning America.

Vice President Cheney delivers remarks to the Cincinnati USA regional chapter at the Phoenix hotel in Cincinnati, OH at 12:00 pm ET.

Speaker Hastert's chief counsel, Ted Van Der Meid, is expected to testify before the ethics committee today.

Frist says focus should not be Iraq:

"'The challenge is to get Americans to focus on pocketbook issues, and not on the Iraq and terror issue,' Frist said in an interview yesterday," reports the Concord Monitor. LINK

Politics of Iraq:

From the Washington Post's front page: "More U.S. Troops May Be Iraq-Bound" LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Greg Jaffe offers analysis of the administration's shift in strategy, where Iraqi government leaders agreed to develop a timeline by the end of the year: "In a way, officials now are describing a strategy that reverses the priorities the U.S. had set for itself and its allies in the Iraqi government. Bush administration officials had long theorized that Iraq's security situation needed to be stabilized before its fledgling government would have the breathing space to solve the difficult sectarian splits and regional feuds. Now, the U.S. is proposing that Mr. Maliki needs to do more to establish a government worth defending before a security force can be built to do that job adequately." LINK

Per Columnist David Ignatius of the Washington Post, "The Bush administration's Iraq policy is no longer 'stay the course' but, in the phrase of White House spokesman Tony Snow, 'a study in constant motion.' The reality, as near as I can tell, is that the administration isn't sure yet where to move after the November elections. Nor are most of the administration's critics." LINK

2006: landscape:

When asked about President Bush's unflagging optimism about the GOP's November prospects, First Lady Laura Bush told ABC's Claire Shipman on "Good Morning America," "Nobody's voted yet. Certainly you can still be optimistic."

The First Lady also rejected the Notion that her husband, who jabs Rep. Pelosi on a near-daily basis, has made negative comments about the would-be Speaker.

"He doesn't say bad things about other people who are running," Mrs. Bush said.

Democrats are within striking distance in the battle for control of the Senate but it is going to be a very tight squeeze with Democrats needing to do well among rural voters in highly contested states according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll. Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times explores the numbers. LINK

"Capturing a Senate majority is within the Democrats' reach, but the party is facing potentially decisive resistance from rural voters in three critical Republican-leaning states, a series of Times/Bloomberg polls has found.

If Democrats can't break through on Nov. 7 to win the Senate races in at least two of those three states — Missouri, Tennessee and Virginia — they are unlikely to control the chamber."

More on the LA Times/Bloomberg poll. LINK


On "Good Morning America," ABC's Jake Tapper looked at various political ads running in key races this season, with an emphasis on the negative.

Chastened by the experiences of 2002 and 2004 losses, Democrats won't count votes before they're cast, reports the Washington Times' Amy Fagan and Ralph Z. Hallow in a story that comes complete with a front-page photo of a cautiously optimistic Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL). LINK

Julie Mason of the Houston Chronicle writes that the GOP slips in the polls in Pennsylvania House and Senate races could be indicative of a nationwide GOP decline. LINK

The Hill's Jonathan Kaplan has a sunny Rove forecasting big GOP wins as he campaigned for Rep. Bob Ney replacement Joy Padgett (R-OH) in Washington last week, and/but Kaplan Notes the hefty skepticism from both sides. LINK

2006: Senate: Tennessee: Playboy politics and the race card:

Bonna de la Cruz of the Nashville Tennessean reports that Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) now admits he attended a Playboy party, "I was there, I like football, and I like girls. I don't have…no apologies for that." Earlier this week, Rep. Ford told George Stephanopoulos that he has never been to a Playboy "mansion" party. LINK

The Washington Post's Shailagh Murray reports that Republican Bob Corker's attacks "appear to have thrown Ford somewhat off-stride in recent days. ...But some Republicans are concerned Corker is not working hard enough to whip up support in his party, in particular among the socially conservative voters who preferred his primary opponents, former representatives Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant." LINK

Ford's campaign called on Tennessee television stations Tuesday to cease airing a new RNC television ad that says he voted to "recognize gay marriage" and "wants to give the abortion pill to our schoolchildren," charges his lawyers called false and libelous," reports Richard Locker of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. LINK

Clay Bailer of the Memphis Commercial Appeal describes Corker's visit to his opponent's "home turf." LINK

Politics of pharmaceuticals:

The Wall Street Journal reports that drug companies are pouring millions of dollars into close midterm races, giving some Republicans a financial edge out of fear of what a Democratic Congress could cost their interests. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has already promised that the Democrats will rewrite the prescription-drug benefit to take away most of the advantages it handed to pharmaceutical companies within the first 100 days of a Democratic House. Through early September, drug-company PACs have given about $8.7 million to campaigns, compared with $7 million for all of 2002, according to Center for Responsible Politics. Employee contributions are up, too, rising to about $5 million from $3.3 million in 2002. About 69% of the industry's campaign contributions are going to Republicans.

Michael J. Fox's stem cell ad:

In her New York Times "TV Watch," Alessandra Stanley seems to place the Michael J. Fox stem cell ad in the pantheon with the LBJ "Daisy" ad, Willie Horton, and the wolves of 2004. LINK

Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times has the scorecard. LINK

Andrea Stone of USA Today on Rush Limbaugh versus Michael J. Fox. LINK

Per the Washington Times' Greg Pierce, a new ad scheduled to run in Missouri characterizes the Michael J. Fox ad as misleading, using St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan, who is scheduled to pitch in the World Series tonight, "warning voters that the ballot initiative would legalize human cloning. 'Don't be deceived,' he says. Former St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, who led the team to a Super Bowl victory, says, 'Don't be tricked' into thinking that stem-cell research will bring any cures within the next 15 years. The ad is introduced and ended by actor Jim Caviezel, who portrayed Jesus in 'The Passion of the Christ.'" LINK

Ian Bishop of the New York Post reports the ad has had over one million views on You Tube. LINK

Bush Administration agenda:

The Washington Post's Peter Baker looks in must-read fashion at White House efforts to woo the base and has Republican pollster Frank Luntz, who gave up politics years ago, saying, "I've given up on 2006" and starting to worry about 2008. LINK

President Bush scores the wood of the New York Post today with his line about Democrats "measuring the drapes," which the Post's Ian Bishop describes as a "veiled slap" at Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). LINK

The New York Times' Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes up how the White House and Republican strategists plan to deploy President Bush in the closing two weeks of the campaign. LINK

"One Republican strategist close to the White House, granted anonymity to speak candidly about campaign strategy, said some Republicans -- among them Senate candidates in tight races in Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee -- simply do not want their final campaign images to include Mr. Bush, and have spurned White House offers for help."

"Instead, White House strategists are sending Mr. Bush to Republican-leaning districts like Sarasota, where he can help energize the base and increase voter turnout. The president will also appear in swing districts where the Republican candidate has calculated that the last-minute infusion of cash he can bring in is worth more than any bad publicity surrounding the visit."

"Bush welcome to raise cash, but not pictures and no press," reads the headline on a front page Washington Times story by Joseph Curl. LINK

"So far this year, Mr. Bush has done 10 times as many closed-press fundraising events compared to 2002. he has also not appeared at a signle major Republican rally, unlike four years ago, when he did 32."

There are "serious cracks in this once-solid wall of support," Notes the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz. LINK

Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post writes up President Bush's Tuesday accusation that Democrats are "genetically disposed" to raise taxes. LINK

"In a White House with a Fox News all-spin sensibility, officials don't think they need to change the strategy as much as they need to change their slogan," writes New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd in her look at President Bush's decision to stop using "stay the course," but offering no change to America's strategy in Iraq. LINK

Dick Morris uses his column in The Hill this week to advise President Bush to divert attention from Iraq and focus on North Korea as a winning campaign issue for Republicans this year.

Morris writes: "Bush needs to distract the country from Iraq, and North Korea offers the best way to do so. Americans are justifiably scared by the prospect of a nuclear North Korea and Bush's efforts to assemble a global coalition to press Pyongyang have shown that Rice has learned how to play the game and win. But the president needs to bring the issue to public attention and use it to save himself from two years of subpoenas and hearings by making the next two weeks about Korea." LINK

The Way to Win:

Conservative radio and TV host Sean Hannity, who calls Mark Halperin "a great American," has added a new book to his book club: The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008. LINK.

It should be Noted, of course, that Hannity called Donald Rumsfeld the same thing yesterday, and also that Bill O'Reilly called Halperin "gutsy" last night on The Factor.

To buy your own copy of The Way to Win, by Halperin and John F. Harris, click here now: LINK

Politics of Social Security:

The Washington Post's Lori Montgomery on Democrats using President Bush's comments about reviving Social Security reform efforts to their partisan advantage. LINK

2006: House:

Bob Cusack of the Hill reports that the NRCC has devised its "Final Push List" of 29 Republicans and 4 Democrats that are most susceptible to being unseated. The List, Cusack Notes, contains all the expected suspects and even some from districts that voted heavily in favor of President Bush in 2004. LINK

The AP's Devlin Barret looks at fears on the part of the New York GOP that the coattails of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Sen. Clinton might carry Democratic House candidates to victory in the Empire State. LINK

2006: House: AZ-01:

Federal authorities in Arizona have opened an inquiry into whether Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) introduced legislation that benefited a military contractor that employs his father, law enforcement officials told various news organizations on Tuesday.

The officials said the inquiry was at an early stage and that no search warrants had been issued, suggesting that investigators had yet to determine whether there was a basis to open a formal investigation or empanel a grand jury.

Rep. Renzi is running for re-election against Democrat Ellen Simon in a race that had been considered likely Republican prior to the most recent revelations.

National Democrats are hopeful about the latest development, believing that there is still enough time to develop this story in the Arizona press and to put it up in television commercials. The New York Times. LINK

The Arizona Republic's Jon Kamman and Dennis Wagner on Rep. Renzi lawyering up. LINK

2006: House: CT-02:

This is probably not the best year to have the distinction of being the Republican who represents the most Democratic leaning district of any Republican member of the House. The New York Times' Hernandez takes a closer look at Rep. Rob Simmons' Connecticut district. LINK

2006: House: CT-04:

"Mr. Shays has been a good congressman, but not good enough to overcome the fact that his re-election would help empower a party that is long overdue for a shakeup. This decision is painful, but not difficult, given the high caliber of his opponent. With due respect for Mr. Shays's service, we strongly endorse Diane Farrell for Congress," concludes the New York Times lead editorial. LINK

The New York Post's David Seifman writes up Mayor Michael Bloomberg's television ad for Rep. Shays. LINK

2006: House: IA-01:

The Des Moines Register's Tom Witosky reports the NRCC spent $347,000 this week railing Democrat Bruce Braley, part of the $4.06 million sum in an FEC report filed yesterday. LINK

2006: House: MN-01:

While debating the specter of Democratic control with Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) yesterday, Democrat Tim Walz said: "You want me to say Nancy Pelosi so you can put it in a commercial. If it's Nancy Pelosi, so be it." LINK

2006: House: MN-05:

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Kevin Diaz reports that "alarmed by the furor surrounding Muslim Fifth Congressional District candidate Keith Ellison, a national Islamic group is targeting Minnesota with an "anti-terror TV ad" blitz disavowing ties between Islam and terrorism." The 30-second spot (on the Web at">LINK) is sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). LINK

2006: House: OH-01:

While raising money for Democrat John Cranley in Ohio Tuesday, former President Clinton mocked the GOP's campaign theme saying: "So we messed up, so Iraq's not going so well, and we probably shouldn't have put the head of the Florida Show Horse Association in charge of FEMA, but you still have to vote for us, the Republicans say, because the other side will tax you into the poorhouse and on the way there, on every street corner, you will find a terrorist, and when you try to run, you will trip over a terrorist.'' LINK

2006: House: OH-15:

The Hill's Patrick O'Connor writes of the "guerilla tactics" employed by Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH) and other GOP incumbents this year as they fight like underdogs to retain their posts. LINK

2006: House: LA-02:

"Questionable financial dealings are rarely a bar to high office in Louisiana. The culture of tolerance means that Mr. Jefferson, an eight-term congressman, cannot be counted out on Election Day, experts say. Even Mayor C. Ray Nagin has endorsed him for re-election," writes Adam Nossiter of the New York Times in his look at Rep. Jefferson's (D-LA) battle for reelection. LINK

2006: Senate: Virginia:

Virginia Senate candidates James Webb and George Allen and their national party supporters are launching another ad blitz today, spending a total of $3.45 million over the next week in Northern Virginia, reports Michael Shear of the Washington Post. LINK

2006: Senate: New Jersey:

Tom Kean Jr., the Republican challenging Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), denounced Rush Limbaugh's Tuesday for belittling Michael J. Fox who suffers from Parkinson's disease.

Kean maintains that he supports stem cell research without restriction, but his critics claim he is playing both sides of the issue. In May, acting as a State Senator he voted against a bill to spend $250 million to build three stem cell and biomedical research centers in the state. Kean said his vote was because of NJ's dire financial situation and he later supported a bill that would allow the spending if voters approved it in a November referendum.

Sen. Menendez and Kean, Jr. are beginning to soften the tone of their race and show a softer, more personal side of themselves, reports David Chen of the New York Times. LINK

2006: Senate: Montana:

Without citing the poll or its results, the New York Post's Ian Bishop writes a story of a poll showing a Conrad Burns resurgence under the headline, "Comeback In Montana." LINK

The Weekly Standard's Matthew Continetti sees Tester's strength in Montana as "one more sign that the Democratic party is growing in the West." LINK

2006: Senate: Pennsylvania:

The Wall Street Journal's story looking at pharmaceutical giving Notes that Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), who was a leading proponent of the 2003 Medicare law, has been the biggest beneficiary of the pharmaceutical industry's largest, receiving almost $500,000 from pharmaceutical interests and their employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, $150,000 more than the next closest politician.

Sen. Santorum has a new ad up called "Baltic Avenue." It features Casey's face next to Kim Jong Il, a mushroom cloud and Ahmedinijad at different parts of the ad. You can view the ad here: LINK

2006: Senate: Connecticut:

Jennifer Medina of the New York Times writes a lengthy correction reporting Sen. Lieberman (D-CT) has indeed used the term "stay the course." LINK

The Courant also reports that Ned Lamont made a "fiery" speech yesterday about Iraq, adding a "new twist," writes Elizabeth Hamilton. Lamont compared Sen. Lieberman to Richard Nixon. LINK

2006: Senate: Florida:

A new Quinnipiac University poll out this morning shows Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) walloping his opponent Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) 64 percent to 29 percent. The poll also shows President Bush has a 36 percent approval rating in the Sunshine State and Florida voters say they prefer to have Democrats control Congress instead of Republicans by a margin of 52 to 35 percent.

The Schwarzenegger Era:

Besides the letter about global warming that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) sent to the White House yesterday, the Republican incumbent hoping for re-election recently appeared at a black church to describe his struggle with national leadership over global warming and reliance on Mideast oil. It's all an effort to show his independence, write Michael Finnegan and Scott Martelle of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Democratic agenda:

Apparently former Rep. Liz Holtzman (D-NY) and Leader Pelosi are not on the same page when it comes to impeaching President Bush. LINK

The Hill's Jim Snyder has former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) predicting fewer legislative changes than expected should Democrats take the House. LINK

2008: Republicans:

GOP fundraiser and former Karl Rove aide Margaret Hoover has joined Rudy Giuliani's PAC, reports the New York Daily News. LINK

While stumping for Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-IN), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) said: "'I'm not happy with how this is going in Iraq,' he said. But he added that Democrats would have a cut-and-run strategy that would embolden 'Islamic fascists.'" LINK

"Pataki: The Fall of a 'Rising Star'," reads the headline above New York Post op-ed contributor Stephen Slivinski's look at Gov. Pataki's fiscal record in Albany. LINK

2008: Democrats:

The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray argues that "antitrade, antiglobalization, anti-immigration" may be just the kind of economic platform a Democratic presidential candidate needs to succeed in 2008.

Vice President Cheney continued to espouse White House talking points yesterday suggesting that Sen. Hillary Clinton would be a formidable presidential candidate. The New York Post's Geoff Earle takes a look. LINK

The New York Daily News on the same: LINK

New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin writes that from John Spencer and Karl Rove to Barack Obama and John Kerry and Al Gore, the 2008 presidential contest is "all about Hillary." LINK

"I've earned every one of these lines and wrinkles - and I'm going to keep them," said Sen. Clinton per the New York Daily News as the tabloid continues to squeeze every last drop out of the plastic surgery story. LINK

Choire Sicha of the New York Observer chronicles Sen. Clinton's week fighting opponent John Spencer (R-NY), including the diversion of attention when Sen. Obama said he'd consider a presidential run in 2008. LINK

New York Observer's John Koblin Notes a strain of "Clinton fatigue" among some Democratic donors, suggesting former President Bill Clinton has been overdoing it with fundraisers in the last two months. LINK

Steve Kornacki of the New York Observer uses his "Wise Guys" column to analyze the political celebrity and ascension of Sen. Obama. LINK

Elana Schor of The Hill reports that support for Sen. Joe Biden's (D-DE) plan to divide Iraq into three sovereign regions gives "his nascent presidential bid for 2008 an infusion of political capital." LINK

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) has enlisted Sen. Obama to email the John Kerry e-mail list. While in Nashua, NH, yesterday, Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) criticized President Bush's coddling of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph has more. LINK

Foley: Hastert testifies:

"On this day, two weeks before Election Day, Mr. Hastert had planned to be hopscotching from district to district across America, working to preserve Republican control in the House and protect his own seat of power. Instead, he made his way from the speaker's suite to a dim corridor in the basement of the Capitol where the committee was meeting behind closed doors," writes Jeff Zeleny of Speaker Hastert's ethics committee testimony. LINK

Zeleny reports Hastert is heading out west to hit the campaign trail.

Los Angeles Times: LINK

Chicago Tribune: LINK

The AP on how the Foley scandal is limiting Speaker Hastert's ability to help GOP candidates. LINK


The FBI confirms that a probe into whether or not Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) improperly enlisted a pro-Israel lobbying group was made, but no wrongdoing was found, reports Dan Egan of the Washington Post. LINK

Casting and counting:

Keying off of's report, the Washington Post's Amy Goldstein reports ten states and possibly others may face voting problems on Election Day due to "new voting-machine technology, confusion over voting procedures or recent litigation over election rules -- and close races." LINK

Other calendar items:

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman is in Maryland today where he plans to attend grassroots rallies in upper Marlboro and Annapolis, MD.

Former Secretary of State (and informal Bush 43 adviser) Henry Kissinger headlines a closed press fundraiser for Tom Kean, Jr. (R-NJ).

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) discuss their plan for Iraq at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ at 10:30 am ET. Sen. Kerry then campaigns for Senate candidate Ned Lamont (D-CT) at a veterans' event in Hartford, CT at 2:45 pm ET.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) was scheduled to participate in the New Hampshire Political Library's National Speaking Series, Politics and Eggs, at the Bedford Village Inn in Bedford, NH at 8 am ET.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) campaigns for the minimum wage with senatorial candidate Jim Pederson (D-AZ), congressional candidate Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and Rep. Raul Griljava (D-AZ) at 1:00 pm ET in Tucson, AZ.

Senate candidate James Webb (D-VA) attends a town hall meeting with Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) at 10:00 am at ft. Belvoir, VA. Webb and the governor then head over to NOVA Community College for a speaking event at 11:15 am ET. in Woodbridge, VA.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) is awarded the Gen. L.V. 'Sonny' Montgomery Award for service to the National Guard at 11:30 am ET. in Washington, DC.

Senate candidate Ben Cardin (D-MD) speaks at the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Beltsville, MD at 12:00 pm ET. Then, Rep. Cardin participates in a taped debate against his opponent for the U.S. Senate Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele in Arlington, VA at 2:00 pm ET.

Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) attends a campaign event for Diane Farrell, the Democrat running against Rep. Shays, at Westport Fire State at 9:30 am ET in Westport, CT.

Gov. Mitt Romney is attending events in Colorado.

The Council for the National Interest hosts a briefing "The Armageddon Vote in 2006: Christian Zionists and the Midterm Elections" with Rev. Bob Edgar of the National Council of Churches at 10:00 am ET. in Washington, DC.

The National Press Club Newsmaker Program hosts a news conference "The Gay Factor: How Marriage Amendments and the Foley Fallout Will Affect the Election" at 10:00 am ET. in Washington, DC.

The Arab American Institute president Jim Zogby and Zogby International President John Zogby release the results of their poll "Arab American Voters in Battleground States: How They'll Vote, Why They'll Vote, Why Their Vote Matters" at 10:00 am ET. at the Capitol Hilton.

Lambda Legal holds a press conference after the New Jersey Supreme Court's issues a decision on same-sex marriage at 5:00 pm in Newark, NJ.

Sen. McCain returns to Phoenix to attend the funeral of his mother-in-law, Marguerite Hensley, who passed away on Sunday.