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Oct. 7, 2003 / 9:30 AM ET

From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiPardon our acting as though there’s only one story today...

All times ET: Polls in California open at 10:00 am. Schwarzenegger and Shriver vote at a private residence in Pacific Palisades at 11:30 am (CBS pool). At 2:00 pm, the Davises vote at Kyle Bradshaw Realty on Sunset (CBS pool inside the polling place), with a media avail to follow. At 3:00 pm, they attend Mass (closed press inside the church), then Davis greets precinct walkers at the Firefighters Local 1014 Hall in El Monte at 5:00 pm. At 7:00 pm, he greets GOTV volunteers at a United Food and Commercial Workers campaign office in Los Angeles. Davis’ election night bash is at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Schwarzenegger’s is at the Westin Century Plaza; doors there open at 10:30 pm. Polls close at 11:00 pm.

Had Florida not happened, the media still would play up the procedural quirks of this unprecedented election in the country’s biggest state: the supersized ballot with its 135 names in numerous languages; the potentially overtaxed vote-count system; the cost facing the already cash-strapped state; and possibly even, on a slow news day, the varied voting machines.

But because of Florida, the press is braced for something to go wrong today. And face it: odds are that something will, given the chance for sheer human and/or computer error, much less the possibility of premeditated tampering.

If or when something does happen, don’t rush to assume intentional or even accidental voter disenfranchisement. This is not to say we don’t take such a possibility seriously. We all know the likely trouble spots: fewer polling places handling more voters, old punch-cards and new touch screens, etc. Unforeseen problems could arise, as well. It’s just that, as one sage election-night veteran notes, the polling place that has opened 10 minutes late for the past decade may open 10 minutes late today.

Another reminder: We may well see unusually high turnout, but wait for the numbers. Don’t go by anecdotes. With fewer polling places open, lines may consequently be longer, and polling places may run out of ballot, without turnout being higher.

This election may be over by the morning, or Tuesday night may last till Friday. A two-part election means double the chance for things to get hung up. The CW has it that Schwarzenegger wins more handily on Question Two, and maybe we get a nail-biter on Question One. But what about this race has been conventional? The CW among insiders also has been that early voters leaned Republican. Now some Republicans suggest Democrats had the more aggressive early-voting program. There’s simply no way to confidently predict an outcome.

If the election does wrap up in a timely way, the press corps will head to Phoenix on Thursday, where a Graham-less field (more on that below) of nine Democratic presidential candidates will debate that night, heralding a renewed focus on 2004.

After the polls close at 11:00 pm ET, the California secretary of state’s website will begin tracking the results, updated every 10 minutes. These results are considered the “semifinal official canvass.” Counties must begin their official canvass no later than October 9 (two days after the election), and they must complete their work by November 4 (28 days after the election), and report their results to the secretary of state by November 11 (35 days).

November 15 (39 days) is the deadline for the secretary of state to certify the results, although certification could occur earlier than that. If the recall succeeds, Davis must vacate his office once the votes are certified.

Let the long day begin.

California: linksThe secretary of state’s website:

Contact information for all 58 counties

The six counties using punch-card ballots:

Los Angeles County: (LA County sample punch-card ballot:)

Mendocino County

Sacramento County

San Diego CountySanta Clara CountySolano CountyCalifornia: GOTVWith little coming out of the Schwarzenegger campaign about GOTV efforts, we can’t say for sure that California Democrats and their like-minded interest groups do it better, but they at least talk about it more.Because of the compressed timeframe of the campaign, the Davis team outsourced much of their GOTV operation to labor and other affiliated interests. A Davis memo yesterday touted: “More than 10,000 volunteers going door-to-door... More than 6 million GOTV telephone calls... recorded by President Bill Clinton, Vice President, Al Gore, First Lady Sharon Davis, California Democratic Chair Art Torres, Los Angeles City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa and Barbra Streisand, among others... More than 7 million pieces of mail are also hitting mailboxes... More than 1 million e-mails sent to voters across the state, including more than 500,000 to Latino voters.” Some of the presidentials are in on the act: Dean e-mailed supporters saying, “The presence of a Republican governor like Arnold Schwarzenegger will make it significantly more difficult for the Democrats to win California in the November 2004 presidential election.” (Expect a Republican National Committee release on that to follow a Davis loss...) Lieberman holds a presser at denounce the recall at the Ritz-Carlton in DC at 9:45 am. The anti-Prop. 54 folks have Danny Glover walking precincts for them in Los Angeles. Schwarzenegger will be bolstered to some extent by pro-recall forces. Rescue California, per a spokesperson, started their GOTV efforts over the weekend: phone banks and a taped message from recall advocate Darrell Issa to 1 million voters identified over the summer and through September as being pro-recall. Per his campaign, McClintock on Saturday began a statewide precinct walk, “Walk for Tom,” organized via the web. Team leaders who signed up on the Internet went to several hundred locations across the state — churches, wards, etc. — to tell people to vote for McClintock. Their message: yes on the recall, and vote McClintock or vote your conscience.California: the restIn its overview of today’s vote, the Washington Post says the recall “remains fluid as the public digests late-breaking allegations that Schwarzenegger sexually touched and taunted more than a dozen women over the course of his body-building and acting career.”“Schwarzenegger’s advisers expressed optimism that the film star had weathered the worst of the damage from the controversy over allegations of groping and grabbing women, but they worked throughout the final day to highlight his support from female voters.”“The candidate was accompanied by his wife, television journalist Maria Shriver. At his San Jose rally, the campaign filled the stage with women dressed in white ‘Arnold’ T-shirts and holding placards that read: ‘Remarkable Women Join Arnold.’”The New York Times has more. “Republicans conceded that polls showed the margin had narrowed in recent days because of news reports that raised questions about Mr. Schwarzenegger’s character. But they insisted that Governor Davis, who had been deeply unpopular, would still lose the recall vote and that Mr. Schwarzenegger would easily triumph over other replacement candidates.”The New York Post mentions the new allegation against Schwarzenegger that surfaced yesterday from Rhonda Miller, a stuntwoman who worked on “Terminator 2” and “True Lies.” “Schwarzenegger denied Rhonda Miller’s charges, but admitted crudely remarking upon photos of women taken by others on the set. His campaign also accused Miller of prostitution - a charge strongly denied by Miller’s lawyer, Gloria Allred.” The campaign sent out a memo and a statement.The Wall Street Journal: “Whatever the outcome, the most pertinent question is this: What will the winner do to address the state’s daunting fiscal ills? The candidates have done little to answer that, least of all Mr. Schwarzenegger. Instead, the race focused more on personalities than policies.”The New York Times reminds everyone that this election might not be decided for days, possibly due to the absentee ballots. “More than 2 million absentee ballots had been returned to election officials by Monday, state officials said. But about 1.2 million absentee and other ballots will not be counted until well after the election....” “‘I think that if the recall question is close, the whole thing could be up in the air,’ said Janice Atkinson, the assistant registrar of voters in Sonoma County, also in Northern California... Ms. Atkinson added: ‘We’re not enough to throw off the statewide average, but anytime there is a close contest, you can’t predict the results until all the ballots are counted and that’s not until 28 days after the election in some cases. I think this may be one of those cases.’”And the Mercury News says experts are predicting a big turnout. “Almost two-thirds of registered voters will cast ballots in the election, Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo estimated. He predicted that about 10 million of the state’s 15.4 million registered voters will vote, a dramatic increase over last year’s historically low turnout of 50.6 percent, but a bit lower than the 71 percent of registered voters who turned out in the 2000 presidential election.”GrahamEmbed Sophie Conover reports that Graham’s decision to withdraw from the race was made in consultation with a small group of close advisors and family members. His Senate staff, rather than what remained of his presidential campaign, handled the logistics of the Larry King appearance. In fact, his campaign spokesperson, Mo Elleithee, maintains he was unaware of the appearance until it was publicly announced, and had no idea what Graham was going to say.Conover sat next to Adele Graham in the CNN green room for the Senator’s announcement (no cameras allowed) and saw Graham and his family exchange last words prior to his appearance on air. After Graham walked away, Conover asked Mrs. Graham what he was going to announce. She said, “I think you know.” When Conover asked if she was happy about the decision, she replied, “No,” and shook her head. Mrs. Graham managed to keep a smile on her face for much of the time her husband was on TV but, Conover notes, it was obviously a difficult night for her. When the Senator appeared on screen, Mrs. Graham leaned forward in her chair and watched intently as he made his announcement.After the appearance, the family was whisked out of the green room, presumably to meet up with Graham. When Conover inquired about any media availabilities with the Senator for Tuesday, she was told by his traveling aide, “We’re done.”Gephardt embed Priya David reports campaign spokesman Erik Smith saying Graham’s departure from the field will offer Florida donors with long-standing ties to Gephardt an opportunity to give to the Congressman. Coincidentally, Smith added, Gephardt was on his way to Florida when the news came that Graham might be quitting the race. Gephardt will be in private meetings and fundraising events through most of Tuesday, returning to DC Tuesday night. David notes the campaign is still keeping quiet about their third-quarter fundraising numbers, but had promised an estimate at the start of this week.As the Washington Post notes, Graham told Larry King “a late start made it impossible to carve out support in a field that now numbers nine other contenders. His decision had been rumored for several days. It leaves the way open for Graham to seek his fourth term in the Senate next year, and he said he would soon decide whether to run.”“Strategists for several other Democratic hopefuls speculated last night that his early departure may improve Graham’s chances of being picked for the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket. He was considered for that role by Gore in 2000, and some have suggested that Gore would have won Florida without a contest had Graham been his running mate.”“Leaving the door to the No. 2 spot wide open, Graham told King he was ‘prepared to do whatever I can to contribute to a Democratic victory next year.’”The Miami Herald adds that Graham’s oldest daughter, Gwen Logan, said she expects her father “will make a decision on the Senate in a few days. Give him a little time.” has the New Hampshire angle on Graham’s withdrawal. “About two dozen New Hampshire staffers for Graham now find themselves looking for work precisely at a time when Wesley Clark, who just entered the race three weeks ago, appears to be looking to hire people to do the same jobs.”Oct. 6, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiEven if we could safely assume the tracking polls are accurate, with both sides showing the recall gravitating toward 50 percent, who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. Despite a drop in his support, we can’t find a knowledgeable observer or operative who thinks Schwarzenegger will lose on Question Two. We also can’t find a knowledgeable observer or operative who can predict with confidence whether the recall will pass or fail. Allegations of 15 women may or may not stand between Schwarzenegger and the GOP’s ability to claim the governorships of the country’s four biggest states. Democrats reject the idea that a Davis loss would have any meaning for 2004, arguing that Schwarzenegger would have an uphill battle to turn the state around; that ideologically he and Bush are opposed on abortion, gay rights, guns, etc.; and that the state remains too Democratic for Bush to have a shot at it in 2004 even with a GOP governor. That said, consider what a psychological blow it would be for them to lose this seat, allowing Republicans to boast holding the governorships of New York, Florida, Texas — and California.That said, we’re talking about a small pool of undecided voters, including some formerly but no longer decided voters, who are coming to grips with the idea of electing a governor who has admitted to sexually harassing women to some extent, and weighing that against their anger toward Davis and his perceived failures and flaws. If Schwarzenegger prevails, there may be post-election ugliness of a sort we did not see after the Bush DWI charges in 2000 — a lot of commentary on how a candidate who admitted to this kind of behavior got elected, and what message that sends; what the media should/should not have done differently about reporting the allegations; absentee voters saying they wouldn’t have voted for him if they’d known about the groping earlier; etc. If Davis survives, the Schwarzenegger campaign will, as already indicated, blame the media.Schwarzenegger rallies in San Jose today at 12:30 pm ET, in Huntington Beach at 4:00 pm, and in San Bernardino at 7:00 pm. Davis does a young voters forum in Sacto at 1:00 pm ET, and attends GOTV rallies in San Francisco at 4:00 pm ET and in Los Angeles at 8:00 pm ET. Also on tap this week: Clark hits Iowa today while Edwards and Gephardt talk jobs in key early states; the Graham watch continues as more staff leave the campaign; and Thursday brings another Democratic presidential debate in Phoenix, AZ, hosted by the state party and broadcast on CNN, while Bush headlines a big GOP fundraiser Wednesday and visits New Hampshire Thursday.The leakThe Washington Post reports Wilson doesn’t think President Bush played a role in the leak, he told Tim Russert yesterday. “‘I do believe... that the president would never have condoned or been party to anything like this,’ he said yesterday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’”However, the Washington Times reports Wilson did say “he will use his ’15 minutes of notoriety’ to campaign against President Bush” in 2004. Asked if he considers himself a Democrat, he said, ‘I certainly do now.’” Wilson also “backed off some yesterday, saying that while Mr. Rove was likely not the source of the leak, he ‘gave legs’ to a newspaper column that revealed his wife’s identity as a CIA operative.”The Los Angeles Times looks at the administration’s seeming double standard on leaks. “In numerous instances since Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush White House has been quick to condemn others for failing to safeguard national secrets. Officials have scolded lawmakers for their allegedly loose tongues, fired off memos to military commanders seen as too cozy with the media, and backed up those admonitions with calls for investigations or threats to curtail access to classified data.”“Given that track record, many in Washington have been mystified that the White House didn’t respond publicly until last week to a leak dating to mid-July, when a syndicated columnist ‘outed’ a clandestine CIA operative and attributed the information to ‘senior administration officials.’ It only reacted after news reports that the CIA had formally requested a criminal investigation.”Bob Novak, meanwhile, is still writing about Wilson and his wife. “On the same day in 1999 that retired diplomat Joseph Wilson was returned $1,000 of $2,000 he contributed to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore a month earlier because it exceeded the federal limit, his CIA-employee wife gave $1,000 to Gore using a fictitious identification for herself.”“In making her April 22, 1999, contribution, Valerie E. Wilson identified herself as an ‘analyst’ with “Brewster-Jennings & Associates.’ No such firm is listed anywhere.” Kerry embed Becky Diamond reports Wilson saying he has “answered some questions” from the Kerry campaign “over the last several months he’s been more involved.” But he informally advises “a number of other campaigns but not officially,” Diamond writes. Wilson told Diamond he has sent papers and opinions to Dean and Lieberman, and that “if the Bush administration were to ask [him], [he] would share [his advice and opinions] with them as well.” He said he “would be prepared” to endorse Kerry, and that he “has decided who [he] is supporting and that is John Kerry.”CaliforniaOn Today this morning, Davis said his camp’s internal poll numbers show the recall winning by just a 50%-49% or 50%-48% margin, and continued to question whether the groping allegations against Schwarzenegger make him fit or unfit for office. Today also aired the part of Schwarzenegger’s Brokaw interview in which Schwarzenegger says he has “done crazy things” in the past, and that some of the allegations against him aren’t true. “Gray Davis is running a dirty campaign.”Schwarzenegger also says in the interview, getting wide print coverage today, that he will set the record straight on the specifics of the sexual accusations against him, but not until the campaign is over. “‘As soon as the campaign is over I will; I can get into all of the specifics and find out what is really going on, but right now, I’m just really occupied with the campaign,’ he said.” — New York PostYet even with the recall race narrowing, San Francisco Chronicle columnists argue that Davis needs a “Herculean” turnout by Democrats to win. “Reason: Even as polls show the race narrowing, the fact is some 2 million absentee ballots — possibly 20 percent of the total recall vote — already have been cast by mail. If the ‘pre-groping’ polling was right, it’s likely that up to 56 percent of those absentee votes will be in favor of the recall.” “Given the early voting, Democrats will likely need at least a 52 percent ‘no’ on the recall vote at the ballot box — a significantly higher number that even the most optimistic Democratic polls have shown so far.” Davis goes up with a new ad today, probably his last of the campaign, that features Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who says that Californians should be worried about the sexual allegations against Schwarzenegger while never mentioning his name. The Boston Globe reports backers of Proposition 54 say they have “run out of cash and out of steam.” The Hartford Courant looks at what Lieberman has at stake in the recall. The Courant says, ”[s]hould Bustamante win Tuesday, Lieberman would get a huge boost because a governor can rapidly raise money and control the state party apparatus. Should Arnold Schwarzenegger win, Bustamante remains lieutenant governor and becomes virtually powerless. Even if Davis retains his job, Bustamante probably will be considered damaged, a man who challenged his boss and could not rally his own party.”And on what the recall could mean to Democrats in 2004, The Courant notes, ”[t]he biggest impact is expected in the 2004 general election. Though California’s 55 electoral votes would be more than 20 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency, the state hasn’t been much of a November battleground in recent years.”In addition, Republicans will tie any Democratic nominee to Davis. “If Davis survives the recall, Republicans have a ready-made symbol to use against Democrats. They can trot out any of the photos made in recent days of whomever the Democratic presidential nominee turns out to be appearing with Davis — since virtually all of them did.”And the New York Times looks at whether a Governor Schwarzenegger, especially after last week’s news, would help or hurt Bush’s reelection bid. ”[A]nalysts and some Republicans said on Sunday that Mr. Bush might not want to be too closely associated with a Governor Schwarzenegger, particularly after two years in which the president has made an effort to fortify his standing with two groups that presumably are paying particular attention to events here: women and Jewish voters.”More 2004 notes (D)Fellow Democrats have jabbed Dean for his current or past positions on trade and Medicare. Yet the latest attack, the Washington Post writes, is over guns. “Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) scolded Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean for his friendly relations with the National Rifle Association during a Capitol Hill rally last week to drum up support for renewal — and strengthening — of the federal ban on assault weapons.”“Kennedy has endorsed Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) and campaigned on his behalf. But Kennedy told a reporter after his remarks that he had not discussed with Gephardt his plans to attack Dean on gun control.”“Dean spokeswoman Patricia Enright said Dean supports renewal of the 1994 law banning manufacture, transfer and possession of certain kinds of assault weapons but has not addressed whether the law should be strengthened, as many gun control supporters advocate. Dean has said new gun controls should be set at the state level.”Another Kennedy (Ted) campaigned for Kerry in Iowa. The Boston Herald reports that “although Kennedy fired up the base at rallies in three Iowa cities and tried to infuse Kerry’s campaign with some needed momentum, his endorsement may not boost Kerry’s prospects much.All 10 Democratic candidates addressed the Democratic National Committee’s fall meeting on Friday and Saturday. While most focused their attacks on Bush and Iraq, some did save some shots for their rivals. Clark, trying to fit in with the crowd, led his speech with: “‘I want to make one thing clear: I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-affirmative action, I’m pro-environment . . . and if that ain’t a Democrat, then I must be at the wrong meeting.”’ Kerry, speaking afterwards attacked Clark “‘I am proud I stood against Richard Nixon, not with him.’” — Boston HeraldThe Miami Herald reports Graham, who was rumored last week to be thinking of dropping out of the race, had “minimal” support at the DNC fall meeting. “About 15 supporters, consisting mostly of his Senate staff, showed up Saturday along with Graham, his wife and several family members.”The Herald also reports: “Operatives for rival campaigns spoke privately of moving into Florida’s fertile fundraising turf once Graham gives up and suggested the senator remained a potential candidate for vice president.”Also at the DNC meeting, “Edwards’ address was interrupted by applause and standing ovations as the North Carolina senator called for higher teacher pay, expanded access to college and steps to curb the escalating costs of prescription drugs. Edwards opened his speech by targeting Bush’s $87 billion request for Iraq and Afghanistan.”And the News & Observer reports Sharpton attacked Dean for touting his own “practice of talking about racial issues in front of white audiences.” Sharpton shot back, “‘Governor Dean, it’s not enough to talk the talk . . . You’ve got to walk the walk.’”Clark embed Marisa Buchanan says the campaign has raised $3.5 million over the last two weeks, two-thirds of which was raised over the Internet.Embed Felix Schein says the Dean campaign will unveil its October strategy to reporters in a conference call this week. Today, they begin an open-ended ad buy covering much of Iowa. Voters will see an old ad, titled “Straight Talk,” which paints the Governor as the outsider with fresh ideas needed in Washington. The obvious target, Schein notes: Gephardt, who is running neck in neck with Dean in the state. The campaign also is in the process of building the largest paid operation in Iowa, and Dean will tour the state from the Missouri to the Mississippi on October 14. A similar staff expansion is planned for New Hampshire in the coming weeks, Schein says. Roll Call reports on a memo from a couple of GOP pollsters arguing that “if one makes the case that Bush could be vulnerable to the poofy [Sens.] John Kerry or the scintillating (yawn) Bob Graham how can anyone write off Howard Dean?... The difference between Howard Dean and the rest of the Democrat[ic] candidates is that Dean comes across as a true believer to the base but will not appear threatening to folks in the middle.” The pollsters “also offer an electoral vote scenario under which Dean could defeat Bush in 2004. They give Dean victories in 23 states (270 electoral votes) and point out that Bush lost all but two - Nevada and West Virginia - in the 2000 presidential election.”The Des Moines Register covers Dean’s speech at the University of Iowa yesterday in which he liked the Bush administration to Nixon’s and “portrayed himself as someone who would be more truthful than Bush.”Embed Dugald McConnell says Iowa also is getting a new Edwards TV ad, titled “Strong,” which goes up in Iowa today and in New Hampshire later this week. From the ad: “I will not give this President a blank check. We should stop the inside deals, and work with our allies in Iraq so we can afford to make us stronger at home, with health care for every child and a real plan to create jobs.” McConnell also says Edwards has changed his schedule in order to participate in the South Carolina NAACP roundtable this Friday; the campaign decided on the change last Friday, McConnell was told.The Gephardt campaign tells embed Priya David that the Medicare issue “isn’t something voters are going to get the first time around. This is going to have to be a consistent drumbeat that’s hammered home.” Watch out for more at the next debate, David advises. Graham embed Sophie Conover gets Jim Hester, the ED of the Tennessee Democratic Party, placing Graham in “the top tier of candidates” for his state. According to Hester, Graham’s message “resonates in Tennessee” and while “the Southern Strategy is a difficult strategy, Bob Graham is a good candidate to do it.”On Tuesday, while every media outlet in the country will have eyes trained on California, Kucinich will appear at a rally in DC with 2000 Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. Embed Karin Caifa says all 10 candidates were invited to participate in the rally, but only Kucinich accepted.The AP notes how Lieberman told a predominately African-American congregation in New Hampshire over the weekend that that President Bush is closing the doors on people of color, saying, “It’s just as bad as the doors that were closed on black people by segregationists... I want to lead with integrity based on American values.” Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles says Moseley Braun staffers are scratching their heads over why Graham would even think about getting out so early, if that is the case. Then again, Miles says, the Braun people are OK with existing on a very limited budget...Sharpton said news of a campaign “rat” would come out “in a day or two,” embed Tom Llamas reminds us. That was on Thursday, and still no follow-up from the Sharpton camp on these statements. Sharpton is speaking in Atlanta on Tuesday. Louisiana governorThe New Orleans Times-Picayune breaks down the gubernatorial run-off between Republican Bobby Jindal (who captured 33% of Saturday’s primary vote) and Democrat Kathleen Blanco (18%). “The question for Jindal, who apparently has struck a chord with Republicans and social conservatives, is whether he will be able to increase his number by winning over moderates and crossover from more conservative Democrats.”“For Blanco, the challenge is whether she can corral the 57 percent of voters who supported her and the other three top Democrats in the primary.”Oct. 3, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiWe don’t envy Sunday show bookers. There’s imminent DOJ interviews about the leak, no WMD, word of North Korean progress toward nuclear weapons capabilities, and a USA Today report that Iraqi “insurgents are now launching an average of 17 assaults a day against patrols, convoys and bases, an analysis of coalition security reports shows. The data also show insurgents are using more sophisticated tactics and weapons.”There’s the recall. Just when a third set of poll numbers would seem to confirm — to the extent polls can, when the electorate is TBD — majority support for recalling Davis and a good-sized lead for Schwarzenegger, news drops of alleged sexual misconduct and long-ago professed admiration for Hitler. - San Francisco ChronicleHere’s where that split ballot helps Schwarzenegger: because of the mental and physical disconnect caused by Questions One and Two, Schwarzenegger’s momentum may freeze without it translating into more votes to keep Davis in office.Schwarzenegger’s bus tour stops today at the Los Angeles Arboretum at 11:30 am ET, Pueblo Building Materials in Santa Clarita at 1:40 pm ET, and the Marketplace in Bakersfield at 5:45 pm ET. Maria Shriver addresses the California Women Excellence in Leadership Awards in Newport Beach at 3:00 pm ET. Davis campaigns with Gephardt and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack at the Port of Long Beach headquarters at 2:30 pm ET. Sunday-show “notebook” fodder: Democrats’ field of 10 candidates may be on the brink of shrinking to a much more manageable nine — and just as former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile tells the AP those candidates who aren’t getting anywhere should get out. Graham may be stumbling toward an exit. More on this below.Today in DC, two speeches by two elbow-jostling candidates: Clark addresses the 2nd Annual Military Reporters and Editors Convention at 1:00 pm at the Crowne Plaza in Crystal City. The campaign says he’ll “outline the Bush Administration’s failure to effectively protect the American people and present his own vision for national and global security.” And Kerry addresses The National Council of Negro Women at 10:00 am, focusing on civil rights and civil liberties in advance of the new SCOTUS session starting Monday.But the real elbowing, vocal or not, takes place at the Democratic National Committee meeting in DC today, where the warring Dean, Lieberman, Clark and Kerry all speak between 10:30 am and 1:00 pm; Kucinich and Moseley Braun also speak. Another gubernatorial candidate who has never held elective office and would be the nation’s first Indian-American governor is getting overlooked amidst the recall. Louisiana holds its open primary for governor tomorrow; polls are open from 7:00 am till 9:00 pm ET. The latest surveys show Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Blanco and Republican Bobby Jindal leading a pack of 17 (one just dropped out, though his name remains on the ballot); Democrat Richard Ieyoub is running third. If no candidate breaks 50 percent on Saturday, a run-off between the top two, regardless of party, will take place November 15. If the poll numbers are correct, a run-off between a woman and a 32-year-old Republican of Eastern Indian ancestry could bring some national attention to this Southern state, where white men have traditionally dominated politics.Lastly, a few bon mots from Howard Kurtz on yesterday: “The fact that conservatives or Republicans are on the receiving end of media-driven accusations in Washington, Los Angeles and Palm Beach, Fla., may be mere coincidence. But the reaction has been predictably partisan, with conservatives on the defensive and liberals embracing the kind of headlines they denounce when one of their number is under fire.”The leakThe Washington Post on the imminent DOJ interviews: “The move appears intended to short-circuit Democratic calls for the appointment of a special counsel and avoid what could otherwise be a long and politically damaging investigation. Moreover, a decision to begin interviewing officials immediately could increase pressure on a leaker to step forward promptly or risk charges of lying to investigators.”The Washington Times picked up “a more combative tone” out of the White House yesterday.Kerry embed Becky Diamond notes Kerry told MSNBC yesterday that “someone in the White House broke the law, someone in the White House committed a traitorous act, someone in the White House released the name of a CIA agent, put them in danger and it’s extraordinary to me that their act of revenge is somehow now being dumped on the very same people who are accountable for it — it’s almost Nixonian.” Kerry also said the Bush administration is “making excuses for everything.” “I guess this is the old throw something out there, try to distract people, throw mud in any direction and somehow it will change things.”Iraq vs. domestic spendingThe Washington Post says yesterday’s House vote in opposition to the White House’s proposed overtime pay revisions “highlights congressional Republicans’ growing unease over the economy, and their increasing willingness to defy the White House on contentious issues.”CaliforniaThe Los Angeles Times on Schwarzenegger’s Thursday: “Schwarzenegger’s strategists had designed the closing part of the campaign - a four-day bus tour of the state - as a ‘triumphal march.’ Instead, the candidate began the day apologizing for sexual misconduct. By nightfall he was sitting with his wife, responding not only to that issue, but to allegations in the New York Times and on ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ that he had expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler during the 1970s.”The story notes that the source of the Hitler information “has given conflicting accounts of Schwarzenegger’s remarks on Hitler. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times two months ago, he denied Schwarzenegger had ever made such remarks. This week, however, he told ABC and the New York Times that Schwarzenegger had made the remarks.”The Washington Post (which runs excerpts of yesterday’s Los Angeles Times story) on Schwarzenegger’s apology: “Whether that confession will push the issue to the sidelines or merely fan the flames of the controversy was the question of the day among Schwarzenegger’s supporters and opponents. But no one regarded it as insignificant.”USA Today (which devotes at least four stories to the allegations): “Voters have shown, as with Bill Clinton, that they’ll forgive consensual sex outside marriage. But when he didn’t refute the Times’ story, Schwarzenegger essentially admitted to a persistent pattern of improper physical contact with women.”The Wall Street Journal editorial page: “Schwarzenegger didn’t deny, dissemble or wag his finger into a camera and drop a whopper. Instead he apologized, publicly. He did so, moreover, without having to have it dragged out of him and within hours” of the story running. The editorial suggests voters may find such candor “a welcome contrast.”Sacramento Bee’s Weintraub reports from the bus tour that Schwarzenegger “did not repeat his apology at his second event of the day, in Orange County, but did mention the attacks indirectly, and his surrogates laid into the LA Times with ferocity.” The Bee covers speculation that Bustamante will drop out. Yet he “gave no sign Thursday that he had such plans, appearing at a Los Angeles debate and continuing his spate of TV commercials.” Schwarzenegger’s seeming suggestion that such behavior is common in Hollywood has some in Hollywood up in arms. - LA TimesThe Los Angeles Times also reports recall proponents are threatening (more) litigation if Davis gets recalled and takes the full 39 days to leave office. The Boston Herald says the Los Angeles Times report reverberated around Massachusetts yesterday when a spokesperson for GOP Gov. Mitt Romney offered that Romney heard similar allegations about Sen. Ted Kennedy when Romney challenged Kennedy for his Senate seat in 1994, and “‘never once thought to make an issue out of them.’”“Kennedy declined comment but a source close to him said Romney has some explaining to do. Another source doubted the incident would lead to a longterm rift.”Gephardt embed Priya David notes Gephardt, who campaigns with Davis today, has been out to California several times since the recall was announced, but this is his first time out with the Governor. Gephardt communications director Erik Smith told David they “thought it would be fun to do something on the home stretch.”GrahamEmbed Sophie Conover reports that campaign political director Tommy Thompson was with Graham last night when Thompson advised spokesperson Mo Elleithee that Graham had no plans to withdraw. According to Elleithee, Thompson turned to Graham and asked him about the rumors, and Graham told Thompson they were not true. Elleithee told Conover he then called Thompson and Graham back after the AP updated its story with news that Graham had told a Senate colleague he planned to withdraw. Thompson told Elleithee that Graham denied speaking with any of his colleagues about the race on Thursday. As for the report that there are to be “massive lay-offs” at the campaign, Elleithee says he was told he could “categorically deny” it.Graham did meet with high-level advisors to plot the course of the campaign on Thursday, Conover says. Two possible strategies are said to have been discussed, although a campaign staffer revealed there actually are three possibilities in play (paraphrased): Iowa or bust, a Southern strategy, or an exit. Iowa or bust speaks for itself: the campaign would hope for a top-four finish in Iowa in order to get a bump going into New Hampshire, then move on to Southern primaries. The Southern strategy would involve virtually abandoning Iowa and New Hampshire to concentrate on South Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee. Conover notes that Graham has said on many occasions he believes it’s necessary to do well in at least Iowa or New Hampshire in order to get the nomination. Elleithee to Conover: “We still believe we can do well in Iowa. It’s a matter of trying to put our resources in the place we can get the greatest impact and the Senator is still trying to decide whether that is in Iowa or South Carolina.” Right now, Conover says, Graham has 14 field offices and about 50 campaign workers in Iowa, whereas in South Carolina roughly six or seven people are said to be working for the campaign. One member of the Iowa staff told Conover, “We’ve been on hold all day today trying to figure out what’s going on ourselves.”DNC MeetingThere’s a lot in this little AP brief: “Democratic Party activists meeting in Washington for Democratic National Committee fall meetings warned that President Bush still has the upper hand; raised doubts about their newest candidate, Wesley K. Clark; urged second-tier contenders to get out of the race; and worried that the primary fight could drag longer than expected — perhaps even into the summer convention.”“Most committee members said they believe Dean’s fund-raising success makes him a sure bet to survive the first few primary rounds, and the only question now is who emerges as the alternative. Some are anxious to get on with it. ‘The fact that these candidates haven’t caught fire, haven’t raised any money, can’t campaign in every state, and won’t even qualify for Secret Service protection in January tells me it’s time for them to go,’ said Donna Brazile, manager of Al Gore’s 2000 campaign. Brazile... declined to say who she wants to drop out.”Another spat boiling within the field, but below the radar: Sharpton, with seven other candidates in tow, is fighting to stop Michigan from using Internet voting in its primary, a decision backed by the Internet-powered Dean campaign. Sharpton and the other seven campaigns — all but Clark, who, probably because he also owes something to the Internet, declined to sign on to the effort — charge that minorities typically have less access to the Internet and would be disenfranchised. Embed Marisa Buchanan reports that in his DNC speech, Clark will explain who he is and why he’s a Democrat. Asked about Kerry’s e-mailed attack on Clark’s party affiliation, campaign spokesperson Kym Spell told Buchanan, “Kerry can do whatever he chooses to do with his time to talk to the American people. It’s a shame. We will not engage in it. We’re gonna talk about the issues.”Gephardt spokesperson Erik Smith told embed Priya David that Gephardt has been working on his DNC speech himself, so Smith didn’t have many details on what Gephardt will say. Smith noted Gephardt got a very positive reception at the DNC meeting last February, and that this is a good chance for party leaders to hear what the candidates are saying in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. Embed Becky Diamond asked the Kerry campaign about the e-mail they sent out yesterday criticizing Clark, and spokesperson Robert Gibbs replied, “I believe as Democrats gather in Washington for the DNC meeting, they will be alarmed to learn Wesley Clark is a registered lobbyist but not a registered Democrat. Clearly, Clark’s biggest hurdle will be to convince Democrats that he... is one of them.” Embed Dionne Scott says to expect Lieberman to lay out his vision for the party and criticize President Bush’s policies in his speech. The campaign is rallying staffers and volunteers in the area to cheer Lieberman before, during and after the speech. An e-mail went out yesterday urging supporters to come to the event with signs, T-shirts and other Lieberman paraphernalia.Embed Angela Miles notes Moseley Braun wrote her own DNC speech yesterday. The candidate said it will be a mix of rhetoric from her announcement, plus raw meat. More 2004 notes (D)The Wall Street Journal looks at Clark’s NATO saga and reiterates that he “can be a forceful, even brilliant leader. But his brashness and overt ambition also have made him a lot of powerful enemies, as well as powerful friends.” Another Journal story notes “Democrats’ newest 2004 candidate assures service-employees chief Andy Stern he will produce a health plan soon. Clark scrambles with Dean and Kerry to win key member unions after labor ally Gephardt fails to muster AFL-CIO endorsement this month.”Edwards embed Dugald McConnell says that while Edwards didn’t make it to the David Kay briefing yesterday, he did find time to sit with Elizabeth Edwards for a TV interview (McConnell notes that Kay also prepared a written report). “We’re giving him a couple of days off,” a staffer told McConnell the other day, after “just a brutal couple of days there, fundraising stop after fundraising stop after fundraising stop.” On Sunday, Edwards begins a “work week” to focus on jobs, with 20 events over five days, right up until next Thursday night’s debate. Edwards pledges to create 5 million new jobs in his first two years in office, and will start pitching his plan in New Hampshire, a state where, McConnell notes, he has shown less progress than in Iowa or South Carolina. “People like him personally,” said state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, who has not endorsed a candidate but has hosted get-togethers for Edwards, Gephardt, and Lieberman. “What I hear sometimes is that he’s too young, not enough experience. On the other hand, when people meet him, they say he’s very bright, articulate, and personable. The thing is, can you meet everybody?”Embed Priya David reports on Gephardt’s TV ad on ag issues now running in Iowa. Asked if this is the beginning of a stepped-up campaign in Iowa, the campaign said Gephardt’s schedule “has always been aggressive in Iowa and will continue to be so, but the energy is increasing.”Kucinich embed Karin Caifa points out that Kucinich is attempting to assert leadership potential, boasting first that he led the House Democrats who voted against the Iraq resolution, and now rallying them to vote “no” on the $87 billion. He took to the House floor for the second day in a row on this yesterday. Lieberman’s campaign is focusing on February 3 as “moderate’s day,” hoping to win the seven state contests on that day, and placing their “presidential hopes beyond Iowa and New Hampshire.” But the Boston Globe says “reaction to his prowar, pro-free trade, and socially moderate views in South Carolina, Arizona, Delaware, and four other states has been frosty at best. Fame from his 2000 vice presidential bid put Lieberman out front in early national polls, but that edge apparently has since evaporated, leaving him stuck in the Democratic pack or sinking in the very localities and precincts on which he has staked his candidacy.”Sharpton embed Tom LLamas reports the recent campaign shake-up is not fading quietly. Last night, during his birthday celebration at a Brooklyn church, Sharpton said he smelled a “rat” in his campaign. “I could smell something wrong with my campaign, I bring in new folk because I’ve run national stuff a long time. I know when I’m being set up sabotaged, ain’t got to sing it, but you will see in the next few days why I did what I did cause I can smell a rat before I can find it. I grew up in the projects. You can smell a rat when you can’t find a rat, so when I start smelling, I start moving stuff around then. I’ll find the rat. I know he dead because he stinking already. But that’s all I’m going to stay about that, you’ll gonna see the rat in a day or two,” said Sharpton.Llamas notes it’s not clear who this “rat” could be, or what Sharpton exactly meant by saying “you’ll gonna see the rat in a day or two.” As Sharpton was leaving the event, Llamas asked him about it. Sharpton: “I’ve stated... that this is a structural change that I had put in place for weeks and I felt that I was not satisfied with the structure as it was. I brought in people to do that and they would take over at the end of the quarter which I did despite the fictitious inside sources you claimed you had. Everyone knew that was going to happen on the 30th.” Llamas adds that in speaking with former campaign manager Frank Watkins at least three times a day since mid-August, Watkins never mentioned a staff change before the announcement on Tuesday night. Oct. 2, 2003 / 9:45 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiThe President has just one public event scheduled for today, 3:00 pm remarks at the White House, as new Washington Post/ABC poll numbers showing majority support for an independent counsel sink in; as the Republican National Committee does the political heavy lifting on Wilson’s Democratic ties; and as Senate GOP support for preserving Bush’s $87 billion request begins to fray.California voters wake up to two big thoughts to chew on: the Los Angeles Times report that Schwarzenegger groped six women without their consent over the past 30 years, and Davis’ suggestion to NBC’s Campbell Brown that another recall, this time driven by Democrats, could be in store. (Davis told Brown, however, that he wouldn’t favor such a move.)The Schwarzenegger bus tour begins with a 12 noon ET kick-off at the San Diego Convention Center, then stops at the Orange County Fairgrounds at 3:30 pm ET and Riley Elementary School in San Bernardino at 6:30 pm ET.Rush Limbaugh’s comments have everyone talking about race, but some conservative groups plan to get everyone talking about another social issue on which the country is more evenly split: gay marriage. The AP reports the groups plan to announce today that they will use the prospect of legalized gay marriage to galvanize a voter registration drive. “They will also endorse language of a constitutional amendment to protect marriage as a union between a man and a woman... The week of Oct. 12 will be designated ‘marriage protection week.’ The groups will put out church bulletin inserts in over 70,000 churches and Christian radio shows will schedule programming all week long on the issue.”The Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to hold a media ownership hearing this morning. Speaking of, Reuters reports: “Former vice president Al Gore and a group of investors are close to buying a small cable news channel from Vivendi Universal for $70 million... If Gore succeeds, the channel, Newsworld International, could potentially emerge as a competitor to Fox News Channel, which has unseated CNN as the most widely watched cable news outlet in the United States.”The leakThe Washington Post, wielding new Post/ABC poll numbers showing almost seven in 10 Americans believe a special counsel should be appointed, tracks the Administration’s rhetorical shift: “Bush aides began yesterday to adjust their response to the expanding probe. They reined in earlier, broad portrayals of innocence in favor of more technical arguments that it is possible the disclosure was made without knowledge that a covert operative was being exposed and therefore might not have been a crime.”“At the same time, administration allies outside the White House stepped up a counteroffensive that seeks to discredit” Wilson as politically motivated.The Washington Times covers Wilson today as “an ex-diplomat turned Democratic partisan.” The Los Angeles Times takes a longer look at the couple’s political involvement.The campaign of Wilson check recipient John Kerry attacked the GOP yesterday for attacking Wilson as politically motivated, the Boston Herald says. USA Today raises the risks for Democrats as well as for Bush in the appointment of a special counsel, despite the poll numbers.While a New York Times editorial fires a warning shot at the Bush Administration and the Ashcroft-led Justice Department that is investigating the leak. “Any hint of political interference by Mr. Ashcroft or obstructionism from the White House would be disastrous and would leave the president and his aides at the mercy of Congressional Democrats, who would surely respond swiftly and angrily.” Iraq vs. domestic spendingUSA Today covers the defection of several conservative GOP Senators who say part of the $87 billion should come in the form of a loan.Ongoing side note: The Washington Post follows the AP in focusing on Bush 2000 campaign manager Joe Allbaugh’s consulting firm and how its White House ties may help it smooth the way for clients to do business in Iraq. CaliforniaThe Los Angeles Times on Schwarzenegger’s move to close the deal yesterday: “Schwarzenegger’s speech lasted just 12 minutes and his plan ran to just one page of paper, but it was significant for its tone and purpose - compiling the disparate proposals of his campaign into one speech and presenting it under the mantle of a presumed governor-elect. Not surprisingly, the speech infuriated aides to Gov. Gray Davis, who said it was presumptuous for Schwarzenegger to be looking beyond next Tuesday’s election.”The New York Times adds: “All in all, it was an ambitious plan and a piece of political theater that seemed intended to give Mr. Schwarzenegger an air of inevitability.”The media may become hard-pressed to hold out the possibility of a Davis win. Today brings this Los Angeles Times headline: “Democrats See Few National Ramifications if Davis Loses.”“California is so Democratic in its leanings, the recall election is so unusual and Schwarzenegger is so unlike other candidates that the state and its 55 electoral votes should remain safely in the party’s column in November 2004, party strategists say - and many of their Republican counterparts agree.”“Moreover, strategists for both major parties say the political profile that makes Schwarzenegger well suited to California - fiscal conservatism and a permissive stance on social issues - would not likely travel well beyond state borders, limiting the appeal of his hybrid Republicanism.”USA Today takes a lengthy look at contributions from Indian tribes.2004 Notes (R)The Republican National Committee yesterday touted 1 million new donors to the GOP since Bush took office. Dean isn’t the only one saying Democratic candidates’ attacks only energize his supporters; RNC chairman Ed Gillespie told the Washington Times the candidates’ attacks on Bush “‘energize our voters, along with an awful lot of voter in the middle who probably would not otherwise contribute to our party.’”The New York Times says that the Florida chairman of the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign is a friendly (and brotherly) face: Jeb Bush. And things are looking good for the Bushes in this battleground state. “Polls suggest that the president is on much firmer ground in Florida than he was in 2000, partly because the economy has not suffered as much here as in other states and because many military families who support the war in Iraq live here. But the main reason behind Mr. Bush’s growing support here is his brother’s popularity as governor, political scientists say.”The Miami Herald has other Bush-Florida news. “A leading Cuban-American legislator on Wednesday joined President Bush’s reelection campaign committee — but only after an emotional closed-door debate over whether the Bush administration was committed to sharpening its Cuba policy . . . The debate comes two months after Cuban-American legislators wrote a letter to the White House warning the president risks losing Cuban-American support over a controversial decision to send 12 hijack suspects back to Cuba to face prison time. It shows that the wounds remain raw, even as Bush aides scramble to repair the damage.”2004 notes (D)The Washington Post editorial page, recalling last week’s CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic debate, says, “while undoing the tax cuts might be necessary to restore the nation’s fiscal health, it won’t be sufficient, and all the candidates know that. None of them, however, dares to whisper about a possible trimming of entitlement benefits — say, raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility or means-testing Medicare. Indeed, to the extent they’ve hinted at anything so responsible in the past, they are flaying each other for past crimes of common sense - and backpedaling as rapidly as possible.”That 10-candidate group shot from the CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic presidential debate retains its uniqueness for another week, since Democratic National Committee’s upcoming cattle call takes place over a two-day stretch, tomorrow and Saturday. Each candidate gets 10-15 minutes before the party’s all-important superdelegates — “unpledged” delegates, able to align with any candidate they choose - gathered in DC for their fall meeting. Per the DNC, this will be the candidates’ last chance to appeal to the superdelegates before the 2004 convention. Speaking on Friday between 10:30 am and 1:00 pm, in order of appearance: Dean, Lieberman, Clark, Kucinich, Moseley Braun, and Kerry. On Saturday, same times: Sharpton, Edwards, Graham and Gephardt.Gov. Howard Dean made his mark at the last DNC meeting, firing up the crowd with his “Democratic wing of the Democratic party” line. This time, retired Gen. Wesley Clark may find himself in the spotlight now that his allegiance to the party is being challenged by some of his rivals for the nomination. Yet things keep looking up for the nascent Clark campaign. According to the New York Post, a brand-new Quinnipiac University poll has Clark ahead among New York Democrats at 18 percent, followed by Dean at 17 percent, and Lieberman at 13 percent.But the Post also notes there are still some notable kinks in Clark’s candidacy. He hasn’t filed a statement of his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission; he still isn’t registered as a Democrat; but he is still registered as a lobbyist. “‘The only question is whether he is a Democratic lobbyist or a Republican lobbyist,’ scoffed Erik Smith, spokesman for Rep. Richard Gephardt (Mo.).”In addition, USA Today: “Some party leaders wonder whether he’s Democratic enough to be their nominee.”We have to say this has a ring of following in Dean’s footsteps: the Clark campaign touted Clark’s interview with a blogger yesterday as the first such face-to-face candidate interview. Embed Marisa Buchanan recaps the General’s comments in on his steps to becoming a Democrat: “‘I was well-enough known that both parties invited me to consider them. The Republican Party invited me to participate in a fundraiser and run for Congress. The Democratic Party invited me to be their nominee for governor of the state of Arkansas. I was tremendously honored by that. And it was clear as I looked at the parties, looked at the culture, watched the dialogue, it wasn’t just that I had voted for Al Gore, I really believed in what the Democratic party stood for. And so when it came time to choose a political party, I chose the Democratic party.”Buchanan says the interview is what the campaign called, “Clark maximizing technology and the use of the Internet to communicate his ideas to the American people.” Buchanan also says a Clark spokesperson told her overnight the campaign is officially at “$2.2 million” and counting. Literally counting, because they have invited local Arkansas media plus one campaign embed to watch the checks being counted by campaign staffers. A statement is expected later today. Dean embed Felix Schein previews the campaign’s next nationwide tour to key states as oddly reminiscent of the Sleepless Summer Tour: The “Raise the Roots” college tour takes Dean to key primary states and the District of Columbia, whose beauty contest primary he is taking very seriously, Schein reports. The states on the list include South Carolina, Iowa, Washington, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire. Following the tour, Schein says to look for Dean to devote considerable time to Iowa and New Hampshire. His rivals’ and the media’s focus on Dean’s switches on Medicare and other issues are “becoming an unwelcome distraction for his campaign,” the Washington Post reports. “Dean’s advisers... noted that if Gephardt and the others spend millions of dollars on ads focused on these issues, they anticipate Dean’s poll numbers will drop. [Manager Joe] Trippi said the trick now is to communicate Dean’s positions clearly amid the onslaught.”The Boston Globe reports that Judicial Watch “formally requested yesterday that Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean release papers he had accumulated as governor of Vermont, nearly half of which have been under seal since he left office in January.”“Dean, who served as governor for 11 years, negotiated an unprecedented 10-year seal on correspondence from his administration, saying at the time that he didn’t want the documents made public because he feared embarrassing revelations in future endeavors.”“It is not entirely clear which records Dean has sealed; he has not outlined their contents to the state. A review of documents that he did make available suggests that internal State House documents — particularly those from him to his staff and vice versa — have been withheld from public view.”Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg asks - then answers - why Edwards hasn’t “caught on:” “Edwards has two glaring weaknesses that allegedly have derailed him before he got a chance to gain momentum in the contest. First, his lack of foreign policy and national security expertise makes it difficult for him to talk about Iraq and terrorism.” Rothenberg notes that Dean lacks the same experience but has made his critique of the war a main point of his campaign. “I wonder whether Edwards’ bigger problem isn’t his youthful appearance and speaking style.”Gephardt embed Priya David says that while a nationwide tally isn’t available yet for fundraising from the “Gephardt Parties Across America,” the New Hampshire total is $7,000 from about a dozen house parties. Meanwhile, Dick Gephardt’s top adviser in New Hampshire, set an exceptionally high bar for his candidate yesterday, saying that “’[t]he fact is that Dick Gephardt has to win Iowa if he’s going to go on.’” - Boston GlobeSeems like the in-state press drumbeat for Graham to get out of the presidential race is louder than the drumbeat among the national political press corps - at least for now. Graham embed Sophie Conover says Graham continues to deny any plans to drop out, even though a columnist for the St. Pete Times has called for him to quit and run for re-election. Embed Becky Diamond says Kerry’s sticking with his theme of helping the middle class. Monday, it was uninsured Americans and the idea of “shared sacrifice” in his Iraq speech. Today it will be funding for Iraq on the Senate floor. Kerry and colleague Joe Biden have introduced an amendment that would repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans as a way to pay for the $87 billion for Iraq. An e-mailed Kerry statement reads: “I am asking George Bush how he can tell reservists to spend another year in Iraq but not ask anything of Americans here at home?”“We have exceeded all our fundraising goals set at the beginning of the campaign, and are well on track and on pace to raise the maximum amount legally allowed under the matching fund system,” Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan told Diamond. Asked about the campaign’s commitment to accepting matching funds, spokesperson Robert Gibbs said, “We haven’t made a decision on this yet.” One Kerry campaign source said to Diamond about Clark: “You have two guys that have foreign policy and military experience. You have a number of guys with significant domestic experience but only one guy with both - John Kerry.” This source said that Clark was essentially “an invention of the press” who spiked in the polls “based on the amount of coverage he got.” In a conversation about Dean strengths versus Kerry strengths, one campaign insider said, “The rally is the place where Dean does have a unique advantage - but it’s the least important mechanism. In Iowa and New Hampshire you’re touching people in small groups. There aren’t huge rallies (there).” Media adviser Jim Margolis says Dean brings out a certain type of voter “more angry - more vocal.” Dean’s audience is “homogenous and is only a segment of the electorate.” Margolis says that Kerry is “presidential.” “His veins may not bulge out when he’s talking to the crowd but people want a president of the United States.” Does Kerry excite voters? “We still have to reach out to voters and energize and excite people.”Kucinich embed Karin Caifa notes folks at the campaign HQ in Cleveland sounded a little punchy over the phone yesterday, possibly because they were up until 3:00 am ET that morning collecting third-quarter campaign funds, but with the final tally still TBD, campaign press secretary David Swanson said in a release that the campaign, “collected more money this quarter than last, exceeding expectations and distinguishing the campaign as one of the few with an increasing funding base.” The campaign raised at least $1.5 million; Swanson also noted that the vast majority of the donations are small enough to be eligible for federal matching funds. Following an AP report that “Lieberman is being told to abandon the Iowa caucuses,” embed Dionne Scott put in a call to the Iowa office to see what they knew. Scott says they seemed a bit taken aback - either by the call or by the news, it wasn’t entirely clear. But the deputy press secretary didn’t seem like he knew one way or the other: “I have to get back to you on that... (pause)... We’re fully operational in my office. I mean, we just hired someone.” About 15 minutes later, he called Scott again and said, “the state director told me to refer you to the national headquarters.” Scott was then told by another campaign source: “People have been calling about that. I think that’s just a really nasty rumor... It’s definitely not true.”The Des Moines Register on Graham’s new Iowa apartment and other candidates’ stepped-up efforts in the state: “Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean... is adding 50 campaign staff workers to his Iowa caucus operation. Graham aides denied Wednesday that the former Florida governor will marshal all his resources into a make-or-break Iowa strategy, but they also have no plans to increase campaign operations in other early nominating states.”Also: “Lieberman plans to open a third Iowa campaign office in Council Bluffs this month and has 20 staff workers in Iowa, up from three last spring. Kevin McCarthy, Lieberman’s Iowa manager, said the senator’s Iowa plan is unchanged despite rumors he planned to shut down the Iowa campaign.”Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles notes the candidate traveled to Arizona solo yesterday, but apparently this is not unusual: she leaves it up to the people throwing the event to provide a volunteer. That way, the campaign says, her staffers don’t overshadow the event. The interim campaign director also told Miles that Moseley Braun writes all her own speeches.On the resignations of Sharpton’s campaign manager and another key aide, embed Tom Llamas reports that, per a source very close to the campaign, the departures were due to the campaign’s financial problems and lack of organization. The source said that Frank Watkins, the campaign manager, and Kevin Gray, the campaign’s South Carolina campaign coordinator, had not been paid for their work. “Al’s got no money, and you can’t hire people and not pay them,” the source said. Regarding the campaign’s lack of organization, the source also said there is no “campaign structure” in place.Watkins has said he left the campaign for personal reasons, and had no comment when Llamas asked him about the debt allegedly owed to him. Gray also had no comment about stepping down from the campaign. The Sharpton campaign had no immediate reaction to the accusations. Spokeswoman Rachel Noerdlinger told Llamas that Charles Halloran, the new manager, would be able to respond. But she said yesterday that he did not have a working phone to use. Noerdlinger added that Halloran would have his phone working today, and would answer any questions then.Oct. 1, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiWe don’t mean to ignore the dominant uber-political story — we’re just keeping our eye on the recall ball. The biggest non-Wilson political news out there today: Los Angeles Times poll numbers showing less support for the recall than that Gallup survey, but a solid majority in favor nevertheless — 56 percent — plus an 8-point lead for Schwarzenegger over nearest rival Bustamante. Again, the not-to-be-forgotten caveat: the make-up of the October 7 electorate is entirely TBD. The Wall Street Journal’s Harwood, in a good look at polling this two-part election, says, “Privately, [Davis’] campaign advisers are conducting postmortems.” We heard one last night, in fact, centering on the power of that recent Gallup survey...“If ever an election could confound the pollsters,” Harwood writes, “ is this one. Absent past data from comparable elections, campaign strategists lack their customary confidence in forecasting the probable electorate. Once they expected a low-turnout, primary-style contest dominated by intense partisans. Then the spotlight on Mr. Schwarzenegger had them envisioning the midrange turnout — about half of the state’s 15 million registered voters — of an off-year gubernatorial election.”“Now, all sides wonder whether the turnout will approach the 70% level of presidential races that draw millions of casual voters to the polls.”Overlooked amidst the frenzy over the leak: jobs, Bush and the Democrats’ favorite message. The Washington Post reminds us that “Bush’s strategists had planned for his message this week to focus on his efforts to create jobs” in reporting how the leak is dogging him on the trail. The AP has the rare story that leads with Bush’s jobs message before getting into fundraising. “The economy is rebounding. The job market isn’t. The pace of job creation during this recovery has been the worst since World War II,” says USA Today. “The Congressional Budget Office projects the unemployment rate, which was 6.1% in August, will average 6.2% in 2004. The Federal Reserve expects a 5.5% to 6% jobless rate at the end of 2004.”The Wall Street Journal reports Ford is planning to eliminate “a total of about 12,000 jobs world-wide,” and DaimlerChrysler’s “Chrysler unit is readying its own plans to cut several thousand jobs.” Michigan, home to an early Democratic nominating contest in 2004, went for Gore over Bush in 2000, 51% to 46%.The leakA somewhat halting Dean on Today asked, “Why is this president who campaigned on restoring honor and integrity to the White House not stopping this?” and said the people who did it should resign. The Wall Street Journal editorial page takes a shot at Lieberman for seeking to revive the independent counsel statute: “Had Al Gore won a few thousand more Florida votes in 2000, one suspects a Vice President Lieberman would not be taking this position. Yet surely the Connecticut Democrat has not forgotten the lesson of the Clinton years: that independent counsels can disrupt Democratic Presidencies as easily as Republicans ones. If Mr. Lieberman is serious about this, we can only infer that he’s taken a close look at the polls and concluded he has no reason to fear becoming President any time soon.”Iraq vs. domestic spendingThe Washington Post: “Congressional Republican leaders struggled yesterday to hold together President Bush’s $87 billion emergency war spending plan, as momentum built among Republicans to demand that Iraqis repay much of the cost of their country’s reconstruction.”“A senior GOP leadership aide in the Senate said the White House has gotten the message, and has begun exploring loan proposals, which he conceded would amount to a ‘fig leaf’ to give Republicans political cover. Congress would still spend the $20.3 billion Bush has requested, but the money would be deemed loan guarantees. If loans could not quickly be raised from private sources, the guarantees would likely be used anyway.”Side note: The AP picks up Edwards’ charge yesterday that Bush 2000 campaign manager Joe Allbaugh’s consulting firm is taking advantage of its White House ties “to help clients take advantage of business opportunities in Iraq.”CaliforniaThe Los Angeles Times lays out where the shifts occurred among the electorate since the paper’s last poll showing more promising numbers for Davis. “The shift in voter support toward Schwarzenegger is dramatic: Since the last Times poll, he has made double-digit gains among Republicans, independents, whites, senior citizens, women and other major voting blocs.”“For Davis, a key challenge in the final days of the race is to bolster support among Democrats. Despite his aggressive efforts to woo union members, Latinos and other traditional blocs of the party, the survey found 27% of Democrats supporting the recall, up from 19% in the last poll.”The Sacramento Bee’s Weintraub reports on the transition timeline Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has laid out, if Davis loses. ”[I]t’s going to shock some people: a new governor would probably not take office until Nov. 15, 39 days after the Oct. 7 election, and possibly as late as Nov. 25.”“Shelley said the counties have 28 days to complete their official canvas of the vote, then 7 days to get Board of Supervisor sign-off. Shelley then has four days to certify the election. Finally, the winning candidate can take up to 10 days to be sworn in if he or she chooses.”Davis meets with Clark at the Los Angeles Fire Department Museum at 3:00 pm ET. At 5:30 pm ET, Rob Reiner joins Davis to announce the state’s acquisition of the 2,960-acre Ahmanson Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. Sharon Davis campaigns in Riverside, Colton, San Bernardino and Victorville. Schwarzenegger outlines his first 100 days agenda at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento at 2:00 pm ET and does talk radio before and after. Maria Shriver campaigns in Eureka.Clark also holds a media avail with Bustamante at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles at 7:30 pm ET. Clark embed Marisa Buchanan writes that on a conference call with reporters yesterday to discuss his opposition to the recall, Clark was clear about voting no, but when asked, also said he would like Democrats to vote “si” for Bustamante. He insisted on “si” instead of “yes.” Buchanan says a reporter asked specifically, “You are saying yes in Spanish?” Clark said, “Absolutely.” Previewing his rally today with Davis, Clark added that he had never met the Governor, but there was nothing he would rather do and he is honored to join the fight. Asked about similarities between his neophyte candidacy and Schwarzenegger’s, Buchanan says, Clark did not compare the Schwarzenegger campaign directly to his own. Instead, he said of Schwarzenegger: “He has ducked the substantive issues. He hasn’t been a substantive candidate so far as I can tell. He has come in with a lot of money, a lot of media recognition. I hope the voters of California will really get into the issues on this.”USA Today revisits the fiscal challenges and brutal choices facing whoever is governor of California on October 8. Such as: “The state must borrow $18 billion in bonds, notes and loans during the next nine months alone to continue operating normally.” A USA Today sidebar reminds us how the candidates each propose to balance the budget.Some boilerplate, recall run-up stories: — The Los Angeles Times lays out why Latino voters can’t be viewed as a monolithic bloc.— The Los Angeles Times on labor phone-banking for Davis: — The Wall Street Journal does the “Democratic lawmakers rush to pass legislation” story. FundraisingThe Chicago Tribune reports Bush raised nearly $5.5 million yesterday, including about $3.8 million from a downtown luncheon fundraiser in the Windy City. That total, the paper adds, helps push Bush to the $50 million mark for the quarter. “Republican officials said the nearly $3.8 million Bush took in during a 20-minute speech over sandwiches, for which donors paid $2,000 apiece, set a record for a Chicago political appearance. Besides raising another $1.7 million in Cincinnati later Tuesday, the Bush campaign also e-mailed solicitations for 11th-hour contributions.”Dean embed Felix Schein reports that as of late last night, Dean was within striking distance of his $15 million goal for this quarter — at about $14,750,000, nearly $5 million of that coming in the past 10 days. USA Today overviews: “By this time in 1999, four Republican presidential candidates had dropped out of the race, and another would follow within weeks, starved for cash. This year, however, even the financial stragglers among Democrats are likely to stay.”“Despite Dean’s totals, there’s no dominant front-runner soaking up all available Democratic money, as President Bush did in the GOP field four years ago... Dean is expected to emerge from the fundraising frenzy with financial numbers to match his lead in key polls — as much as $15 million for the quarter, putting him at more than $25 million for the year... But Dean hasn’t dominated fundraising the way Bush did four years ago.”Edwards embed Dugald McConnell notes the campaign’s fundraising has fallen even further this quarter, to less than half of their first-quarter take. “Under $3 million” is the latest estimate in Raleigh, even lower than the guidance a few days ago of “under $4 million.” “He had a core support of trial attorneys,” John Pitney of Claremont McKenna College told McConnell, “but so far, he hasn’t been able to broaden that.” Edwards spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri put the tally into a year-long perspective: “This quarter, we wanted him to spend his time campaigning,” she said, reminding McConnell that the Senator raised almost $12 million over the first two quarters (back when Edwards still had some buzz after The New Yorker and Vanity Fair touted him as the party’s promising fresh face, McConnell notes). “Our goal for the year is $20 million, and we’re on track to do that.” Campaign lawyers have concluded that Edwards can transfer most of the $1.3 million balance in his Senate account to his presidential account.Embed Priya David hit the Gephardt house party in Dupont Circle last night, which featured bright blue “Gephardtinis” at $7 a pop; the Gephardt Party Re-Mix; wife Jane, daughters Chrissy and Kate, and Chrissy’s partner; and 25 or so 20-somethings. There also was a half-hour video on “A Day in the Life of Dick Gephardt” with a taped Q&A. David says the tape showed a busy Gephardt waking up early to get some exercise before a full day of Iowa campaigning, ending at nearly midnight, as well as endorsements from Nancy Pelosi and the guy who plays the president on Fox’s “24”, Dennis Haysbert.Embed Sophie Conover reports the Graham campaign may release fundraising numbers around October 11. Kucinich embed Karin Caifa says the Kucinich camp was up till midnight PT, collecting funds by phone. As of 10:00 pm ET, the campaign reported being within $100,000 of their third-quarter goal of $1.5 million. They expect an Internet push to put them over the top. Caifa notes the Kucinich camp was able to mobilize a nationwide house party initiative of 1,200 parties in all 50 states in two weeks. By comparison, Gephardt did something similar and enlisted 300 parties nationwide.Lieberman embed Dionne Scott says the campaign doesn’t expect to have their final tally until the end of the week, but still says their goal is “around $4 million.” Lieberman is holding fundraisers Wednesday and Thursday, but the checks from those events are already in hand, Scott was told.Embed Angela Miles sat down with Moseley Braun yesterday and talked money: The candidate said her third-quarter finances are likely to look similar to the second quarter, which was $150,000 raised. When asked how she runs a campaign on so little money, Moseley Braun replied that women know how to make do. In her words: little money, big candidate. Big money, little candidate. More 2004 notes (D)We wonder if we’re in the process of seeing the once-insurgent Dean manage to steamroll past even Clark, at least in the eyes of the press, based on very traditional measures such as his leads in Iowa and New Hampshire and in money. On Today this morning, Dean thunked Clark as “a Republican till 25 days ago.”The Washington Post: “While the other candidates focus on their humble roots or heroic feats, Dean inverts the telescope: He talks about the voters. He tells them they’re okay. Instead of trying to get them to love him, he tells them to love themselves... Dean says the election is in their hands. Delivering a series of exhortations, he’ll turn a garden party into political group therapy.”The New York Times looks into Dean’s past statements on Medicare, in which he suggested he wanted to reduce the program’s growth rate. “Dr. Dean’s opponents, who have researched his past, assert that the record shows Dr. Dean did not stand with his party when it counted on an issue of critical importance to older voters, who loom large in early primary and caucus states like Iowa.”“Dr. Dean’s allies argue that his views were common among Democratic deficit hawks in the mid 1990’s, and among Democrats who worried about the long-term solvency of Medicare and Social Security.”Continuing the storyline of a drawn-out nominating process, the AP notes how some of the Democratic candidates, pressured by the Dean and Clark surges, are “choosing to change course rather than get out - at least for now. Bob Graham has rented an apartment in Iowa for a single-state stand. Joe Lieberman is being told to abandon the Iowa caucuses. John Edwards is sharpening criticism of his rivals, fine-tuning a message that has failed to move voters in New Hampshire. Even John Kerry and Dick Gephardt, formidable candidates backed by key elements of the party, are reassessing their primary strategies in light of Tuesday’s deadline to report July-September fund-raising totals.”The AFL-CIO announced yesterday it will not meet to discuss an endorsement in October after all, in what’s universally covered by the press as a blow to Gephardt. The service employees, government employees, and auto workers weren’t ready to endorse, the AP says. Gephardt campaign embed Priya David says the campaign had increasingly expected they might not get the nod. Recently, Gephardt himself said, “We’re working every day to get the two-thirds. I don’t know if I’ll get there, it’s a high bar, and very hard to do, but I’m working on it one union at a time. I feel good that we have a real shot at it... Nobody in politics can assume the support of anybody. You have to earn it on your record and on what you’re saying in your campaign. I’m proud of the 14 unions that have supported me... I’m not frustrated by the fact I don’t have all the unions, I’m happy with the ones I have. I’m humbled by it; I’m gratified by it.” He has repeated this statement in conference calls and in person for the past couple weeks.David reports campaign spokesperson Erik Smith’s statement yesterday: “We are pleased that affiliate unions have been released to endorse and work on behalf of a candidate. Up to this point, 14 member unions have endorsed Dick Gephardt despite AFL-CIO’s request to hold back any formal endorsement and that number will grow. We are going to press ahead and continue to build our union support into a winning organization in Iowa, New Hampshire and beyond. At this point, it’s still 14-1-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0.” The “one” refers to Kerry’s firefighters’ endorsement’ the zeroes refer to all the other candidates in the field with no labor endorsements. Dean embed Felix Schein reports Dean’s reaction: “I think it is good for the labor movement and good for the Democrats not to have any candidate endorsed. We are all going to be in this together in the end. I think everybody understands we need to change presidents for the sake of this country and I would hate to have all the labor unions expend their energy in the primary while we are all fighting each other.” Kucinich embed Karin Caifa says the news was a ray of sunshine for the Kucinich camp. “Our candidate has the highest lifetime labor rating according to the AFL-CIO,” campaign press secretary David Swanson said. “We hope that when they do eventually make an endorsement, they’ll back Dennis Kucinich.”The Washington Post report on Clark’s seemingly successful visit to the Hill yesterday — “several lawmakers left the meeting saying they were close to endorsing the former NATO commander” — notes that Gephardt is expected to pick up another congressional endorsement this week.“The group discussed topics ranging from nuclear energy to foreign policy and the economy, according to participants. Clark was critical of elements of the administration’s $20 billion Iraqi reconstruction request, members said, though he voiced strong support for the military component.”Kerry’s tough Iraq speech makes it into some coverage of Bush’s day yesterday, and some coverage of the status of the $87 billion. Embed Becky Diamond reports the campaign says the idea for the speech “was hatched last week” — that “they developed it to “set up arguments” and “talk about the idea of shared sacrifice.”Sept. 30, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiPresident Bush and the Democratic presidentials shake the money trees before the third fundraising quarter ends at COB today, but with a Senate vote looming on the $87 billion and the Wilson leak front and center, Kerry opts to address the Brookings Institution on Iraq at 1:30 pm, while Lieberman, in between three fundraisers in New York, pushes to revive the expired independent counsel statute. The Census Bureau adds increasing numbers of uninsured Americans — in part due to laid-off workers; there’s that “jobs” link — to the pile of fundraising, polling and recall data getting crunched this week and early next.The concept of perceived electability has reared its head in the recall: Just as a chunk of the Democratic Establishment coalesced in a heartbeat around a retired four-star general who only formally aligned with the party weeks ago, about whose policy positions little was (and still is) known, and who arguably flip-flopped on his main issue, so are California GOP leaders backing a pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-gay unions candidate who has not ruled out tax increases as governor. While both Clark and Dean have the potential to remake their respective parties’ images should they win, the more interesting inside-baseball question is what kind of intraparty turmoil will take place if they don’t. “Crisis of the uninsured”The Census Bureau reports today that the “number of Americans who lack health insurance climbed by 5.7 percent in 2002, to 43.6 million, the largest single increase in a decade,” per the Washington Post. “The largest jump came among people who had received health benefits through their jobs, as some firms laid off workers and others reduced coverage.”“Since President Bush took office, the United States has lost 2.7 million jobs and household incomes have fallen for three years in a row. Administration officials suggest those trends have begun to turn around, but Democrats have seized on economic issues in their quest to defeat Bush in next year’s presidential election.”The Los Angeles Times: “Most analysts see an even darker cloud looming behind today’s figures: Unemployment, health-care costs and employees’ share of insurance premiums all have gone up since last year, while states have been cutting Medicaid eligibility and benefits.”The leakThe Los Angeles Times: “The issue has metastasized into a mini-scandal with such speed that many in Washington, including the White House, appear to have been caught off-guard.”“The allegations suddenly threatened to pose a major problem for an administration that prides itself on avoiding the culture of leaks and swirling criminal probes that waylaid its predecessor on Pennsylvania Avenue.”“..[S]peaking on condition of anonymity, one top political and communications strategist close to the White House expressed skepticism that any senior White House officials leaked the information. ‘It’s not how anybody leaks,’ the strategist said. ‘You know us. We’re pros. If you want to leak, you call one reporter.’”USA Today uses the focus on Rove to revisit his influence. Iraq vs. domestic spendingThe Washington Post reports on the likelihood that the spending request will grow rather than shrink in Congress’ hands because Democrats may “demand some spending on their priorities as the price for their support.”“Today, Reps. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) will unveil their ‘American Parity Amendment’ — backed by organized labor — that would add $20 billion in domestic spending to mirror the infrastructure, health care and education spending Bush wants for Iraq.”USA Today, on Senate Republicans’ backing of Bush and rush to approve the spending by as early as tonight: “The unusual timetable has the Senate acting before the House of Representatives, which typically votes on spending bills first.”The Boston Globe reports from presidential battleground Martinsburg, WV: “Where Bush once drew support based on the simple conviction that he was right to take the fight against terrorism to the Middle East, now he’s running up against another simple conviction, that US dollars should not be sunk into an overseas rebuilding project.”“For many voters, the $87 billion is a direct link between Bush’s decisions and their own pocketbooks.” CaliforniaSchwarzenegger has a press avail at the Fairmont in San Francisco at 8:30 pm ET; he’ll be in Sacramento tomorrow. Maria Shriver speaks at the Hollenbeck Youth Center in Los Angeles at 5:00 pm ET. Davis and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe greet volunteers at a phone bank at the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor at 2:30 pm ET. Davis then signs a workers’ comp package into law at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce at 5:30 pm ET. Wes Clark holds a conference call with reporters about the recall at 6:30 pm ET.The San Francisco Chronicle says Huffington may get out of the race and throw her support to Bustamante, “signaling a growing fear among the political left that Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger stands a good chance of becoming California’s next governor.”The Los Angeles Times previews the vote count — which, unlike almost everything else about this election, will happen in the usual way, and is expected to take awhile. The Chronicle says as many as one million ballots “could go uncounted on election day next Tuesday, throwing into doubt for days or weeks the outcome of California’s historic recall and replacement elections...”“An unprecedented number of absentee ballots have been requested by Californians in the recall — 2.7 million — but fewer than half have been returned by voters thus far, leaving a huge number of ballots likely to be handed in at polling places or arrive in the mail at local elections offices next Tuesday. Those votes will not be counted until after election day, when officials verify the authenticity of each ballot.”The Los Angeles Times notes how Davis is trying to scare voters off Schwarzenegger. “The strategy is risky, however. With Davis’ dismal approval ratings and history of slashing campaigns, he may seem less than credible to voters. The fact that the Democrat trails in opinion polls also may undermine his arguments.” “But perhaps the biggest risk is that voters will see no risk at all. That is, they not only accept the idea of actor Schwarzenegger, a political neophyte, assuming the helm of the nation’s most populous state, but actually embrace it.”The Wall Street Journal says that despite the “non-traditional” hoopla, Schwarzenegger is running a by-the-book campaign. “Though he has spent about $6 million of his own, he has raised more than that in fund-raisers from here to Manhattan’s Upper East Side. And within days of his candidacy, the campaign arranged for President Bush’s operation to signal its donors that they could give to Mr. Schwarzenegger, despite White House neutrality in the contest. He promised no negativism but now justifies attacks on Mr. Davis and the Democratic fallback candidate, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, as legitimate criticism of their records.”The Boston Globe revisits the White House’s distance from Schwarzenegger and the recall effort.Democratic fundraisingSome of the Democrats’ 11th-hour fundraising e-mails strike familiar notes: A Kerry e-mail to supporters asks if they are better off today than they were four years ago. Lieberman tells supporters they can “return integrity to the White House.” The DNC warns the GOP’s “dirty tricks machine is gearing up... the only thing George W. Bush and his right-wing henchmen can do to win the presidency is to wage an unprecedented smear and attack campaign against the Democratic nominee.” Dean appeals to MeetUp members; Willie Nelson sends an audio postcard for Kucinich; a Gephardt e-mail touts his Meet the Press appearance and dings Dean, Edwards, Kerry and Lieberman on health care; and Clark touts a “New American Patriotism.”Given the sense that he needs to step up fast, as with his decision to participate in the debate last week, Clark probably feels some pressure to make an impressive showing this quarter. Embed Marisa Buchanan points out how the campaign was quick to release a preliminary estimate of $750,000 in the first couple of days. Now they’re telling Buchanan they will have a working number soon. Spokesperson Kym Spell warns, “don’t expect to be blown away by the numbers.” She says the campaign is just starting this process and still has to get its legal compliance office set up.The Washington Post pegs Clark’s expected tally at about $2.5 million.Dean embed Felix Schein reports that as of today, the Dean campaign will have raised close to or beyond $14 million — along with having met its goals of registering 450,000 supporters and setting a new world record for the largest conference call ever held with 3,557 individual callers (of one or more people). After a morning of fundraising and phone calls in Los Angeles, Schein says, Dean will join Jay Leno and Catherine Zeta Jones on The Tonight Show before hitting the town for a Union Station bash likely to feature some Hollywood celebs. Edwards embed Dugald McConnell says Edwards finishes his intensified fundraising push in New York this evening with a traditional fundraiser for grown-ups on the Upper East Side, plus a “late night” event for young people at a midtown cocktail lounge. Former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who hosted a breakfast fundraiser for Edwards in Texas yesterday, told McConnell he’s not worried that Edwards is scoring lower in money this quarter: “If you look at it from the very beginning, and add quarter to quarter to quarter, he has done extremely well. Some candidates will have better quarters, but overall he has been extraordinarily competitive.”Gephardt embed Priya David reports the campaign refuses to verify estimates around $4 million. After feeling the heat of overestimating last quarter, David says, they’re keeping quiet about this quarter’s numbers until they have a fairly accurate count. David says she was told to expect numbers possibly at the end of this week, more likely at the start of next. Three hundred house parties are planned for tonight, 90 of them in Iowa. Gephardt attends on in Philadelphia, while wife Jane and daughter Chrissy hit one in DC. Embed Sophie Conover says the Graham campaign maintains they will have enough money to go to “the next level.” Spokesperson Mo Elleithee conceded that while the campaign of course wishes they had raised more money, they would be “okay” with what they have, and said there is “no discussion” of getting out of the race at this point. As for how the campaign plans to map out its strategy moving forward on what looks to be a tight budget, according to Elleithee, “We’re going to go up on TV and hope our TV moves our numbers, and when it does it will be a whole different ballgame.” Conover notes media consultant David Eichenbaum told her the campaign would be on the air last week, and campaign staffers and the Senator said the ads would be up by the end of this month. Now, according to Elleithee, the ads will be up “very soon.” The Miami Herald: “Graham acknowledged for the first time that meeting his $15 million fundraising goal for the year would be a struggle.” Graham also did not “dismiss rumors” that he may have to reduce his staff.Per the Kerry campaign, embed Becky Diamond says, its third-quarter total puts it beyond its goal of raising $20 million for the year — a benchmark only Kerry and Dean are likely to have achieved so far. Campaign spokesperson Robert Gibbs says the campaign has “different priorities and goals for different quarters. It’s wrong to say because you didn’t raise as much this quarter as last” that the campaign isn’t healthy. After all, said Gibbs, “George Bush is living proof that you have to be more than a good fundraiser to be a good president.” The real question, Diamond notes, is how much cash on hand Kerry has compared to other candidates, and whether Dean and Kerry accept matching funds. Per Kucinich embed Karin Caifa, Kucinich communications director Jeff Cohen expects the draw to be around the same as the second quarter — around $1.5 million. Press secretary Jeff Swanson says the campaign will continue marching on, with little shift in priorities. “If the number is disappointing, we’ll be disappointed for awhile,” he said. “But as far as our priorities it’s not even a question. It’s to win and nothing else.” Cohen adds that the Willie Nelson benefit concerts initially scheduled for September will give the campaign a big boost in the fourth quarter. The campaign also will reprise its nationwide house party initiative, with events celebrating Kucinich’s formal announcement of candidacy on October 13 and the release of his book in November. Embed Dionne Scott says that yesterday and today, everyone at Lieberman’s HQ is rallying to raise last-minute dollars. The campaign says there’s a definite buzz — “you can tell a lot of people are crunching.” Staffers from the finance department to communications to research are pitching in: “We’re sending out huge amounts of emails... doing phone work, asking donors to see if they can do more... we will also do conference calls with our top leadership and top donors.” Lieberman has three fundraisers in New York today.Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles says the candidate and campaign will be working the phones today. No present plans to release the total. The Moseley Braun team says that because their candidate is a woman and has faced campaign finance questions in the past, there will be great scrutiny, so they’ll wait until the accountants get a close look. Something a little different from Sharpton. Embed Tom LLamas reports that Sharpton and Black Entertainment Television CEO Robert Johnson are teaming up to try to register one million new voters. The non-partisan effort will be headed up by executives from both BET and Sharpton’s National Action Network. A press release from the Sharpton camp says the effort will launch TV ads on BET starting in November, but Llamas reports BET spokesperson Michael Lewellen saying they still don’t have a confirmed date. When Llamas contacted Lewellen, he says, Lewellen was surprised that Sharpton’s office had already sent out a press release, saying both organizations would send out a press release at a later time. More 2004 notes (D)Alan Murray writes in the Wall Street Journal: “Last week’s debate among the 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls was supposed to be about how to make the U.S. economy grow. Instead, it often seemed to be about making the Democratic Party shrink. The two most forceful candidates — former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and Rep. Richard Gephardt, the former House Leader — were competing to prove their allegiance to a concept of the party that is hidebound, antimarket and in hock to organized labor.”“If this is what it takes to win the party’s nomination, then Democrats are in trouble. Perhaps a candidate who embraces these positions can win a general election, but I doubt it.”The Washington Times reports, “Top strategists for Democratic presidential hopefuls are complaining privately that too many of the candidates are flip-flopping on issues to appeal to their party’s activists and special interests, making it difficult to produce a clear national front-runner.”“Sixteen weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the Democratic candidates appear more divided than ever on Iraq, free trade, raising taxes on the middle class, and how much should be spent on health care for the uninsured.”“Perhaps no candidate has flip-flopped more on Iraq than” Clark, who first “said he would have voted for the war resolution had he been in the Senate. Two days later, he switched positions, saying he would have voted against the resolution.”The Boston Globe’s Canellos notes on Clark: “Despite a medium-long list of congressional endorsements and encouragement from the stepdaddy of most Democratic contenders, Bill Clinton, Clark is running an insurgency campaign. That means he’s going to have to take on not only George W. Bush, but the whole political establishment, running as a maverick against all the professional politicians.”“Clark seems game for this kind of campaign, and his supporters are drawn to the idea of a military man exposing the fallacies of armchair warriors all along the political spectrum. But every time he goes on the attack, like all insurgents from John McCain to Howard Dean, he’ll be surrendering the prime advantage of past generals who ran for office: the sense that they floated high above the fray, embodying the national interest in the same way they embodied national defense.”Tom Oliphant says Gephardt should’ve compared Dean to some Republican a little less polarizing and distracting, but that Dean “really did do what Gephardt says he did” on Medicare, “and his shifting attempts to wiggle off that hook have made his conduct an issue in a Democratic race that grows more serious by the week.”Sept. 29, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiThree phrases to get you through the next 10 days or so in politics: “We’ll have enough money to be competitive;” “record-shattering;” and, “Anyone seen any tracking?”For the next week and a half, the political world will focus on nothing but numbers: Iraq versus domestic spending, third-quarter presidential fundraising, the usual attention to presidential polls, California recall surveys, and finally, the recall results, which may be slow in coming. Four to six million dollars — that’s what most of the leading Democratic candidates for president hope/expect to raise by COB tomorrow, prompting “disdain” from Republicans in today’s New York Times (see below). Fifteen million dollars: what Dean expects to raise for the third quarter, breaking the party’s previous single-quarter presidential fundraising record set by incumbent Bill Clinton in 1995. Dean also tries to break the record for the world’s biggest conference call tonight, and does Leno tomorrow night.Fifty million or more: what Bush-Cheney expects to haul in for the quarter, per a campaign source. But that sum will be pitted against a backdrop of public uncertainty about Iraq and opposition to Bush’s proposed spending there, concerns about the economy, and this week’s wild card, the DOJ probe into the leak of Joe Wilson’s wife’s name (which probably is too inside for most voters to absorb). In California, a USA Today/Gallup survey showing a sharp increase in support of the recall and a Schwarzenegger victory despite McClintock’s candidacy may be slightly out of whack, but a Davis advisor confirms their tracking suggest similar trends and says Bustamante can’t win — a self-serving summation given that Bustamante’s candidacy gives Democrats someplace else to go, but seemingly spot on nevertheless. The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle seem to be talking with the same people we are.The Wall Street Journal says a survey being released today shows ”[e]mployers’ health-care costs are expected to rise 12% next year, marking the fifth year in a row of double-digit percentage increases and a doubling in costs since 1999.” Not to be overlooked (but likely to be, anyway): “the rate of increase in companies’ health-care costs is expected to slow next year.”Weekend review: Gephardt and Kerry piled on Dean, while Lieberman, Dean and Edwards all piled on Clark. — Des Moines RegisterAPReutersAnd two calendar notes for later this week: 1) The Democratic National Committee holds its fall meeting in DC Thursday through Saturday, with the Democratic field expected to appear and speak. Good chance to check the party’s mood in advance of the recall. And 2) Saturday brings the overlooked Louisiana gubernatorial primary, with a run-off scheduled for November 15 if none of the 18 candidates breaks 50 percent of the vote. Leading the pack: a 32-year-old Indian-American Republican — not your typical Bayou State candidate.Iraq vs. domestic spendingTo the Administration’s frustration, that’s the way the media and Democrats cast it, and Hill Republicans aren’t helping them out. USA Today previews the fight over the $20.3 billion in proposed Iraq reconstruction spending: “When the Senate Appropriations Committee begins considering the president’s request on Tuesday, it is likely to see the most pointed debate on Iraq policy, and the sharpest criticism, since the war in Iraq began.”And the Washington Post covers the hung-up transportation funding bill, one of many approps victims of “ballooning deficits... costly international commitments and a decline in tax revenue.”CaliforniaSchwarzenegger does a town hall in Clovis at 8:00 pm ET; he’ll be in San Francisco tomorrow. Maria Shriver gives a luncheon speech in Santa Barbara at 3:00 pm ET. Davis talks up the success of his “healthy families” program with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson at a Santa Monica health clinic at 3:15 pm ET, then does a town hall at Univision’s Los Angeles studio at 11:00 pm ET. The Los Angeles Times says the Gallup poll “caught the McClintock campaign flat-footed, and campaign director John Feliz all but conceded that Schwarzenegger may be too far ahead to catch. In fact, he said that private polls - though not one by McClintock’s campaign - had shown Schwarzenegger moving up after the candidates debate Wednesday, with Bustamante falling back and McClintock receiving a slight immediate uptick, then stabilizing.”The San Francisco Chronicle writes up its recent interview with Schwarzenegger, noting that he “never breaks a sweat” and “never gets off message.” The Sacramento Bee notes his campaign co-chair Pete Wilson has been rather invisible in the last few weeks.USA Today considers how celebs and other candidates with little to no prior political experience fare once in office. Cue the New York Daily News report that California Republicans are pressing Dennis Miller to run against Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). “‘There’s a lot of us who’d like to see him campaign,’ said Rob Stutzman, a Republican consultant who hailed Miller’s appeal to younger voters. ‘Dennis Miller is at the cutting edge of biting political commentary.’”2004 Notes (R)The New York Times lays out some Bush-Cheney reelection strategy. “Advisers to Mr. Bush said they expected the campaign to hit its fund-raising target of $170 million by the end of the winter. That would leave the president flush with cash and free from the need to spend so much time doing fund-raising events as he enters into a head-to-head matchup with whichever Democrat captures the nomination. That would mean that Mr. Bush would be able to avoid overtly partisan fund-raising appearances that might undermine his effort to portray himself as above the fray and tending to the business of the White House.”“Against this backdrop, Republican officials were disdainful of the 10 Democrats seeking to challenge Mr. Bush. Their harsh characterization of the field was challenged by Democrats and independent observers as bluster, though it seems to have fed confidence bordering on hubris in Mr. Bush’s camp when polls might suggest reason for worry.”Bob Novak, however, is beginning to worry: “Anxiety about the 2004 presidential election that suddenly has grasped Republican hearts... can be traced to President Bush’s two important speeches on Iraq delivered over 15 days. They were both duds.”“Until now, George W. Bush always had risen to the occasion. But failure marks current efforts of the president and his vaunted political team, headed by Karl Rove. This judgment was made to me by a well-known Republican operative experienced in two presidential campaigns: ‘For the first time, there doesn’t seem to be a plan.’”Time looks at the Administration’s alternative media strategy: “The Administration’s plan to bypass the traditional media has got so creative that someone in the White House suggested the Secretary of Defense should appear on the Imus in the Morning radio show. Donald Rumsfeld declined. This is very far from where the Bush campaign wants to be 14 months before the election.”USA Today says, “Hamstrung by ballooning budget deficits, economic reality and his own free-market ideology, the president may not have much attractive re-election insurance left beyond what he has turned to in other hours of peril: prayer.” Why? Basically, not many tools left in the toolbox.And Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg suggests Bush’s sliding poll numbers could brighten Democrats prospects among House races.Democratic FundraisingPer Dean embed Felix Schein, the Dean campaign confirmed yesterday it has raised more than $12 million for the third quarter, and now aims to raise $15 million by COB tomorrow — again, a total shattering the previous one-quarter Democratic presidential fundraising record established by Bill Clinton in 1995. The Dean campaign adds insult to injury for their rivals by reporting their fundraising totals in real time on the web. As noted above, Dean does Leno Tuesday, as well as The Today Show Wednesday, and between now and then has a number of Hollywood fundraisers and the attempted record-breaking conference call tonight at 8:00 pm ET.Embed Dugald McConnell says the Edwards campaign expects to raise less than $4 million this quarter — less than last quarter’s $4.5 million. “We focused the first two quarters on fundraising,” a top aide told McConnell, “to the huge detriment of not being out there campaigning. This quarter we spent a lot of time making up for that, being out there on the trail, which means we’re not going to have much time for fundraising.” Aides assured McConnell that fundraising will “pop back up again” in the fourth quarter, and that the campaign will have the money it needs. Per Gephardt embed Priya David, Gephardt has said he expects to raise another $10 million by the end of the year, but the declines to say how much of that will come this quarter.Graham embed Sophie Conover gets spokesperson Mo Elleithee saying, in the wake of rumbles about poor fundraising and another paper reporting the campaign is barely making it, “It’s premature to be writing us off and everyone needs to wait and see how our television goes. If we are still at one or 2 percent in the polls after we’ve been on air... then you can call me and ask me then if it’s time to reevaluate, but until you’ve given our television time to penetrate, it’s premature to do that.” Conover says the campaign refuses to speculate on their fundraising total for this quarter, though they concede it wouldn’t be what they had hoped. “It’s going to be an OK quarter,” said Elleithee. “It’s not going to be a great quarter, but it’s going to be enough to get us up on the air.” As for Graham’s original goal of $15 million by the end of the year, Elleithee advised that what the Senator actually meant was $15 million total, including matching funds. Kerry embed Becky Diamond gets the Kerry campaign saying they will report $4.5 to 5 million raised this quarter — less than the campaign raised last quarter. Kerry’s online “Hammer Bush” campaign website has raised approximately $784,000, according to aides, nearly at their goal of raising $1 million. Kucinich embed Karin Caifa reports the latest Kucinich fundraising e-mail comes from the candidate himself and summarizes his answers from Thursday’s CNBC/Wall Street Journal debate. Lieberman embed Dionne Scott says the campaign expects to raise “something in the $4 million range” for the third quarter, which they claim was their initial goal. Spokesperson Jano Cabrera says that last quarter, Lieberman raised a good bit of money in the last four days, and that this time around they’re expecting the same, but they’re not at $4 million yet. The Hartford Courant reported Lieberman telling a group of corporate types at the Hartford Club on Friday that “the money really is the biggest worry I have,” even though he still polls in the “top-tier of the candidates.” Last quarter, Scott reminds us, the campaign aimed for $4 million, but came closer to $5 million. Per Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles, Moseley Braun staffers say they won’t worry about their cash crunch until January, and that for now, their primary focus is on lining up delegates in each state and getting on the ballot. The campaign’s interim director told Miles that if you don’t have your name on the ballot, what good is money. Miles also says the candidate currently has no plans to drop out — the staff says no Democrat should drop out. More 2004 notes (D)In a look at the Democrats’ trade war, the Los Angeles Times’ Brownstein notes how “Dean intends to talk to other countries about trade pretty much the way he says Bush talks to them about everything else.” And: “Virtually every other Democratic contender is simultaneously promising to mend fences with our allies and to get tough with them over trade.”“If resentment over security issues can poison economic negotiations, the reverse is also true: A Democratic president who tries to bully the world on trade could alienate other countries just as surely as Bush did on Iraq. That doesn’t mean legitimate trade concerns have to be sublimated to maintaining security alliances, as they were in the Cold War. It just means any president has to maintain a sense of proportion about how much change the United States can demand in other societies as the price of obtaining access to our markets.”The AP gets some key unions — along with the AFL-CIO, as already expected — saying they probably will put off endorsements to see if Clark gets anywhere.The recall-obsessed political press corps isn’t likely to pay much attention to Clark’s performance at an Iowa grilling on Monday, October 6. Roll Call reports that influential Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D) will host a dinner for Clark tomorrow night; a spokesperson for DeLauro’s fellow Connecticut lawmaker Lieberman says DeLauro extended the invite before Clark got in the race and is simply honoring the commitment. The Washington Post reviews Clark’s new book critiquing the Administration’s foreign policy. “Clark puts no price tag on this proposed boost in aid and provides few specifics about how the United States should proceed. He focuses more on articulating problems than detailing solutions.”The Washington Times notes Dean “invoked [Bill Clinton’s] name eight times in just more than 10 minutes on CBS’ ‘Face the Nation.’”After an AP report last Thursday suggesting the Graham campaign was in serious peril, the Miami Herald says the campaign has “settled on a shoot-the-moon strategy for his struggling presidential campaign: Pour all he’s got into Iowa and hope for the best.” The “best” is finishing fourth in Iowa on January 19. Friends and advisors say Graham won’t drop out of the race.Sharpton and Moseley Braun seem to be investing in the DC beauty contest on January 13. — Washington PostSept. 26, 2003 / 9:00 AM ETFrom Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiWe learned some things from yesterday’s debate. Despite his lack of specifics, Wesley Clark proved that he can smartly whiff it with the best of them and belongs in the field. As several of the candidates verbally jabbed at each other, Clark calmly stayed out of the fray. As the New York Times puts it: “The decision by some of the better-known candidates to attack one other and ignore General Clark had the effect, by design or not, of allowing him to appear the way his aides have sought: a fresh face above the fray.”The Clintons may deny they’re behind Clark, but a lot of their old team worked the spin room for Clark last night. We also learned that, despite some past statements to the contrary, Clark ideologically is a Democrat. According to the Washington Post, Clark was quickly put on the defensive when the debate opened with a question challenging his Democratic loyalty... Clark, clearly prepared for such an inquiry, said: ‘I am pro-choice. I am pro-affirmative action. I’m pro-environment, pro-health. I believe the United States should engage with its allies. We should be a good player in the international community. And we should use force only as a last resort. That’s why I am proud to be a Democrat.’”Moreover, we learned that, despite Clark’s fresh face, some things still stay the same: Gephardt and Kerry attacked Dean, Dean fired back, etc. After helping to put on last night’s debate and put out a poll, we’re exhausted. Thank goodness the weekend is here. The CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic Candidates DebateIn its analysis, the Washington Post has this take on the debate. “Ten Democratic presidential candidates filled the stage at Pace University this afternoon, but the spotlight fell only on two: Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark was the object of curiosity, while former Vermont governor Howard Dean was the target for attack.”“Both easily survived the two hours of back-and-forth on a host of economic issues. Clark demonstrated flashes of the persona that has made him attractive to many Democratic voters, and Dean, although occasionally annoyed at the potshots aimed his way, mostly held his ground. But the debate was a reminder for both that there are challenging days ahead, and of just how difficult it is to stand out in a field as crowded as the one the Democrats now have.”“Kerry was more aggressive in this debate than in two earlier ones this month, reflecting his determination to blunt Dean’s rise, particularly in New Hampshire, while Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.), the aggressor toward Dean in previous debates, was more restrained. Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) pushed his economic message while offering a peacemaking message by urging the candidates to attack Bush, not each other. Gephardt, when not attacking Dean, kept an eye on his blue-collar constituency, promoting his health care and economic messages with repeated passion.”The New York Post writes, “Democrats turned up the heat big-time yesterday in the first presidential debate since Wesley Clark jumped in - but aimed most of their fire at front-runner Howard Dean.... It was the hottest Democratic face-off yet.”Here’s the Boston Globe’s version: “Clark, the retired Army general who had entered the race nine days earlier and vaulted to the top of national polls, stayed close to a cautious script drafted by a cadre of Clinton administration aides advising him . . . self-consciously referred to his political inexperience, saying it was the reason he would not answer hypothetical questions, and said he could not offer specifics for an economic program but could provide clarity on one big issue.”And while Clark played it safe, the paper writes, the other candidates left him alone, saving their venom for Dean. “The series of attacks prompted Dean to complain at one point, ‘You know, to listen to Senator Lieberman, Senator Kerry, Representative Gephardt, I’m anti-Israel, I’m antitrade, I’m anti-Medicare, and I’m anti-Social Security. I wonder how I ended up in the Democratic Party.’”A Globe editorial, meanwhile, opines that ”[y]esterday’s engagement in New York City included more honest public discussion on American economic policy than President Bush has offered in his entire term.”Walter Shapiro reviews, “The first debate question ever posed to fledgling presidential candidate Wesley Clark was one that might have made a practiced politician squirm. CNBC moderator Brian Williams asked the retired general to explain why he had been a speaker at the 2001 Lincoln Day fundraising dinner of the Arkansas Republican Party, where he expressed admiration for Ronald Reagan and support for George W. Bush.”Shapiro then asks, “By what standards should Clark, lionized by a Newsweek cover and high poll ratings, be judged after his initial debate?” “Bright and well-briefed by a task force of debate-prep handlers, Clark should have been expected to reach a basic level of competence on domestic issues. Standing before a space-age lectern at the debate, broadcast on CNBC, Clark probably bettered these minimal standards. But as the two-hour debate wore on, his answers grew increasingly vague...”“Clark may have walked off the stage at Pace University confident that he survived without a direct attack from any of his rivals. But the fault lines in the Clark candidacy are becoming visible.”The Wall Street Journal: “It wasn’t immediately clear whether Mr. Clark was able to use the appearance to assure party stalwarts that he is ready for the intense scrutiny of a presidential run. At a time when Democratic partisans express sharply negative feelings about Mr. Bush, Mr. Clark acknowledged having extolled Mr. Bush early in his term.”And the Hartford Courant points out that “the second Democratic Party-sponsored debate among the newly expanded field of 10 Thursday will probably be best remembered for the way Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt tried to level Dean, the man both see as their biggest threat.”The reactions from the candidates: Clark embed Marisa Buchanan gets this comment from the general after his first debate. “Oh I loved it... I thought it was fun. And I really like being up here with these people. The two hours passed very, very quickly.” Buchanan also reports that Democratic heavy-hitters surrounded Clark at the DNC dinner. And one of them told her that Clark has had a great week on the fundraising circuit.Lieberman embed Dionne Scott reports that the Lieberman staffers “thought their candidate did very well during yesterday’s debate.... Spokesperson Jano Cabrera said Lieberman, as always, is consistent, saying the Senator didn’t waffle and clearly stated his positions on the issues.” Scott also gets this interesting quote from the senator. “Howard Dean, I disagree with him on the war. Dennis Kucinich, I disagree with him on the war. But they’ve been consistent. Wes Clark sounded more like John Kerry on the war last week and he’s gotta clarify.”During and after the debate, Edwards scolded his rivals for all of their infighting, notes Edwards embed Dugald McConnell. “I think it’s perfectly normal for policy differences to be clear - there’s nothing wrong with that,” Edwards said after the debate, “but I think we ought to be focused on peoples’ lives instead of focused on each other.”Gephardt campaign embed Priya David gets comments from the congressman on his sparring with Dean. “We have legitimate differences, and this is what happens in a debate,” he said. Gephardt spokesman Erik Smith added that Dean has yet to answer the claims in any substantive manner that he supported cuts in Medicare.Kerry didn’t make it to the post-debate spin room, but Kerry embed Becky Diamond was still able to get some comments from the candidate after the debate. Kerry told her that he “liked the real discussion” that went on, and that the candidates “drew differences” in their policies. Yet Diamond got Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan to talk about the verbal jabs between Dean and Kerry. “Dean said a lot of indefensible themes,” he said.Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi tells Dean embed Felix Schein, “We got here by being aggressive and unpredictable. We won’t change that.”Braun told embed Angela Miles that, if she had to grade herself, she would give herself only a “B.” Miles adds that Braun says she was not feeling well and had laryngitis. Moreover, Miles reports that Braun was “disappointed” she took her first question 18 minutes into the debate. “She did not complain, but made it clear she was not given equal time, even though she says she tried to ‘get in there.’”Sharpton embed Tom Llamas reported yesterday that he expected Sharpton to be more aggressive during last night’s debate. Citing his “home field advantage, Llamas reports, Sharpton started out by saying: “I want to welcome General Clark to New York and I want to welcome him to our list of candidates. And don’t be defensive about just joining the party. Welcome to the party. It’s better to be a new Democrat that’s a real Democrat, than a lot of old Democrats up here that have been acting like Republicans all along.”Kucinich embed Karin Caifa reports that Kucinich, used to not getting the same air time as his counterparts, says he’s just learned to keep his answers more concise and to pack a bigger punch during the debate.CaliforniaThe winner of Wednesday’s circus-like recall debate? According to the Washington Post, it might have been the one central character who didn’t attend: Gray Davis. “In the aftermath of the nationally televised session - which was peppered with enough snippy digs and canned zingers that the frazzled moderator reminded viewers, “this is not Comedy Central” - Californians awoke this morning to a batch of headlines describing how the embattled Davis had signed bills advancing stem cell research, gun safety and environmental protections.”“‘If anybody gained last night, it was Gray Davis,’ said Leon E. Panetta, a former California congressman and Clinton administration official. ‘The consultants and pollsters give them these one-liners and it may capture a bite on the news, but the overall impression is that there is not much substance here. It leaves a bad taste in the people’s mouth.’”“‘For Davis to pull a rabbit out of the hat and beat the recall, he needs voters to see an increasingly negative, shrill tone among his would-be successors,’ said GOP consultant Arnold Steinberg. ‘That’s what we saw at the debate. Anything that contributes to the circus atmosphere of the recall helps Davis.’”“But Davis faces an exceedingly difficult task, to persuade enough independents and Democrats — who really are tired of him — that he deserves one last chance. The most recent polls still show a majority of voters — about 53 percent — ready to give Davis the heave-ho.”In other recall news, the New York Post reports that yesterday, erstwhile gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon “jumped on the Schwarzenegger bandwagon and called for Republicans to rally behind The Terminator.”“U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, the San Diego County Republican who bankrolled the recall petition drive, is reportedly also going to endorse the actor today.”The Washington Times, meanwhile, sums up the increasing post-debate pressure on McClintock to get out of the race.More 2004The AP reports on Graham’s fundraising woes “Published reports had suggested Graham would raise $4 million to $5 million in the quarter that ends Sept. 30, but he will raise less than that, said three officials close to the campaign who spoke on condition of anonymity.” Part of the problem might be that ”[h]is fund-raising coordinators for cash-rich California and New York quit the campaign in the last week, officials said. One of them has signed on with former General Wesley Clark.”Graham embed Sophie Conover reports that Graham denies rumors of dropping out of the race soon or that his campaign is having any campaign funding issues. Graham told Conover, “Absolutely not,” Graham told Conover. “Our campaign is picking up pace, we are focused on the early primary states. We intend to do well there.”Dean, however, doesn’t seem to be having any fundraising problems. According to Dean embed Felix Schein, campaign manager Trippi says that snail-mail contributions are coming in as fast, if not faster than internet contributions - so fast, in fact, that the campaign fears its compliance office will have a hard time reporting all the money before the October 15th filing deadline. How will that money be used? Schein says, “Some will go into ads to air in New Mexico. In particular, this new television ad features the Governor speaking Spanish and will air on Spanish language television.”Edwards embed Dugald McConnell reports that the campaign is so pleased with its internal polling that it decided to put those numbers on its Web site. The surveys have Edwards in double-digits in Iowa, and leading with 23 percent in South Carolina - almost double his nearest rival, Wesley Clark. Says one pleased Edwards staffer, “We’ve always said, all along, we’re gonna win South Carolina, and we’re gonna win South Carolina.”Sept. 25, 2003 / 8:50 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiSetting up today’s CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic Candidates Debate live at 4:00 pm ET on CNBC and re-broadcast at 9:00 pm ET on MSNBC: The latest NBC/Journal poll showing serious concern about unemployment, grim news for President Bush’s tax cuts and economic policy, and a Democratic presidential trial heat suggesting, per our pollsters, remaining questions and uncertainty among the party about their field; A Lieberman campaign poll (so there, media organizations) showing him leading the pack, with Dean and Clark tied for second; A letter from Kerry to Dean asking him to reverse course on middle class tax cuts and Medicare, continuing the three-way fight with Gephardt; A Washington Post report on how the leading candidates are going after each other; A big take-out by the co-sponsoring Wall Street Journal on how the candidates are gambling that they can beat Bush by supporting higher taxes. The Democrats bet that voters are more concerned about jobs than they are about keeping the Bush tax cuts — especially for upper-income Americans.“The 2004 Democratic presidential field... has embarked on the party’s boldest gambit on taxes in two decades,” says the Journal’s Harwood and Schlesinger. “Every candidate has called for rolling back all or part of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts, notwithstanding Republican accusations that this amounts to raising taxes. In the latest example, the first domestic initiative of retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s week-old campaign was a call for reversing tax cuts for Americans earning more than $200,000 and using the money to finance a job-creation program.”“By a 53%-to-43% margin, Americans say Mr. Bush’s approach to jobs and the economy needs major change. In a warning sign for the White House, political independents side with Democratic voters in slamming the president’s approach.”“The Bush-era deficits that replaced Clinton-era surpluses and the cost of waging the war on terror have squeezed prospects for new domestic spending in the absence of tax increases. And pressures of the Democratic primary campaign, in which organized labor and others are seeking higher health-care spending, have left presidential contenders with an escalating need to explain where they would get the money.”The analysis notes the “Democratic debate, so far, hasn’t been over whether to increase taxes, but by how much.” “Republicans see the public mood turning sour, and they figure that won’t make higher taxes popular. In the Journal/NBC poll, Americans say by a 50%-to-38% margin that the country is heading in the wrong direction... In any case, the Democrats’ positioning on taxes doesn’t appear to be hurting the party’s candidates’ competitiveness so far. Some 42% of Americans say they are likely to vote for Mr. Bush’s re-election, while 40% expect to vote for the Democratic candidate.”The Democratic trial heat: Dean 17 percent, Clark and Lieberman 16 percent, Kerry 11 percent, Gephardt 8 percent, Edwards 4 percent, Sharpton 3 percent, Graham and Kucinich 2 percent, and Moseley Braun 1 percent. Undecided: 14 percent.Harwood notes that with his jobs plan, “Clark sought to distinguish himself by proposing to spend $100 billion during the next two years to stimulate the economy, more than his rivals. That includes $40 billion each for state governments and homeland security, and $20 billion in tax breaks for companies that increase employment.”CNBC/Wall Street Journal debateThe closing bell will ring and they’ll be off. The second Democratic presidential debate sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee takes place today, as noted above, from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Pace University’s downtown campus. The debate will focus on key economic issues facing Americans.Sponsored by CNBC and the Wall Street Journal, the event will be moderated by NBC’s Brian Williams, with CNBC’s Ron Insana, CNBC “Capital Report’s” Gloria Borger and the Journal’s Jerry Seib as panelists. There will be no opening or closing statements. We’ll see if and how the candidates work parts of their stump speeches into their responses, 60 seconds at a time.Non-NBC and Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal outlets should please observe the following re-broadcast rules: 1. An unobstructed onscreen credit “CNBC/The Wall Street Journal” must appear during each debate excerpt and remain on screen for the entire excerpt. (Note: the abbreviation “WSJ” is not acceptable.) 2. Each excerpt must be introduced with an audio credit to CNBC and The Wall Street Journal. 3. No excerpt may air in any medium until the live debate concludes. (The debate is expected to end at 6:00 pm ET.) 4. No more than a combined total of 1 minute (60 seconds) of excerpts may be chosen for use during the period from the end of the live debate until 11:00 pm ET. After 11:00 pm ET, a total of 3 minutes may be selected (including any excerpts aired before 11:00). The selected excerpts may air as often as desired, but the total of excerpts chosen may not exceed the limits outlined. 5. No excerpts may be aired after 6:00 pm on Thursday, October 2. Excerpts may not be archived. Any further use of excerpts is by express permission of CNBC and The Wall Street Journal only. 6. All debate excerpts must be taped directly from CNBC’s cablecast or obtained directly from CNBC and may not be obtained from other sources, such as satellite or other forms of transmission. No portions of the live event not aired by CNBC may be used.Please note that Internet use is not permitted. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports Clark did not know about General Shelton’s comments to the Los Altos Town Crier — that he will note vote for Clark and that Clark has “character and integrity issues” — until Clark broke from debate prep yesterday and saw it on TV at 4:45 pm. Shelton himself told embed Marisa Buchanan that he would stand by his comments but had nothing further to elaborate. Campaign spokesperson Mark Fabiani said, “Mr. Shelton has the right to his opinion.”Dean embed Felix Schein reports the campaign did not receive Kerry’s letter yesterday asking Dean to reverse course on his positions on Medicare and rolling back tax cuts for the middle class, but a Dean campaign official responded, “If John Kerry wants to be pen-pals that’s fine.” The slightly more official, written response from campaign manager included the following: “As a doctor and a Governor, Howard Dean’s top priority was expanding access to health care... To suggest that somehow he would desert seniors who rely on Medicare by cutting the program runs counter to everything he has stood for in his career... And let me add that as a doctor - and as a son who helped his father navigate Medicare’s bureaucracy - Governor Dean firmly believes that Medicare as a program should be more responsive to patients’ concerns. That’s why he will appoint a physician who has worked with Medicare in charge of the program.”“...Governor Dean believes we must repeal all of the Bush tax cuts. He also believes that those seeking the presidency have a responsibility to be honest with the American people about the true agenda behind — and full consequences of — this administration’s economic policies.”Edwards embed Dugald McConnell reports that debate talk at the campaign yesterday focused on message, rather than strategies for dealing with other candidates. As one aide said, “You only have so much time out there.” While some of the higher-profile candidates are mixing it up on issues, a lesser-known candidate like Edwards is still focused on introducing himself to voters, both in his advertising and in debates. Edwards spent much of Wednesday afternoon going over issues with aides, but according to one staffer, “It’s not like we had to spend days and days closeted away. At this point in the campaign, he has his message laid out pretty well, and he knows his issues. Early on things were different, but now he’s comfortable, and he looks forward to them. He’s ready.” Per Gephardt campaign embed Priya David, campaign staff say there isn’t much time for debate prep. Between the Laborers’ Union endorsement yesterday and private fundraisers both yesterday and today in New York before the debate, Gephardt won’t have much time to prepare. David says he will take a few minutes to read and talk with his advisors once he’s arrived at the site.Graham told embed Sophie Conover yesterday, “I like the debates, they are competitive and I think we did well in the last two of them. I’m looking forward to it.” Kerry embed Becky Diamond reports some Kerry comments at the firefighters’ endorsement yesterday. On Clark: “While he voted for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, I was fighting against both of their policies and what they did to the average working person and what they did to their hopes and dreams.” And about Dean and tax cuts: “Why on earth would you want to rub out gains for the middle class is beyond me. So I call on both Mr. Gephardt and Mr. Dean and anyone else to show reasonableness here as to how Democrats ought to help the middle class.”Diamond also points out that Kerry lately has shifted from stressing his military background to emphasizing the depth and breadth of his experience — a new development after Clark entered the race. One new line: “I’m running on my life’s experience and all that I bring to the table in terms of leadership.”A Kerry spokesperson says Kerry will lightly prep for the debate today. You “put your shoulder pads on the same way,” he said.Kucinich embed Karin Caifa says the campaign staff tells her Kucinich will save his attacks for Bush and stick close to his issues: canceling NAFTA and the WTO, and renewed attention to the manufacturing sector to create a stronger middle-class.Longtime Lieberman friend Lanny Davis tells campaign embed Dionne Scott that two themes may likely emerge during tomorrow’s debate, in terms of where Lieberman’s campaign stands. One, Lieberman “is actually a progressive Democrat with one of the most liberal records” and that may come to light. Two, Lieberman is a “John Kennedy Democrat, meaning he’s strong on national defense, fiscally responsible and progressive on social issues.”Although Lieberman, like many candidates, claims not to pay attention to polls, his pollster put one out yesterday showing Lieberman leading and Clark and Dean tied for second place, and Lieberman within two points of Bush in the trial heat; Clark came within five. The e-mail to supporters reads, “Because of the recent public polls reflecting Wes Clark’s entry into the race, we asked our pollster Mark Penn to conduct an overnight survey of Democratic primary voters. Please help us to circulate this widely to all your friends, family, and fellow supporters. The public needs to know that Joe is in the lead.”The e-mail to supporters also included the Washington Post story that the Clintons say they aren’t quietly backing Clark.Per embed Angela Miles, Moseley Braun staffers say to look for the candidate to present her themes of taking the country in a new direction and making prosperity possible for all. She is likely to avoid verbal fights with the other candidates.Embed Tom Llamas notes Sharpton may take the gloves off at a pre-debate media avail in Harlem, where he hopes “to show the other side of the island of Manhattan,” the release says. The avail takes place at Amy Ruth’s Restaurant at 1:00 pm.CaliforniaSchwarzenegger today does a town hall hosted by KABC Radio, Fox, and the Republican Jewish Coalition at LA Center Studios at 3:00 pm ET.Pardon us for fixating more on our own upcoming debate than on the one last night on the opposite coast (we were counting out credentials...). Debate reviews fromThe Los Angeles Times.The Sacramento Bee. The San Francisco Chronicle. The San Jose Mercury News. Sept. 24, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiTo quickly dispense with necessary news: President Bush gets chilly headlines for his “cool” reception at the UN yesterday. Democrats charge him with a lack of specifics, even as they concede they’ll OK the $87 billion to look supportive of the troops. The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out later today measures public opinion on all of it, on Bush’s tax cuts and the deficit, on other domestic issues, and on the presidential race. An economy-related slice of the poll will be released on CNBC’s Business Center at 5:00 pm in advance of tomorrow’s CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic presidential debate; poll headlines come on NBC Nightly News; and the Wall Street Journal hashes through it all tomorrow morning.USA Today sets up tomorrow’s debate on the economy with this: “Some Republicans are saying aloud something that seemed unthinkable just a few months ago: President Bush could lose next year’s election.”“‘If the economy is not good, we’ll have a very close race,’ says Charlie Black, a veteran Republican strategist in Washington. ‘In a very close race, you could lose.”” Thank you, Mr. Black. We have debates on the brain. Tonight marks the first of two evenings in a row in which a nationally watched, personality-driven candidacy meets the high-stakes, substantively rigorous arena of a debate. Hosted by the California Broadcasters Association, five of the Question Two candidates, including Schwarzenegger in his sole expected debate appearance, face off for 90 minutes in Sacramento State University’s University Union Ballroom from 9:00-10:30 pm ET. No restrictions on usage, and the CBA will provide a clean feed.The Wall Street Journal, factoring big into both debates, lets Schwarzenegger lay out his economic plan and bash Davis and Bustamante on its op-ed page. Unlike Schwarzenegger, Clark won’t get to learn lines in advance of tomorrow’s event, but he too is expected to get specific on the economy this morning with a jobs plan rollout in New York at 9:30 am.The Los Angeles Times says in its debate preview that more than 250 reporters are expected to cover tonight’s Sacto showdown; First Read reports over 350 members of the media are expected to attend tomorrow’s debate at Pace University.At 7:30 pm ET at the CBA debate site, the Davis team has a group of “real Californians” — a teacher, a senior citizen, a nurse and a farm worker — challenging Schwarzenegger to take part in a “real” debate. After the debate, Schwarzenegger will appear at a debate-watching party at Cal Expo at 11:15 pm ET.Notice how California suddenly has the strictest e-mail spam law in the country, allowing recipients to sue for up to $1 million (as the Washington Times covers a Manhattan Institute survey showing trial lawyers took in $40 billion last year), and is about to get “first in the nation” gun legislation at a 2:00 pm ET event today. The release says “Davis Administration officials and gun safety advocates will announce the governor’s signing of a package of legislation that will continues California’s reputation as the toughest gun safety state in the nation.”Elsewhere in the recall today, Davis, who will not take part in the CBA debate, signs a stem cell research bill and talks with citizens about health care at the UC-Davis Medical Center at 3:00 pm ET.CaliforniaThe San Francisco Chronicle says absentee ballots began pouring in after the court’s decision. The Los Angeles Times makes this point about what’s happened with the recall: “Taking [Davis’] ouster in the first part of the recall ballot for granted, the GOP and its leading candidates have put most of their time and virtually all of their resources into the fight to replace Davis. That, in turn, has given the embattled incumbent and his Democratic allies a priceless opportunity - a chance to redefine the recall itself.”“No longer a straight up-or-down vote on Davis and his perceived failings, the choice for many Californians has evolved into a more complex series of calculations involving fairness, ideology and the tug of partisan loyalties.”“For all of that, Davis is still waging an uphill fight. Not a single poll has shown him beating the recall.” The Los Angeles Times front-pages a big takeout on Schwarzenegger’s career.CNBC/Wall Street Journal debateThe Wall Street Journal’s Harwood sets up the debate (for Clark): “Gen. Clark isn’t the Democratic front-runner any more than Sen. Joseph Lieberman was when superior name recognition placed him atop early national polls. Nor can he be until he demonstrates some command of the unfamiliar terrain of domestic policy, the natural habitat of Democratic primary voters.”“The most obvious strategy for Gen. Clark is the outsider’s path marked in recent years by Ross Perot, John McCain, and now Howard Dean... Which is precisely where he will find a relentless array of political landmines.”“In fact, the thin record of the general’s domestic-policy utterances suggest he is reading polls as closely as any center-left Democratic stalwart. He is ‘not particularly in favor’ of raising the Social Security retirement age. He has signaled support for rolling back the unpopular Bush tax cuts for upper-income Americans, but not the popular ones benefiting middle-class voters, though doing only the former couldn’t achieve his vaguely enunciated goal of balancing the budget ‘at some point.’ Only on government-funded vouchers for private-school tuition, which he says might be used ‘on an exceptional basis,’ has he signaled any appetite for taking on Democratic constituencies.”And Howard Fineman, bless his heart, shrugs off accusations of being in the tank for MSNBC in touting the debate as “make or break” for Clark.Clark campaign embed Marisa Buchanan gets press secretary Kym Spell saying Clark is walking into the debate with a “pretty big target on his back,” considering he beat everyone in the last poll, including Bush. That said, the General would like to tell his own story. and Spell argued it is a more average American story than any of the other candidates. (We know a few who would take issue with that.) She also argued, “No one knows who he is,” and this allows him to come in and explain why he is running, and why his past experiences can help turn around the economy. He’ll have a minute at a time, max, to do this. Despite claiming to be happy to “wait and see” what happens with Clark for now, the Dean camp, embed Felix Schein reports, is “playing to win” and is somehow confident that Clark will soon be seen for what they think he is: an insider “Washington” candidate who seemingly danced Republican up to last week. The question is whether Dean will contribute to this process. Regarding tomorrow’s debate and the likelihood of continued attacks by Kerry, Lieberman and Gephardt, a Dean spokesperson said the campaign has not prepared a special strategy or specific attacks. Instead, the idea is to “wait and see what the others do” — both to Dean and to Clark.Kerry campaign embed Becky Diamond says to expect more of the Kerry-Dean back-and-forth over tax cuts tomorrow. The Kerry camp’s build-up to the debate has included a string of endorsements: former Clinton campaign chair David Wilhelm, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, RFK Jr., Lt. General Claudia Kennedy, and yesterday, former Small Business Association Administrator Aida Alvarez, and former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen. Former US Labor Secretary Robert Reich sent an online letter yesterday: “George W. Bush’s economic policies have been a dismal failure, with devastating consequences for America’s families. Economic opportunity is the engine that drives American social progress. John Kerry will be a great economic leader because he understands this. He knows that a president’s job isn’t to lavish tax breaks on the wealthiest Americans, but rather to create opportunity.”Today, Kerry adds his first union endorsement, a technically small but symbolically significant one: the International Association of Firefighters, which endorses him at the St. Regis Hotel at 12:30 pm; Diamond covers. “Clark has four-star credentials, but lacks political and legislative experience, said [union chief Harold] Schaitberger, who spent a couple of hours at breakfast with the retired general several weeks ago, along with other union presidents.” — APGephardt touts a union endorsement today, as well: the Laborers’ Union International gives him their nod in Chicago at 9:30 am ET. The campaign notes LIUNA represents more than 800,000 members. This will be Gephardt’s 14th union endorsement; he has a conference call with the press immediately following the event. The Washington Post “With the AFL-CIO’s prized endorsement dangling before them, several candidates are sounding a more protectionist note as they side with labor unions in criticizing the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Clinton signed into law in December 1993, and warning that they will oppose future pacts if they do not include stricter and more enforceable labor and environmental standards. Critics warn that such standards could curtail U.S. trade because some nations cannot meet them.”“The shift away from free trade, rhetorically and substantively, reflects twin political imperatives: the candidates’ desire to win the AFL-CIO endorsement and to show the growing ranks of unemployed workers, many of whom held union jobs, that the candidates are responding to mounting job losses.”“In the general election, anti-trade positions and rhetoric could become problematic, some party strategists say. The public is generally more supportive of trade than unionized workers, who make up about 13 percent of the U.S. workforce.”Embed Priya David says the Gephardt campaign is keeping quiet about debate prep. When asked about strategy for Thursday, spokesperson Erik Smith replied, “Our success in the first two debates was due to the fact that Dick offered both the most articulate critique of President Bush and the boldest, most ambitious policy alternatives. This method is proven and Gephardt needs to continue doing that to break through.” David adds that a volunteer group of New Hampshire teachers are taking to the hallways to drum up support for Gephardt: they’ll meet with other supporters on Thursday for a debate-watching party.The Lieberman campaign tells embed Dionne Scott there’s “no real mystery” to the Senator’s debate prep — no scripted one-liners, nor any behind-the-scenes plans of attack. A deputy campaign director said debate prep “isn’t hugely tactical.” When asked if Lieberman plans to attack Dean again, the aide said, “if we disagree with Dean, then we will.” If that’s the standard, Scott notes, Gephardt could also potentially be on the receiving end as well over tax cuts. As for Clark, the campaign says Lieberman has already said what he had to say — that Clark’s comments on the Iraq war resolution were “confusing and ambivalent.”Right before a debate, on site, the campaign says Lieberman and staff sit in the green room and chat — there’s really no time at that point for any more prep. Any rituals? Yes, according to spokesperson Jano Cabrera, but “it’s really less ritual,” more logistical: the campaign staff prepares research for the rapid response documents the campaign passes out to reporters during the debate. Edwards embed Dugald McConnell says Edwards does debate prep in DC today, and that the economic focus is a welcome topic for a candidate whose populist message has been about kitchen-table issues, and whose resume on national security is not as long as Kerry, Clark, or Lieberman’s. Edwards spends most of his time campaigning on economic issues, especially when he’s in rural areas. Spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri told McConnell the economy is “the most important topic” of the campaign. While she predicts Edwards will have strong criticism of Bush’s economic record, along the same lines as his new ad this week, she does not predict he will be the first to go after the frontrunners in his own party.Edwards yesterday, banging that ethics drum, called for a ban on lobbyist contributions to federal campaigns. When embed Karin Caifa asked Kucinich about his prep for Thursday’s debate, he replied with a smile, “I’m ready every moment of my life for a debate.” While waiting for his car to pick him up at the corner of 43rd Street and 6th Avenue Tuesday afternoon, he looked up and around and joked, “I thought I’d come up here a couple of days early. Come up and scope the place out.”Per Graham embed Sophie Conover, the campaign claims their goal for this debate is to make the public aware that Graham has an economic plan, created 1.4 million jobs, and balanced budgets as governor of Florida. The campaign doesn’t think there’s much chance to break through in these debates, though. The campaign did say you can expect to see Graham “draw distinctions” between himself and the rest of the field. How will he draw those distinctions? While the standard answer is to wait and see, staffers were quick to point out that they believe Graham has created more jobs than anyone else in this campaign. They are also fond of noting the size of the budgets he balanced, and the comprehensive nature of his economic plan.Sharpton embed Tom Llamas says Sharpton tells him that as soon as he steps on stage at Thursday’s debate, he is going to separate himself from the rest of the pack. His campaign is not disclosing what that strategy will be. But if Sharpton uses the same kind of language he used at speech on Saturday in Louisiana, Llamas says, expect him to be very aggressive in targeting his nine Democratic rivals.Moseley Braun campaign embed Angela Miles says the campaign won’t be doing debate prep today — just a run-through the day of. One aide tells Miles “she’s a natural in the debate format.” More 2004 notes (D)Comparing “Hillary hysteria” to a cold sore, the Washington Post Style section raps the political establishment and the media for repeatedly buying the Hillary 2004 hype when She herself has repeatedly said no.The AP: “Where some Democratic presidential candidates have criticized Bush’s foreign policy and postwar leadership with the benefit of hindsight, Clark can claim to have raised similar questions with foresight... Less conveniently for his political aspirations, however, Clark at times heaped praise on Bush and his team for skillfully handling the Iraqi operation - even so far as to say the president should be proud for forging ahead despite the nay-saying.”“In this politically charged climate, America’s record in Iraq is fair game for Democrats, and Clark is attacking Bush full bore on it... Months earlier, Clark was full of admiration for the way the Bush team was conducting the military operation.”“That’s not to say Clark agreed with the decision to attack.” Kerry embed Becky Diamond got Kerry on the record about Clark: “I saw in the polls that both Wesley Clark and I are the only Democrats that beat Bush. The Democrats will look for someone with a record of accomplishment on issues that matter to them. I’ve been fighting for education reform for kids, for health care and to protect the environment. That is important to Democrats. It’s important that people look at the overall record.”The Boston Globe: “Kerry, highlighting a new poll that showed he and Clark each would beat Bush in theoretical match-ups, drew an implicit contrast with his Democratic rival by noting his own longtime party membership and by making a vague reference to his past political battles with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, both of whom Clark supported for president.”Kerry “hammer Bush” update: so far, the hammer campaign has raised $148,000 online; they are asking 200,000 online supporters to donate $50 each. Dean embed Felix Schein says Dean’s Copley Square speech yesterday offered more vision and more varied examples of what the Bush administration is doing wrong. Gone were the lines about “Ken Lay and the boys,” replaced by examples of Republican wrongdoings ranging from the recount to the recall. The speech also included greater historical context.The Washington Post: “Dean’s prepared text included some of the harshest language he has used against the administration. He charged that the Bush team has ‘capitalized on domestic fears of terrorism for political gain,’ given ‘handouts’ to industries that are ‘causing irreparable harm to our environment’ and ‘shackled our children and grandchildren’ with record budget deficits to enact his ‘reckless tax cuts’” — which, he said, “are ‘bankrupting the states and starving Social Security, Medicare and our public schools’ and have gone to ‘the largest political contributors at the expense of today’s middle class.’”Schein notes that behind the campaign’s insistence that this is still an underdog effort, there are the anticipated record-breaking fundraising numbers — numbers the campaign intends to make public as soon as the third-quarter totals are known, and numbers that may lead other campaigns to reconsider their strategies. A Dean spokesperson says Dean’s fundraising and volunteer numbers will help “prove that we can alter politics and challenge the political establishment.”The Los Angeles Times takes the latest look at the Dean Internet phenomenon.Kucinich embed Karin Caifa says Kucinich is getting some help from some high-profile Hollywood friends. Tuesday night, “Concerned Artists and Activists” sent an e-mail to supporters saying, “Dennis Kucinich is a unique and courageous member of Congress — the first presidential candidate to oppose Bush’s war in Iraq, and one who has never wavered in his opposition. We know Dennis. We admire him. We endorse him...” Signed: Ed Asner, James Cromwell, Elliot Gould, Ani DiFranco and others. Sharpton embed Tom Llamas says Sharpton showed up 15 minutes late for his panel discussion with the Dalai Lama in New York yesterday. “I was trying to get through President Bush’s traffic, when I’m President I won’t stick up traffic for the Dalai Lama,” said Sharpton, referring to traffic caused by Bush’s UN address.Sept. 23, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiThe President’s UN speech and the expected 9th Circuit ruling suck up the oxygen today; the Democratic presidentials campaign, prep for Thursday’s CNBC/Wall Street Journal debate and raise money, with the end of the third fundraising quarter one week from today.Further shaking up once-neat assumptions about how the election will turn on national security vs. the economy, President Bush goes before the UN today for some high-stakes talk on Iraq — expected to feature the defiant tone that Republicans like and makes Democrats crazy — as new USAToday/Gallup numbers show Bush trailing Democrats’ four-star vet candidate by three points; the other veteran in the field, Kerry, also beats Bush by one point among registered voters. (What isn’t all over cable this morning: several of the other Democratic candidates also are within striking distance of Bush:.) We’ll see what the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows tomorrow night and Thursday morning. But for this news cycle, USA Today/Gallup has Bush’s job approval at 50%. “Clark, who only this month disclosed that he is a Democrat, now leads the field with 22% of Democrats who are registered to vote. Dean is second at 13%; Kerry and Missouri Rep. Richard Gephardt have 11% each; and Lieberman has 10%. Other Democrats received 4% or less.”“For the first time, a 51% majority said they disagreed with Bush on the issues that mattered most to them. Americans also expressed the most skepticism to date about the war with Iraq, splitting 50%-48% on whether it was worth going to war.”“Republican National Chairman Ed Gillespie told reporters he expects a close-fought race next year, whoever wins the Democratic nomination. But he said the Democratic contenders were advocating ‘weak and indecisive foreign policy reminiscent of the ’70s,’ and added, ‘Americans will reject that.’”Why the Democratic Establishment cottons to Clark: USA Today’s Clark analysis says, “Clark showed strength in places and among groups where Democrats often don’t. He drew the support of as many men as women. The other major Democratic contenders, like the party’s recent presidential nominees, were disproportionately supported by women. Clark was stronger in the South and West than the other major contenders. He had more support from voters under 30. And Republicans and independents were more inclined to vote for him than for the other Democrats.”Clark, who gives a paid speech at DePauw University today, may now be set up for some rough-and-tumble in Thursday’s debate. (He has also shaken up the Moby primary; see below.)Meanwhile, Dean gives a speech today on small-d democracy in Copley Square. The AP says the Tea Party figures.The 9th Circuit ruling today can and probably will be appealed to the US Supreme Court. As the nation waits, sharper TV ads hit the airwaves, Davis appears with Lieberman at a homeland security event in Santa Ana at 1:30 pm ET; Schwarzenegger does a town hall at the Sacramento Sheraton at 6:00 pm ET; and Maria Shriver addresses the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco at 3:30 pm ET.Iraq is to the economy...The Washington Post hails Bush’s speech with this lead: “With lights recently blacked out in the mid-Atlantic and wetlands conservation being squeezed, President Bush wants to spend nearly $5.7 billion on Iraq’s electricity system and as much as $100 million next year to restore that nation’s drained marshlands.”“Such comparisons... are creating a growing sense of unease among Republicans, who say the president’s war spending will no doubt be used against them in next year’s elections.”“A study to be released today by the House Budget Committee’s Democratic staff concluded that the cost of the Iraq war and occupation could easily reach $417 billion over the next decade, more than the president is seeking for a 10-year prescription drug benefit for Medicare. Even a benign postwar scenario would cost taxpayers $308 billion, the Democrats concluded.”“The debate has touched the presidential contest, as well. Democratic candidate Howard Dean recently noted that his health care plan would cost about $87 billion, ‘which happens to be almost exactly the amount the president . . . asked to wage war in Iraq for another year.’”CaliforniaDavid Broder enumerates reasons why a October 7 would be more advantageous for Davis, why Schwarzenegger might not need McClintock out of the race to win, and other ways of upending all the CW that has formed about this election.That said, recall sugar daddy Darrell Issa says he might vote “no,” and urge others to do so as well, if McClintock doesn’t quit the race. - LA TimesThe AP ups the ante for Schwarzenegger for tomorrow’s debate: “‘He has elevated this debate to a higher level,’ said Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution who wrote speeches for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. ‘But we will see now if he truly is a great performer, because he has to stand up there and give the performance of a political lifetime.’”Meanwhile, McClintock seems ready to take on Schwarzenegger and advisor Pete Wilson, says the Sacramento Bee. McClintock called Wilson “one of the worst governors in our state’s history... Schwarzenegger has ‘surrounded himself with the team that produced the biggest tax increase in the state’s history, back in 1991, a tax increase that broke the back of our economy and turned a recession in to a near depression,’ McClintock said in a breakfast interview with The Bee Capitol Bureau.”Schwarzenegger’s arguably negative new ads spark a fight within his operation and have the Davis team charging Schwarzenegger with going back on his word on negative campaigning. - LA TimesMeanwhile, Davis goes up today with a new TV ad spelling out for viewers how the next governor could get elected with a small percentage of the vote. “Who will finish first? Will they be qualified? Up to running the 5th largest economy in the world? Whoever takes over, the hard feelings and political chaos may get even worse. Vote no on the recall.”California Senate GOP Leader Jim Brulte holds a conference call with reporters to discuss the recall at 1:30 pm. Brulte has not endorsed a candidate yet...CNBC/Wall Street Journal debateDean campaign embed Felix Schein reports, gone are the bells and whistles of the last debate — no more “K Street” cameras and no more one-liners from Carville. Normalcy has returned to the Dean camp’s pre-debate routine, the Governor and his aides having adopted the “standard” pre-debate approach for Thursday. Even candidate stand-ins have been replaced for the time being by routine advice and plenty of reading material. What does remain, though, is the pre-debate adrenaline rush provided in the form of a rally with supporters and a last-minute trip to a distant location. Last time it was fundraising in Philadelphia; this time it is a meeting with AFL-CIO members in Michigan. Last time, it was a rally outside the debate hall in Albuquerque; this time it is a rally with supporters outside the debate hall in New York. Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles says the candidate told her, “I am ready already.” Moseley Braun says she knows enough about the economy to do just fine. Her staffers, though, say she will be prepping. They are really looking forward to Thursday, Miles says, since they say she handled the last debate well.The Kucinich camp also thinks their candidate did well in previous debates, embed Karin Caifa reports. Asked about debate prep, spokesperson Jeff Cohen said, “We believe that at the last two debates he’s turned in a stellar performance.” Don’t look for any blistering attacks from the Congressman, either. “While he’s distinguished himself from the other candidates, it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t petty,” Cohen said.The Boston Globe puts Kerry’s manufacturing recovery plan, rolled out yesterday in Detroit, in the context of other candidates’ plans already out there, and notes a “slight stumble” in an attempted critique of Dean on trade.More 2004 notes (D)At the Citadel yesterday, Clark told cadets “military force should never be the first choice in conflict,” The State reports. Sounding a little like Kerry, he “also said it is not unpatriotic to be critical of the war.” Clark embed Marisa Buchanan says Clark’s invite to address cadets came from visiting professor and Clinton pal Phil Lader. And The State notes the “school charged Clark’s campaign $650 to rent Summerall Field for the event.”Buchanan also reports Moby apparently is still shopping for a candidate, despite appearing at two fundraisers with Kerry. Spotted at a New York fundraiser for Clark, Moby said he was “just curious about all the candidates,” and regarding his support for Kerry, said he is “still trying to figure out who had the best chance against George Bush is November 2004.” Is there a potential Moby fundraiser in Clark’s future? “At this point I don’t know.” Buchanan also notes how an impressive short-term fundraising showing by Clark might siphon some attention away from Dean’s expected huge haul. Clark had three fundraisers at private homes in New York last night, and one was hosted by the head of the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Council, though she said she won’t endorse a candidate until March. Edwards embed Dugald McConnell says that like most of the candidates, Edwards is shaking the money tree in the final stretch of the third quarter, with stops in California, Chicago, Providence, RI, Texas, and New York. Last Thursday, he even hit up college students for cash during a visit to Princeton University, where his daughter is studying. Edwards spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri told McConnell, “This will be our lowest quarter... It’s not the priority it was in previous quarters.”McConnell also notes that Edwards’ new ad, which went up yesterday in Iowa and shows him speaking to young listeners in a town hall format, has the Senator taking President Bush to task for underfunding priorities like education and health care. He asks rhetorically, “Well, why don’t we have the money, George Bush? He gave it away in tax cuts to the richest people in America.”“David Axelrod , Edwards’ media consultant, said the ad tries to capture ‘the passion’ of Edwards in one of his best settings, a town hall meeting,” the Raleigh News & Observer reports. “The audience in this case, however, consists mainly of supporters and was not shot out on the campaign trail.” McConnell also says Edwards called Jon Stewart Monday to congratulate him on the Daily Show’s two Emmys. Graham embed Sophie Conover reports on Graham’s meeting today with the League of Conservation Voters in hopes of winning their endorsement. LCV has already met with Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards and Dean. Mark Longabaugh, LCV senior VP for political affairs, told Conover the group is looking for: a proven environmental record, a vision and willingness to make the environment a leading issue in their campaign, and the ability to win. Conover also notes that Graham hasn’t been to New Hampshire since mid-August and doesn’t have plans, at this point in time, to go back there again until mid-October. The campaign attributed the dearth of visits to the September 30th fundraising deadline, pointing out it’s much easier to get a layover in Iowa, when traveling coast to coast, than it is to get one in Manchester. Kerry embed Becky Diamond spoke with Alex Heckler, a lawyer who is hosting a Kerry luncheon fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale today. Heckler said “there is resistance” in Florida to Kerry’s fundraising as it’s Graham’s home state. But he says Kerry’s campaign is focusing on raising money “coming from young professionals between the ages of 25 and 45.” There will be an event at a South Beach night club to woo these possible donors, according to Heckler, who said that in the third quarter, he “got a ton of commitments once Bob Graham jumps out of the race.” MSNBC covers Dean’s Boston rally today; Kerry spokesperson Robert Gibbs tells Diamond, “Boston is a diverse and inclusive city occasionally welcoming Yankee fans like Howard Dean.” Dean sent a letter to the Anti-Defamation League seeking to clarify his position on the Middle East, the Boston Globe reports. In the letter, Dean states his “unequivocal support for Israel’s right to exist and be free from terror,” and says “the United States must remain committed to the special longstanding relationship we have with Israel, including providing the resources necessary to guarantee Israel’s long-term defense and security.”New York SEIU chief Dennis Rivera hosts a fundraiser for Dean today at the SEIU Local 1199 Building at 4:30; the Dean camp says Rivera is not raising funds for any of the other candidates.Gephardt embed Priya David asked the AFL-CIO about the October 15th endorsement meeting that’s been mentioned in the press. Turns out, that meeting isn’t a sure thing, she says — at this point, a meeting has not yet been called. The AFL-CIO spokesperson could give her no guidance on the likelihood of a meeting occurring. Some excerpts of the conversation:Q. Why hasn’t the meeting been called yet? A. Because union leaders are still listening to their members about their choice for endorsement. This is an intensive process, and it’s not certain that union leaders will be ready to vote on endorsement by the 15th. There’s no point in having the meeting if they’re not ready...Q. What does SEIU and AFSCME’s decision to hold off on endorsement mean for the AFL-CIO’s potential October 15th decision?A. It’s not clear yet what it means. There are many factors that go into this process. The decision just hasn’t been made whether there’s going to be a meeting or not.Q. What impact will third-quarter fundraising have on making an endorsement, as October 15th is also the day those figures will be released?A. You know, a reporter asked John Sweeney that question at a press conference and he was surprised that it was the same day. He said, “Oh really, we just looked at our calendars and picked a day.” It was accidental — busy presidents flipped through a calendar and just picked a day... Certainly people are looking at what’s happening in terms of fundraising — but don’t think it’s going to tip anyone’s hand.Gephardt gets big and largely positive Des Moines Register lay for his ag policy speech yesterday.Sharpton embed Tom Llamas asks, what do you get when you cross a preacher, a congressman, and the Dalai Lama? He’s not sure, though it’s definitely not war. Sharpton is scheduled to speak on a panel along with Kucinich and the Dalai Lama in New York today. Topic: “Ethics and the Politics of Peace.” Kucinich embed Karin Caifa reports that while they may not reach their goal of $1,000 per party, the Kucinich campaign is calling Sunday’s “Peace Day House Party” effort a success. The campaign got responses from Homer, AK, to Honolulu, and is looking forward to another round next month. Preliminary totals posted on the website had the campaign at $64,333 from 161 parties as of 6:30 pm ET Monday night. The campaign is looking to boost Sunday’s total with federal matching funds.2004 Notes (R)Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie yesterday at a Sperling breakfast suggested a gay-marriage ban might make it into the 2004 convention platform, and also “accused homosexual activists of intolerance and bigotry by attempting to force the rest of the population to accept alien moral standards,” the Washington Times reports. Bush “repealed and proposed several regulations yesterday to make it easier for religious charities to receive federal money, including allowing such groups to make hiring decisions based on job candidates’ faith,” the Washington Post reports. “White House efforts in this area are closely followed by religious conservatives, one of the Republican Party’s most important voting blocs.”The Boston Globe’s Canellos notes how the White House’s tendency to put Bush in military settings might detract from his common-man appeal, presumed to be one of his advantages going into the 2004 election. The Wall Street Journal uses Bush’s approach to passing his Clear Skies initiative thus far to illustrate how his governing style differs from his father’s “— and the political polarization the current president engenders.” “The first President Bush projected a more moderate image and displayed greater willingness to find common ground with Democrats on issues such as the environment and taxes. The second, mindful of the political grief his father suffered as a result, has devoted far more attention to placating the right on those same issues. And he has been more than willing to accept flak from the political left in the process.”Sept. 22, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiJust your average week in politics. The highlights of a long list: The President (sort of) asks the United Nations to take a broader role in Iraq, and his aspiring Democratic challengers — including a political neophyte, retired four-star general — debate each other on economic issues. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll takes voters’ temperature on all of the above. A congressman charged with killing a motorcyclist speaks publicly for the first time since the accident. And a federal court considers whether or not to postpone California’s recall election, while Arnold Schwarzenegger debates his rivals — if they show up — and about 90 other recall candidates get their turn on The Tonight Show.To break it down: Today, the 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit convenes at 4:00 pm ET. The San Francisco Chronicle says a “ruling is expected quickly, perhaps by midweek.” The losing side could appeal to the Supreme Court, and recall proponent Ted Costa... has already said he would do so.” Today also marks the voter registration deadline for an October 7 election. Leno gets his “class photo,” taped at 8:30 pm ET. Janklow talks about his political future in Sioux Falls at 11:00 am ET. One more Democrat formally outlines her candidacy for president: Moseley Braun, with stops in DC, South Carolina, and Chicago. Gephardt gives a big ag policy speech in his must-win Iowa. And Bush visits a hurricane emergency ops center in Richmond.Tuesday, the President addresses the United Nations. Dean gives a formal speech and rallies in Kerry’s hood. Lieberman campaigns with Gray Davis, and a couple other presidentials meet with the Dalai Lama. Wednesday brings the ballyhooed, semi-revised California Broadcasters Association debate with Schwarzenegger. Thursday brings the now two-hour, CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic presidential debate on the economy, with Clark, at Pace University in New York. The debate airs live at 4:00 pm ET on CNBC and re-airs at 9:00 pm ET on MSNBC. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out Wednesday night curtain-raises the event. By Friday, Texas may have new congressional district lines. And one week from tomorrow, the third fundraising quarter ends, with all eyes on Dean’s expected massive haul; Kerry, Lieberman, Edwards and Gephardt’s intake compared to Dean’s; Clark’s Internet-boosted initial spurt; and Graham’s increasingly make-or-break total. After the 30th, the media drumbeat may start for somebody to get out.The big purely political draws this week, the two debates, feature two candidates previously untested in such venues: Schwarzenegger and Clark. Where’s the bar for a strong or weak performance? Schwarzenegger has the “lightweight” charges to overcome. Clark’s team of former Clinton advisors isn’t engaging in expectations-setting yet, but Clark himself is. Per the Boston Globe: “‘There are prime ministers I don’t know, and there are economic facts I don’t know, and I’ll get stuff wrong,’ Clark said... ‘Everybody does.’” CaliforniaIn the recall today, as the 11 judges meet, Schwarzenegger has no public events. Maria Shriver has a 4:30 pm ET media avail following a luncheon with local businesswomen in Mountain View. Lieberman campaigns with Bustamante at an English as a second language class at San Francisco City College at 5:00 pm ET. A Lieberman advisor points out to campaign embed Dionne Scott that Lieberman was “the first to embrace the ‘no on the recall, yes on Bustamante’ strategy.” Bustamante, of course, had already endorsed Lieberman for president by then.The Los Angeles Times looks at the make-up of the 11-judge panel. A new Public Policy Institute of California survey, out Sunday, showed a majority of voters still favoring a recall, but the total has dipped from the last PPIC survey, as it has in other recent polls. On Question Two, Bustamante and Schwarzenegger were about tied at 28% and 26%, with McClintock taking 14%.As noted above, today marks the voter registration deadline for an October 7 recall. “In a conference call with county registrars Friday, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley said registration, early voting and absentee ballot receipts have dropped off, presumably in response to voter confusion about the status of the election.” - LA TimesAs they prepare for their class photo, the Los Angeles Times considers the influence that could be wielded as a bloc by the largely unknown recall candidates.The Washington Times reviews the evidence for “lightweight” charges against Schwarzenegger, while the Los Angeles Times considers his campaign’s unusual defense in cases where he is charged with past questionable statements: “He made it up.”“Schwarzenegger’s approach is notable for several reasons. The campaign’s defense seems to reflect a belief that the public accepts an old Hollywood maxim: Everybody lies. At the same time, political strategists say that Schwarzenegger’s consistent showing in polls appears to challenge the assumption that admitting dishonesty is politically disastrous.”The AP reports on Schwarzenegger’s enviro proposal, rolled out yesterday. “The centerpiece of his proposal promotes hydrogen-powered cars... Schwarzenegger said he would sign an executive order to create a network of hydrogen fueling stations by 2010.” And he “is having one of his Hummers overhauled to run on hydrogen, hoping that the move will inspire Detroit - just as his example did 11 years ago when he paid to have a military Humvee turned into the first civilian Hummer.”Recall fever, fueled by anger over property taxes, has spread to good-government Wisconsin. - State.comCNBC/Wall Street Journal debateApart from anticipation over Clark’s first debate, circumstances further setting up Thursday’s face-off include: the ongoing Kerry-Dean-Gephardt three-way over middle-class benefits and who’s the “real” Democrat; Dean’s big speech in Kerry’s Boston tomorrow (no new policy, we’ve been advised); Kerry’s expected endorsement from the firefighters’ union, the first union endorsement of a candidate other than Gephardt; and the following from our campaign embeds:Gephardt campaign manager Steve Murphy fired off an email to Gephardt supporters this weekend slugged, “It’s Time to Show Howard Dean Who’s the Real Democrat.” The main charge: that Dean (unlike Gephardt) was not with the party on key issues. As embed Priya David sums up, the e-mail pounds Dean on economic issues, on Medicare, on the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban. It then asks supporters to “click here” and make an online donation to the Gephardt campaign, to “show Howard Dean he’s not the only candidate who can raise money on the Internet.” Lieberman embed Dionne Scott says campaign aides claim to be looking forward to Thursday’s debate, explaining, “We feel good about it because we’ve been talking about these issues for awhile.” The campaign, which had challenged Clark to take part in the debate, says through an aide, “We’re glad to see General Clark is joining us... We’ll be able to find out more about what he thinks about things.” The campaign is holding its cards close to the vest when it comes to debate prep details. Over the last couple of weeks, six to 12 people, including an outside economic advisor, have been brainstorming with the Senator on a range of policy points. The campaign says they have the only candidate in the race who has “strength as a pro-growth Democrat” because he “talks about creating jobs in the private sector and creating a climate for that growth.” Scott says to look for Lieberman to talk about his manufacturing policies and more about trade.Graham embed Sophie Conover says the Graham folks are feeling upbeat about the debate and its focus on the economy, citing the Senator’s economic plan, record of creating jobs, and vote against the Bush tax cuts as positives for them going into the event. He spent some time prepping over the weekend. A spokesman explained that in preparing the Senator, “Sometimes we have to get his answers just a little bit shorter... We have the pleasure of working for a candidate who knows too many facts. Unlike having a candidate who you have to give more facts to, with Bob Graham you have to whittle down the facts.” Although the spokesman cited a good night’s sleep as the best thing to do before a debate, Graham has a fundraiser in New York Wednesday night.Sharpton embed Tom Llamas says Sharpton unleashed a verbal assault Saturday on his Democratic rivals at the Louisiana Black Publishers Association conference in Alexandria, LA: “General Clark never held office, the new flavor of the month. Well he was a general in the army, well I was a general in another army.” On Dean: “One of them said I talk race to whites, well the next question should’ve been: how long have you been doing that? Since you been a candidate?” Sharpton also attacked those candidates who voted in favor of the war, but are now criticizing the Administration for not having a proper exit strategy. Llamas says his most aggressive attacks were against “moderate” Democrats. “These DLC moderates, they’ve turned the party into pro-death penalty, pro-deregulation of business, pro-NAFTA, pro-Canada and other trade agreements. They the ones that lost the congress in ’94, ’96, ’98, 2000, 2002. They’ve lost,” said Sharpton. Llamas considers the lose-lose proposition for the other candidates in responding to or ignoring any Sharpton attacks they come under at Thursday’s debate.More 2004 notes (D)USA Today says Clark’s first-place showing in the Newsweek poll and persisting buzz about a Hillary Clinton run “underscore the fluidity of the 10-person race at this early stage.” It also underscores a degree of dissatisfaction among the Democratic electorate.More piling on Clark for his “clarified” position on the Iraq resolution late last week, from the Republican National Committee, which fired off a release over the weekend, and from Lieberman, who told the Des Moines Register in an interview that Clark’s position is “confusing and ambivalent.” A Clark spokesperson “said Lieberman has too often resorted to attacks. Lieberman also has criticized Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt’s position on tax cuts and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s statements on the Middle East peace process.”The Los Angeles Times’ Brownstein says, “If Clark takes off - still a big if - he will almost certainly do so by convincing Democrats that he can express their hostility toward Bush’s national security strategy and repel Republican efforts to paint the party as weak or unpatriotic.”“No one should underestimate how much Democrats will like hearing criticisms of the war with Iraq come from the mouth not of a politician, but a general. Imagine a liberal derided at work as a wimp for denouncing the war. It’s one thing to tell your co-workers that Howard Dean also considers the war a mistake. It’s another to say that’s the verdict of a retired four-star general with a Silver Star and Bronze Star at home.”The Los Angeles Times takes the latest look at Clark’s “abrasive” style, and how it kept him off some Army recommendation lists for promotions.The AP Clark raised $750,000 in his first three days out.Gephardt embed Priya David notes the campaign continues to focus on Iowa as a state they will win, saying they also plan for a strong showing in New Hampshire. They concede that Dean and Kerry will duke it out for first place there, knocking them out of the top two slots. A recent statement from the campaign read: “After a strong performance in Iowa, we’ll be well-positioned for a third-place finish behind two favorite sons.” Gephardt aides also said it’ll be a close race in Iowa with Dean, a position they have taken for several weeks, particularly since Dean’s poll numbers have spiked.Dean embed Felix Schein notes the Dean campaign’s new $5 million online fundraising drive for the next ten days — and that if they come close, their intake may eclipse the total third-quarter effort by a number of candidates. Schein says that, having focused on outreach the first two-thirds of September, the campaign is shifting gears and will focus almost exclusively on fundraising for the rest of this month. The Washington Post looks at Dean’s ability, and Clark’s similar if fledgling effort, to draw disinterested voters into the process.Graham embed Sophie Conover says the Graham campaign anticipates being on the air with TV ads in Iowa by the middle of the week. The ad buy was described as strong enough that the people of Iowa will see it, without saturating the market. Graham media consultant David Eichenbaum said two ads are in the can, one 30 seconds, the other 60. One is a bio ad; the other will question President Bush’s priorities and focus on rebuilding Iraq versus rebuilding America.Conover also says Graham’s Senate chief of staff, HW “Buddy” Menn III is moving over to the campaign. When asked if this move should be taken as a sign that fundraising efforts were in need of some extra attention, press secretary Jamal Simmons said, “It’s an important quarter, we’re facing the Howard Dean behemoth... There’s no such thing as too much money.”Kucinich embed Karin Caifa reports on the campaign’s largest fundraising event to date yesterday, with the goal of raising at least $1 million through house parties. It’ll be awhile before the totals are available, but as of 10:00 pm ET, the initiative had raked in $17,241 at 51 parties. Kucinich supporters could keep track of the tally at Caifa says the total is sure to get a boost from the party Kucinich himself was attending in Studio City, CA, with actors James Cromwell and Ed Begley, Jr.In her announcement today, per the AP, Moseley Braun will say of the Administration, “‘A woman can fix the mess they have created, because we are practical, we are not afraid of partnerships and we are committed to making the world better for our children.’”NARAL president Kate Michelman announces today she’ll step down in April, after the DC 2004 Choice March, to devote herself over the last six months of the campaign to electing a pro-choice president. Michelman plans to travel with and for the Democratic nominee on a personal crusade to “put choice on the ballot,” per a spokesperson, and mobilize millions of women.Edwards gets his Des Moines Register profile, but another Register story looks at how doctors and insurers in North Carolina charge Edwards with being part of the health insurance problem. Dean’s Boston Globe profile highlights how the death of his brother propelled him into politics.2004 Notes (R)Out of swing-state Iowa: “A new Des Moines Register poll shows that 49 percent of Iowans approve of Bush’s overall job performance, a drop of 18 percentage points from May. That’s his lowest approval rating in the Iowa Poll since taking office in 2001.” “In mid-May, after Bush’s declaration that major combat had ended, 71 percent of Iowa adults approved of how he had dealt with the conflict that drove Saddam Hussein from power. Four months later, 47 percent applaud the president as American forces try to rebuild the war-torn country amid almost-daily guerrilla attacks... Fifty-eight percent of Iowans disapprove of his handling of the federal budget, and 56 percent are critical of his handling of the economy.”The Washington Times looks at how Bush “has used executive orders and other means to try to make the government friendlier to religious groups... The administration is holding conferences across the country to help faith-based groups learn about applying for federal funds and has created a fund to provide technical help to small charities. The White House also offers religious groups a newsletter and a catalog of available grants.”Also: “The White House will be announcing several ‘really important rules’ related to the faith-based initiative, said Robert Tuttle, legal director for the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy. One such agency rule would allow religious organizations to receive grants to build multipurpose buildings, he said.”Sept. 19, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiPer one of DC’s finer radio stations, its National Talk Like a Pirate Day, so ahoy. But with Isabel passing, the city isn’t exactly under water. Yet the government remains shut down. (Insert New Yorkers’ jibes here.)More importantly, we’re four months out from the Iowa caucuses, and six days out from the September 25 CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic presidential debate at Pace University in New York, featuring all 10 candidates. Weather permitting (and looks like it will), the Clark campaign intends to send a letter of acceptance to the Democratic National Committee today, the AP says. Wonderful.Today, Clark gives an address — his longest to date as a candidate — on “The American Leadership Role In a Changing World” at the University of Iowa in Iowa City at 5:00 pm. He’ll hold a 10:30 am meet-and-greet at the Hamburg Inn, and one-on-one media avails before and after the speech. Reporters may ask him about his assertion yesterday that he would have voted for the Iraq resolution (see below). In the recall today, our ongoing watch of Democratic allegations of a GOP power grab sees the stars align: none other than Al Gore hits the trail with Davis in Los Angeles, at the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation Project on W. Jefferson at 1:00 pm ET, while the 9th Circuit is expected to post its decision on an en banc hearing of the three-judge panel’s decision. Gore also campaigns and fundraises with Davis in San Francisco. The Los Angeles Times today says Davis has yet to win over African-Americans. On Saturday, Davis campaigns with Edwards, the fourth Democratic presidential candidate to stump with him. Edwards embed Dugald McConnell says Edwards and Davis will appear in San Francisco to criticize the Bush administration’s handling of the economy, as well as the recall. Edwards spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri says “he thinks the recall is a bad idea. The voters of California already said what they wanted in 2002.”Schwarzenegger has no public events scheduled. McClintock rallies in Ontario, CA at 5:30 pm ET. And Bustamante has a presser to call for community college fee rollbacks at Los Angeles City College at 2:00 pm ET and a 9:00 pm ET reception with San Diego Democrats.Dick Grasso’s resignation is giving the populist-talking Edwards campaign a new peg to play up corporate reform; his is the only campaign focusing on Grasso’s exit. And per McConnell, in his latest ad in New Hampshire, Edwards says: “Money and lobbyists run our government, and they own this White House... I’ve never taken a dime from PACs or Washington lobbyists, and I never will.” Incidentally, Edwards changed his scheduled to be in North Carolina todayIraq is to the economy...The Los Angeles Times reports Hill on GOP insistence that Iraq help pay for reconstruction. “Republican qualms arise from worries about the growing federal budget deficit, frustration with allies for not contributing more and the political fallout from spending billions on Iraq’s infrastructure at a time when the GOP is trying to restrain spending at home.”“Congress is not likely to scuttle the funding request, which is part of the $87-billion package Bush wants approved... But the concerns of GOP congressmen reflect an underlying political reality as the president and his party head into the election year: Bush’s foreign policy, once his trump card with voters, is no longer seen as an unalloyed benefit to him and fellow Republicans as the costs and casualties in Iraq mount.”CaliforniaThe Wall Street Journal looks at the Bush v. Gore overtones from a less emotional angle: “California’s recall fight suggests a new development as the 2004 presidential election nears: The prospect of lawsuits against cities, counties or states that may be out of step with the changes. The plaintiffs’ ammunition: The U.S. Supreme Court’s same Bush v. Gore ruling that gave rise to the movement itself.” The story notes how cash-strapped states are having to take “bigger roles than ever to assure some uniformity,” but “an economic downturn and post-Sept. 11, 2001, homeland-security costs have drained budgets, leaving election officials once again in a losing fight for funds against police, schools and hospitals. Many states put plans on hold, to await federal aid.”The Los Angeles Times plays up stalled election reform efforts around the country — including with the federal commission created by Bush when he signed the election reform act. The commission, “which was supposed to be up and running seven months ago, has yet to see a single member nominated by Bush, much less confirmed by the Senate.”“The parties sent the names of their candidates to the president only recently. White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said that Bush intended to nominate all four members soon.”Schwarzenegger’s top Democratic and Republican challengers teamed up yesterday to protest the California Broadcasters Association’s decision to make its September 24 debate questions available a week in advance, and jointly push for a boycott of the debate. Per the Los Angeles Times, “McClintock and Bustamante plan to send a letter today... saying they will not participate unless the format is altered, their campaigns said.”“At the same time, Indian tribes stepped up TV advertising and direct-mail campaigns in support of both Bustamante and McClintock, moves that also have the effect of targeting Schwarzenegger.” The Morongo Band of Mission Indians go up with a TV ad for McClintock in the Los Angeles market today. Schwarzenegger’s once-presumed-to-be-short campaign, including its current free-spending ways and its staff, may suffer some cutbacks and personnel departures if the recall is postponed. - LA TimesThe Los Angeles Times also reports money’s coming in for Davis, while the recall drive is struggling. After campaigning with Edwards on Saturday, Davis has an official event on Monday with Washington state Gov. Gary Locke, the country’s only Asian-American governor, and campaigns with Lieberman (presidential #5) on Tuesday.2004 notes (R)The Washington Post revisits Bush’s arguably politically motivated, now politically complicated steel tariffs: “Eighteen months later, key administration officials have concluded that Bush’s order has turned into a debacle. Some economists say the tariffs may have cost more jobs than they saved, by driving up costs for automakers and other steel users. Politically, the strategy failed to produce union endorsements and appears to have hurt Bush with workers in Michigan and Tennessee — also states at the heart of his 2004 strategy.”The story is pegged to today’s scheduled release of the US International Trade Commission’s mid-session report, which “will examine not only the tariffs’ effects on the steel industry but also on the hard-pressed manufacturers that shape steel into products.”“White House officials said Bush will not make a decision until he has digested the ITC reports. But his top economic advisers have united to recommend that the tariffs be lifted or substantially rolled back this fall, and several administration officials said it is likely he will go along. The retreat would roil the political and economic landscape of the Rust Belt, where both parties expect the presidential election to be won and lost.”“It also could produce a tidal wave of negative publicity in West Virginia, a traditionally Democratic state that Bush won by 6 percentage points, and Pennsylvania, which Bush lost by 5 percentage points and had targeted as one of his most promising possible pickups for 2004.”“Republican lawmakers from steel states said Bush is considering compromises that would increase the number of exclusions from the tariffs, easing prices for steel buyers. Administration officials are careful to say they see both sides of the argument.”“Political divisions over the tariffs remain fierce... But among Bush’s economic team, opposition to the tariffs has hardened substantially. Administration officials said Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, one of Bush’s closest friends, thinks the tariffs should be lifted as a way of showing that the administration has heard the pain of manufacturers, who account for 2.5 million of the more than 2.7 million jobs lost during Bush’s presidency.”ClarkHundreds of Clark supporters are expected to converge on Iowa City today, though the state Democratic chairman said that as of yesterday, he had yet to hear from Clark or his campaign. “Iowa Clark activists are expecting supporters to come to Iowa City from across Iowa, as well as Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin.” - Des Moines RegisterClark embed Marisa Buchanan describes the campaign as a physical work in progress: they need some more space, and are hunting for properties for their national HQ in Little Rock. Every possible inch of workspace in Clark’s current offices is being used, along with an RV. Volunteers stopped by all day yesterday. Clark emerged from his office infrequently. He left for Florida with the campaign troops still introducing themselves to one another and figuring out roles and responsibilities. Buchanan also says Cher called yesterday asking what she could do to help Clark. The Los Angeles Times recounts the highlights of a long interview Clark gave reporters yesterday while traveling: he would have voted for the Iraq resolution; the Clintons were “encouraging” during his decision-making on a bid; “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be reevaluated; and he advocates universal health care. He “supports a waiting period for gun purchases and sees no reason for assault weapons outside of the military, but he grew up in a house full of guns and believes in the 2nd Amendment.” And, he “confessed that he has watched none of the Democratic debates nor read a newspaper this week.”On the Iraq resolution, “Clark himself said yesterday that he believed his position was closer to Kerry, Edwards, and Gephardt than to Dean, a former governor of Vermont,” the Boston Globe says. “Clark’s comment seemed to catch his rivals by surprise, especially since his entry into the race was viewed as a challenge to Kerry, who is no longer the only veteran in the race, and to Dean, whose antiwar stance helped him rise in the polls.”Kerry’s manager told the Globe that either “‘Clark’s previous position on the war has been badly misrepresented by the press, or this is a serious reinvention of his own position.’”And, “Clark said he considered himself a Republican after the Vietnam War, but he didn’t remember whether he voted in 1972. ‘I hope I voted then,’ he said, ‘and I would have voted for Nixon.’ He voted for Ronald Reagan in 1980, and for Bill Clinton in the 1992 and 1996 elections.”The New York Times: “Asked today about some of that speculation, including whether he might be a stalking horse for Senator Clinton and might wind up as her vice presidential candidate, either next year or in 2008, General Clark said he had heard the talk but dismissed it. He also said he had no interest in being vice president.”The AP recounts signs of the Clintons’ hand in Clark’s campaign: “By action and association, Clinton has had a major impact on Clark’s first bid for elective office, causing some Democrats to wonder whether the former president’s pledge of impartiality may be giving way to his loyalty toward a fellow Arkansan.”“There is no proof that Clinton is pulling the strings in Clark’s campaign - indeed, most Democrats say they doubt the former president would be so bold. But some party activists, particularly those lodged in rival campaigns, point to circumstantial evidence suggesting that the impressive list of political heavyweights rallying behind Clark may be a reflection of Clinton’s endearment - if not endorsement.”“Others say the support is coincidental, a result of so many Clinton allies vowing to remain neutral in this year’s election only to get the itch late in the cycle.”“Another theory: Clark’s is the last hope for establishment Democrats who fear the other contenders have stalled while the current front-runner, Howard Dean, would be defeated by President Bush.”The Wall Street Journal: “Bush adviser Matthew Dowd concedes Clark’s Southern roots could help Democrats beyond Republicans’ Dixie. In West and Midwest, it would signal ‘that the nominee is more moderate or conservative,’ he says.”Walter Shapiro on Clark’s announcement: “no speech is more emblematic of a candidate than his formal announcement. So Wednesday afternoon in Little Rock, retired general Wesley Clark ended a year of suspense about his political intentions by delivering a cliché-filled 11-minute oration that brought to mind the Peggy Lee ballad, Is That All There Is?”“The problem was not the lack of specific policy proposals in the Clark speech. Those can come later. Rather, what was lacking was a clearly expressed rationale for his unorthodox candidacy.” Shapiro favorably contrasts Edwards’ (overshadowed) announcement speech with Clark’s.The Washington Times reports Clark has been “embraced” by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, though the Human Rights Campaign remains a little iffy.More 2004 notes (D)Edwards embed McConnell reports Edwards changed his schedule and returns to North Carolina today to get a briefing on the hurricane damage and visit an emergency center. Yesterday, he asked President Bush to declare parts of North Carolina a federal disaster area. Many Edwards campaign staffers left the office early yesterday, McConnell says, but not before talking about collecting donations for hurricane victims, or maybe even driving down to the coast after the storm to see if they could help.McConnell notes that Edwards is booked for Face the Nation on Sunday, and that since his panned performance on Meet the Press in May 2002, he has done Face twice, and This Week twice, but not Meet the Press again. Gephardt embed Priya David notes Gephardt’s (Isabel-overshadowed) attacks on rivals Graham, Kerry and Lieberman for voting for NAFTA before a group of South Carolina businesspeople in DC yesterday, as well as his new radio ad in the state attacking Dean as a “strong supporter” of NAFTA. Dean embed Felix Schein notes Dean’s rally in Boston on Tuesday now features and official “speech” by Dean entitled “Democracy, Freedom and Action,” in which Dean is expected to lay out what’s at stake in this election and describe how he will help Democrats “take the country back.” A formal speech is a departure for Dean, who usually speaks from memory rather than from a prepared text. The reason, per longtime followers of Dean’s career, is that the Governor performs better when not delivering prepared remarks.The expectations-setting game is underway: Kerry embed Becky Diamond has a Kerry spokesman saying the candidate’s fundraising intake for the third quarter will be “somewhere behind Dean’s $15-20 million.” Kerry picked up enviro activist Robert Kennedy, Jr.’s endorsement yesterday.The New York Times says Kerry also is set to snag the first union endorsement not going to Gephardt — from the International Association of Fire Fighters. AFL-CIO president John Sweeney says that right now, Gephardt doesn’t have the support necessary for an AFL endorsement, but “that if three other large unions - the American Federation of Teachers, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers - supported a Gephardt endorsement on Oct. 14, that could put him close to the two-thirds needed.”Lieberman embed Dionne Scott says a campaign ad is forthcoming, with footage shot in New Hampshire during “Operation: Libermania” — an all-out campaign blitz including Lieberman’s first town hall meeting in the state. Sharpton embed Tom Llamas, previewing Sharpton’s appearance in Louisiana tomorrow, says the campaign points out that Jesse Jackson won Louisiana in the 1988 primary and says they expect Sharpton to do the same. Llamas says some of Sharpton’s campaign staff worked on Jackson’s ’84 and ’88 campaigns, and anytime they visit a state Jackson won, they are quick to note that if “Jesse” did it, so can “Al.”Sept. 18, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiAs of 9:00 am, we’ve got wind and something short of drizzle at 4001 Nebraska Avenue, NW. With all Northeast Corridor eyes on the skies today, we’ll indulge ourselves a bit and get personal: One week out from the CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic presidential debate in New York, still no confirmation from Clark that he will or will not attend. The debate is about economic issues; Clark touts himself as a licensed investment banker, former economics teacher at West Point, and former Clinton Office of Management and Budget aide. Collective coverage of his speech yesterday notes it was short on policy details but long on criticism of Bush on job losses and the deficit. So why not, General? We’d love to have you there. Until you offer up some specific positions to chew on, media organizations will resort to picking through your business background. The Wall Street Journal justifies a long look at Clark’s business dealings by arguing that his “brief business career bears examining because it represents his only domestic experience as he seeks to lead a troubled U.S. economy — and because he invokes his time, largely at little-known companies, to assert his qualifications on economic policy.”The Miami Herald reports, though no one else seems to, that Clark visits South Florida today. It says something about the faded potency of corporate reform as a political issue when only two Democratic presidential candidates (Lieberman and Edwards), as best we can tell, called for Dick Grasso to resign. Democrats have two power sources revving up the base and the Establishment these days: Clark and the so-called “GOP power grab.” We noted yesterday that while Clark himself might sink or swim, his candidacy put the Democratic presidential race on the media’s front burner for at least a news cycle. At the same time, it’s lit a fire under the party Establishment, if the number of Clintonistas flocking to Clark is any indication. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has this sharp idea: “The Democratic Establishment, very much including Bill and Hillary Clinton, is pushing the retired general as its stop-Howard Dean candidate.” Even if Clark stumbles, the energy may remain.Kerry fueled the “power grab” fire yesterday when campaigning with Davis in Los Angeles: “Don’t let the Republicans monkey with the democracy of California.” Today, Davis appears with Jesse Jackson at a no-on-recall, no-on-54 rally at Los Angeles Southwest Community College at 2:30 pm ET. Bustamante has a 12:30 pm ET presser with the Equality PAC in West Hollywood and a 4:30 pm ET rally in Oxnard. Schwarzenegger rolls out his political reform plan at the state railroad museum (get it?) in Sacramento at 5:00 pm ET.“The 9th Circuit is not expected to decide before Friday whether to appoint an 11-judge panel to rehear the case. While such hearings are extremely rare, they usually result in a reversal of the smaller panel’s opinion.” — State.comOverlooked because of Isabel: “The federal government ran a monthly budget deficit of $76.48 billion in August — double its size at the same point last year. The August budget figures, released Wednesday, show the federal government’s overall deficit is firmly in record territory,” says the Wall Street Journal.CaliforniaThe Los Angeles Times notes that “with Monday’s move to delay the Oct. 7 election, the race has suddenly been converted from a curiosity into a national rallying cry for partisans on both sides.”“To Republicans, the decision underscores the wanton will of the activist judges they rail against, suggesting judicial appointments could become a higher-profile issue in next year’s presidential campaign. To Democrats, the mere thought of the Supreme Court stepping into yet another election fight is enough to incite outrage and, potentially, boost voter turnout next year. The result is more partisan division, a bitterness that may spill over to the 2004 contest and open a gulf even deeper than the one that produced the last 50-50 presidential election.”“Democrats believe that a Supreme Court decision stepping into the matter and forcing a vote Oct. 7 would be a provocation not soon forgotten by partisans still infuriated by the court’s intervention in the case of Bush vs. Gore.”“Already, Democrats have been telling voters that the recall is ‘part of an ongoing national effort to steal elections Republicans cannot win,’ as Davis said in a speech kicking off his anti-recall effort. The practice started in Florida with the 2000 presidential election, Democrats say, continued with unusual off-year redistricting efforts in Colorado and Texas, and now extends to California, with the recall attempt coming just months after Davis won reelection to a four-year term.”“Race is back,” another Los Angeles Times story declares. “Nine years after Proposition 187 tapped a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, the 2003 recall campaign has pivoted on a series of racially charged issues, from the driver’s license law to a ballot initiative aimed at ending the state’s collection of some racial data. The result: an electorate bristling with resentment.”The Los Angeles County elections chief said yesterday that putting off the recall could cause even more damage at the polling place. - LA TimesThe San Francisco Chronicle says nearly 400,000 absentee ballots have already been cast for an October 7 election. “That growing mountain of absentee ballots could be tossed out if the election is delayed, and waste $30 million in printing and postage costs, says Contra Costa County Clerk Stephen Weir, a spokesman for county elections officials. Or the absentees may have already helped determine the outcome of the Oct. 7 race by locking in votes that might have been changed later.”Bob Novak says a Democratic source told him on Sunday that the 9th Circuit would postpone the election.Schwarzenegger administration official Howard Stern: the Los Angeles Times documents Schwarzenegger’s high-profile media appearances this week, as well as his changing media strategy. “In the first weeks of his campaign, Schwarzenegger had been reticent to answer specific questions. Then, after Labor Day, he switched tactics and began subjecting himself to extensive questioning from reporters every day... By contrast, in the last four days Schwarzenegger has held a single eight-minute question-and-answer session with the reporters following his campaign, preferring to speak on talk shows and in town hall meetings with audiences carefully selected by his campaign.”Iraq is to the economy... The Washington Post details the Administration’s plans to spend the $87 billion and Democrats’ plans to extract a political price from Bush even as the request heads toward likely passage. USA Today says the $20.3 billion earmarked for infrastructure may be the biggest sticking point. And the Washington Times focuses (without mentioning Kerry) on the Biden-Kerry proposal to tie the $87 billion to a one-year tax cut rollback for the wealthiest Americans.ClarkClark spokesman Mark Fabiani tells embed Marisa Buchanan they are working with the leadership of the various draft movements to form the various parts of the campaign. A laundry list of websites associated with the movement are already clamoring to get on board, Buchanan says. The Draft Clarkers have been readily accepted within the campaign: they were included in the conference calls yesterday, and Clark cited them as one of the reasons he decided to run. Where focuses on endorsements and fundraising, Draftwesleyclark2004 focuses on troops on the ground. The Washington Post analysis calls Clark a “candidate in search of a constituency.” The Los Angeles Times says “Clark must find a clear niche in a crowded race that features contenders representing the spectrum of ideological views within the party.”Buchanan notes that yesterday, despite the flags and signs, was not smooth when journalists went looking for a campaign spokesman and coming up empty. A campaign source concedes they have a small window of time to get their act together. That said, within 24 hours an announcement event was assembled. Former Old Clinton/Gore advance people and White House aides gleefully left their jobs to travel to Little Rock for the day when, as one put it, “we got the call.” Risers were in short supply and flags were at a premium, but the troops stayed up all night Tuesday finishing off various aspects of the Wednesday event: the massive banner America for Clark was finished at 5:00 am yesterday morning. The Washington Post: “His announcement speech was choppy and lacked rhetorical flourish. Clark also did not outline his views on any of the most pressing domestic concerns, such as health coverage for the uninsured and tax cuts, two issues about which many Democratic voters care most, according to polls. Clark promised major addresses on the economy and national security in the weeks ahead.”“It might be several weeks before Democratic voters get a taste of Clark’s so-far undefined domestic thinking. Clark will position himself as a moderate Democrat in favor of middle-class tax cuts and a strong national defense, the advisers said... The other candidates are likely to give Clark time to lay out his ideas, but several are gearing up to hit him for his lack of domestic experience and his refusal to declare until only a few weeks ago that he is a Democrat.”“Clark is planning early visits to Florida, South Carolina, Iowa and New Hampshire, a road map that indicates he will try to play catch-up in early testing grounds but also plans to quickly nationalize his campaign, with a heavy emphasis on the South.”The Washington Times/AP: “If logistics fall into place, Mr. Clark’s first post announcement stop will be Florida, aides said. He wants to portray himself as a credible candidate in the South and one willing to stretch his campaign beyond the early battleground states to the site of the 2000 presidential recount.”The more than slightly interested Des Moines Register notes Clark in an interview yesterday “refused to say how prominently Iowa would fit into what he promised will be an unconventional campaign for the 2004 Democratic nomination.” Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times story suggests Clark may focus more on New Hampshire than Iowa because it requires less organizational effort.And the Wall Street Journal has this aforementioned look at Clark’s business background: “In announcing his presidential campaign, Wesley K. Clark promoted himself as the candidate best qualified to prosecute the war on terror. As a businessman, he has applied his military expertise to help a handful of high-tech companies try to profit from the fight.” The story details Clark’s board memberships and other corporate advisory posts. “After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Gen. Clark counseled clients on how to pitch commercial technologies to the government for homeland-security applications.”“It is unclear exactly how successful Gen. Clark’s business career has been — either for his clients or for himself. Most companies contacted declined to give specific examples of contracts he helped them win. Those willing to detail his role mainly said it was too soon to see the fruits of his efforts.”More 2004 notes (D)As noted yesterday, Edwards is not scheduled to be in North Carolina today or tomorrow. Embed Dugald McConnell reports the campaign says Edwards will be sure to return to North Carolina if he can help regarding the storm. “I’ll be there when the state of North Carolina needs me,” he said Tuesday, when asked about his travel plans. “The last time we were hit by a devastating hurricane, I spent every waking hour making sure we got the help we needed for the state of North Carolina.” McConnell says Elizabeth Edwards told a crowd on Tuesday how her husband helped out during another recent hurricane, before he was an elected official. He got hold of a pickup truck, she said, and bought a pile of chainsaws, tarps, and other supplies, drove down to the coast, asked how he could help, and eventually dropped it all off with people at a church. She said they never even knew his name. (Of course, now he’s slightly better known, and not there.)Kucinich’s rally with Ralph Nader and Patti Smith in DC has been canceled. Embed Karin Caifa says Matt Zawisky of Democracy Rising expects the event to be rescheduled for October 7 or 10. Lieberman embed Dionne Scott reports Lieberman quietly campaigned in northwestern Iowa yesterday while the political world buzzed about Clark. Lieberman hasn’t spent as much time in the state as most of his opponents, Scott notes, and Iowa deputy campaign manager Brian Meyer tells Scott me that’s not likely to change: “The reality of our campaign is we don’t expect to win in Iowa, but we’re trying to beat expectations.” Meyer says the Lieberman campaign doesn’t have the same amount of resources (people, offices) in Iowa as most of the other candidates: “Everybody knows we’ve got a February 3rd strategy... We’re not Howard Dean. We’re not going to the same county five times.”Yesterday was another quiet one for Gephardt, embed Priya David says, as he headed back to DC from California, where he did some fundraising and did not meet with Gray Davis. But it was a busy day for Kerry and Dean. Embed Becky Diamond gets this loaded quote from a Kerry spokesman about Clark’s entry: “Don’t you think that having more people with bona fide national security credentials highlights further that the Presidency is no place for on the job training.” The says the Dean-Kerry clash over taxes intensified yesterday. . First, Kerry took after Dean on the middle-class tax cut in a Union-Leader op-ed. Dean then told a college student, “There were no middle-class tax cuts.” (He also appears to have called Kerry a “budget-fudging Bush defender.” - Boston Herald

Kerry pounced, calling it “simply another extraordinary gaffe from Howard Dean... Democrats in Congress fought to give millions of American families more than half a trillion dollars in much deserved tax relief and somehow Dr. Dean seems unaware.’” The Dean camp then said in a statement that Kerry was using “Bush’s manipulated numbers to mislead them about another Democrat.”

The Union Leader reports Gephardt, also the subject of criticism in Kerry’s op-ed yesterday, enters the fray today with his own. “President Bush’s economic plan has failed because his irresponsible tax cuts have not worked... Now, if you think those misguided tax cuts have worked for you, vote for George Bush. If you want to preserve some large part of the failed Bush tax cut, vote for Senator Kerry... But, if you want to exchange the Bush tax cuts for guaranteed health care that can never be taken away, then you should vote for me.”

The Boston Globe details Kerry’s longtime friendship with Schwarzenegger the morning after the Globe reported Kerry campaigned for Gray Davis.

Dean embed Felix Schein says that along with the Boston fundraisers planned for the next week, a number of flash mobs are being organized for Dean Visibility Day on Saturday, along with other events. Flash-mobbers have argued that a true flash mob cannot be coordinated this far in advance, Schein notes, and wonders if a controversy in the works...

Kucinich embed Karin Caifa adds that now that Kucinich has become the second candidate (after Dean) to participate in the Democrats Abroad conference call through the DNC, plans are in the works for conference calls with Kerry, Edwards and Graham.

Sept. 17, 2003 / 9:30 AM ET

From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiClark makes 10 today at 1:00 pm ET at a Boys and Girls Club in Little Rock; a Draft Clark 2004 e-mail to supporters “declares victory.” Clark did more before 9:00 am than most do all day, addressing the Draft Clarkers on the web at 6:30 am, then all the morning shows. Per an advisor, he has local media interviews from 9:00 am till 12 noon ET. Campaign embed Marisa Buchanan says former Governor and Sen. David Pryor and Rep. Marion Berry will introduce him at the main event. The Washington Times says the backdrop will be “MacArthur Park, site of the old U.S. Army Arsenal, where Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a hero of World War II, was born in 1880.”

The political media and consultant elite doubts Clark can build the organization and make up ground in key early states, which may well prove true and undercut his chances — or, we could see a campaign more unconventional than Dean’s which passes over key early states and, if successful, undermines the first-in-the-nation status of Iowa and New Hampshire. That said, would the party faithful overlook his voting for Reagan? (See below.)

On Today, Clark: rejected the suggestion that it’s too late for him to get in, saying “other people have done it this late in the past;” said he has diplomatic experience to get legislation through; critiqued Bush’s approach to the war, saying the focus should be on “bin Laden and his terrorist network;” affirmed that he is pro-choice and pro affirmative action; and said “it’s probably time for the armed forces to take another look at” gays in the military, “but that’s a matter for the armed forces.” Asked which part of the Bush tax cuts he would repeal or change, he said he would take “a comprehensive look” for a “longer term balancing of budget,” but that he probably would “start at the top of the income brackets” and “give some of their tax cuts back,” and that it “might be dividends but it also might be income level.”

Asked whether he will take part in the CNBC/Wall Street Journal Democratic presidential debate on economic issues on the 25th, Clark said he’s “looking at that right now” but is making no commitment because of a scheduling conflict. Clark has a bunch of speeches scheduled in the coming days, including the Friday speech in Iowa and one early next week at DePauw University. (Once he files, presumably he’ll stop taking speaking fees...)

The New York Daily News’ Michael Kramer writes that Clark needs to attend and impress at the debate: “Many will tune in for only one reason: to see if you’re The Answer - the candidate who can both beat President Bush and serve credibly in his job. That first impression could be your only shot.”

In addition, Kramer says Clark needs to refrain from the hyperbolic attacks the other candidates are waging. “Your candidacy is possible because you’re presumed to have the kind of gravitas the other wannabes lack.... The trick now is to reinforce that perception at the expense of your rivals.”

Why yesterday wasn’t good for Edwards: beyond the town limits of Robbins, NC, the energy and enthusiasm among Democrats was for the candidate with national security credentials, if none other — not for the candidate without such credentials who was talking about jobs and the economy. (USA Today headline: “Edwards upstaged on his big day Wesley Clark shakes up race, will run for president.”)

Why it was good for Edwards: without Clark, Edwards arguably would not have made the evening newscasts at all, with Isabel looming. Overall, Clark keeps the Democratic presidential race on the front burner at a time when it otherwise would be relegated to the salt-and-pepper ledge beyond the back burner.

Clark arguably hurts most of the candidates. The somewhat telling reactions of other campaigns:

Edwards embed Dugald McConnell says that when asked about Clark on Tuesday, Edwards said “Clark is a good man” and he looks forward to his joining the race, though it won’t change what Edwards is doing.

Dean embed Felix Schein notes Dean has pointed out that the two candidates agree on a number of issues. The Washington Post says Dean canceled his economic speech in New Hampshire today, “concerned that the Clark announcement would drown it out.”

Graham’s campaign press secretary told embed Sophie Conover: “We look forward to a spirited contest. General Clark should explain how he is going to revive the economy, create jobs, and foster one America. Bob Graham has a plan to do all those things.”

Per embed Becky Diamond, a Kerry aide says “it remains to be seen what kind of impact it has,” and that “John Kerry has the widest and broadest record of strength of all the candidates and we feel very confident of the direction we’re moving in.”

Embed Karin Caifa reports Kucinich communications director Jeff Cohen says Clark won’t hurt Kucinich’s bid: “In general, it could enliven the campaign and bring attention to it... We’ve run a grass-roots, issues-oriented campaign, issues like health care and trade. Clark comes in as a personality. People who are committed to our issues aren’t going to go to Clark.”

Lieberman embed Dionne Scott says the campaign offered no response to the news.

Sharpton had this to say about Clark, per embed Tom Llamas: “I was with him Saturday night in Knoxville and he seems to be a credible candidate and a nice guy, we’ll see where it goes. He said Saturday night if I win the nomination he would work to put me in the White House and I intend to give him that opportunity.”

In the recall today, all parties must file briefs with the 9th Circuit by 5:00 pm ET. The secretary of state will ask that the October 7 date be reinstated. Legal experts expect the limbo “to last at least a week.” — LA Times

Schwarzenegger started his morning with Howard Stern (announced late last night ET) and ends it with Larry King. In between, he greets immigrants at a naturalization ceremony in Los Angeles at 2:00 pm ET. Maria Shriver lunches with businesswomen in Pacific Beach, then holds a press avail at 4:30 pm.

More Democratic “GOP power grab” rhetoric today: Davis campaigns with the Feinstein-enodrsed John Kerry at a job training facility in Los Angeles; both will meet with local vets and make remarks. A Kerry spokesperson says Kerry seeks “to defeat the right wing hijacking of California, no matter which month it’s attempted.”

CaliforniaThe Los Angeles Times: “Although there is normally a lengthy period for the judges to exchange legal memos on whether to rehear a case, court observers said the 9th Circuit could move very fast - for judges at least - in a case involving such urgency.”

“The observers said they thought the court could complete a vote by Friday on whether to rehear the case. If a majority of the judges voting decides to reconsider, a hearing could be held as soon as Monday and a ruling could be rendered by the middle of next week, the observers said. Court officials have issued no formal schedule yet.”

The Washington Post editorial page derides the 9th Circuit panel’s decision: “Just about every election in this country sees some disparity among the voting technologies deployed by different counties. This fact has not previously caused federal courts to block elections.”

And the San Francisco Chronicle wonders whether punch-card ballots and hanging chads are really that much of a problem.

The Chronicle speculates that Bill Simon might reenter the race if the election is postponed.

Bustamante’s fundraising is being scrutinized by the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the law. - LA Times

Iraq is to the economy...The Los Angeles Times notes GAO chief David Walker gives a speech today “warning that the nation’s long-term fiscal outlook is seriously out of whack. And he challenges the assumption that economic recovery will solve the problem painlessly.”

“His is a lonely voice on Capitol Hill, where deficit-expanding initiatives are growing like crabgrass, unchecked amid new budget demands for the war on terrorism and the reconstruction of Iraq.”

“Bush and lawmakers from both parties continue to press for a $400-billion, 10-year expansion of Medicare to provide prescription drug benefits. House Republicans are pushing yet another round of tax cuts - this time for big business, at a cost of more than $100 billion over 10 years. And even as Bush asks for $87 billion more for military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, there seems to be little appetite in Congress for offsetting cuts in domestic spending.”

“But the Democratic Party is deeply divided over whether or how far to raise taxes. And with their own big spending plans for Medicare, education and other domestic priorities, Democrats also lack a clear program for getting the budget back into balance.”

Prescription drugsAlso today, also noted by the Los Angeles Times: that group of House GOP conservatives threatening to block the prescription drug legislation holds a presser on the Hill. ”[A]lthough previous vote-withholding threats have underlined the differences between Republicans and Democrats and the House and Senate, today’s action by 15 House conservatives highlights deep divisions over Medicare within the Republican Party and adds new uncertainty to the legislation’s already doubtful future.”

Administration notesThe Washington Post says U2’s Bono “confronted President Bush in the Oval Office yesterday with what AIDS activists say is a vast gap between funding he promised in the State of the Union address and the actual money headed for Africa. The U2 singer said afterward that he felt ‘depressed,’ and that he and Bush had ‘a good old row’ over how much the White House was allocating to fighting the global HIV-AIDS pandemic.”

And the Post says the Justice Department will ask the SCOTUS to “hear its appeal of — and overturn — a lower court’s order that the government turn over documents and information about the members and operations of” Vice President Cheney’s energy task force. “The chances of the Supreme Court granting the petition for hearing are considered very slim.” Cheney aides yesterday backed up his Meet the Press claim that he has no financial ties to Halliburton, against Democrats’ charges to the contrary. - Washington Post

ClarkThe AP says Clark “offers Democrats one thing they crave: New hope of undercutting President Bush’s wartime popularity... But the retired general has never held political office - not even a student council election to his credit - and he has never been pressed to produce a domestic agenda.”

”[A]dvisers said they were developing an unconventional strategy that would attempt to capitalize on the Internet and Clark’s affinity for television to build momentum nationwide. He has not decided how hard to campaign in traditional early battlegrounds such as Iowa, aides said, but they quickly concluded that he can’t catch up to his competitors through traditional means; the rest of the field has been in Iowa and New Hampshire for months.”

The Des Moines Register: “Although it was not clear Tuesday whether Clark would campaign actively for the lead-off Iowa caucuses, Democratic sources in the state continued to say they had heard little from Clark supporters or advisers.”

The bio flood begins. The Boston Globe says “Clark’s opponents may focus on that NATO tenure as well — particularly his exit from the Pentagon, when he received orders to leave his term four months early to make way for a replacement favored by the Pentagon brass. The order followed months of tension between Clark and senior officials at the Pentagon, some of whom bristled at what they considered his abrasive approach.”

The Washington Post calls Clark “a highly controversial figure within the U.S. military, disliked and mistrusted by many fellow officers.” But [s]upporters and detractors agree on this much: The retired general is immensely talented.”

And the Post editorial page says Clark “told us in an interview the other day that he is new to the party — it’s not that he’d been a Democrat all along and kept his affiliation private for reasons of propriety. Asked whether he had voted for Republicans along the way, Mr. Clark said, ‘I don’t even remember.’ Had he voted for a Republican for president? ‘I imagine that I voted for Reagan at one time or another,’ he said. It will be interesting to see how that plays with Democratic Party activists.”

Last night on CNBC’s Capital Report, House Ways and Means ranking member Charlie Rangel rejected the suggestion that it’s too late for Clark, saying a vacuum exists, and reluctantly critiqued his friend Gephardt for supporting the President on the war: “I’m not even emotional about candidates as I am about Dick Gephardt. I love him, I’ve campaigned with him. The way he handled his endorsement of the president caused me more personal pain than political pain... And he is convinced he did the right thing, and I’ve told Dick Gephardt that as much as I love him, whether he won or lost, that I could not endorse somebody that endorsed this war.”

Rangel also said, when asked about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s support for Clark: “I had a long talk with Hillary Clinton and she praised to high heavens the abilities of General Clark, but reminded me over and over again — she says, ‘Charlie, I want you to make it abundantly clear that I am not endorsing General Clark.’”

Roll Call says Clark plans his first campaign stop on Capitol Hill next week, noting that seven members “threw their support” to Clark Tuesday. “Many Democrats believe Clark is the ideal candidate to offset the presumed advantage Bush will have on foreign policy issues in the 2004 election while also attacking Bush on the economy and other domestic issues. Even without fully knowing where he is on many of the issues, some Democrats were rejoicing in his candidacy Tuesday.”

New York for Clark gathers, marches and rallies in Times Square tonight with events starting at 6:30 pm (44th and Broadway, for those who care).

The Lieberman campaign may not have any reaction to Clark’s candidacy, but embed Dionne Scott reports that tonight, Saul and Fran Singer of Dobbs Ferry, NY, who say they belong to neither major party, will host a reception for Lieberman in their home at $500 a pop. Saul Singer says he, his wife and a group of other co-sponsors sent out about 600 invitations to friends, co-workers, golf buddies, business associates, fellow club members, and between 60-80 people, affiliations unknown, are expected.

More 2004 notes (D)The Wall Street Journal’s Harwood welcomes Clark and Edwards to the race by writing that in “2004, a non-Southern formula may not be merely the Democrats’ best chance of beating wartime President Bush; it may be their only chance... Today, President Bush is even stronger in Dixie, the nation’s most pro-military region. There is scant reason to think Mr. Edwards or Gen. Clark, the former with a brief political track record and the latter with none at all, would significantly threaten him there.”

Edwards embed Dugald McConnell notes Edwards used a teleprompter yesterday and was not as relaxed as usual, giving a speech that went beyond his familiar stump speech. Edwards is in Concord, NH today for a town hall while his state braces for Isabel; he spends tomorrow and Friday raising money. But he’s not running for re-election.

Dean continues his in-Kerry’s-face approach. The Boston Herald says he “is scheduled to come to the Hub tomorrow for three major fund-raisers expected to add $250,000 to his bulging campaign coffers.” And a rally is “planned for Boston’s Copley Square Tuesday... The Dean campaign hopes to draw 3,000 supporters to the lunchtime rally, featuring a speech by Dean and - if city officials approve - live music at a site less than two miles from Kerry’s Louisburg Square townhouse.”

“Kerry campaign officials reacted to news Dean’s rally with a slap. ‘Boston is a diverse and inclusive city, occasionally even welcoming Yankee fans like Howard Dean,’ Kerry spokeswoman Kelley Benander said.”

And Kerry is in the traveling Dean’s face today with a Manchester Union-Leader op-ed attacking Dean for wanting to roll back middle-class tax cuts.

Dean embed Felix Schein covers Dean’s push to raise $40 million by September 30, “the most outlandish challenge of this campaign season,” and a threshold which, if achieved, would completely alter the race for the Democratic nomination, help spur the first dropouts of this campaign, and rewrite political history. But it’s also a mark the Dean campaign seriously (99.9%) doubts it can reach, calling it more of a challenge and a call to action than a realistic or achievable ambition.

Gephardt embed Priya David also looks at fundraising, noting Gephardt has spent most of the week in private meetings, eschewing public events for some quiet fundraising. The Gephardt campaign says they have a goal of raising $20 million dollars this year, having raised $10 million in the first six months. They responded to reports that Dean is attempting to raise $40 million by saying, “Their success should be judged on how close to $40m they get.”

The Gephardt campaign yesterday launched a new website,, focusing (for now) on Dean quotes on Medicare and Social Security.

Kucinich today takes part in a Democrats Abroad conference call at 2:00 pm with US voters at 22 call-in sites in 11 countries, embed Karin Caifa says. He is the second Democratic candidate to participate; Dean was the first.

Sept. 16, 2003 / 9:30 AM ETFrom Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma ZaidiCalifornia’s “under God” court and a SCOTUS still recovering from Bush v. Gore face the grave, loaded and potentially divisive question of voter disenfranchisement. At 5:00 pm ET, California’s secretary of state announces whether and how he will challenge the 9th Circuit’s decision, while the head of the recall drive plans to take his challenge to the nation’s highest court. The candidates proceed to campaign as if the election is happening on the 7th.

New since Bush v. Gore: Democratic rhetoric about a “GOP power grab” in Florida, Texas, and California that allegedly seeks to deny minorities their vote. Presidential candidate Bob Graham bangs that drum with Davis at the Westin Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles at 1:00 pm ET. Graham campaign embed Sophie Conover says Graham plans to charge that Republicans stole one election in Florida and that voters should not let them steal another. “He knows first-hand what voting irregularities and disenfranchisement can mean for the electoral process,” says Graham press secretary Jamal Simmons.

Davis also appears with Jesse Jackson at San Francisco’s Third Baptist Church at 5:00 pm ET to campaign against Ward Connerly’s racial privacy initiative, Proposition 54 (which, along with the other initiative on the October 7 ballot, also faces the potential delay till March 2). At 7:00 pm ET, Davis addresses the California Nurses Association’s centennial celebration at the Oakland Marriott.

Bustamante appears with three enviro groups to attack Bush’s record and discuss “their fears that a Republican takeover of the governorship could result in a rubber stamp of the administration’s policies that threaten to weaken the state’s environmental protections,” per the release. At 1:00 pm ET at the Sierra Club offices in San Francisco.

Schwarzenegger does a town hall at the Hollenbeck Youth Center in Los Angeles at 8:00 pm ET. Former GOP candidate Peter Ueberroth yesterday announced he’ll meet with Schwarzenegger and McClintock today at the Santa Monica Doubletree, presumably to consider which candidate to endorse, with a press avail at 3:00 pm ET.

On the Democratic presidential front, the looming hurricane and specter of a Clark candidacy overshadow Edwards’ formal explanation of why he is the best candidate to beat President Bush. Edwards speaks at 10:00 am in front of the shuttered Milliken Mill in Robbins, NC, which, campaign embed Dugald McConnell notes, is Exhibit A for the case Edwards makes against Bush’s handling of unemployment.

Clark, meanwhile, “finalizes his thinking” about running together with advisors in Little Rock today, per the AP. “It would be a long-shot bid. Just four months before voting begins, Clark would be competing against candidates who have had months to raise money, build organizations in key states and recruit the party’s top political talent. But the strategists assembled in Little Rock on Tuesday are among the party’s best. An Internet-fueled draft-Clark movement has developed the seeds of a campaign organization and more than $1 million in pledges.”

The Fed meets today and “officials are expected to keep interest rates at 1958 lows... and reiterate a willingness to keep rates down even in the face of stronger U.S. economic growth.” - USA Today

The Washington Post puts Bush’s 2:40 pm Clear Skies speech today in the context of conflicting views of how the Detroit Edison power plant he visited yesterday would be affected by the initiative.

CaliforniaThe thinking in this huge state’s comparably small political circles is that the 9th Circuit panel’s decision gets overturned because the court, fairly or unfairly, is seen as being out of step with the rest of the nation. Plus, delaying the contest until March would introduce a host of new consequences. But what does happen if the election is delayed? Tim Hodson of California State University (Sacramento) explains that delaying the vote would cost the cash-strapped state even more money. “There will be a significant cost impact to counties that have already been spending millions of dollars preparing for the ballot,” he said. In addition, it would prolong the political uncertainty that now exists; Senate Republicans, he said, are already refusing to work with Democrats because they’re hoping Davis will get recalled and a Republican will succeed him.

Who actually benefits from a delay is wide open to interpretation, Hodson says. The CW is that Davis would benefit because the March election would coincide with the Democratic presidential primary, bringing higher Democratic turnout, and because Davis would have more time to better his standing among voters. Yet so much could happen between now and then — the economy could tank even further, or Davis could face another unexpected natural or man-made crisis. The same is true for Schwarzenegger, Hodson says. He would have more time to show voters he’s a thoughtful candidate — or that extra time could give him more of an opportunity to stumble.

The Los Angeles Times: “Californians who already have voted - more than 100,000 statewide, including 30,000 in Los Angeles County - were left uncertain whether they would get a chance to vote again if the election were postponed. Secretary of State Kevin Shelley issued a statement saying that voters who planned to cast absentee ballots should still do so.”

“State lawyers face questions on whether a postponement would mean reopening the ballot to allow candidates to remove their names or new candidates to join the race. State law generally requires that the ballot be set within 59 days of the election.”

“And voting officials, already struggling to produce an election on a short deadline, were handed a new problem to consider: whether combining the lengthy recall ballot with the primary in March would produce a behemoth too large for the newer voting machines to handle.”

The Sacramento Bee has an election law expert saying the legal dispute could be resolved in several different ways. “The U.S. Supreme Court conceivably could decline to review the appeals court order, meaning the election will not be held until March, said Prof. Floyd Feeney at the University of California, Davis.”

“A high court justice also could extend the appeals court’s seven-day stay for a longer period of time to give the Supreme Court more time to study the case, said Feeney, who teaches election law and criminal justice.”

“Or, it could take up the matter and focus on which issue is more important: the possibility of some voters not having their vote counted or preserving the state’s constitutionally written recall procedures.”

The Washington Post lays out the decision potentially facing the SCOTUS: “If the panel ruling is not reversed by a larger 9th Circuit body, the Supreme Court justices, for whom the stress and strain — both personal and institutional — of 2000 are still a fresh memory, will face a choice. They can stay out of the California case and risk permitting what they may view as a debatable interpretation of Bush v. Gore to stand, or they can plunge in and assume the risk that they will once again be criticized for partisanship no matter what they decide.”

The Washington Post also uses the court decision as a peg to look at waning interest in election reform.

A delay could mean more time for reports on Schwarzenegger like this Los Angeles Times project: “A Times review of more than 100 examples of his interviews and writings from the past 30 years reveals that Schwarzenegger’s habit of making off-color remarks about sex and women did not end in the 1970s, despite his defenders’ claims to the contrary.”

On Oprah yesterday, the New York Post writes, Maria Shriver said her husband is nothing but respectful to women, despite the allegations. But Schwarzenegger managed to embarrass his wife: “When Winfrey pressed the actor whether the drug use and group sex really happened, the Terminator said he didn’t remember. ‘But this was the time when I was saying things like “a pump [lifting weights] is better than [sex],” all those kinds of things,’ said Schwarzenegger, sending the audience into wild laughter as a mortified Shriver playfully slapped her husband across the mouth for his use of a slang term to describe sex.” (What he actually said, however, was arguably worse than what the Post airbrushes.)

Iraq is to the economy... The Washington Post follows on Roll Call’s report yesterday of Hill GOP nervousness: “Congressional Republicans are watching warily as President Bush’s approval ratings slide on two major issues — the economy and Iraq — and wondering if voter anxiety might cost them seats in next year’s election.”

“Of the two, the question of the economy is particularly worrying GOP lawmakers, who fear they could be blamed for the hundreds of thousands of jobs that have been lost under the Bush White House and the Republican-controlled Congress.”

“Some Republican analysts, in fact, say they would welcome a debate that focuses more on Iraq — even with ongoing U.S. deaths and other problems — rather than jobs.”

“Republican lawmakers see Bush as their party’s unquestioned leader and have been reluctant to complain about his handling of domestic or international matters. But recent independent and GOP polls, coupled with extensive conversations with constituents, have some of them worried about a potential voter backlash...”

The Los Angeles Times reports under a Xenia, OH dateline: “The downturn in the economy has hammered Ohio, costing it 185,000 jobs over the last 2 1/2 years. Ninety-four of them are here at the Hooven Allison rope factory, set to shut down this month after 134 years in business. The citizens will be asked to approve three local tax increases this fall to fend off cuts in school, city and hospital services.”

“And President Bush has attached an $87-billion price tag to an Iraq mission some here believe was well-intentioned but badly conceived.”

Prescription drugsThe Wall Street Journal reports: “Proposed Medicare legislation could result in seniors’ paying substantially different premiums from one region to the next, according to an internal Bush administration assessment of Republican-backed subsidies designed to draw more elderly into private health plans... Health-care plans in some areas would be paid only modestly more than local fee-for-service rates set by Medicare; those elsewhere would be reimbursed as much as 15% more than these rates.”

“These disparities are compounded by a second set of subsidies designed to lower the premiums of private-plan enrollees. These subsidies, in the form of rebates, potentially would be richest in those regions where private plans are given the greatest latitude to operate above local fee-for-service rates. And critics fear this dynamic would let plans flock to the most profitable markets and use the rebates to sign up customers, thereby undermining enrollment in traditional Medicare there.”

“Lawmakers are considering options to smooth out the regional differences.”

2004 notes (D)A new Raleigh News & Observer poll finds “more North Carolinians now approve of his bid but that Edwards still would face an uphill battle in his home state to beat President Bush. Fifty-three percent of Tar Heel voters approve of Edwards’ decision to seek the presidency, while 40 percent disapprove... If the general election were held today , Bush would beat Edwards in North Carolina 51 percent to 40 percent.”

“The poll also found a growing interest among North Carolina Democrats in another presidential candidate, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean... Among North Carolina Democrats, Edwards drew the support of 37 percent of those polled, followed by Dean with 23 percent and U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts with 17 percent. All other contenders were in single digits.”

The Charlotte Observer revisits Edwards’ abandoning his Senate seat to run for president: “Betting all his marbles on the White House could put a quick end to Edwards’ 5-year-old political career.”

USA Today says not only Dean but Kerry too is “actively considering bypassing the public-financing system and the spending limits it imposes during the primaries. If they follow through, it would be a first for Democrats and would divide the nine-person field into two financial tiers.”

Dean argues public financing would amount to unilateral disarmament against Bush: Kerry says he might forgo it so as not to unilaterally disarm against Dean. “Dean said no decision would be made until November. The decision will depend on how much money he is raising and spending at the time.”

Dean embed Felix Schein reports that despite heavy attacks on Dean over the past week, 20,000 more volunteers registered with the campaign, and according to manager Joe Trippi, the campaign will reach its goal of 450,000 volunteers by the end of the month. (For context, the campaign had fewer than 500 volunteers at the end of January.) That said, Schein notes, the Governor has worked to refine his message and make it more accurate. He has also become more insulated, his state staffs working hard to keep him moving and away from the press, making assessing the depth of Dean’s support a greater challenge.

Trippi dismissed the notion that the press spotlight would somehow burn his candidate. He noted, as he has time and time again, that this campaign’s support goes up when the gloves come off.

Graham attacked Dean in Phoenix yesterday. The Miami Herald says “Graham’s new message about Dean [is]: I voted against the war, he’s just against it.” Yesterday, ”[a]sked whether he has a problem with Dean’s apparent penchant to misspeak and shift positions, Graham at first said he would not be ‘induced into the type of negativism that is sometimes tempting.’” But went on to say, “’[i]f Gov. Dean had had the kind of background as governor of a large and complex state and service that would put him in direct contact with international issues, then he wouldn’t have to backtrack.”’

Embed Dionne Scott says the Lieberman campaign is noting the other Democratic candidates’ attacks on Dean “with interest,” after their candidate got the ball rolling. First, an aide said, “these guys are as mum as a church mouse, now they’re coming out... Gephardt’s fighting for his life in Iowa. Kerry’s fighting for his life in New Hampshire.” Scott also reports Lieberman supporters in New Hampshire are saying there’s anti-Dean buzz over his shifting positions, but that neutral observers say they don’t notice that so much as Lieberman himself having yet to catch fire in the state.

The Des Moines Register on Kerry’s Cedar Rapids, IA event yesterday: “In addition to attacking President Bush as a friend of the rich, Kerry faulted the former Vermont governor” — by name — “and other Democrats for proposing to repeal all tax cuts pushed by the Republican incumbent. Kerry said he would leave tax cuts benefiting middle-class families intact.”

“Kerry again chastised Dean at the end of his speech, which dealt with protecting the middle class from corporate abuses such as the WorldCom scandal... Kerry said WorldCom employees ‘did the right thing but still got the short end of the stick. What their company did to them is wrong. What George Bush has done to the middle class is wrong. And, unfortunately, what Howard Dean wants to do is wrong for our middle-class families as well.’”

Dean’s response: “‘It’s time for someone to tell the American people the truth. The truth is, we cannot provide health care for everyone and work toward balancing the budget if we do not repeal all of the president’s tax cuts. Anyone who wants to keep the Bush tax scheme, even a portion of it, is guaranteeing Americans continue to pay higher property taxes, higher education bills and other costs middle-class families face.’”

The Boston Globe’s McGrory says Kerry broke a 1996 deal with then-GOP Senate opponent Bill Weld to “limit advertising spending to $5 million apiece, and to limit the use of personal funds in the campaign to $500,000 apiece... Kerry didn’t just violate the deal, he pulverized it. Running out of money in the waning days of October, Kerry mortgaged and remortgaged the Louisburg Square house, ultimately pouring $1.7 million in personal funds into his campaign.”

“As he made a mockery of the pact, he did something else distinctly distasteful. He accused Weld of violating the agreement, a charge that seemed specious at best, an outright lie at worst.”

Gephardt embed Priya David checked in yesterday with Duane Woerth, president of the 66,000-member International Air Line Pilots Association, about the status of his association’s promised endorsement of Gephardt. “Nobody is picking up union support like Gephardt,” Woerth told the AP right after Labor Day. “There is no question Dick Gephardt will get our endorsement.” David was then told by the campaign that ALPA’s endorsement would come soon. Since some time has passed without an announcement, David called ALPA yesterday, only to be told that they have no comment on Mr. Woerth’s previous statements. Further, they have not endorsed any candidate and have no plan do so immediately. In fact, they don’t plan on endorsing anyone until well after the candidate has been nominated, or is very close to it, if they endorse at all.

Kucinich embed Karin Caifa reports the candidate’s morning speech will kick off a big lobbying effort for his Department of Peace legislation: 220 members of the Global Renaissance Alliance Annual Democracy Conference will head to Capitol Hill to lobby for HR 1643, the bill introduced by Kucinich, that would create a Cabinet-level US Department of Peace.

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