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• Friday, June 11, 2004 | 9:20 a.m. ET
From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray, Huma Zaidi, and Jesse Levine
Six days later, the final national observances of Reagan's passing take place in a shutdown, locked down DC at 11:30 am, followed by the interment at 9:00 pm ET at the Reagan library in Simi Valley, CA. Add in the D-Day anniversary and the build-up to that, and America has had 10 or so days of unifying if somber pageantry -- pageantry which has wholly or partially eclipsed the resignation of the CIA chief, positive job numbers, troubling developments for the Administration on Iraqi prisoner abuse, good and bad news for President Bush out of the G-8, and the war in Iraq in general. The country, which has never before seen an all-out presidential funeral in the age of cable, may be ready to get back to regular business. We know the campaigns and the national political press corps are respectfully itching to.
The presidential candidates won't immediately oblige, however. After speaking at the service at the National Cathedral, Bush heads to Texas for a weekend-long celebration of his father's 80th birthday, capped off by 41's fifth-ever parachute jump at the age of 80 on Sunday.
Kerry attends the service, then returns to his campaign HQ around 1:30 pm. MSNBC's Becky Diamond reports the Kerry pool is not being allowed to accompany him to the Cathedral. He has no public events scheduled for today, and heads to the Heinz home in Pittsburgh tonight, where he'll remain until Sunday. After a quick stop in DC, he goes to Atlantic City for fundraising on Monday and finally, on Tuesday, his first real campaign event in over a week. Kerry's last speech was at a high school graduation in Toledo last Sunday, and his last real campaign appearance was at his veterans' network rollout in Minneapolis a week ago today.
The Administration puts out Colin Powell for interviews today and this weekend, a transitional figure who can talk about both Reagan and Iraq. But the Bush campaign announced earlier this morning that Vice President Cheney will give a political speech on "the progress in the war on terror" in Orlando on Monday at 11:00 am. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman addresses the Iowa GOP convention tomorrow.
And Teresa Heinz Kerry, who didn't quite keep a lid on her criticisms of Bush earlier this week, addresses the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee convention tonight in Arlington, VA at 7:00 pm.
As for Bush, though his appearances have been overshadowed by Reagan's death, his office has kept him in the public eye all week without his having to campaign -- in Normandy, at the G-8, at the Rotunda last night, and at the Cathedral today, where he follows his dad in delivering Reagan's eulogy. Eulogizing the Great Communicator isn't exactly low-pressure. NBC's Norah O'Donnell reported at 8:36 am that the White House was on "draft six." Republicans see opportunity; Democrats hope this is the moment when Bush fails to measure up.
Reagan and 2004
The Washington Post focuses on the differences in offering context to Bush's anticipated eulogy of Reagan: "the contrasts between the two men, their presidencies and the eras in which they governed are as telling as the parallels."
"Among the greatest differences between Reagan and Bush is the country they inherited. The United States in 1981 was demoralized, battered by inflation, hungering for inspiration and for a clear change in direction. The United States in 2001 was generally contented, feeling strong and prosperous, although prosperity was beginning to wane. Politically, the country was polarized and divided by the 36-day recount in Florida and a Supreme Court decision that gave the presidency to the Republicans."
"Reagan arrived with a mandate for change and began to act on it. Bush arrived with no mandate but moved as though he had one, offering bold, aggressive and controversial leadership... Reagan remains the Great Communicator, a description rarely applied to the current president. Bush's television commercials this spring have been punctuated by his references to being optimistic, but the persona he has more often projected in leading the war on terrorism is less optimistic than determined, less upbeat than grimly unwavering. Although he was known for his wisecracking personality as a candidate, post-Sept. 11 he has used humor less often and to less effect than Reagan."
"Reagan and Bush shared a warm relationship with Christian conservatives, but Bush has been far more attentive to their political agenda."
"The most significant difference between Bush and Reagan, critics of the current president say, is how the two leaders affected the nation's image in the world."
The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "Republicans split on whether Bush foreign policy is Reaganesque. James Pinkerton, a former aide to the first President Bush, argues Reagan was more willing to use aid and moral persuasion, and was slower to involve U.S. troops... On National Review's Web site, ex-Reagan Pentagon official Frank Gaffney says the late president, like Bush today, braved Europe's ire to wage 'a battle against evil'... European officials wax privately nostalgic for Reagan's charm."
The Washington Times reports on Democrat-affiliated groups like the AFL-CIO that are open today -- "Mr. Reagan was no friend of labor, said a spokesman for the International Labor Communications Association, an AFL-CIO member, in noting that his group's offices will also be open today. And it's business as usual today at the headquarters of the Democratic Party" -- without mentioning that both presidential campaign HQs also are open.
The Reagan legacy
The New York Times, in a front-page article, examines how history will judge Reagan.
USA Today: "Some Americans see a conservative ideologue who bloated the national debt, who favored the rich over the poor and the suffering, who presided over a scandal-plagued administration and whose detached, corporate style fostered a nation that was, as Haynes Johnson wrote, 'sleepwalking through history.'"
"But as is usually the case with presidents, the mosaic of the Reagan years -- bridging the healing of Vietnam and Watergate and the information technology explosion -- was woven by events: The decline of communism. The rise of AIDS. The spread of global terrorism. The loss of a space shuttle. An assassination attempt blocks from the White House."
The Boston Globe: "Women's groups, civil rights leaders, union supporters, and other activists have spent decades criticizing conservative Reagan policies... The critics have been muted somewhat since the former president died last weekend, but as ceremonies commemorating Reagan crescendoed before his funeral today, some detractors said they were growing frustrated that only the positive parts of his legacy are being discussed."
The Washington Post says Oliver North won't attend the Cathedral service today: “he said he fears he would be a distraction."
On Bush's suggestion that he'll consider proposals to further memorialize Reagan, the Boston Globe notes, "Washington sparkles with monuments recalling not only great men but also great liberal movements: The eternal flame burning at John F. Kennedy's grave in Arlington, Va., marks the hope of the New Frontier; the new memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt includes depictions of New Deal social programs and activism for women and minorities; and the Lincoln Memorial houses the ghosts not only of the Great Emancipator but also of black opera singer Marian Anderson's landmark concert and Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream' speech."
"'Liberals, the left, big-government supporters -- whatever you call them, statists do a better job of using the state to highlight how great they are,' said Grover Norquist, a longtime tax opponent and Reagan enthusiast. 'Individualists are not as good at calling attention to themselves.' The result is a surfeit of celebration of the liberal movements of recent history and little or no recognition for conservatives, Norquist said."
Bush v. Kerry: national security
The Washington Post reports the use of dogs to intimidate Iraqi prisoners was authorized. The Post also reports on Bush's comment at the Thursday closing news conference at the G-8 that "he expects U.S. authorities to follow the law when interrogating prisoners abroad, but he declined to say whether he believes torture is permitted under the law."
The Post says of the G-8: "The Bush administration has suddenly discovered diplomacy. After three years of criticizing President Bush for taking a unilateralist approach to foreign policy -- a charge Bush officials maintained was unfair -- foreign officials attending the Group of Eight summit that concluded Thursday said they noticed a distinct shift in the administration's tone and attitude. Suddenly, officials said, the Americans were more willing to listen, more eager to resolve differences and more interested in finding a pragmatic solution."
The Post lists these possible reasons why:
• "after a year of grim news in Iraq, the administration is scrambling to build international support for the nascent Iraqi government, which requires that U.S. officials listen to the concerns of other nations."
• "Kerry has harshly criticized the administration for imperiling America's alliances, making the case that relations are so frayed that only a new president can hope to begin anew. New polls indicate that Kerry has begun to open up a lead over the president, with Bush's handling of the war with Iraq dragging down his approval rating."
• "The Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal also has so harmed the U.S. image abroad that the administration has tried to avoid any major spats with allies."
• "administration officials were determined to use the summit as a showcase to erase doubts about Bush's handling of foreign policy."
The Los Angeles Times rolls out more of its poll, disputed by the Bush campaign as allegedly weighted too Democratic: "The poll underscores how attitudes about the war loom as a dividing line in the presidential election. Among those who think the threat from Iraq justified war, Bush leads [Kerry], 83% to 13%. Among those who think the war was not justified, Kerry leads, 84% to 11%."
"Nearly three-fifths said Bush's Iraq policies had hurt America's image abroad; one in five thought they had improved attitudes toward the U.S. Such concerns have eroded confidence in Bush's management of the war. Just 44% said they approved of Bush's handling of the war; in March, that figure was 51%. In the new poll, 35% said he had outlined a clear plan to succeed in Iraq. Asked about his handling of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, 41% approved and 37% disapproved."
"Kerry has faced criticism from some in his party for not offering a more distinct alternative to Bush's Iraq policy. In a sign that Kerry's position is murky to many voters, the poll found 15% said he had offered a clear plan on how to handle the situation, while 34% said he had not, and the rest did not know. But another question pointed to the opening for Kerry created by doubts about Bush's direction. Voters split almost in half when asked if they accepted Kerry's contention that Bush had lost so much credibility around the world that only a new president could 'rally the support of U.S. allies to help stabilize Iraq.'"
The Washington Post on the expected to be approved defense budget: "House and Senate versions of the 2005 defense authorization measure contain a record $68 billion for research and development -- 20 percent above the peak levels of President Ronald Reagan's historic defense buildup. Tens of billions more out of a proposed $76 billion hardware account will go for big-ticket weapons systems to combat some as-yet-unknown adversary comparable to the former Soviet Union."
"In a major speech last week, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.)... called for cutting back funding for a national missile defense system -- a priority of the Bush administration -- to pay for increasing the size of the active-duty Army. Other lawmakers are concerned that" the budget "will inevitably further skew the nation's foreign policy toward military intervention."
Bush v. Kerry: social security
In a move that may land Social Security squarely on the 2004 table, the Wall Street Journal reports that "[m]ore than two decades after Reagan spurred overhaul of Social Security finances, the Congressional Budget Office next week will call the retirement program 'unsustainable' without further changes. CBO will estimate a smaller 75-year deficit than Social Security's own actuary because of different forecasts of wage trends."
Bush v. Kerry: the economy
The new AP poll shows Kerry and Bush in a dead heat, and suggests that while the economy has improved and added 1.2 million jobs, most Americans think the opposite and give Bush very little credit.
"Kerry will try to keep voters focused on the most dismal economic data while fueling their anxieties about interest rates, health care premiums, tuition bills and other costs of living."
"Bush plans to continue using domestic travel to highlight workers who have taken higher-paying jobs and companies that are hiring. His latest television ad tries to turn the tables on Kerry."
The Wall Street Journal says, "Postfuneral presidential-campaign events will focus on the economy. Bush's re-election bid aims advertising at pocketbook issues after pulling spots attacking Kerry over the Patriot Act. Aides gear up for June 18 release of state-by-state employment trends; Cheney will trumpet growth on Monday in Florida and Thursday in Ohio, which Bush visits the following week. Bush advisers hope focus on Reagan's virtues will lift the national gloom that has depressed the incumbent's ratings."
"In the Midwest next week, Kerry will look past job growth to focus on the 'middle-class squeeze,' an aide says. Kerry decries spiraling health costs in an ad set at a town-hall meeting."
The Washington Post writes up the first Bureau of Labor Statistics report on outsourcing, released yesterday, which shows that outsourcing "accounted for a small fraction of U.S. layoffs in the first quarter of the year... The finding provides ammunition to economists who contend that the 'offshoring' of American jobs poses less of an economic threat than is popularly believed." The report "found that among 239,361 people laid off, only about 2 percent, or 4,633, lost their jobs for reasons 'associated with the movement of work outside the country.' But the figures were based on a survey of a limited sample of companies, and because of other statistical flaws it is unlikely to quell the concern..."
The Los Angeles Times, in a front-page report, says the release of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 "later this month appears to mark the first time that a film slamming a major presidential candidate has opened on screens across the nation in the final months of a campaign. At the same time, the movie is producing a global publicity extravaganza for Moore and Miramax Film founders Harvey and Bob Weinstein." (Harvey Weinstein is a Big Democratic donor.)
"While the filmmakers deny any overt effort to promote the candidacy of... Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, their efforts fall clearly in sync with the campaign to unseat Bush."
"To anticipate and fend off the criticism that already is brewing, Moore has set up a 'war room' populated by former Clinton White House operatives plotting swift counterattacks on Bush supporters who question the film's credibility. To lead the effort, Moore has hired Chris Lehane and Mark Fabiani, former political advisors to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Moore also said he planned to use the film to register thousands of voters, and will stage screenings to benefit antiwar groups set up by families of U.S. troops in Iraq and victims of the Sept. 11 attacks."
"So far, the Bush reelection campaign has played down concerns about the film's effect... Others have been more aggressive in trying to discredit Moore... Former President George H.W. Bush called Moore a 'slimeball' last month, dismissing the upcoming film as 'a vicious attack on our son,' according to the New York Daily News."
"How much influence the film might have is a matter of dispute." It may not sway any voters not already inclined to support Kerry, but it may motivate the Democratic base.
Could Howard Stern help Kerry win votes? Knight Ridder says Stern is "having an impact, apparently boosting the prospects of Sen. John Kerry,... according to a new Democratic poll released Thursday. That was welcome news to Democrats who've long ached for a liberal voice on talk radio and have watched in frustration as former comic Franken has struggled with a new program that has limited airplay."
More Bush v. Kerry
The New York Times travels to Pennsylvania to take an in-depth look at the undecided voter. With the Bush and Kerry camps confident that they can turn out their bases, the paper notes, undecideds have "become the object of intense concern by the campaigns as they try to figure out who these voters are and how to reach them... Aides to Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry described this thimbleful of voters as a source of worry to the campaigns because they are disengaged from the presidential contest and thus less susceptible to traditional tools of political persuasion."
"And who are they? Undecided voters are likely to be younger, lower-income and less educated than the general electorate... more likely to put themselves at the center of the political scale... consider the environment an important issue... tend to support abortion rights, and while they oppose gay marriage they do not share the intensity of Republicans..."
The Boston Globe does Kerry's efforts to woo "non-Bush Republicans:" "Kerry aides keep a head count of these new faces in the crowd, and try to enlist them afterward in hopes of launching a Republicans-for-Kerry movement by this fall... While Kerry uses the word Republicans in his appeals -- including asking Democrats to talk him up to their 'Republican friends' -- analysts say his real target is Independents and conservative Democratic swing voters instead."
Will Kerry have to wade into the labor dispute that's already disrupting preparations for the Boston convention? We guess it was a topic of conversation when Kerry visited the Democratic National Committee yesterday. And the Washington Post reports Boston Mayor Menino also briefed Ted Kennedy about the dispute yesterday. The story is getting huge play in the Boston Globe, natch.
Make your vote count
The AP reports that as the League of Women Voters meets this weekend in DC, tensions may boil into a possible split in the group's seemingly united front on electronic voting. The LWV has lobbied for the use of electronic voting machines, which they say are safe and don't require a separate paper receipt.
The Post-Dispatch says officials in St. Louis want to hold early elections there to avoid long lines and "chaos." However, Missouri Secretary of State and GOP gubernatorial candidate Matt Blunt says "the sudden drive for early voting appears to be 'an orchestrated political effort' to encourage a larger turnout of Democratic voters."
• Thursday, June 10, 2004 | 9:20 a.m. ET
From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray, Huma Zaidi, and Jesse Levine
A starved national political press corps hungrily chomps on the new Los Angeles Times poll, but the Bush campaign takes issue with the results. More on this below.
President Bush G-8's all day, takes part in the closing news conference at 4:00 pm, then returns to DC in time to visit the Rotunda and begin yet another series of events which inherently display the advantages of incumbency: He pays his respects to his party's most recent two-term president at the US Capitol at 7:00 pm, visits afterward with Nancy Reagan at Blair House, and prepares to deliver his eulogy of Reagan tomorrow morning.
Kerry arrived back in DC from Los Angeles earlier this morning. MSNBC's Felix Schein reports Kerry did not talk with the press on the red-eye flight, but seemed to sleep. Kerry spends most of today in the office. A possible visit to the Rotunda to pay his respects to Reagan is being discussed, but at this writing seems unlikely, per an aide at the campaign HQ.
Schein says Kerry's Wednesday in Los Angeles included a meeting with Steven Spielberg and, after Alexandra Kerry graduated from the American Film Institute, a family dinner at Lacques that included ex-wife Julia Thorne. Schein says filmmaker Alexandra refused to be caught on camera coming to and from dinner (insert dress joke here), causing pool chaos and annoying a number of journalists.
And, Felix bought a new tie. (Yes, in politics, it's been that quiet a news cycle...)
Bush v. Kerry: economy v. Iraq
The Bush campaign has issues (see below) with the new Los Angeles Times poll taken Saturday through Tuesday, which shows that "[w]idespread unease over the country's direction and doubts about President Bush's policies on Iraq and the economy helped propel Sen. John F. Kerry to a solid lead among voters nationwide." Kerry beats Bush in a two-way, 51 percent to 44 percent, and beats him in a three way by 48 percent to 42 percent, with 4 percent choosing Nader.
"Yet in a measure of the race's tenuous balance, Times polling in three of the most fiercely contested states found that Bush had a clear advantage over Kerry in Missouri and is even with the presumed Democratic rival in Ohio and Wisconsin." (Another Times story focuses on those states.)
"The surveys suggest that attitudes may be coalescing for a contest that pivots on the classic electoral question at times of discontent: Will voters see more risk in stability or change?"
The poll found that GOP efforts to cast Kerry as a flip-flopper have taken hold: "asked which candidate was more likely to flip-flop on issues, almost twice as many named Kerry than Bush." That said: "Nearly three-fifths believe the nation is on the wrong track, the highest level a Times poll has recorded during Bush's presidency... Just 39% say America is better off because of his agenda. Majorities disapprove of Bush's handling of the economy and Iraq, despite recent encouraging news on both fronts."
"One of Bush's assets is some voters' belief that he has been a strong commander in chief on one front: 54% approve of his performance in the war on terrorism. But on the economy, 54% of voters disapprove of his performance, while 43% approve. That's virtually unchanged from March, despite several months of strong job growth. Eventually, that growth may boost Bush. But for now, 52% of voters said they believed Bush's economic policies had hurt the economy, while just 22% said his actions had improved it."
"On Iraq, 44% approve of his performance, while 55% disapprove. That's down sharply from March, when a slight majority backed him on this issue."
Bush campaign senior advisor Matthew Dowd tells First Read that the poll "is a mess. Bush is leading independents by three, ahead among Republicans by a larger margin than Kerry is ahead among Dems, and we are down by seven. Outrageous. And it gets worse. They have Dems leading generic congressional ballot by 19. This means this poll is too Democratic by 10 to 12 points."
Dowd adds, "Apparently the Los Angeles Times has uncovered a Democratic revolution in this country that has happened in the last ten days."
The Washington Post collects informal survey work and expert observations into a front-pager that leads, "The nation's economy is growing smartly, wages have begun to rise, and employers have added more than 1.4 million jobs to their payrolls in the past nine months. Yet voters continue to give President Bush poor ratings on his handling of the economy. It may sound baffling, but interviews with voters, pollsters and economists suggest Bush's stubborn difficulties on domestic policy boil down to an obvious problem abroad."
"War has usually been good for the economy in the short run, and this one appears no different... But amid the car bombings, assassinations and continuing casualties, voters are generally pessimistic about the direction the nation is taking. Bush's negative ratings are rising not just on the economy but also on energy policy, foreign affairs and his handling of the prescription drug issue. Voters fixated on Iraq so far are not willing to see the improving economy through a positive prism, according to pollsters and Bush campaign aides."
"Conversations about the economy gravitate to foreign policy, and voters find the corrosive influence of war in the most unlikely places... For numerous voters, it is the nagging sense that a president consumed with foreign affairs no longer cares about the plight of citizens at home."
On a lighter note for the President, the Wall Street Journal says, "after a grim spring of bad news on several fronts, Mr. Bush finally has good things to talk about as the crucial summer of his re-election campaign arrives. And he seems to realize it. An Iraqi government is ready to take power in less than a month, and the world has just blessed it with a resolution at the United Nations. The U.S. economy is starting to hum, producing 248,000 jobs last month, the second straight month of good job production. If growth keeps up at a similar pace, by Election Day the president has an outside chance of erasing the 2.2 million-job deficit from his first three years in office. Moreover, a decline in oil prices in the past few days may presage a price drop at the gas pump -- just in time for vacation season."
"The combined effect of the aligning diplomatic and economic forces underscores the fact that, for all of Mr. Bush's perceived weaknesses, he still has institutional advantages that will serve him well as the campaign unfolds this summer."
"Many challenges remain, of course, both abroad and at home. The Federal Reserve is expected to try to damp inflation with an interest-rate boost this summer, giving Democrats a new angle of attack on the economy. From a broad view, the arithmetic on job creation, which at best will add up to a zero net loss on Mr. Bush's watch, isn't exactly a great rallying cry for a campaign year. And the prospect of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil remains a major uncertainty, as does the situation in Iraq... The U.S. will hand off civilian authority on June 30 to Iraqis. But the country remains unstable..."
The Journal also reports, "After a brutal era of stagnation and decline, state-tax revenues are growing strongly once again -- fueled largely by an improving economy, a host of tax increases and a crackdown on tax shelters. Despite the unexpectedly strong rebound, don't expect states to rush out and slash taxes significantly any time soon... But the improving fortunes of some of the nation's biggest states could mark a turning point for some major government programs."
The Bush agenda
The Washington Times reports, "Republicans' plans to blame Democrats for obstructing the president's agenda to gain ground in upcoming congressional races have backfired, some experts say, and instead, Republicans have slowly been losing the issues they had once hoped to highlight."
"Lobbyists and campaign experts said Democrats can't be fully blamed for obstructing the contentious energy bill, which has lingered in the Senate for more than a year. And Senate Democrats undercut naysayers when they made a deal with President Bush to clear the way for votes on 25 judicial nominees. Even though Democrats have successfully blocked tort-reform legislation, that issue hasn't risen to the level of a hot election issue."
"Republicans have said they believe voters do care about obstruction, and believe a campaign message can be crafted. They point to 2002, when the obstruction strategy worked against then-Democratic Sens. Max Cleland of Georgia and Jean Carnahan of Missouri, both of whom were defeated. Republican challengers highlighted the two incumbents' opposition to Mr. Bush's homeland security legislation, and won their seats."
"But Senate Democrats said the obstruction charge simply isn't true this year, mainly because of the many deals that have been made in the last few months on the highway bill and on the energy bill's tax provisions... And Mr. Bush all but killed obstruction arguments on his judicial nominations last week when he agreed to a deal with Senate Democrats to dislodge 25 of 32 judicial nominees for a final vote. In exchange, Mr. Bush agreed not to make any more recess appointments... The deal infuriated conservatives, and left Democrats saying it proves charges of obstruction are false."
Bush v. Kerry: security
Bob Novak looks at Kerry's 1994 effort to cut intelligence spending after the first bombing of the World Trade Center. "Since George W. Bush's re-election campaign has made this dispute an issue, Kerry has faced a choice. He could admit an error in past judgment, which is never easy or perhaps prudent for a presidential candidate. Or, he could defend what seems a politically vulnerable position. Kerry has taken the latter course. When this column asked about Kerry's past position this week, campaign spokesman Chad Clanton replied: ''You bet, John Kerry voted against business-as-usual in our intelligence community. It is no secret that we've got some serious problems with our intelligence.'"
"The defense by the campaign is that Kerry's proposed intelligence cuts were aimed at what ''was essentially a slush fund for defense contractors.' Clanton added: ''Unlike George Bush, John Kerry does not support every special spending project supported by Halliburton and other defense contractors.'" But Novak says Kerry's amendment would have cut intelligence spending across the board.
In just two and a half months, Republicans will converge on New York for the GOP convention, but New York magazine argues that "Bush and the Congress" always seem "to screw New York" on funding for homeland security, transportation, and housing. Still, New Yorkers "think they will get the extra $25 million they need to protect the Republican confab later this summer."
The Washington Post reports that military interrogators at Guantanamo were given access to prisoners' medical records, "a breach of patient confidentiality that ethicists describe as a violation of international medical standards designed to protect captives from inhumane treatment... There is no universally established international law governing medical confidentiality. But ethics experts said international medical standards bar sharing such information with interrogators to ensure it is not used to pressure prisoners to talk..."
Reagan and 2004
The Washington Times writes, "America's affectionate farewell to Ronald Reagan has focused attention on the similarities between the 40th president and President Bush, whose policies of tax cuts and a stronger defense parallel his Republican forefather... But some of Mr. Bush's conservative supporters also point to key differences between the two men, especially noting the president's expansion of the Department of Education - which Mr. Reagan sought to shrink - and the creation of a new Medicare prescription-drug benefit for the elderly."
"Still, Mr. Reagan was no slouch at expanding certain government programs, particularly the Social Security reforms he enacted that significantly raised worker payroll taxes, along with a $100 billion package of additional taxes he signed into law in 1982 that infuriated many of his conservative supporters."
"Raising similarities between the two presidents is a sensitive subject for the White House and the president's re-election campaign right now, although Republican officials say it is likely that the Republican National Convention... will include a major tribute to Mr. Reagan in prime time. Mr. Bush's senior aides and his campaign advisers are uncomfortable making any comparisons at a time of national mourning for the late president. But it is no secret that next to his father,... Mr. Reagan is Mr. Bush's favorite president..."
"Another big difference between the two presidents is their speaking abilities, Republican strategists said yesterday."
The New York Times looks at Reagan's effect on the Democratic party. After the party's losses in 1980 and 1984, "a centrist element of the party sought to develop new views on issues like crime, federal spending and most notably welfare, in a political and policy mix that culminated in the election of Bill Clinton in 1992."
"Mr. Kerry... is a member of the organization and has shared the group's ideas on issues like welfare reform, national service, hiring more police officers and reducing deficits that can trace their evolution back to the Democratic search for ways to counter Mr. Reagan."
The Washington Post reports what many Democrats have noted: "No Democrats were asked to speak at last night's event, although Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said they would have been honored to do so. Republicans said the program was set by the Reagan family, following protocol for such events."
The Los Angeles Times says of the ceremonies yesterday, "A number of lawmakers, including Democrats, noted that pictures of meetings with Reagan adorned their offices."
The Reagan legacy
The Los Angeles Times, also without irony, follows the Washington Post in detailing the cost of Friday's partial government shutdown.
The New York Times takes its turn on Reaganomics, noting the current Bush White House learned from Reagan that deficits don't matter (though the article says Reagan was never completely reconciled to that view), and that it can be politically advantageous to publish budgets that are less than honest.
USA Today on Reagan's judicial legacy: "Reagan appointed more judges to the federal bench than any U.S. president. He was the first to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court. And his administration developed a system for screening young conservatives that became the model for the current White House in selecting judges."
"Fifteen years after he left Washington, Reagan's legacy is particularly evident on the nine-member Supreme Court, where his four appointees have reined in the reach of civil-rights laws and have stripped power from the federal government, in favor of the states. They have allowed more public funding of religious activities and generally have tried to get judges out of the business of solving society's problems."
Roll Call says Senate Majority Leader Frist has set up a task force to vet all the new proposals to honor Reagan.
The Washington Post reports that while medical researchers are reluctant to speak up and possibly stymie the Reagan-inspired outpouring of support for increased stem cell research, "the infrequently voiced reality, stem cell experts confess, is that, of all the diseases that may someday be cured by embryonic stem cell treatments, Alzheimer's is among the least likely to benefit."
The New York Daily News continues to advance the stem-cell story, noting Laura Bush yesterday disagreed with Nancy Reagan's call for more research.
The Los Angeles Times front-pages the plight of today's neoconservatives: "'Neocons' - best known for advocating aggressive foreign and military policies - are in the painful zone between distinction and disfavor in Washington. They are losing battles on Capitol Hill. Their principles have stopped appearing in new U.S. policies. And where neoconservatives were once seen as having a future in Republican administrations, the setbacks in Iraq could make it difficult for the group's leading members to win Senate confirmation for top posts in the future."
"As the postwar problems deepened, many neocons found themselves in the strange position of criticizing the White House, while being blamed in various quarters around the world for provoking the war."
Reagan and Clinton are already sucking up oxygen, but add a third former president to the list: Sunday, the day after his 80th birthday, brings new octogenarian George HW Bush's fifth parachute jump. "Mr. Bush is going ahead with the jump despite the death of former President Ronald Reagan," the Washington Times says.
"The Bush family will attend a memorial service for Mr. Reagan in Washington, D.C., tomorrow, then travel to Texas on Saturday, Mr. Bush's birthday. A party is planned at Houston's Minute Maid Park with President George W. Bush, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister John Major and 5,000 other invited guests. The entertainment will include Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Tommy Tune, Bo Derek and Dennis Miller. The party serves as a fund-raiser for the George Bush Forty-One Endowment, which aims to raise $30 million to support his presidential library, the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and his Points of Light Foundation."
"On Sunday, many of the partygoers will take a 100-mile train ride from Houston to the Texas A&M campus in College Station, where Mr. Bush, as he did during his last jump five years ago, will bail out over his presidential library."
USA Today interviewed the former president: "The fiercely protective father surfaces... when he talks about the war on terrorism, Iraq and the world's view of the United States. 'Of course there are people that disagree with us,' he says, but 'those that mindlessly disagree' with the current president's goals 'are making a huge mistake.'"
"He doesn't believe any president could have anticipated the 9/11 attacks. And the scandal over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops, he says, involved 'just a handful of people that went astray.' Now, he advises, 'place the blame wherever they want to, but get going. Enough impugning the honor of those who are serving.'"
The Boston Globe checks out the Edwards non-campaign operation and says, "More than any other potential number two, Edwards is waging a passive-aggressive bid for the vice presidency."
"Top advisers now believe Kerry will choose his running mate a week or two before the Democratic National Convention in Boston, which begins July 26."
"During the primaries, Kerry and Edwards had a prickly relationship. Kerry openly questioned Edwards's electability, once saying he could not even carry his home state of North Carolina. The veteran senator also questioned the former trial lawyer's pursuit of the presidency after less than one term in elective office. 'And people call me ambitious?' a Globe reporter once overheard Kerry asking an aide. Edwards largely left any criticism of Kerry to his staff," except for on trade and in the final debates. "Since then, Edwards has professed unqualified support for Kerry, doing whatever is asked of him to help the campaign."
The shadow campaign
The AP updates the profile of Democratic 527 sugar daddy (almost $13 million so far) George Soros, a pet GOP target of late: "Soros, who backed Howard Dean..., has not formally endorsed John Kerry, the presumptive nominee. He said Republicans were unfairly trying to link his views to Kerry's. National Democratic Party officials and a Kerry spokesman didn't return telephone messages for comment. Soros said Republicans have distorted his views on several issues, including by implying that his support for medical marijuana initiatives means he wants to legalize all drugs."
The Washington Post covers a conference yesterday in DC organized by John Podesta's Democrat-affiliated think tank to weigh how to restore "the voice of the religious left in the nation's political debate... [E]ven as the conference at times took on the enthusiasm of a pep rally, there were sobering reflections on why the religious left lost its prominence after the 1970s and how hard it may be to regain it. At the core of those concerns was a simple set of statistics, reinforced by numerous polls: People who say they are frequent churchgoers vote Republican by a ratio of about 2 to 1."
"Conference attendees also blamed the media, saying news reports tend to play up the simple dichotomy between the secular left and the religious right rather than citing the full range of religious views... But some of the Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims at the conference also said they have felt excluded or even disdained by the secular left."
The Washington Times notes how, per a GOP provision in the corporate tax bill coming up for a vote on Monday, "[c]hurches could mistakenly engage in political activities up to three times per year and still retain their tax-exempt status." The provision "would create intermediate penalties for churches who unintentionally violate this law, instead of immediately threatening their tax-exempt status."
Make your vote count
Following up on its report from yesterday about Florida's problem of identifying some legal voters as felons and purging them from the state rolls, the New York Times says the state is still confused on the issue, even after a weeklong meeting of state officials.
The AP reports from Florida, "State officials told county elections supervisors a call center and Web site are being established to help them verify a list of 47,000 potential felons who could be purged from voter rolls. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has set up a toll-free number elections supervisors can call with questions on a particular voter. The agency also plans a Web site that would let supervisors and voters fill out an appeal form online, said Jeff Long, chief of the department's records bureau."
"Florida is one of seven states that does not let convicted felons vote unless their voting rights have been restored." In 2000, "[s]ome people were taken off the rolls although they were not felons. Some supervisors said at the conference that they have had problems getting information from local clerks of court for the people on their list."
Election Assistance Commission chair Buster Soaries says jurisdictions that use electronic voting machines should "do something about security that they have not done before" -- like implement a paper trail or use voice identification technology. However, Soaries says a rush to install such equipment may further complicate voting procedures. "Soaries said he would submit his proposals to the Elections Assistance Commission for approval within the next few days." – Boston Globe
• Wednesday, June 9, 2004 | 9:20 a.m. ET
From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray, Huma Zaidi, and Jesse Levine
Washington waits for Reagan, displaying both its high-ceremonial and small-town sides. While tens of thousands flock to DC to pay their respects and preparations continue for the procession from Andrews AFB to 16th and Constitution to the US Capitol, the typical Washingtonian wussiness over closed streets, threats of bad traffic, and sticky 90-degree weather keeps many residents at home, or at least indoors.
Out in California this morning, the Reagan motorcade arrives at the library in Simi Valley at 11:00 am ET. At 11:15 am, the Honor Guard removes the casket from the bier and proceeds into the courtyard, where "Hail to the Chief" and "America the Beautiful" are played, then places the caskets in the hearse. The motorcade then departs the library for Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station, where similar ceremonies accompany the placing of the casket onto the aircraft taking the family to Andrews AFB. They are expected to arrive at Andrews at 5:00 pm, and proceed from there to 16th and Constitution, NW, where Reagan's casket will be placed on the caisson and taken to the US Capitol.
President Bush G-8's in Georgia all day, amidst split coverage of his win on the UN resolution on Iraq, and his Attorney General's risk of being held in contempt of Congress for refusing to say whether he advised Bush that torture of the terrorists under certain circumstances was defensible. Bush had breakfast with Tony Blair and now faces a day of meeting, greeting, and lunching with leaders, with photo ops in between.
Kerry attends daughter Alex's graduation from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles, then takes a red-eye flight back to DC, where he remains until Friday evening. Though Saturday would seem to mark the re-opening of campaign fire, Kerry takes the weekend off and returns to the trail on Monday.
As for Nader, he hopes to get on the Arizona ballot by the 8:00 pm ET deadline tonight. As of yesterday, per Nader spokesperson Kevin Zeese, the campaign had collected more than 15,000 signatures, with 14,694 required. "We're going to make it," Zeese said. "We are confident about it." Though some GOP strategists might disagree, Democrats count Arizona, with its Latino, senior, and non-native voting blocs, as a battleground state.
Reagan and 2004
The Boston Globe has a graphic of the temporarily revamped Bush campaign website, noting that the campaign sent an e-mail to supporters "encouraging them to add to a 'living memorial' for Reagan."
"After three days of suspended political activity, the Bush campaign began openly incorporating Ronald Reagan's death into its reelection message yesterday," the Globe says. "[A]fter a 72 hour stretch of glowing remembrances of Reagan, Republicans and Democrats began crafting statements that suited their political goals. Republicans continued to underscore similarities between the popular 40th president and Bush. And Democrats noted differences, such as increasing partisan bitterness and an alienation of America's allies."
"Democrats have filtered their mostly complimentary remarks about Reagan through their own political lens. One after another, key Democrats are praising Reagan for qualities they often say Bush lacks, including compromise for bipartisan gain, cordiality, and the ability to gain worldwide respect."
Rudy Giuliani said on Imus this morning that Reagan maintained a "very CEO" approach in the White House...
Aboard his campaign plane yesterday, MSNBC's Felix Schein reports, Kerry made the following off-camera remarks about Reagan: "I met with Reagan a lot more than I met with this President." He was a "very likeable guy." Also: "I didn't agree with a lot of the things he was doing obviously. He was, as has been written, sorta arms-length from a lotta stuff." Kerry said he first heard of Reagan in the 1960s when Reagan spoke on Goldwaters' behalf; Kerry was also based in California when Reagan ran for governor. Kerry said he tried to call Nancy Reagan yesterday, but didn't talk with her.
Schein adds that at the Reagan library, as he exited the room where Reagan's casket lay, Kerry viewed the gravesite. His motorcade also held up close to a dozen buses, and a number of people gave Kerry a thumbs-down.
Also, despite this trip to California being for personal reasons, Schein notes that Kerry was joined on the trip by at least nine staffers, including at least one communications operative and a political aide. Asked why so many staffers were making the trip, estimated to cost at least $4,000 per person, a campaign spokesman said not to read anything into it and that no political events were on the schedule. Which seems like a lot of travel money for no political events.
The AP reports on Kerry, "By being largely absent from the campaign trail this week, Kerry risks losing momentum with voters just as President Bush's popularity is at its most vulnerable. But to do anything else would appear unseemly amid the outpouring of praise for a president remembered for bridging political divisions. Just how soon Kerry will return to a full campaign schedule has not yet been decided and Kerry aides are divided on the issue as they had been over whether to cancel the week's schedule." Maybe the story was written before the weekend and Monday schedules were set, but as MSNBC's Schein reports, Kerry spends the weekend in Pittsburgh before hitting the trail again on Monday with a stop in New Jersey (New Jersey?).
The AP story goes on to say, "Some Democrats applauded Kerry's decision to set politics aside, though some privately complained that he didn't at least schedule a few nonpartisan events in battleground states that could have gained him some local media notice. Meanwhile, Bush once again has the advantage of the incumbent and can go about the business of the president without fear of appearing insensitive."
The Reagan legacy
Without a hint of irony, the Washington Post covers the cost of the federal government shutdown on Friday: "The Office of Personnel Management has estimated the loss from a one-day closure of federal operations in the Washington area, such as during a snow emergency, at $66 million. But many operations that would be closed for snow will operate as usual, including agencies of the State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security departments."
Meanwhile, the Washington Times says of Reagan that "with the benefit of hindsight," conservative leaders "say his leadership was vital to the success of their movement."
The Washington Post says "Reagan's controversial positions are today accepted doctrine among the Reagan generation of conservatives. They embraced his agenda when many of the party's elders were reluctant to do so, from the late president's tax-cutting philosophy to his anti-government rhetoric to the antiabortion, pro-religion elements of his message."
The Los Angeles Times writes of the entourage of former advisors traveling to DC, "For those who knew Reagan and worked for him - and especially for those who made the journey with him from Hollywood to Washington - it is the last public reunion of an administration that was seen as the epitome of style and substance of its day."
On stem cells, USA Today reports both Senate Majority Leader and Dr. Frist's comment yesterday "that a 3-year-old policy that limits federal funding should be reviewed," and White House spokesperson McClellan's comment "that Bush's policy will remain in place because enough stem-cell lines are available for research."
"Congress isn't expected to challenge Bush this year. Some GOP and Democratic congressional staff members say the issue is too controversial to revive with less than five months to Election Day. Many Republicans do not want to embarrass Bush and open him to the wrath of conservative supporters opposed to research on human embryonic stem cells. House Democrats concede that opposition from Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay likely dooms action this year."
The Washington Post front-pages how all "the lavish praise obscures that much of Reagan's record through eight years in office was highly controversial and intensified social and political divisions. Even now, nearly 16 years after he left office, some major interest groups and key voting blocs most adversely affected by Reagan policies remain bitter about his legacy."
"No group may have chafed more at Reagan's policies and views than African Americans, who assailed the president for opposing racial quotas and for seeking to obtain a tax credit for Bob Jones University, a segregated southern school."
"There were other controversies:" the air-traffic controllers strike; a "near-tripling" of the national debt; an "indifference" to AIDS; Reaganomics; the Bitburg commemoration ceremony; Iran...
The Washington Post also calls the Reagan defense build-up "a hallmark of his presidency, a free-spending crusade that lifted the nation's military industry out of the doldrums after the Vietnam War. He created a war-machine economy in a time of uneasy peace..."
Today, the Post says, "Military spending levels are near Reagan-era levels, but for a very different type of military and world. Gone is the Soviet Union and the threat of a nuclear holocaust and with it the World War II-style defense industry that had its last hurrah during the Reagan years. Today's Pentagon budget is aimed partly at cleaning up the remnants from that era..."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggests the security detail for the G-8 summit may be a bit excessive, given that "20,000 police, federal agents and soldiers have been assigned to summit security. So far, that's more than 66 for each demonstrator."
Nevertheless, the Journal-Constitution notes, Bush made an unannounced visit last night to the G-8 summit security center, where he thanked workers for their help.
The Journal-Constitution also says that "reporters, cops and bigwigs at the G-8 "are eating food that's one week old, because it had to be inspected for security reasons." Gross.
The Washington Post says the "disclosure that the Justice Department advised the White House in 2002 that the torture of al Qaeda terrorist suspects might be legally defensible has focused new attention on the role President Bush played in setting the rules for interrogations in the war on terrorism."
"A former senior administration official involved in discussions about CIA interrogation techniques said Bush's aides knew he wanted them to take an aggressive approach."
The Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-ashcroft9jun09,1,7580752.story?coll=la-news-a_section: "In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ashcroft sought to downplay the effect of the memos, but he refused to discuss their substance other than to say that President Bush had never embraced the views of the Justice Department attorneys who wrote them."
Bush v. Kerry: the economy
The Los Angeles Times reports off Kerry's comments to the traveling press on the plane yesterday that Kerry said he is "not going to alter his critique of the Bush administration's economic policies despite recent job growth. 'A wage recession is a wage recession,' Kerry said, referring to the generally stagnant state of personal incomes. He also told reporters on a flight from Washington to Los Angeles: 'People not affording healthcare, not affording tuitions, having troubles, are not changed at all by anything that is taking place.'"
"Kerry's comment notwithstanding, relatively steady employment gains began last fall and surged in March, April and May - about 950,000 jobs were created during that period. Some economists say that by November, the net loss of jobs that has occurred during Bush's term could be wiped out, potentially undercutting a key Democratic argument against him."
Not long after all this attention to one former president fades, another will enter the spotlight big-time. The Washington Post looks at the carefully orchestrated build-up to the June 22 publication of Clinton's memoirs: "On June 18, Infinity Broadcasting will begin playing excerpts from an abridged audio version of 'My Life' read by Clinton. Over the next five days, Knopf plans to release one excerpt a day to Infinity. Those sound snippets, in the unmistakable drawl of the former president, will be incorporated into news shows across the nation... The audio bites will also be available over the Internet through America Online. Intriguingly, Knopf has not sold first serial rights -- excerpts in newspapers or magazines -- to 'My Life.' Though one magazine reportedly offered $500,000 for the opportunity, publishing sources say there will probably not be any print excerpts before the book goes on sale."
"On June 20, CBS's '60 Minutes' will dedicate the entire show to Clinton. The network's news anchor, Dan Rather, will interview him in Arkansas and New York. On June 21, Clinton will tape an hour-long conversation with Oprah Winfrey, to be broadcast the next day."
"On that day, publication day, Clinton will make his first appearances in stores to sign his books. At 12:30 in the afternoon he will be at the Barnes & Noble book shop in Rockefeller Center. At 6:30 that evening, he will be signing books at Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem. A Hue-Man bookseller said that by yesterday afternoon, 625 people had registered to get their books signed."
"The 'Today' show and 'Good Morning America' will broadcast interviews on June 23... Clinton will sign books at a Borders bookstore on Wall Street at lunchtime that day. And Infinity and AOL will broadcast a live town hall meeting with Clinton -- and callers-in -- on June 24. Knopf is printing 1.5 million copies... the first time around. It has already received orders well in excess of 2 million. And it has reserved press time for reprinting the book. Pre-publication orders... have kicked it to the top of the bestseller list at Amazon.com."
The AP reports that the Kerry campaign has asked to review hundreds of columns written by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack in the late 1980s and early '90s as part of a background check. "Several Democratic officials familiar with the selection process have told The Associated Press that background checks have been made for Vilsack, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and others they would not identify."
Make every vote count
One of the biggest voting debacles in 2000 -- of the many -- was the fact that Florida identified some legal voters as felons and purged them from the state rolls. Now, the New York Times says, some county elections supervisors in the state "worry that a new list of 48,000 possible felons might also be flawed and that a new state law makes it too easy to disqualify legal voters."
"Last month, as in 2000, state officials sent each county a list of registered voters whom it suspected were felons. The state asked the counties to verify the lists and, if they could not, to remove questionable voters from the rolls. Florida is one of the only states where felons automatically lose the right to vote and have to go through multiple steps to regain it after serving their time."
"The supervisors, who are meeting here this week, are eager to avoid a reprise of 2000."
The New York Times covers the first day of Connecticut House hearings on whether or not to recommend the impeachment of Gov. John Rowland (R), who is accused of accepting favors and benefits from contractors doing business with the state. "It would be the first impeachment of a sitting governor since 1988, when Gov. Evan Mecham of Arizona was impeached and later removed from office on charges of corruption. President Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 and acquitted the next year after a trial in the Senate."
"The 10-member House Select Committee of Inquiry is scheduled to make a recommendation to the full House by June 30 on whether the governor should be impeached. If the committee recommends impeachment and the House follows that recommendation, the governor would be tried in the Senate as soon as next month."
Here's the local take from the Hartford Courant: "The Connecticut General Assembly launched the most momentous of legislative hearings Tuesday with the driest of evidence: the canceled checks, settlement sheets, deeds and other detritus of a real estate deal nearly seven years past."
"The documents disclosed a primary focus of the House impeachment inquiry of Gov. John G. Rowland: a clandestine scheme by which Rowland made tens of thousands of dollars through inflated rental and purchase payments on his Washington, D.C. condominium."
Former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley (who grabbed 37% of the vote) and Rep. Jim DeMint (who got 26%) qualified for the GOP Senate runoff on June 22. The AP says that despite winning the most votes, Beasley is already calling himself the underdog. The winner of the run off will face Democrat Inez Tenenbaum, who cruised to victory in her primary yesterday.
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D) of Texas won't have to face his ex-wife in the November election because she failed to get on the ballot as an independent, the AP says. "Becky Whetstone said she learned from election officials Monday that she fell 47 signatures short of the 500 needed to challenge her former husband."
• Tuesday, June 8, 2004 | 9:20 a.m. ET
From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray, Huma Zaidi, and Jesse Levine
Simi Valley and Sea Island share the spotlight. President Bush has his first of a series of meetings with foreign leaders at the G-8 at 12:30 pm today. Viewing hours at the Reagan library have been extended until 2:00 am ET Wednesday morning. Kerry, who heads to Los Angeles to see daughter Alexandra's film tonight and attend her graduation tomorrow, plans to stop and pay his respects (if you think that's a political move, imagine what the press corps would say if Kerry went out there and didn't...). Apart from his appearance before the pool camera, Kerry's West Coast events are considered personal business and are closed.
We're on Day Two of the first all-out presidential funeral in the age of cable. Coming off the D-Day anniversary, TV seamlessly (maybe not logistically, but psychologically) slid into covering the next nationally stirring, flag-draped, nostalgia-inspiring event. Add in the anticipation factor -- Mrs. Reagan meticulously planned this week for years, and so did the networks -- and you see finely executed, wall-to-wall ceremony and long lines of mourners all day.
Gallup and Zogby are the first out with new poll data since Reagan's death, but the Gallup data is from last Thursday through Sunday, and Zogby's from Wednesday through Saturday. And even then, the results are mixed. It's simply too soon for the events of the weekend to have registered. Both GOP and Democratic strategists are looking for shifts in Bush's favor, simply based on the D-Day anniversary and Reagan crowding Iraq out of the lead.
Meanwhile, both presidential campaigns have announced they will pull their TV ads on Friday, but no such word from the Democratic 527s, which keep running anti-Bush spots -- presumably to counter all of Bush's positive TV coverage. Indeed, The Media Fund goes up with a new one.
Lastly, several states hold primaries today. Montana and New Jersey hold the final Democratic presidential contests of the cycle, while other states also hold downballot races, the most notable being the GOP Senate primary in South Carolina. The crowded field means a run-off is expected for June 22. Polls there close tonight at 7:00 pm. The other contest of note today is the Democratic congressional primary in Virginia's DC suburbs between Jim Moran, the controversial incumbent, and challenger Andy Rosenberg. Moran is the clear favorite, but he received some awful press after his former pollster accused him of making an anti-Semitic remark. Rosenberg, who is Jewish, is aiming for an upset. Polls in Virginia also close at 7:00 pm.
Reagan and 2004
The Washington Times on Condoleezza Rice's pre-G-8 briefing yesterday: "Rice suggested parallels between Mr. Reagan's unflinching opposition to communism and Mr. Bush's single-minded prosecution of the war on terror. She lauded Mr. Reagan's tough foreign-policy pronouncements, which often riled liberals."
Rice yesterday, after noting in her morning remarks that President Bush was "inspired" by Reagan's "plain-spokenness" and "steadfastness" about Communism and the then-Soviet Union, went further in an interview with NBC's Norah O'Donnell. Rice said Reagan "understood that when you're talking about liberty and freedom, you have to speak in clear tones because there are people who are living in tyranny who need to know that there are those who believe that they don't have to be in that condition for their entire lives. And I think that this president has done the same thing with his Whitehall speech about the Middle East, that the people of the Middle East don't have to live in tyranny, that Saddam Hussein was not acceptable in the international community, and that kind of plainspokenness is important for the American president."
The Los Angeles Times, under the headline "A Week That Could Bolster Bush," reports that "unofficially, several Republican strategists said the nation's outpouring of nostalgia and respect for Reagan may have offered Bush an opportunity to improve his flagging popularity - if he can find a way to don the mantle of his well-loved predecessor."
"This week, trying not to sound overtly political, Republican spokesmen again looked for polite ways to remind voters that Bush is, in many ways, Reagan's ideological heir. 'The life and example of Ronald Reagan reinforces how important conviction and determination are in a president,' Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt said in an apparent dig at [Kerry], whom Republicans have accused of flip-flops."
"The cycle of mourning for Reagan could bring Bush one other bonus, Republican pollster Bill McInturff said: It will take Americans' minds off the recent spate of bad news from Iraq." "McInturff added that a week or two of focusing on Reagan, no matter how helpful to Bush, would not decide the presidential election... But he argued that the coming week could 'reset' public sentiment and stop what had been a gradual slide in Bush's popularity - 'and if that happens, that's a big deal.'"
The story also notes risks for the GOP in "the temptation to make too much political hay of the former president's death," and that Bush "may emerge from a week of comparison to Reagan looking distinctly second-best."
The Washington Post : "Republicans see the events surrounding Reagan's death... as providing a potential circuit breaker from two months of unrelenting bad news in Iraq that has driven down Bush's approval ratings and raised Democratic hopes for victory. They also believe that Reagan's death will remind Americans of the effect of strong, if sometimes controversial, presidential leadership built on conservative convictions. Their anticipation is that the week's events will give Bush an opportunity to steady himself politically and assert his leadership..."
"Democrats see the week far differently. Some believe Reagan's death and memorial services surrounding it will have no significant impact on the campaign... Others believe that the commentary and recollections of Reagan's presidency will reflect unfavorably on Bush, despite some GOP efforts to cast Bush in Reagan's image. If Reagan helped restore respect for the United States in the world, they say, Bush's presidency has had the opposite effect."
"The only certain impact of Reagan's death on the campaign is that it has mostly stilled, for this week at least, the longest and most intensive general election the country has seen."
Roll Call on whether Reagan's death "would have any lasting impact on the 2004 elections," including downballot races: "Several Republicans argued that the former president's passing could help President Bush appeal to so-called 'Reagan Democrats' - working-class voters that Reagan wooed by force of his personality who may be leaning toward [Kerry] in this year's presidential contest. And given that Congressional Republicans have - in large measure - hitched their fortunes to those of Bush, any boost for the president would likely trickle downballot as well."
"Democrats - and some Republicans, privately - disagreed, noting that the timing of Reagan's death almost ensured that it would not be a major issue in voters' minds come November."
The Washington Times notes that while "Democrats have ranged from circumspect to effusive in their praise of Ronald Reagan since the former president's death Saturday,... they were often dismissive at best of the 'Great Communicator' while he was president."
"Sen. John Kerry,... who announced this weekend he was suspending his presidential campaign for several days to honor Mr. Reagan, less than a year ago used the former president as the symbol of what Democrats should oppose. 'My life history is I fought Reagan, fought Nixon, fought the war in Vietnam, fought their struggle against civil rights. I fought for civil rights, and I fought against their tax cuts for the wealthy,' Mr. Kerry told the Miami Herald last year as he was running in the Democratic primary."
The Los Angeles Times has details on both the considerable and the trivial efforts required in moving the Kerry/DNC fundraising concerts. Considerable: venues, performers, catering. Trivial: "Many of Southern California's most wealthy, famous and politically active Democrats... canceled limo drivers and switched their dinner reservations from downtown bistros to more familiar Westside favorites."
The New York Daily News notes the GOP convention will include a major tribute to Reagan, but says Nancy Reagan's participation would come at a price. "Mrs. Reagan has made no secret of her disagreement with Bush's limits on stem cell research for a possible cure for Alzheimer's disease, which robbed her husband of his memory in the last 10 years of his life. Mrs. Reagan went public at a fund-raiser last month, pleading for the restrictions on stem cell research to be lifted."
The Reagan Legacy: Stem Cells
The stem cell debate merges with the main storyline: 58 Senators, including 14 Republicans and Kerry, sent Bush a letter Friday echoing the request of 206 House members that he "loosen the restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research that he imposed nearly three years ago," per the Washington Post.
The Los Angeles Times on Nancy Reagan's push for more stem cell research: "Rep. Randy 'Duke' Cunningham (R-San Diego), who originally supported Bush's position but signed the House letter calling for an expansion of stem-cell research, said he believed the momentum shift was so clear that, if reelected, Bush might alter his policy. White House officials insisted that Bush would hold firm to his limits."
The New York Post includes this headline with its Reagan coverage: "Reagan Saved My Life: Transplant Boy."
Bush v. Kerry: national security
The latest Gallup Poll taken Thursday through Sunday shows a wider lead for Kerry that seems to reflect his national security tour and the resulting widespread coverage: "Kerry opened up a 6-point lead over President Bush... The poll showed Kerry with 50% to Bush's 44% among people considered likely to vote. When independent Ralph Nader is included, Kerry leads Bush 49%-43%. Nader gets 5%... Kerry led by 2 points in a head-to-head matchup two weeks earlier. Since then, the Massachusetts senator toured the country for 11 days talking about national security. He proposed a larger military and announced Veterans for Kerry groups in every state."
"Bush had good news during the same period. An interim government was chosen in Iraq, a sign of movement toward a hand-over of power June 30. Bush's job approval rating increased by 2 points from late May: 49% approve of the job he is doing, 49% disapprove."
On Abu Ghraib, the New York Times follows up on Wall Street Journal reporting about a March 2003 legal memo prepared for Rumsfeld which concluded that Bush was not bound by federal or international anti-torture laws "because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security."
"Senior Pentagon officials on Monday sought to minimize the significance of the March memo... The March memorandum, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday, is the latest internal legal study to be disclosed that shows that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the administration's lawyers were set to work to find legal arguments to avoid restrictions imposed by international and American law."
On the G-8, the Washington Post analyzes Bush's style of bonding with world leaders as the G-8 kicks off: "Bush bonds with leaders who see the world as he does, who in his view 'get' the war on terrorism, who talk simply and straightforwardly and do not break any private commitments and understandings, officials said. Leaders who are willing to accept his point of view may be able to modify it somewhat, or gain something in return, but those looking for real negotiations or give-and-take are liable to come away disappointed... According to one former White House official, Bush appears to have a simple test for evaluating his fellow leaders: Good people or bad people? Do they have a vision for their countries or not?"
The AP reports from Sea Island, "The administration launched an unprecedented effort here to throw a spotlight on what it views as a good news story, arranging wall-to-wall interviews between journalists and normally invisible White House aides in the National Security Council and from other corners of the White House."
The Chicago Tribune: "No grand achievement is expected at this 30th such gathering of world leaders, but for a president under criticism from some countries for his Iraq policy, the summit could prove to be at least a tonic for his political health... Coverage of the summit, though, will be diminished because of the death of former President Ronald Reagan, as newspapers and television devote much of their coverage this week to remembrances and funeral arrangements."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is chock-full of G-8 stories. One story previews the President's objectives at the summit. Another Journal-Constitution story notes Condoleezza Rice "played favorites with the Arab media Monday" by sitting "down with Al-Arabiya even before speaking with American journalists."
The Washington Times declares a "flip-flop" on national security between Kerry's statements last week and from back in January at the MSNBC South Carolina Democratic debate. "Kerry spent the past week hawking a tough national-security image to convince voters that he can be trusted to aggressively fight the war on terrorism, calling it the 'greatest threat' facing America today. But less than six months ago, the Massachusetts senator said in a televised debate that the Bush administration had exaggerated the threat posed by terrorism."
"'I think there's been an exaggeration,' Mr. Kerry said in January when asked whether he agreed with most Europeans that President Bush 'has exaggerated the threat of terrorism... There needs to be a refocusing,' Mr. Kerry said."
"In the current political battle, in which national security appears to play a considerable role, Mr. Kerry is singing a decidedly different tune from his primary days, promising to fight a tougher and smarter war against terrorists than Mr. Bush has. The Kerry campaign did not explain the apparent discrepancies in his positions, except to say that his current position is the one he's sticking with."
"Among those struck by Mr. Kerry's assertion was Sen. John Edwards... After answering an unrelated question, Mr. Edwards asked to return to the earlier question. 'It's hard for me to see how you can say there's an exaggeration when thousands of people lost their lives on September 11,' said Mr. Edwards, who makes most short lists of potential running mates for Mr. Kerry."
GAS PRICES AND THE ECONOMY
USA Today reports, "The worst appears to be over at gas pumps, temporarily, as prices retreat slowly from daily records." The story quotes an analyst predicting regular unleaded could be below $2 by the weekend -- but rebound to record highs again in August.
On Wall Street yesterday, "[s]ome traders called it the 'Reagan rally.' Others referred to it as the 'Reagan bounce,'" says USA Today. "Demonstrating the optimism that was the hallmark of Reagan's tenure at the White House, investors... cast a positive vote for the resurgent U.S. economy by pushing blue-chip stocks to their highest level in six weeks."
"Monday's rally, of course, wasn't just about Reagan. Investors' willingness to buy stocks was helped by the fact that many of the fears that have kept investors on the sidelines for months have subsided a bit. Oil prices are more than $5 below record highs hit recently. The formation of an interim Iraqi government has also raised hopes that the situation there may improve. Perhaps most important was Friday's jobs report, which showed a third consecutive month of big employment gains, the latest sign that the economic recovery is on firm footing."
USA Today reports from Sheboygan, WI that "the 2001 recession and the 'jobless recovery' of the past two years are a fading memory."
"The Bush campaign is counting on the national job-market rebound to counter the political drag of Iraq and other economic conditions, such as rising gas prices. Its best chance may be here: Wisconsin's recovery has been stronger, longer and more consistent than most of the 17 states considered competitive by Bush and Democrat John Kerry. For that reason, the Badger State will be a key test of Bush's campaign strategy in the months to come."
More Bush v. Kerry
The AP speculates on how his Heinz ties might help Kerry in Pennsylvania.
The Washington Post Style section considers Kerry and the Art of Newslessness.
The Washington Post reports that newly forming Republican 527 groups are having an unexpectedly tough time getting GOP donors to give and get involved.
The New York Times says that the charge of anti-Semitism in the Moran-Rosenberg primary in Virginia "has ignited an otherwise tepid campaign in a strong Democratic district just outside Washington, raising questions - not for the first time - about Mr. Moran's feeling toward Jews and giving a Jewish opponent the chance to raise them. In that sense, the race has become a referendum on Mr. Moran's integrity despite his efforts to convince voters that it should focus on his record in Congress, where he has a reputation as a pugnacious force who does not always hew to the party line."
The New York Times also looks at a downballot story some might have missed -- that Gore called Miami-Dade County mayor and Democratic US Senate candidate Alex Penelas "the single most treacherous and dishonest person I dealt with." Gore's animus, the paper notes, is rooted in Elian Gonzalez and the Florida recount, during which Penelas stayed in the background. "...Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida, said his comments signaled the potential damage that Mr. Gore's statement could cause the Democratic Party here... In particular, Ms. MacManus said, the Democrats need as many Hispanic votes as possible to wn in Florida. Most Cubans here already vote Republican, and Mr. Gore's comments could turn even more Cubans against the Democrats, she said."
• Monday, June 7, 2004 | 9:40 a.m. ET
From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray, Huma Zaidi, and Jesse Levine
The partisan edge is off the 2004 campaign for the week, and a loftier competition is now taking place over which candidate can temporarily disarm — and, we expect, also return to the trail next weekend — in the most eloquent and optimistic-sounding way. The death of former President Reagan may expedite a lasting change in tone in the race.
Presidential races are a contest of communication, as well as ideas: Which candidate can more clearly convey optimism and a vision for a better America? The Bush folks have long recognized this. The Kerry people, prior to this weekend, were getting there. Just last Friday, the Bush campaign launched a nifty contrast ad: a TV ad featuring Bush proclaiming himself to be an optimist while a narrator attacks Kerry for being pessimistic about the economy. Kerry's latest TV spot is a positive account of his record. (Both campaigns keep these ads on the air this week.)
And the imminent re-emergence of one of the two great political communicators of our time, the book-touring Clinton, also would have reminded us of this fact.
But the death of the other one drives it home hard.
Neither Bush nor Kerry measures up to either Reagan or Clinton as a communicator. Their powers of speech are limited in their own respective ways. Still, Kerry offered some of the most eloquent rhetoric we've heard from him to date in commenting on Reagan's "infectious optimism:" "And because of the way he led, he taught us that there was a difference between strong beliefs and bitter partisanship." Bush, in his written proclamation last night, declared, "Ronald Reagan renewed America's confidence and restored our Nation. His optimism, strength, and humility epitomized the American spirit. He always told us that for America the best was yet to come."
Kerry — who had expected to campaign in the shadow of the G-8 summit, anyway — decamps for the week. He makes a Tuesday-Wednesday trip to Los Angeles to see daughter Alex's film and graduation, and otherwise spends time at his campaign HQ in DC. He's expected to attend some Reagan services TBD; MSNBC's Felix Schein says there's no word on whether Kerry will pay his respects while in Los Angeles. His week-long focus on the middle-class squeeze has been postponed. His campaign and the Democratic National Committee also have postponed two fundraising concerts, one originally scheduled for tonight in Los Angeles and the other for Thursday in New York.
Meanwhile, Democrats who feared the potential for this event to rally GOP voters quietly comment, at least it's not October.
As shut out from the news as Kerry may be, the spotlight isn't on him — it's on Bush, who's trying to become the first GOP president since Reagan to win a second term. Bush faces the double-edged sword of benefiting from association with Reagan, and risking paling by comparison. Senior Administration officials tell the press that Reagan was one of Bush's heroes, upon whom he modeled his presidency, etc. But the ratings and image boost Bush was looking to gain from the D-Day anniversary and G-8 summit were somewhat diminished by the breaking news.
And within the GOP, will Reagan's death rally fiscal conservatives to Bush's side for sentimental reasons just as their dissatisfaction with the increasing deficit and size of the government was breaking through? Or will it throw their unhappiness into greater emphasis because of nostalgia for Reagan's conservatism?
America has not lost a former president since Nixon passed away 10 years ago, and has not seen such ceremony surrounding the death of one in more than 30 years. The schedule of events is everywhere, but just to quickly review: Following a private ceremony, former President Reagan lies in state at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA from 3:00 p.m. ET today through 9:00 p.m. ET Tuesday. The Governor and First Lady of California pay their respects at 3:00 p.m. ET today. On Wednesday, after a departure ceremony, the Reagans fly to Andrews AFB and, at 6:00 p.m., begin a formal funeral procession to the U.S. Capitol. The former President then lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda from 8:30 p.m. through Thursday. Friday, a service is held at the National Cathedral at 11:30 a.m. The Reagans then return to California for a private burial at 9:15 p.m. ET Friday.
Neither Bush nor Kerry has any public events today. Their campaigns are open for business, but no attack/contrast events or releases are planned. A Republican National Committee e-mail attacking Kerry that went out at 5:00 a.m. today was sent by mistake, per RNC aides, who say someone forgot to cancel the automatic release.
The Reagan legacy
"One of just 12 people to complete two terms in the White House, he left the United States and the world a different place," says USA Today.
"On his watch, the Cold War began to end, U.S. prestige was restored at home and abroad, major initiatives to cut taxes and reduce regulations were launched and the federal government's spending priorities were reordered."
"During Reagan's presidency, the Republican Party became more conservative and the Democratic Party began to re-examine its traditional liberalism. Income-tax rates were cut, budget deficits ballooned and the federal government's domestic ambitions were limited as a result. Defense spending grew 35%."
"One of his chief accomplishments was more intangible than substantive, historians say. Ever an optimist, Reagan restored a sense of buoyancy to the nation's capital and its government after a series of failed presidents and national disappointments."
The Washington Post recalls Reagan's "perfection" of the art of saluting presidential guests during the State of the Union.
The Washington Post's Kurtz reminds us of Reagan's "very contentious relationship with the press. Most reporters liked the Gipper personally — it was hard not to — but often depicted him as detached, out of touch, a stubborn ideologue... Major newspapers would run stories on all the facts he had mangled, a practice that faded as it became clear that most Americans weren't terribly concerned."
Noting the Biblical origin of "shining city on a hill," the Washington Times says, "Though he was criticized during his presidency for not attending church services regularly, Mr. Reagan's unfailing faith in God — and what he knew in his soul was God's plan for him — never wavered, and gave him strength to the end, according to biographers."
The Los Angeles Times recalls his record as governor, much of which "would be called liberal today. Legalized abortion. Smog controls for cars. Higher taxes. Bigger government. Environmental conservation. At the same time, Reagan also introduced the Republican Party to a unique brand of cheery, pragmatic politics. The conservative tax revolt that took hold in California after he left office and the populism now practiced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, too, had their roots in Reagan's two terms as governor."
"A part of Reagan's legacy was his skill in winning over blue-collar Democrats through attacks on the party's more liberal elements — something GOP politicians often aspire to today."
The Los Angeles Times looks at the influence attained by GOP lawmakers first elected to Congress during the Reagan era: "Their ranks include the House speaker and majority leader, the Senate majority whip and several powerful committee chairmen on Capitol Hill... Nine current Republican senators won their seats during the 1980s, when Reagan dominated his party and the American political landscape. Thirty-seven current Republican representatives first came to the House in that decade."
The Wall Street Journal: "Even in death,... Mr. Reagan couldn't produce agreement on the virtues and vices of the economic revolution he wrought — or on how much of it endures today. Fifteen years after Mr. Reagan left the White House, views of what came to be called 'Reaganomics' are as sharply different as they were during his presidency."
"The arguments he made — about the harm of high tax rates, the risks posed by ever-growing government and the significance of federal budget deficits — remain central to public debate today. By pushing through a giant tax cut in his first year as president, he changed the politics of taxation and federal deficits in America in such a fundamental way that Reagan knockoffs still run for office using variations of his plan — and the current president is guided by it today."
"His tax cut was followed by years of economic expansion — but also by nearly a tripling of the federal debt, the legacy that his critics choose to remember."
"Yet Mr. Reagan's most enduring economic legacy actually lies elsewhere... Mr. Reagan helped turn the global economy away from government controls and toward a deep and lasting embrace of market forces. Around the world, there is little doubt that this part of the Reagan legacy endures."
The Washington Post considers what's happened to Reagan's Tax Reform Act of 1986, "the most extensive overhaul of the federal tax system since the income tax was created in 1913."
"By the end of the Clinton years, Congress had shoehorned many new breaks back into the system and rates for individuals hovered near 40 percent. The effective tax rate for some Americans was even higher than that, because of the phase-out of certain tax benefits. In the past three years, President Bush has returned to at least part of the Reagan legacy — the Republican-led portion — by starting again to cut tax rates. Like Reagan, Bush is a firm advocate of rate cuts as a way to stimulate economic growth. He lobbied Congress hard to make the change."
"Today, mostly because of Bush's prodding, tax rates are lower than during the Clinton administration, but not as low as during the Reagan administration. The top nominal income tax rate for individuals is 35 percent and the number of brackets is six. Corporate tax rates are now higher than at the end of the 1980s."
"But the overall direction of the debate and of pending legislation is going against the spirit of the 1986 act. Almost no decision-makers talk about eliminating tax breaks anymore, except for the most egregious, tax-sheltering kind. Instead, lawmakers and the president routinely recommend new tax benefits for one sector or another. And with federal budget deficits soaring, Democrats have long pressed for an increase in taxes for upper income people. In fact, the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry, is running on that proposal."
Reagan and 2004
The New York Times on what Reagan’s death might mean for Bush and Kerry: "Mr. Bush's advisers said Sunday that the intense focus on Mr. Reagan's career that began upon the news of his death on Saturday would remind Americans of what Mr. Bush's supporters have long described as the similarities between the two men as straight-talking, ideologically driven leaders with swagger and a fixed idea of what they wanted to do with their office… Even some Democrats said they were concerned that the death of Mr. Reagan would provide a welcome, if perhaps temporary, tonic for a president who had been going through tough political times."
The Boston Globe: "So strongly does Bush emulate Reagan — from his conservative ideology, to his intense loyalty to political allies, to the Western ranch to which he retreats — that political analysts say there is little doubt that the 43d president will be at the center of a week of ceremonies commemorating the 40th. Remembrance and mourning for Reagan not only emphasizes the links between Bush and Reagan, but it also creates a firebreak in a campaign that has seen Bush's popularity plummeting, the public questioning his war in Iraq, and criticism spring up from his fellow conservatives."
"Ceremonies in California and Washington this week will offer Bush a worldwide stage to highlight Reagan's political and personal qualities, and to receive whatever sympathy traditionally accrues to a president at a time of national tragedy. By contrast,... Kerry will be pushed off the stage."
"Comparisons between Reagan and Bush are often made." The story then reels off a bunch, including Bush's campaign slogan and some of his TV ads.
The San Francisco Chronicle writes, "Already, analysts are speculating how the political fortunes of both Bush [Kerry] could be affected by Reagan's passing. ‘While it's always uncomfortable to look at a tragic event in terms of its political ramification, President Reagan's death does provide a potential benefit to Bush in a couple of ways,' said GOP strategist Dan Schnur. ‘The news coverage about Ronald Reagan's accomplishments reminds a lot of people, particularly swing voters, why they have voted Republican in past elections'... But former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said Bush runs the risk of appearing diminished by comparison. ‘He will do his best to try and associate himself with Reagan -- but it won't fly,’ the Democrat said. ‘It would be as if you're comparing a squirrel to an elephant.'"
The Chicago Tribune adds, "Conservative political leaders said the remembrances of Reagan also could spark a debate among Republicans about the direction of the party."
With the headline, "Kerry Tries on Rose-Colored Glasses," the Los Angeles Times considers the new, optimistic Kerry: "the Massachusetts senator must overcome what is widely perceived as a dour image, political experts said, as well as find the right balance between critiquing the Bush administration and projecting hope."
"Indeed, Reagan's death Saturday provoked an outpouring of remembrances focused on his cheery resolve..."
The AP on the cancellation of the two Kerry/DNC fundraising galas: "Democrats briefly considered continuing the concerts without Kerry present, but ultimately decided that it would be unthinkable even to have associates hobnobbing with Hollywood celebrities while the nation mourns a former president."
Bush v. Kerry: Symbols of security
Most coverage of Bush's D-Day remarks is apolitical. USA Today, recalling Reagan's address on the 40th anniversary, says "Bush reached for the same poetic tribute to surviving veterans in the crowd" on Sunday. But the New York Times notes that, "Like Mr. Reagan in 1984, Mr. Bush came here as a candidate for re-election. His appearance provided him the kind of platform that gives incumbents an advantage. Representing the country before the world and celebrating one of the most pivotal moments of the 20th century, Mr. Bush on one level transcended domestic politics."
"But the very act of taking on that statesmanlike role gave him a political opportunity. In the heat of a presidential campaign that seems likely to hinge in large part on voters' judgments of his role as commander in chief at a time when American troops are dying in Iraq, it allowed him to associate himself with the same ideals invoked by Mr. Reagan: using military might for liberation, not conquest, and working with allies to ensure freedom and prosperity, not to impose ideology."
USA Today's G-8 preview leads, "President Bush is spending an unusual amount of time this month with heads of state."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says many local residents fret that the G-8 will interfere with their lives, while another story notes that coastal Georgia is prepared to defend itself with "avenger surface-to-air missile batteries" scattered throughout the state.
The Washington Times reports on a new General Services Administration project that employs more disabled veterans as White House security escorts.
Kerry's 11-day national security tour focused little on Iraq, concludes Knight Ridder. "Kerry, whose standing in the polls rises as support for the war in Iraq wanes, doesn't talk much about the war for two big reasons: He doesn't need to because events in Iraq are undermining President Bush's popularity, and Kerry's position on the war is similar to Bush's, disappointing many Democrats."
The Los Angeles Times' Brownstein says that against Bush's efforts to democratize the Middle East, "Kerry is presenting himself as the flinty realist who will be less ideological and more practical than Bush, more skeptical of what he calls 'foreign adventures' and more disciplined in establishing achievable goals for America in an imperfect world. Unstated but implied is that he would be more cautious than Bush about entangling the U.S. in another grand but grueling cause like the invasion of Iraq."
"Kerry lately has focused his attacks more on Bush's competence than his ideology in foreign policy. And as part of that thrust, Kerry is suggesting that Bush, in his zeal to remake the Islamic world, is pursuing the ideal at the expense of the essential." Brownstein notes, "This is a very different note than Kerry struck when he began his presidential campaign. In a January 2003 speech, he stressed his commitment to democratizing the Middle East through measures such as increased aid for reformers and tying trade benefits to economic and social reform... Kerry has never repudiated those ideas, but he hasn't mentioned them much lately, either."
The Bush campaign has canceled its planned continuation of attacks on Kerry over the Patriot Act this week. The AP covers one recent such presser in Ohio and notes, "Kerry's campaign must concentrate on explaining his positions and refrain from criticizing Bush for using hot-button issues in a political way, said Bruce Newman, a DePaul University analyst who specializes in marketing and candidate image... Bush and Kerry should fully lay out their positions on the Patriot Act in anticipation of Congress' review of the hastily passed legislation, said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania."
Base v. middle (D)
The Wall Street Journal reports on how Dean, "determined not to be a fringe player, is boning up on the political right for guidance on how to better organize the left... He is studying the tactics used by Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and Ralph Reed, who helped make the Christian Coalition a political power. A decade after Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Reed, now a private consultant and adviser to President George W. Bush's campaign, helped usher in an era of Republican power, Mr. Dean hopes to begin to shift the balance back toward his progressive agenda."
"Like no one else, perhaps, Mr. Dean is crucial if Mr. Kerry is to achieve his goal of greatly expanding the turnout among younger voters, who have swung against the Iraq war and remain worried by the lack of economic opportunity at home. It won't be easy. 'My constituency is divided on John Kerry,' Mr. Dean acknowledges in an interview."
More Bush v. Kerry
The Washington Times writes up the Annenberg polling data on swing voters released last Friday: "Swing voters are generally unimpressed with the three major presidential candidates, down on the war in Iraq and upset about the economy... Despite estimates released Friday showing more than 248,000 jobs created in May and 1.2 million so far this year, the survey showed that swing voters are overwhelmingly unsupportive of President Bush's economic policies and don't really know... Kerry."
"Swing voters make up 11 percent of the U.S. population, the study said. But in the 20 battleground states, where neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Kerry has a decided advantage of 10 percentage points or more, such respondents make up 26 percent."
Tomorrow brings more downballot primary contests, the highest-profile being the GOP Senate primary in South Carolina, where former Gov. David Beasley, Rep. Jim DeMint, former state Attorney General Charlie Condon, and developer Thomas Ravenel face off for the right to battle Inez Tenenbaum, the expected Democratic nominee. An expected June 22 runoff is likely to pit Beasley against either DeMint or Ravenel. Turnout tomorrow is expected to be around 13 percent, predicts The State newspaper.
The other contest of interest is the Democratic primary in DC's Virginia suburbs between controversial Rep. Jim Moran and challenger Andy Rosenberg. Moran is expected to win despite some recent lousy press about his strategist quitting his campaign, accusing Moran of making an anti-Semetic remark, a development which might give the Jewish Rosenberg a boost.
The Washington Post reports, "Scrambling to defuse political damage from Secrest's comments last week, the campaign asked several popular state and local Democrats to record automated phone calls to voters, hoping to counter the allegation of anti-Semitism with their general enthusiasm for Moran."
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