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First Read

“First Read” is a daily memo prepared by NBC News’ political unit, for NBC News, analyzing the morning’s political news and giving readers an inside look at NBC’s plans for covering the day in politics.
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Oct. 13, 2003 / 9:30 AM ET

From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma Zaidi

Signature campaign issues have their downsides. As President Bush juggles a PR push on Iraq, another suicide bombing and the upcoming Senate vote on the supplemental; North Korea; and somewhere in there, the economy, the Washington Post says he and the GOP have gotten distracted from and have lost ground on education, his chief “compassionate conservative” issue. Lieberman, meanwhile, risks attention to his flagging candidacy in hopes of making revamping the tax code his trademark plank the same way Gephardt did with health care.

Starting with a 1:00 pm speech in Manchester, Lieberman makes changing the code to help the lower and middle class his main point of attack on Bush’s integrity, per an aide, and also knocks his Democratic rivals by arguing that if they stick with calling for a full or partial repeal of the Bush tax cuts, Democrats will lose.

The Wall Street Journal says Lieberman’s move “reflects the conclusion among many Democrats that ‘tax reform’ is the most promising political path of attacking Mr. Bush’s economic policy. First, it gets Democrats away from the risks of talking about higher taxes. Second, it provides a framework for attacking Bush administration changes that made the tax code more favorable to wealthy Americans by reducing capital-gains, dividend and estate taxes as well as the top income-tax rates. And it seizes on Mr. Bush’s failure to advance the popular goal of simplifying the bewilderingly complex Internal Revenue Service code.”

“For his part, Mr. Bush will attempt to block Democrats from changing the topic and will continue to accuse them of trying to raise taxes, regardless of how they portray it.”

“Indeed, the Lieberman plan would raise total federal taxes to be collected over the next decade by at least $700 billion, with new funds earmarked to curb the budget deficit and pay for programs such as expanded health-insurance coverage. But the senator won’t highlight the higher taxes. Instead, he’ll focus on shifting the relative tax burden away from middle- and lower-income families...”

Kucinich kicks off his formal announcement tour in Cleveland today. Embed Karin Caifa reports two supporters who drove from Palo Alto, CA in a car powered by soybean oil will be Kucinich’s special guests. (The 3,000-mile trek would have been shorter, Caifa notes, had the commuters taken the obvious highways, but they said they had to go a bit out of their way to stop at soybean farms to fuel the car.)

The press has stopped playing up the liberal-versus-progressive split within the Democratic party, but Establishment versus not remains a running theme, cultivated by some candidates for political gain. As the New York Times noted this past weekend, Dean even lumps the media in with the Establishment. Clark, trying to get back to his Internet roots, holds a MeetUp with an expected 37,000-plus participants tonight while his former campaign manager blasts the operation’s “Washington approach” and “distrust and skepticism” of Clark’s Internet organizers. On Thursday, the Democratic Leadership Council tells the party how to talk about guns and God (i.e., firearms, faith and family policy).

Also on tap this week: Bush travels to Caulifornia on Wednesday, and third-quarter fundraising reports are due at the FEC by Wednesday night. Also on Wednesday, the AARP hosts a presidential forum with at least six confirmed candidates in Des Moines, moderated by The Hotline’s Chuck Todd and airing on Iowa public TV and in Arizona and New Hampshire. Clark gives a policy speech on national service on Thursday.

Iraq vs. domestic spending

The New York Daily News is the latest to suggest the situation in Iraq could prove more of a hindrance to Bush’s re-election chances than the economy. “That’s why Bush’s handlers have ordered up a massive media blitz to reverse sagging public perceptions about the administration’s multibillion-dollar reconstruction effort in Iraq.” According to the paper, Karen Hughes’ fingerprints are all over this blitz.

USA Today reports from Muncie, IN on how “even the most conservative voters in the nation are questioning the cost, in blood and treasure, of the U.S. war in Iraq,” especially in light of their economic situation at home.

The Washington Post wraps up Sunday morning TV items: Kerry’s assertion that he is not inclined to vote in favor of the supplemental, Lugar’s critique that “the President has to be president,” etc.

2004 notes (R)

The Washington Post looks at how No Child Left Behind may “backfire on Bush and his party in the 2004 elections:” “Although many Republicans and Democrats are confident the system will work in the long run, Bush is being criticized in swing states such as West Virginia for not adequately funding programs to help administrators and teachers meet the new, and critics say unreasonable, standards.”

The story has the House GOP’s pollster saying Bush and the party lag behind Democrats on education; we’d note that earlier media polls had suggested Bush had closed the traditional gap. “The Democratic presidential candidates are criticizing the law on the campaign trail and are getting supportive responses. On Capitol Hill, the fight over funding for No Child Left Behind is becoming a significant issue of the upcoming congressional elections, as Democrats blame Bush and congressional Republicans for shortchanging the law by billions of dollars.”

“Republicans say Bush has provided ample money to help states adopt new standards, devise new tests and help train teachers and administrators to adapt to the myriad changes. But, Republicans also acknowledge that Bush and the GOP are losing their momentum on the issue, as the White House and Congress focus most of their attention on Iraq, the economy and jobs.”

“In recent memos, GOP leaders pleaded with House and Senate Republicans to spend more time discussing the benefits of the new education law. Bush has highlighted education at recent stops, but it was swamped by news reports about deaths in Iraq and job losses at home.”

“While many governors praise the law’s goals, budgetary problems at the state and federal levels make it highly likely the situation will worsen for Bush in 2004.”

2004 notes (D)

More from the Wall Street Journal on Democratic hots for a tax code revamp: “Lieberman, who will unveil his plan in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire, becomes the first 2004 Democratic candidate to explicitly seize the tax-reform theme. But he likely won’t be the last.” Dean and “Clark are exploring the idea... Edwards gave a speech last year calling for greater tax simplification and more recently has accused Mr. Bush of violating ‘middle-class values’ through tax-policy changes that lighten the relative burden on unearned income while raising the burden on wage income. And several leading Democratic economists and political strategists have been quietly pushing the tax-reform theme for months.”

Lieberman embed Dionne Scott reports a campaign aide described Lieberman’s tour as his “big splash” and a way for the campaign to surge into the fourth quarter, adding, “This is an opportunity for us to put forward our agenda for the country and talk about how that contrasts with the current administration and our rivals.” Still, Scott notes, we have already heard about many of the issues and ideas Lieberman will touch on throughout the tour, on foreign affairs, homeland defense, corporate responsibility, civil rights, and fairness and in integrity in government, with the tax code revamp being the big new addition.

The AP lays out the plan: “Lieberman, hoping to jump-start his presidential campaign with a fresh attack on White House policy, is promising to ensure that upper-income Americans pay more taxes than they did before President Bush’s record-breaking tax cuts.”

“By reducing spending and raising taxes on the wealthy, Lieberman believes he can cut the deficit every year he’s in office and balance the budget by the end of his second term.”

The story says Lieberman will charge the administration with playing class warfare.

The New York Times examines why Lieberman isn’t catching fire: “while some recent polls have shown Mr. Lieberman leading President Bush in a theoretical head-to-head battle, those figures are virtually meaningless for a candidate who has yet to win over Democratic loyalists in Iowa and New Hampshire. In those states, Mr. Lieberman has been unable to capitalize fully on his name recognition. He ranks a distant fifth in fund-raising. His monotone delivery and sometimes too-subtle jokes rarely send listeners into a frenzy of cheers.”

Yet Lieberman argues, “‘Most of the American people are just tuning into this race, incidentally, as they are catching on to George W. Bush... My campaign team tells me that I’ll be considered the front-runner after people start voting. The point here is that this is an undecided race.’”

The Hartford Courant notes the tour “will begin a week of activities aimed at repackaging his White House bid as a crusade to restore integrity to the presidency.” With “political buzz that his campaign is going nowhere,” the Courant speculates that “Lieberman aims to leave two impressions: That his campaign is vital and full of energy, and that the senator is the candidate who most embodies the values and trust needed to topple a president who has demonstrated neither trait.”

Lieberman gets his Des Moines Register profile on the same day the Register says he co-authored 1999 legislation which would have reduced Iowa’s prominence in the nominating process.

Kucinich embed Karin Caifa reports on Kucinich’s 11-state formal announcement tour, featuring an eclectic mix of endorsers along the way: “Dharma and Greg’s” Mimi Kennedy hosts a post-announcement bash in downtown Cleveland Monday; writer Studs Terkel will be at the candidate’s side in Chicago; and Ani DiFranco will sing a tune for Kucinich at a stop in Austin, TX. Caifa notes the normally no-frills campaign has chartered a private jet for the three-day trip. Kucinich rounds out the festivities with a DC banquet on Thursday.

Little fallout, it seems, for those candidates who intentionally or accidentally missed the NAACP meeting in Charlotte last Friday. Mechanical difficulties on their flight from Phoenix kept Edwards, Gephardt and Moseley Braun away from the main event. Edwards embed Dugald McConnell notes Edwards was one of the first candidates to rearrange his campaign schedule to make the trip when the group began to fuss that none of the white candidates were coming. “We learned from the last NAACP convention,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri: “Cave, and cave early.” Gephardt embed Priya David says most of the NAACP members she spoke with used somewhat surprisingly glowing terms to describe the event. David says they seemed completely unfazed by the fact that they were left with only Clark by the end of the evening. The dozen or so attendees she spoke with said they’d decide on a favorite closer to South Carolina’s February 3 primary.

The State’s Bandy looks at Gephardt’s chances in South Carolina. Teamsters president James Hoffa told the Des Moines Register Gephardt will get the AFL-CIO endorsement.

An expectations-lowering effort? Dean is increasing his staff in Iowa to “roughly double the Iowa payrolls of Gephardt and Kerry.” But “Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi said the former Vermont governor doesn’t need early knockouts of Gephardt and Kerry in New Hampshire and Iowa to improve his chances of winning the nomination.” — Boston Globe

The Globe spotlights the battle for New Hampshire, where Kerry is in the midst of a five-day swing, “his most concerted effort yet.” “Among those who are paying attention, the surge of support that had been building behind Howard Dean, a former governor of Vermont, appears to have been reined in by the late entry of retired Army General Wesley K. Clark of Arkansas.”

Safire spotlights another instance of Dean arguably not being entirely honest about past statements — this time over whether Dean said that the “ends do not justify the means” with the deaths of Saddam’s sons, Uday and Qusay.

Novak looks at Clark’s bumpy start. The Washington Post Style section does the “Clark campaign as Clinton reunion” story.

Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles reports that within a couple of days, the campaign will release what they call “the nasties” — a sourced list of all the negative publicity, issues and probes that helped kill Moseley Braun’s 1998 Senate re-election effort. The campaign gave some journalists a peek at this information earlier in the cycle. Staffers tell Miles that by putting it all out there, journalists and the public won’t have to go digging around and Moseley Braun won’t be the victim of misinformation. Example: after the probe of her Senate campaign finances, the campaign says, the FEC determined all but $311.28 was properly used by the campaign, and she was not fined.


An e-mail sent overnight and loaded down with attached veto notices signals the lid on Gov. Gray Davis’ bill signings, with a thank-you note from Davis’ legislative staff.

The newsmags did the Governor-elect, with a US News cover, a Newsweek look at what it might mean for Bush, and a Time take on “the Arnold effect.”

The Los Angeles Times looks at Schwarzenegger’s potential to recast the party and its elected officials in a more moderate mold.

The Washington Times reports recall instigator Ted Costa is now setting his sights on the state’s redistricting process. His “proposal would allow state legislators to submit redistricting maps for review by a court or nonpartisan panel. The panel would be required to choose the plan that keeps cities, counties and communities together with the fewest fragments.” He’s counting on support from the incoming Governor.

Oct. 10, 2003 / 9:30 AM ET

From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma Zaidi

Some of us are having a tough time getting staid and serious about politics again - even Gray Davis is doing Letterman’s Top Ten. Beyond Governor-elect Schwarzenegger, your week in review: the Democratic presidential field lost a candidate nicknamed Bobo; witnesses say the chairman of the Republican National Committee was escorted by security out of the Democrats’ spin alley in Phoenix last night; a candidate actually was held semi-accountable for his campaign’s debate rapid response material (a concept we like, no matter the disputes about how it took place); and the debate pool report focused on the “electric cantaloupe” color (it’s called coral, New York Timesmen) of several of the participants’ clothes, the status of the candidates’ shirt sleeves, and an unusually huggy Kerry.

More substantive reviews of last night’s Phoenix debate are below. Seven of the nine Democratic presidentials head to Charlotte, NC today for the South Carolina NAACP convention (not being held in South Carolina because of the boycott over the Confederate flag) at 4:00 pm; Dean and Kerry aren’t attending because they have scheduling conflicts.

Coming up on Monday: Kucinich formally announces; Lieberman informally announces with a six-state “leading with integrity” tour, which includes a comprehensive domestic and foreign policy agenda - and does not include a stop in Iowa; and Edwards does Hardball, hosted by the Kennedy School of Government.

Arizona Democratic Party/CNN debate

In its overview of last night’s debate, the Washington Post focuses on the “rude reception” Clark received from his Democratic rivals, noting he was “repeatedly challenged for shifting positions on Iraq and supporting President Bush’s tax cuts at a time when others in his party were opposing them.”

“The rough treatment Clark received here contrasted with the rather gentle welcome he got two weeks ago when the candidates debated in New York, and it signaled that former Vermont governor Howard Dean is not the only non-Washington upstart candidate who worries others in the race.”

The Wall Street Journal also plays up the attacks that Clark received last night. “‘I must say, I’ve been very disappointed since Wes Clark came into this race about the various positions he has taken on the war against Saddam Hussein,’ Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman said.”

“‘The American people have lost confidence in George Bush because he hasn’t leveled with them,’ added Mr. Lieberman, alluding to Mr. Clark’s conflicting statements on whether he would have backed a Congressional resolution authorizing the war. ‘We need a candidate who will meet the test of reaching a conclusion and having the courage to stick with it.’”

“Mr. Clark ... tried to discourage the attacks, saying ‘I think it’s really embarrassing that a group of candidates up here are working on changing the leadership in this country and can’t get their own story straight.’”

“But Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry quickly jumped to Mr. Lieberman’s defense, saying, ‘I disagree with Gen. Clark that this is an attack when Joe Lieberman raises an issue.’”

The Boston Globe says the debate “included some of the sharpest exchanges among the candidates so far, but it also amounted to the broadest articulation yet of Democratic Party ideals.”

“Dean and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Illinois championed universal health insurance; Lieberman and Senator John Edwards of North Carolina showered praise on labor unions and immigrants; Kerry promised to be a fierce defender of the environment; and nearly every candidate echoed Bill Clinton’s election-winning message about addressing the needs of the ‘forgotten middle class.’”

Clark embed Marisa Buchanan reports Clark campaign spokesperson Mark Fabiani said they had expected the onslaught because that’s what happens when a candidate bolts into the lead. Buchanan asked Fabiani if Clark would ever go on the attack in the future, and Fabiani said, “Not if he can help it.”

Dean embed Felix Schein says that Dean voiced some displeasure at the debate’s format, and complained that jobs never came up as an issue. “To be honest, I think these debates are not particularly helpful to voters. Everybody gets about sixty seconds to say what they think about really complicated policy matters,” Dean said.

Schein also reports that Dean dismissed the notion that he went after General Clark in an aggressive manner saying, “I don’t think I am going after Wesley Clark any more than I am going after anyone else. People have to account for their past actions and their past statements. ... General Clark and I get along well and I am sure we will continue to get along well.”

Kerry embed Becky Diamond gets comments from Kerry campaign manager Jim Jordan, who said his boss was “strong, confident, and in charge.” Jordan added that Kerry also drew “distinctions appropriate to draw.”

Sharpton embed Tom Llamas says Sharpton sounds like the voice of reason at these debates. Sharpton told Llamas that he’s “focused on the big picture. The goal is the defeat of George Bush, and the goal is that to make sure in our being definitive that we don’t be destructive and disruptive.” Llamas also has this tidbit: Sharpton has his own “Mini Me,” a 16-year old prodigy who dresses and speaks just like Sharpton.

Edwards told embed Dugald McConnell that he liked the format. “One of the things that was so good about this debate format was that it allowed me to be myself,” Edwards said. “What it allowed was lots of natural interaction, as opposed to - sometimes it’s a little more staged,” he added.

Gephardt embed Priya David hadn’t expected to hear her candidate’s “the President is a miserable failure” line last night, having been advised by the campaign press secretary that “miserable failure” was not on tap for the evening. But occasionally Gephardt just has to “speak from the heart,” his aides advise.

Kucinich embed Karin Caifa says that the candidate and campaign staff alike seemed miffed at the perceived lack of time Kucinich was given compared to his fellow candidates last night. Kucinich practically leapt off his stool to answer an audience member’s question on health care, Caifa says, his arm extended and hand waving like an eager grammar school student with the answer to the question on the blackboard. Instead, the question went to Edwards. Asked if he felt got enough time, Kucinich snapped, “No, and you wouldn’t have asked me that question if you didn’t notice it.”

In spin alley after the debate, Lieberman told embed Dionne Scott his criticisms of Clark were fair: “I know Wes didn’t like the fact that we were questioning him. Maybe generals don’t get questioned, but people who run for president do. And they oughta be.”

Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles says Braun staffers were thrilled with their candidate’s performance. Consultant Kevin Lampe told Miles things went great: Moseley Braun delivered, talked about the issues, showed the differences between herself and the other candidates, and did not engage in attacks.

The $87 billion

The House Appropriations Committee easily passed at $86.7 billion bill yesterday to finance military and rebuilding efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Washington Post writes. “The 47 to 14 vote belied the rancorous feelings evident among members of both parties, who raised pointed questions about the administration’s funding priorities and ultimate goals in Iraq. Bush personally intervened Wednesday - along with Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell - to persuade a handful of conservatives to drop a proposal that would have converted half the president’s proposed $20.3 billion in Iraqi reconstruction aid into loans.”

“‘My God, if [Bush’s] eyes had been lasers, mine would have been burned out,’ said Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), describing his White House meeting to reporters.”

“The House bill, which the full House will take up Thursday, trims Bush’s Iraq rebuilding request by $1.7 billion, removing items that had become politically embarrassing to Republicans, such as programs to establish Zip codes revamp Iraqi radio and television business operations, buy $50,000 garbage trucks and build a maternity hospital.”


The Los Angeles Times interviews a reflective Gray Davis. “‘I’m proud to have spent my entire adult life in some form of public service,’ he told The Times. ‘I believe it is a high calling. On the other hand there is no requirement that elected officials be steeped in the intimate details of the job they’re seeking.’”

“‘Gov. Schwarzenegger, if he has good instincts and good people around him, can do a capable job,’ he said. ‘I wish the new governor well. I want things to get better for California.’”

“Davis also offered a reflection on his tenure that could serve as a warning to the governor-elect: Former Gov. Pete ‘Wilson’s people mentioned this to me, and I didn’t appreciate it for two or three years: It’s easy to deal with the tasks you know are before you,’ Davis said. ‘It’s harder to deal with the unexpected.’”

The Los Angeles Times also reports on Arnold’s incredibly diverse transition team, which includes the former conservative gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon, Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Carly Fiorina, and liberal San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire say the White House has given “a thumbs-down to Schwarzenegger’s talk of more federal aid. ‘We’ve already spent $20 billion in cold, hard cash’ to bail out states, says a spokesman.”

More 2004 notes (R)

The Los Angeles Times reports on Bush’s twin speeches yesterday in New Hampshire. “Speaking six months after American forces seized control of downtown Baghdad, Bush vigorously defended his decision to intervene in Iraq, adopting a combative tone against those who questioned the wisdom of having gone to war.”

“‘I was not about to leave the security of the American people in the hands of a madman,’ Bush said. ‘I was not about to stand by and wait and trust in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein.’”

“Presidential politics were clearly on Bush’s mind.... Although New Hampshire is a staunchly Republican state, Bush won it by only a narrow margin in 2000. Its January primary date - second only to the Iowa caucuses on the presidential calendar - has brought Democratic candidates to the state, where they condemn the president and his policies.”

The Boston Globe has more on Bush’s Portsmouth, NH speech: “Nearly half of his speech to uniformed, flag-waving military reservists at the Pease Air National Guard Base ... was devoted to the economic issues, a notable departure from his practice when addressing military audiences of focusing on troops’ contributions to the war on terror.”

More 2004 notes (D)

A new national USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll shows Clark leading Dean, 20% to 15% — followed by Lieberman, Kerry, and Gephardt.

After a barrage of critical coverage, Team Clark gets some positive ink in the class=inlinelink target=newwin>Washington Post , which reports that the General is moving in on Dean’s fundraising turf - namely, the Web and Hollywood.

Still, the paper notes, “Clark has a long way to go to become fully competitive with Dean. Dean broke Democratic records for fundraising in a single quarter, with $14.8 million at the start of the year, and led in the second quarter, with $7.6 million.”

After a previous story reporting that Clark was accepting fees for speeches, the Clark campaign announced that it would return all money earned “for speeches Clark has delivered since he launched his campaign last month — to DePauw University, the University of Iowa, and Midwestern State University.” — Boston Globe

Gephardt embed Priya David was advised that at today’s NAACP conventions, Gephardt will talk about his long-standing record of leadership on issues of importance to African-Americans and all South Carolinians, such as the economy, fair trade, health care for every American, and civil rights.

Come Monday, Edwards kicks off Hardball’s “Battle for the White House” interview series. These one-on-one forums with the presidential candidates, sponsored by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, will air live each Monday for at least the next five weeks. Future participants include Kerry (on October 20), Sharpton (on October 27), Gephardt (on November 3), Lieberman (tentatively on November 10), and Moseley Braun (on November 17).

Also on Monday, Kucinich formally announces his campaign for the presidency, with events in 11 states over three days. The first announcement will be made at 1:00 pm ET in Cleveland City Council Chambers in Cleveland, OH. He then hits Detroit, Manchester, Madison, WI, Albuquerque, Austin, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Chicago, St. Louis, and Des Moines.

Oct. 9, 2003 / 9:30 AM ET

From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma Zaidi

President Bush travels to New Hampshire and then, later in the day, to Kentucky for a fundraiser for 2003 GOP Gov.-nominee Ernie Fletcher. Kentucky’s governor race is shaping up as that coveted off-year prospect: a possible referendum on the President’s economic stewardship. Democrat Ben Chandler is running against “the Bush economy,” blaming Bush for the thousands of jobs lost in the state since he took office, and trying to hang that record around Fletcher’s neck because Fletcher, a US congressman, voted for the Bush tax cuts. Fletcher defends the tax cuts and attributes the job losses to the tax-and-spend policies of the state’s past Democratic administrations (sound familiar?).

At 10:30 am, Sen. Patrick Leahy, who co-chairs the Senate National Guard Caucus, responds to Bush’s New Hampshire remarks via conference call at 10:30 am; he’s joined by Mike Cline, executive director of the Enlisted Association National Guard of the United States. Some of the presidential candidates are piling on, as well. Following in Edwards’ footsteps after Edwards issued a memo “to” Bush last week in advance of this trip, Kerry sent Bush a letter calling on him to adhere to the idea of “shared sacrifice.” Embed Becky Diamond says the challenge is related to Kerry’s proposed amendment (with Joe Biden) to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to pay for the $87 billion Bush wants for Iraq.

And the Graham-less field of Democratic presidential candidates faces off at 8:00 pm ET tonight at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix, sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, hosted by the Arizona Democratic Party, and broadcast live by CNN. Inside Politics’ Judy Woodruff moderates, with Candy Crowley and Jeff Greenfield as panelists. The candidates will be quizzed, town hall style, on a range of subjects from immigration reform to jobs and the economy. Arizona, a hotbed of immigration-related issues, holds its primary on the heels of New Hampshire’s, giving it some make-or-break power over the fight for the nomination. Over 1,000 attendees are expected, and all nine MSNBC campaign embeds cover.


The Governor-elect announces additional members of his transition team at 4:00 pm ET today at the Fairmont in Santa Monica. The outgoing governor addresses his Cabinet in Sacramento at 4:45 pm ET.

At his first news conference since being elected, Schwarzenegger promised not raise taxes, indicated he would ask President Bush to help California’s budget woes, and vowed to repeal the state’s car-tax hike, the Los Angeles Times writes.

Yet the Los Angeles Times also notes that a dispute over repealing this hike is already developing between Schwarzenegger and the Senate Democratic leader, John Burton. “So began Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move from Hollywood to Sacramento, where he will face the same deeply divided Legislature that often thwarted the will of outgoing Gov. Gray Davis.”

Meanwhile, the Times says, Gray Davis aides are already polishing their resumes and pondering “the prospect of job hunting in an iffy economy.”

The Wall Street Journal plays up the oft-repeated theme that Schwarzenegger’s victory could actually be a problem for Republicans and the Bush White House. “Mr. Schwarzenegger prevailed by stoking voters’ frustration with those in power and the desire to oust them - troubling sentiments for Republicans who control all levers of power at the national level.... And Mr. Schwarzenegger’s broad appeal came in part from his moderate stands on abortion, gay rights and gun control - positions sure to set off nasty fights at any national Republican gathering.”

“The White House’s quiet hope - for Mr. Schwarzenegger now, and for President Bush during the coming year - is that the economy is rebounding faster than many assume. That would produce a higher-than-expected revenue surge for the California government.”

George Will lets everyone know that he doesn’t like the result of the recall, Schwarzenegger (calling him “a man who is, politically, Hollywood’s culture leavened by a few paragraphs of Milton Friedman”), and Schwarzenegger’s chances of solving the state’s budget crisis.

Finally, the New York Times looks at the important role Maria Shriver played on her husband’s campaign. “I know how many votes I got today because of you,” the paper quotes Schwarzenegger telling his wife at his victory speech on Tuesday.

“After initially resisting the idea of her husband’s entering politics, fearful of what it might do to her own career and family life, Ms. Shriver campaigned relentlessly at his side, deflecting accusations of sexual misconduct against him while enveloping him under the umbrella of the Kennedy name.”

The leak

Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie on CNBC’s Capital Report yesterday both defended his characterization of Wilson as someone “with a political point of view,” and declined to characterize Wilson’s motives for going public last July.

“I don’t know what his motivation was and I have not said that he had a political motivation. What I’ve said is he has a political point of view that is borne out by the facts. I’ve not said anything that’s at variance with the facts.” Gillespie also added that “in terms of what he said today about the administration disregarding his report, his report was not disregarded. My understanding was it was considered and it was considered to be inconclusive and they went with other information they received from other sources relative to the uranium charge. So I think it may be, you know, he’s got a book deal and I suspect I’ll be a villain in the book and the question about who’s going to play who in the movie version and I suspect that he’ll probably try to get the guy that plays Freddy Krueger to play me, but what I’ve said is factually accurate and I’m not impugning his character at all.”

Arizona Democratic Party/CNN debate

The Arizona Republic previews tonight’s debate, and it also has details on its format.

Clark embed Marisa Buchanan called a Clark advisor to check in on how debate prep was going. Fine, they told her — he is confident, calm, ready to fend off attacks with that wit of his, etc. Buchanan asked why they were even taking her call at the time, considering they were supposed to be helping with the prep and aides said, “Oh, he’s swimming.”

Per Gephardt embed Priya David, the campaign views each debate as prep for the next one. They plan on doing some prep today and a little more on Thursday. In a conference call Wednesday, David adds, Gephardt said there are common themes that emerge in these debates, such as health care and the economy. He also said these events are the appropriate forum to discuss important differences between the candidates. Hint: we may be hearing more about Howard Dean and Medicare.

Kerry embed Becky Diamond says Kerry preps differently from debate to debate. The campaign admits they “never know how Kerry will prep. Sometimes by reading the newspapers, sometimes by throwing questions at friends and family.” Kerry “resists the formality of overly orchestrated prep,” Diamond says. Responding to the question of whether there’s any organized staff role-playing, the campaign says, “we don’t have enough staff to play all [the] candidates.” Diamond notes they must have meant the staff traveling with Kerry to the debates...

Moseley Braun embed Angela Miles reports that, as with the CNBC debate, campaign staffers are once again sounding cool and confident about this debate. Miles points out that the debates have so far helped Braun get some national attention; Miles has seen some nice notes Braun has received from people following debates.

Kucinich embed Karin Caifa notes Kucinich feels the same way: Kucinich loves these forums and has told Caifa they are “the key to [his] candidacy.” Now that Graham has departed the race, Caifa says to look for Kucinich to tout that he was not only the leader of the House Democrats railing against the war in Iraq, but remains the only member of the field who voted against the resolution to authorize force there.

More 2004 notes (D)

The Washington Post focuses on the duplication and division in Kerry’s campaign. “Kerry is surrounded by an all-star team of political professionals, including [Jim] Jordan and [Bob] Shrum, a top consultant to Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. But it’s also a campaign of uneasy factions and overlapping assignments. Kerry, for example, is advised by two pollsters, two media and advertising experts, and two speechwriting consultants. He also has two inner circles: one composed of hired hands in Washington; the other of old friends, family members and longtime loyalists in Boston.”

“This has made Kerry’s operation the punch line of a joke in political circles: How is John Kerry’s campaign like Noah’s Ark? Both have two of everything.”

“The rivalry and duplication may also help explain the persistent criticism of Kerry - both from Democratic Party operatives and from the media - that his campaign lacks focus, speed and discipline.”

The Post also takes a look at Clark’s campaign, as he focuses on a more national campaign rather than just on Iowa and New Hampshire, as he tries to sharpen his message, and as he tries to deflect criticism that he has voted for Republicans.

Clark embed Marisa Buchanan notes how Clark at Phoenix elementary school yesterday was repeatedly asked by the press about his departed campaign manager. Buchanan says Clark was clearly annoyed, arguing he was there to talk with the kids. All he had to do, arguably, was reiterate his campaign’s written statement and leave it there, but instead it was, “No questions, no questions,” yelled out by his staff, then he was whisked away.

Dean embed Felix Schein notes Dean’s effort to shore up support and demonstrate strength in the minority community: his move to recruit Latinos and hold a national event on October 15 to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month.

The Des Moines Register reports that Graham officials say Clark may benefit most from Graham’s exit from the race - especially in Iowa. “Graham leaves behind a high-quality Iowa staff and campaign organization ready for Clark to adopt, should the retired NATO commander decide to run aggressively in the lead-off Iowa caucuses, said Shelia McGuire Riggs, Graham’s Iowa campaign chairwoman.”

More 2004 notes (R)

According to the Boston Herald, “President Bush finally found a way to dodge the nine Democrats out for his job every day in New Hampshire - he’s stumping there the one day he knows they’re all out of town.”

Meanwhile, the AP writes that Bush was able to raise $14 million for the RNC last night.

Texas redistricting

It looks like the political drama in the Lone Star State is finally drawing to an end. According to the AP, Texas House and Senate Republican leaders reached a deal over how to redraw the districts in West Texas. “The agreement still must be approved by a majority of the House and the Senate. The chambers are to convene again on Friday.”

Oct. 8, 2003 / 9:30 AM ET

From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma Zaidi

A big Republican fundraiser tonight and a Democratic presidential debate tomorrow help steer the spotlight back to 2004.

As for California, just the following (with more below). On the one hand: Republicans now govern New York, Massachusetts, and California — big Democrat-leaning states, expanding that tent. On the other hand: there’s “Governor Groper” and a fiscal mess. Any crowing from George W. Bush’s GOP over this victory is likely to be cautious. A lot of Californians want to get on with their lives, but some — Democratic activists and offended women — are seething. We may see lawsuits, a retaliatory recall, and/or more women come forward. Any such developments could distract the new Governor from tending to the state’s budget mess.

Schwarzenegger announces Rep. David Dreier as the head of his transition team at a 5:00 pm ET news conference at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles.

Bush himself makes remarks on domestic violence prevention this afternoon, then tonight, he headlines another one of those big fundraisers where Republicans show up in droves and write checks — to the tune of a total $10 million or more — for hot dogs and nachos and a few words from their President. New York Gov. George Pataki introduces Republican National Committee chairman and host Ed Gillespie, who introduces Bush, who is expected to speak shortly after 7:30 pm.

A lot of the Democratic presidentials descend on Arizona in advance of tomorrow’s debate. Unfortunately for the Clark campaign, the recall wound up being sufficiently unsuspenseful to allow the political press time to notice the departure of Clark’s acting campaign manager over a dispute about what he views as the campaign’s increasingly Establishment bent. Normally we don’t pay much mind to campaign staff shake-ups, but Clark has a lot of ground to make up in not much time. The Dean campaign must be smiling.


In its news analysis, the Los Angeles Times, which also exit-polled, plays up the significance of Davis’ ouster and Schwarzenegger’s victory. “For millions of Californians who stomped to the polls Tuesday, the idea was change. And nothing - not political inexperience, not vague answers to issues, not a spate of sexual misconduct allegations - seemed to matter.”

“The smashing victory of Arnold Schwarzenegger, just 62 days after his campaign debut, and the ouster of Gov. Gray Davis, a 30-year political lifer, was a starkly personal repudiation of the icy incumbent... But it was also much more. It was a slap at the status quo, at Sacramento, at business as usual, at the political and media establishments of California.”

In a separate overview, the Times quotes a jubilant Schwarzenegger giving his victory speech. “‘I will not fail you. I will not disappoint you, and I will not let you down,’ Schwarzenegger said to cheers from the crowd.” Davis, meanwhile, pledged his “full cooperation” in making a smooth transition possible for the Governor-elect. “‘That’s an obligation from one governor to the next; we’re going to do it,’ Davis said.”

But the Boston Herald says: “Despite vows of unity and cooperation last night, there were clear indications it may take some time for the wounds from the bitter campaign to heal.”

A Los Angeles Times editorial also has advice for Schwarzenegger and Democrats. “Gov.-elect Schwarzenegger will have to form relationships with other politicians. Gov. Gray Davis failed to do that, and look where it got him... The voters were asking for more than a new governor. They wanted a different way of doing business, and Democrats ignore this at their peril.”

But the editorial also notes that the new Governor faces a difficult task with the state’s budget. “If Schwarzenegger is able to carry through on promise No. 1, to retract the car tax increase, that would deepen the hole by $4 billion, an amount likely to come out of the hides of county and city governments. If education is sacrosanct, what then to cut?”

The Bee’s Weintraub has some key exit poll numbers. “The LA Times exit poll suggests that the groping stories had an effect: those voters who say they made up their minds before last weekend went 56-44 for the recall and 50-32 for Schwarzenegger over Bustamante. Those who decided last weekend or later went 51-49 for the recall and 38-34 for Schwarzenegger over Bustamante.”

Moreover, he notes, ”[a]mong Latinos, 46 percent voted for the recall, while Schwarzenegger (31 percent) and McClintock (9 percent) combined took 40 percent in the replacement election, according to the Edison Media Research exit poll.”

The Bee also writes about the uphill battle Davis faced to hold on to his job. “Fewer than a third of California voters approved of the job Gov. Gray Davis was doing in office. But he needed the votes of more than 50 percent of those who went to the polls Tuesday to avoid becoming the first U.S. governor recalled since North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier lost his job in 1921.”’

“That was a larger percentage than Davis got as he won re-election last year, and nothing he did throughout the course of a long first year of his second term did much to alter the equation.”

We know some Democrats who would disagree, but the Washington Post says the voting appeared to go relatively smoothly.

Finally, the Chronicle has perhaps the last we will hear from the recall’s “unholy trinity: the porno queen (Mary Carey), the pornographer (Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt) and the former child star (Gary Coleman.)”

In case you need it, the secretary of state’s website:

The Brookings Institute holds a conference call on the outcome today with experts Bruce Cain and Tom Mann at 2:00 pm.

The leak

The New York Times notes President Bush saying yesterday he wasn’t sure if the Justice Department would ever be able to determine who disclosed the identity of the undercover CIA agent. “Asked by a reporter how confident he was that the F.B.I. would determine who disclosed the identity of the officer, the president responded by asking the reporter how many times he had exposed a source or had seen a source exposed.”

“‘Probably none,’ Mr. Bush said in answer to his own question. ‘I mean, this is a town full of people who like to leak information. And I don’t know if we’re going to find out the senior administration official.’”


Commerce Secretary Evans talked “jobs, jobs, jobs” with a Washington Times editorial board. “Evans also hopes to turn attention to positive developments in Iraq with a visit to that country next week... Commerce Department officials will be involved in helping Iraqis write rules and regulations for their economy, he said.” — Washington Times


The Washington Post reports Bush “intervened directly last week for the first time in congressional negotiations over the future of Medicare, telephoning Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to warn that he opposed the direction lawmakers appeared to be taking in a bid to provide drug benefits to poor, elderly people...”

“The next day, after Bush’s call, Frist said... that he did not favor the tentative agreement and regarded the issue of how to handle those patients an open question, according to participants in that meeting.”

And the Post also reports the Democratic presidentials — except for the still-position-less Clark — support legalizing imported drugs.

2004 notes (D)

Some bumps in the road for Clark. The Washington Post says Clark “may have violated federal election laws by discussing his presidential campaign during recent paid appearances, according to campaign finance experts.”

“Clark, like any other candidate, would likely be permitted to deliver the paid speeches only if they did not ‘expressly’ cover his campaign or his political opponents, the experts said. But in his speeches, Clark has talked about his campaign positions and criticized President Bush’s policies.”

The New York Times reports on acting campaign manager Donnie Fowler’s departure from the Clark camp. Fowler “stepped down a week after Eli Segal, a former aide to President Bill Clinton, arrived at General Clark’s headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., to take charge of the campaign. Aides to the general said Mr. Segal’s arrival could have been the source of friction with Mr. Fowler.”

“Campaign aides said the change occurred amid complaints from some of General Clark’s supporters - who took charge of an online effort to draft the general into the race and collected roughly $2 million in pledges - that they were not being taken seriously by the campaign’s professional staff.”

Clark embed Marisa Buchanan has more: “The scene was ugly in the headquarters when Donnie Fowler stormed out of the campaign headquarters yesterday,” she writes. “A friend and former colleague of Fowler tells me that this campaign was headed in a different direction than Fowler anticipated - namely to Washington.”

“Rumors of a policy staff soon to be based in DC persist and the [campaign] staff... is uneasy about [some] senior advisors who have decided not to relocate to Arkansas.”

With Graham out of the race, the Hartford Courant focuses on the Democratic battle for support in Florida, which is flush with cash and may once again be the key battleground state in the presidential election.

Embed Dionne Scott reports that with Graham out, Lieberman says he’s likely to expand his staff, make more campaign appearances and increase his fundraising in Florida. The Senator also believes his vice presidential run in 2000 should come in handy: “One might say that I’ve bonded with the state in the year 2000. We’ve done well in this campaign there, but Bob was clearly, Florida’s favorite son. He earned that. And now with him out of the race, I think it opens a lot of doors to me.”

Edwards embed Dugald McConnell says Graham’s departure was the starting gun for other candidates to broaden their fundraising in Florida. “It’s open doors now. Everybody’s calling,” said Fred Levin, a fundraiser who hosted Graham’s farewell dinner Tuesday night. Levin told McConnell he is ready to start helping Edwards, since he knows Edwards from the Inner Circle of Advocates, a nationwide club of 100 high-powered attorneys. “I think Edwards is excellent, but I just don’t know whether or not — he looks young, and he’s had — what — five years with the Senate? But I would hope that he would do well.”

“We’ll probably travel down to Florida more,” Edwards spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri told McConnell. ”[Edwards] has talked to some people in Florida already who have told us they’ll help us raise money.” She also predicted that Edwards will pick up some Graham voters in Iowa. “The people inclined to support Graham were the moderate Democrats.”

Gephardt embed Priya David notes that after upsetting the organization’s leaders for initially not planning to attend the national NAACP meeting this past summer, then rushing to make a late appearance, Gephardt has changed his plans to include a stop in South Carolina on Friday to attend another NAACP meeting. Six of the candidates will attend; Clark, Dean and Kerry have not yet agreed to come. Gephardt was originally scheduled to visit North Dakota on Friday.

Gephardt claims the endorsement of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union today.

Dean embed Felix Schein says a long-standing commitment to visit his daughter and spend some time with his family this Friday is keeping Dean from attending the NAACP conference. Schein notes the possibility of an aggressive response from the other candidates and the NAACP, given the attention the field generally is paying to diversity (or a lack thereof) and the Dean campaign.

Embed Becky Diamond notes Kerry has been increasingly critical of Dean and of other candidates, and he’s also been making some big policy speeches that have generated coverage. Diamond suggests the strategy is twofold: 1) to differentiate himself from Clark with all the domestic policy speeches and plans, and 2) to generate some buzz around his campaign while he throws some punches at New England rival Dean.

In the coming days, Kerry will launch the “Cowboy Up for Kerry” campaign, in which Massachusetts supporters will barnstorm New Hampshire. This strategy comes on the heels of a similar strategy in Iowa, where the campaign held 99 meetings in 99 counties.

Kerry, giving a speech in Iowa yesterday, engaged in a tête-à-tête with a local Republican, the Boston Globe reports. “In the midst of his stump speech at a restaurant, before what seemed like a typically friendly crowd of 50 supporters and curious Iowa voters in this small town in the northwestern part of the state, Kerry was promising new government spending on highways and bridges when a voice piped up from behind him.” An older gentlemen named Olivier challenged Kerry on tax cuts, abortion and jobs.

Kucinich embed Karin Caifa reports that per the campaign, Nader 2000 running mate Winona LaDuke will officially endorse Kucinich for president today. Caifa also gets Nader saying that “many of the major candidates months ago asked me to come down and meet with them and discuss political issues, including Gephardt and Kerry and John — ” Nader then stumbled to recall the name of the Senator from North Carolina.

The Washington Post editorial page chastises the Democratic National Committee for interfering in DC’s hopes to hold an early presidential primary.

Oct. 7, 2003 / 9:30 AM ET

From Elizabeth Wilner, Mark Murray and Huma Zaidi

Pardon our acting as though there’s only one story today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let the long day begin.

California: links

The secretary of state’s website:

Contact information for all 58 counties

The six counties using punch-card ballots:

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

Mendocino County

Sacramento County

San Diego County

Santa Clara County

Solano County

California: GOTV

With little coming out of the Schwarzenegger campaign about GOTV efforts, we can’t say for sure that California Democrats and their like-minded interest groups do it better, but they at least talk about it more.

Because of the compressed timeframe of the campaign, the Davis team outsourced much of their GOTV operation to labor and other affiliated interests. A Davis memo yesterday touted: “More than 10,000 volunteers going door-to-door... More than 6 million GOTV telephone calls... recorded by President Bill Clinton, Vice President, Al Gore, First Lady Sharon Davis, California Democratic Chair Art Torres, Los Angeles City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa and Barbra Streisand, among others... More than 7 million pieces of mail are also hitting mailboxes... More than 1 million e-mails sent to voters across the state, including more than 500,000 to Latino voters.”

Some of the presidentials are in on the act: Dean e-mailed supporters saying, “The presence of a Republican governor like Arnold Schwarzenegger will make it significantly more difficult for the Democrats to win California in the November 2004 presidential election.” (Expect a Republican National Committee release on that to follow a Davis loss...) Lieberman holds a presser at denounce the recall at the Ritz-Carlton in DC at 9:45 am.

The anti-Prop. 54 folks have Danny Glover walking precincts for them in Los Angeles.

Schwarzenegger will be bolstered to some extent by pro-recall forces. Rescue California, per a spokesperson, started their GOTV efforts over the weekend: phone banks and a taped message from recall advocate Darrell Issa to 1 million voters identified over the summer and through September as being pro-recall.

Per his campaign, McClintock on Saturday began a statewide precinct walk, “Walk for Tom,” organized via the web. Team leaders who signed up on the Internet went to several hundred locations across the state — churches, wards, etc. — to tell people to vote for McClintock. Their message: yes on the recall, and vote McClintock or vote your conscience.

California: the rest

In its overview of today’s vote, the Washington Post says the recall “remains fluid as the public digests late-breaking allegations that Schwarzenegger sexually touched and taunted more than a dozen women over the course of his body-building and acting career.”

“Schwarzenegger’s advisers expressed optimism that the film star had weathered the worst of the damage from the controversy over allegations of groping and grabbing women, but they worked throughout the final day to highlight his support from female voters.”

“The candidate was accompanied by his wife, television journalist Maria Shriver. At his San Jose rally, the campaign filled the stage with women dressed in white ‘Arnold’ T-shirts and holding placards that read: ‘Remarkable Women Join Arnold.’”

The New York Times has more. “Republicans conceded that polls showed the margin had narrowed in recent days because of news reports that raised questions about Mr. Schwarzenegger’s character. But they insisted that Governor Davis, who had been deeply unpopular, would still lose the recall vote and that Mr. Schwarzenegger would easily triumph over other replacement candidates.”

The New York Post mentions the new allegation against Schwarzenegger that surfaced yesterday from Rhonda Miller, a stuntwoman who worked on “Terminator 2” and “True Lies.” “Schwarzenegger denied Rhonda Miller’s charges, but admitted crudely remarking upon photos of women taken by others on the set. His campaign also accused Miller of prostitution - a charge strongly denied by Miller’s lawyer, Gloria Allred.” The campaign sent out a memo and a statement.

The Wall Street Journal: “Whatever the outcome, the most pertinent question is this: What will the winner do to address the state’s daunting fiscal ills? The candidates have done little to answer that, least of all Mr. Schwarzenegger. Instead, the race focused more on personalities than policies.”

The New York Times reminds everyone that this election might not be decided for days, possibly due to the absentee ballots. “More than 2 million absentee ballots had been returned to election officials by Monday, state officials said. But about 1.2 million absentee and other ballots will not be counted until well after the election....”

“‘I think that if the recall question is close, the whole thing could be up in the air,’ said Janice Atkinson, the assistant registrar of voters in Sonoma County, also in Northern California... Ms. Atkinson added: ‘We’re not enough to throw off the statewide average, but anytime there is a close contest, you can’t predict the results until all the ballots are counted and that’s not until 28 days after the election in some cases. I think this may be one of those cases.’”

And the Mercury News says experts are predicting a big turnout. “Almost two-thirds of registered voters will cast ballots in the election, Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo estimated. He predicted that about 10 million of the state’s 15.4 million registered voters will vote, a dramatic increase over last year’s historically low turnout of 50.6 percent, but a bit lower than the 71 percent of registered voters who turned out in the 2000 presidential election.”


Embed Sophie Conover reports that Graham’s decision to withdraw from the race was made in consultation with a small group of close advisors and family members. His Senate staff, rather than what remained of his presidential campaign, handled the logistics of the Larry King appearance. In fact, his campaign spokesperson, Mo Elleithee, maintains he was unaware of the appearance until it was publicly announced, and had no idea what Graham was going to say.

Conover sat next to Adele Graham in the CNN green room for the Senator’s announcement (no cameras allowed) and saw Graham and his family exchange last words prior to his appearance on air. After Graham walked away, Conover asked Mrs. Graham what he was going to announce. She said, “I think you know.” When Conover asked if she was happy about the decision, she replied, “No,” and shook her head. Mrs. Graham managed to keep a smile on her face for much of the time her husband was on TV but, Conover notes, it was obviously a difficult night for her. When the Senator appeared on screen, Mrs. Graham leaned forward in her chair and watched intently as he made his announcement.

After the appearance, the family was whisked out of the green room, presumably to meet up with Graham. When Conover inquired about any media availabilities with the Senator for Tuesday, she was told by his traveling aide, “We’re done.”

Gephardt embed Priya David reports campaign spokesman Erik Smith saying Graham’s departure from the field will offer Florida donors with long-standing ties to Gephardt an opportunity to give to the Congressman. Coincidentally, Smith added, Gephardt was on his way to Florida when the news came that Graham might be quitting the race. Gephardt will be in private meetings and fundraising events through most of Tuesday, returning to DC Tuesday night. David notes the campaign is still keeping quiet about their third-quarter fundraising numbers, but had promised an estimate at the start of this week.

As the Washington Post notes, Graham told Larry King “a late start made it impossible to carve out support in a field that now numbers nine other contenders. His decision had been rumored for several days. It leaves the way open for Graham to seek his fourth term in the Senate next year, and he said he would soon decide whether to run.”

“Strategists for several other Democratic hopefuls speculated last night that his early departure may improve Graham’s chances of being picked for the vice presidential slot on the Democratic ticket. He was considered for that role by Gore in 2000, and some have suggested that Gore would have won Florida without a contest had Graham been his running mate.”

“Leaving the door to the No. 2 spot wide open, Graham told King he was ‘prepared to do whatever I can to contribute to a Democratic victory next year.’”

The Miami Herald adds that Graham’s oldest daughter, Gwen Logan, said she expects her father “will make a decision on the Senate in a few days. Give him a little time.” has the New Hampshire angle on Graham’s withdrawal. “About two dozen New Hampshire staffers for Graham now find themselves looking for work precisely at a time when Wesley Clark, who just entered the race three weeks ago, appears to be looking to hire people to do the same jobs.”