Democrats are on the defensive in the wake of President BushÕs performance to a Joint Session of Congress É A new poll by Fabrizio-McLaughlin Associates finds 57 percent of residents of South Dakota (home state of Sen. Tom Daschle, who is spearheading tax-cut opposition) support the Bush plan É 51 percent agree with the statement that Òby opposing President BushÕs tax-cut planÓ Daschle is Òplaying partisan politics instead of representing the interests of South DakotansÓ É now Rep. John ThuneÑthe stateÕs Republican congressmanÑis running neck-and-neck with Daschle (45 percent to 45 percent) in a hypothetical campaign showdown in 2004 É Bush conceded he lost Philadelphia Òbig time,Ó but Daschle might want to consider the presidentÕs showing in South Dakota É he received 60.3 percent of the vote É Sen. John Breaux, the Louisiana Democrat, is quietly telling the White House he thinks Medicare reform is more likely to pass this year than Social Security reform É nevertheless, Breaux is hunting for a Democrat to co-sponsor his personal retirement account bill with Sen. Judd Gregg, the New Hampshire Republican É Breaux has approached Sen. Evan Bayh, the Indiana Democrat and new head of the Democratic Leadership Council, to join forces É Bayh is considering, no decisions yet É Larry Lindsey, the presidentÕs chief economic advisor, hires Charles Blahous as Special Assistant to the President for Social Security reform É Blahous, a sharp and politically savvy proponent of personal retirement accounts, is well liked and trusted by Democrats É he previously served as executive director of the Alliance for Worker Retirement Security É Attorney General John Ashcroft is lying low for now É building his team É preparing his budget, which will include an 8 percent increase for FBI operations, particularly to Òcombat terrorism and cyber-crimeÓ É and $9 million to create ÒProject SentryÓ É the goal: to Òfund a dedicated juvenile gun prosecutor in each of the 94 U.S. Attorneys offices around the countryÓ É Sen. John McCain has teamed up with Sen. Ted Kennedy to sell the ÒBipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001Ó É Warning: ÒThis legislative vehicle is a lemon,Ó says Grace-Marie Arnett, president of The Galen Institute, a free-market health research group. ÒIt would lead to more federal and state lawsuits and to larger damage awards, thus driving up the cost of insurance and causing millions of Americans to lose their health insurance altogether. ThatÕs not patient protection, itÕs political malpracticeÓ É Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler raises $850,000 for his gubernatorial campaign to replace former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman at a packed Waldorf Astoria ballroom in New York É SchundlerÑthe white, evangelical, former Wall Street bond trader twice elected in a 90 percent Democrat cityÑvows to make school choice his top issue É CIA chief George Tenet, in a chilling new report, warns Congress that while IraqÕs Saddam Hussein is reemerging as a serious threat, heÕs not our only or biggest threat in the region É ÒIran has one of the largest and most capable ballistic missile programs in the Middle East,Ó Tenet notes É ÒTehran could follow the North Korean pattern and test an ICBM capable of delivering a light payload to the United States in the next few yearsÓ É Worse, Iran is working closely with Moscow É and Russian President Vladimir Putin is doing little or nothing to staunch the flow of deadly weapons and technology É Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld agrees Moscow is Òpart of the problemÓ É Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Cairo on Feb. 24th É but for now PowellÕs main focus remains Iraq É
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