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National Journal Briefing: Summarized for you Convenience

Wonkette's early rising correspondent reports back on Charlie Cook's National Journal breakfast briefing -- please be sure you've had your coffee. Highlights:


Cook threw out an early aside: he predicted that Jack Ryan will be dumped by the Republican Party.

Cook described this election as being like an NBA game, with the critical action happening in the last three minutes.

The "Will Bush Dump Cheney?" rumor seems to be back, after fading away.  Cook felt that Bush is unlikely to do so, barring genuine health problems or a big scandal (i.e. involving a chief of staff).

On possible Cheney replacements -- John McCain: "The Navy did not put McCain in a single-seat fighter for nothing."  Cook described Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as "McCain without the personality disorder."

Full report after the jump.

This morning, the National Journal held another of its periodic Charlie Cook breakfast briefings.

He began by apologizing for bumping into an audience member in the halls of Congress the previous day, as he was in a rush.  He explained that you can be late for a meeting with a Democrat, but you must be prompt for Republicans.

Cook threw out an early aside: he predicted that Jack Ryan will be dumped by the Republican Party.

Despite recent polls showing improvement for Kerry, Cook felt that the Presidential race is still very tight.  He didn't feel Kerry has really improved as much as the polls are showing.  As for Bush, there has been no Reagan bounce, but news of the funeral did help move bad news off the front page.  In terms of the economy, which seems to be improving, Cook felt that most states will turn around before the election, but not some of the key swing states.

As for Kerry's choice of running mate, Cook said that there are three key factors that must be weighed: 1) Is the choice qualified to be President; 2) Does Kerry feel comfortable with that person; 3) Does that person help Kerry in the election.

Dick Gephardt certainly scores on the first two criteria.  But Cook doesn't feel that he moves the needle.  John Edwards is the only choice that polling shows helps Kerry out, but Cook felt very strongly that there is a person out there that no one is focusing on that may prove important.  Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is another name that is floating out there, but Cook found him a dubious possibility.  Supposedly, Bob Rubin is another possibility.  Although no one else is talking about him, Cook likes Sam Nunn.  He dismissed Bob Graham as a terrible choice; while the people of Florida like him, Cook said that the rest of America has yet to warm up to him.  Finally, Cook gave a very measured assessment of his friend Bill Richardson, ultimately saying that one wasn't going to happen.

Cook described this election as being like an NBA game, with the critical action happening in the last three minutes.

In response to a question, Cook said that offshoring will not be an issue in and of itself.  Offshoring is a metaphor for larger changes in the economy.  It's difficult for politicians to say things in favor of offshoring.  As Cook put it, "Just because something's true, doesn't mean you ought to say it."  He also pointed out that the last place complicated issues ought to be discussed is in a political campaign.  

Cook said that the Republicans made a big mistake by not pursuing 527s. They assumed they could get them thrown out.  Now, Kerry has subcontracted his get-out-the-vote effort. Otherwise, Cook felt that the Bush campaign has not made any campaign errors so far.

The "Will Bush Dump Cheney?" rumor seems to be back, after fading away.  Cook felt that Bush is unlikely to do so, barring genuine health problems or a big scandal (i.e. involving a chief-of-staff), since Bush doesn't admit to mistakes and replacing your VP is like admitting that the first major decision you made as a candidate was wrong.

If Cheney was to leave, Cook assessed his possible replacements.  Giuliani is too moderate.  As for John McCain, Cook said, "The Navy did not put McCain in a single-seat fighter for nothing."  He is not a team player.  Ohio Congressman Rob Portman is a strong possibility, mostly because he is from Ohio.  Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel is another possibility; Cook described Hagel as "McCain without the personality disorder."

In closing, Cook portrayed this Presidential contest as "two flawed candidates in a close race."

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