I'll be anchoring the program tonight. At this writing we expect to lead off with correspondent Richard Engel's report from Iraq on a horrible attack in the Shiite holy city of Karbala that has left at least 60 people dead. It is part of the steady drumbeat of sectarian violence that is fueling a rising impatience over the war in this country. Tonight, however, Richard gives us the view of some Iraqis who are living this daily nightmare. Do they think it's time for America to pull out?
Also tonight, it is arguably New Orleans' most infamous tourist attraction. The lower Ninth Ward -- the neighborhood where time stood still after Hurricane Katrina. The only signs of life on most days are the slow-moving cars as visitors tour the landscape of collapsed homes, rusting cars, and debris -- a scene that has changed very little since the flood waters receded in 2005. Today, former residents took to the streets in a collective call to the federal government for help, saying it's time to come home. Our Martin Savidge is there to explain their plight and what life has been like for those who used to call the neighborhood home.
Those stories and Kevin Corke's heartwarming piece about an 85-year-old World War II veteran in Maryland who just received a surprise package in the mail, straight from the European battlefield he fought on more than 60 years ago.
I hope you'll join us tonight.
My apologies for not posting in this space since Wednesday. Yesterday in South Carolina, I had a daily broadcast to worry about in addition to debate prep -- and I simply ran out of time in the day. Presiding over a live debate with eight candidates for the presidency became my priority. We owed you more in this space (like an explanation or coverage of the atmospherics at the event) and we failed in that, and I'm sorry about that.
Brian is in transit from the debates last night in South Carolina, so Correspondent Ron Allen takes on today's vlog duties.
Click here or on the image to watch.
Brian anchors tonight's broadcast from South Carolina State University, site of the first debate in this very long presidential campaign. Tonight, all eight Democrats will be on stage answering questions from Brian and Americans who sent in suggestions via e-mail.
While Brian preps for the debate, NBC's Andrea Mitchell delivers today's vlog from Orangeburg, S.C., where she'll report tonight on the debate.
Click here or on the image to watch.
We are debuting a new NBC News poll tonight containing some truly striking numbers about where our country is politically. I think some will find the national opinion on the war truly surprising, along with the trendlines of the current crop of candidates for president in both political parties. Tim Russert will walk us through the numbers and the analysis -- while we also track tonight's vote in Washington and what it means. We have a superb piece by Mike Taibbi on the ground-level fight in Iraq. (Editor's note: Mike's piece has been postponed since the time of this writing. It will air at a future date.) We're currently chasing after more than one story that has developed during the day -- and we left our afternoon editorial meeting with a few items up in the air. At this hour, Wall Street is also making news.
HITTING THE LINKS
Several items of great interest on the web, beginning with my favorite blogger on the Iraq war, Michael Yon. Frequent viewers know Michael is a Special Forces veteran who is reporting on the war by embedding himself with U.S. units and often writes the story from the warrior's point of view. I was traveling in Iraq with retired 4-Star General and former U.S. Special Forces Commander Wayne Downing -- who upon realizing that he was talking to Michael Yon (General Downing is a loyal reader of Michael's blog) reacted like meeting a rock star. Michael has made a special package of material available through our blog.
The White House is home to history of course, but sometimes those unexpected "firsts" are the stuff to make your head turn and your feet tap.
Today was one of those days. The president and Mrs. Bush hosted the first-ever Malaria Awareness Day. While there was serious conversation about fighting a deadly disease, the event in the sun-filled Rose Garden was capped with jubilant entertainment.
It's a crisp afernoon in Prescott Park in Portsmouth, N.H. There's a small crowd waiting for Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., to make his "official" announcement that he's running for president. I thought the crowd would be bigger -- it's a few hundred I would guess. The folks running the show are filling time until the senator arrives. The chants of "McCain! McCain!" are echoing out as far as you can see. I have to believe the staff hopes for more energy when their candidate arrives.
A lot of people in the crowd are comparing the McCain of 2008 to the one of 2000, who burst on the scene as the maverick outsider and won the primary here in decisive fashion. New Hampshire likes candidates with attitude and independence. Some are wondering if McCain still fits that billing. It's important to say he leads in many of the polls here. He has a big, experienced staff. His supporters dismiss the national story, saying he needs a fresh start. The Straight Talk Express just pulled up -- they've cranked up the music -- U2's 'Beautiful Day.' That means it's showtime. Gotta go!
There's a lot of focus around the office today on preparations for tomorrow night's presidential candidate debates. He also previews some of the stories we're working on for tonight's broadcast. Click here or on the image to watch.
Send us your question for the debate
What a strange feeling to have landed on an American flight from O'Hare to LaGuardia a few minutes ago -- and to now be sitting in my office in 30 Rock watching Oprah -- the reason I went to Chicago today with our News Division President, Steve Capus, to explain our decision process on the release of materials on the Virginia Tech massacre. Oprah is as she is often described: smart, gracious and brilliant at what she does for a living.
The only tough part of our journey here from Chicago was the last six blocks -- President Bush's visit to New York has the East Side of Manhattan bottled up this afternoon.
The news we are surveying for tonight includes a very rough day in Iraq and, as a result, at Ft. Bragg. Last night's news about David Halberstam (I got first word, without the required second confirmation, early in last night's broadcast during a commercial break) was absolutely stunning. What a sad end to such a noted American life, and a towering career in journalism.
At this point I'm off to the newsroom. Two more events after work tonight, another flight tomorrow night, the Democratic debate in South Carolina Thursday -- and then hopefully some time to lay low. We are closely watching the prison situation in Indiana. We will have it all for you tonight on Nightly News -- we hope you can join us.
I believe we have a vlog first for you today. Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski does the honors from his perch at the Pentagon. Brian anchors the broadcast tonight from New York and will weigh in later with his regular afternoon dispatch.
Click here or on the image to watch the vlog.