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Note Karen Hughes' saying on "Today" that you can only conclude from Kerry saying Iraq is a "wrong war" that he would "bring our troops home immediately" and accusing Kerry and his running mate of thinking that if the US were to withdraw and retreat from Iraq that Al-Zarqawi and other Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists will return to peaceful endeavors like "opening up a produce stand or a jewelry store."


On NBC's "Today," Bush advisor Karen Hughes said that the only message voters can take from Kerry calling Iraq the wrong war is that he would "bring our troops home immediately without working for victory."

Hughes also accused Sen. John Kerry and his running mate of talking like if the US were to retreat and withdraw from Iraq that Al-Zarqawi and the other Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists would return to peaceful endeavors like opening a produce stand or a jewelry store."

"These are trained killers," she added.

Asked on NBC's "Today" if she understood why people think President Bush is in denial, Bush advisor Karen Hughes told Matt Lauer, "Matt, no, because our troops had accomplished their mission." Hughes pointed to the troops' success in the "battle over Baghdad which was supposed to be this huge battle" and their success in removing Saddam Hussein from power so he couldn't threaten the United States.

Asked about Bush's position changes on things like the 9/11 Commission and steel tariffs, Hughes said "people in the political world change their minds" but she distinguished run-of-the-mill changes with having about ten positions on the war in Iraq.

Asked about Kerry's Monday statement that he has consistently stood for holding Hussein accountable but that he wanted to do it "the right way" with "patience and maturity" to bring "allies to our side," Hughes said, "that would have meant not doing it at all" because some of these other countries would never have gone along with it.

On CNN's "American Morning," Hughes sought to lower expectations for Bush on the debates despite a Time Magazine poll showing more people expect Bush to do better. "I think [Kerry] may be [the favorite], Bill. Remember Sen. Kerry began debating in prep school," she said to CNN's Bill Hemmer.

On "Fox and Friends," Hughes quipped that Bush's debate team has "had to prepare over and over and over again" because "every time we've met [Kerry's] had a new position on Iraq."Asked on "Fox and Friends" how Bush has changed since 2000, Hughes refused to get off message: "I still see the same person… But he's become more so. He's always been disciplined, now he's more so. He's always been focused, now he's more so… He is absolutely focused on preventing another attack..." Regarding Ted Kennedy's claim yesterday that Bush policies have made a nuclear attack more likely, Hughes said there is a "Note of desperation starting to creep into some Democrats' voices."


Elizabeth Edwards delivered some very pointed critiques of the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq during a pleasant interview on "Fox and Friends" with E.D Hill.

She appeared with the DNC's "Moms on a Mission," a group of mothers of active duty troops who oppose the President's policies in Iraq.

Edwards criticized Karen Hughes, who had preceded her on the program, for "trying to paint a rosy picture." "You can't tell the American people that what they see every single day on this program, on other programs, what they read in the newspaper every day" is not happening. "This situation is worsening. He could use the $87 billion to train Iraqi forces and bring our men and women home, but he's not," Edwards said.

Edwards also criticized the Administration for what she described as failing to provide adequate protection for troops, saying military families "are really disturbed that this President has not really met the needs of our military men and women" and for sending them into battle "without having the protection they need." "My dad was in the military," Edwards said. "His commander in chief would never have sent him in without the protection he needed."

When Hill pointed out that neither John Edwards nor John Kerry voted for the military appropriations bill that paid for troops' protection in Iraq and Afghanistan, Edwards said, "The $87 billion was appropriated. You never should have sent them in there without adequate protection."

One of the "Moms on a Mission," Maura Satchell, said Bush had failed to explore diplomacy, "and I have no doubt that John Kerry, who served in the Senate for 20 years as well as had a father who was a diplomat… will have a shrewdness to lead our country."

On CNN's "American Morning," Elizabeth Edwards accused Bush of trying to reduce hazardous duty pay while the troops were in the field.


Bill O'Reilly appeared on "Good Morning America" and said to Charlie Gibson if he could prove President Bush's campaign put the "Mission Accomplished" sign up, "then you've got him. But h'e soing to say that I did this for the troops. And he's not going to say anything else. You can hit him, you can shake him, you can jump on him -- that's what he's going to say."

On "Fox and Friends" O'Reilly tried to explain "This is one of the simplest elections… You either believe President Bush when things will get better, or you don't." He added on GMA that "undecideds are waiting for a better idea from Kerry. If they don't heart it, they're more likely to go with the optimistic President Bush."


NBC's Norah O'Donnell wrapped Monday's news. Bush's answer to Bill O'Reilly's aircraft carrier question was replayed. It was treated wholly negative, with O'Donnell derisively referring to it as a "Top Gun" landing.

ABC's Dan Harris took a more critical look at Kerry's criticism of Bush's O'Reilly interview, reporting that Bush never actually said "Mission Accomplished" on the Abraham Lincoln, nor did he specifically address the Mission Accomplished sign in his O'Reilly interview (since O'Reilly took the sign itself off the table). Harris closed by saying that an old Kerry friend believes Kerry must learn how to speak to the Walmart crowd during the debate.

In his package CBS' Jim Axelrod included video of Kristin Breitweister, the widow of a Sept. 11 victim who helped create the 9/11 Commission, saying "forgive me for voting for President Bush" during an Edwards rally yesterday.


Following in Claire Shipman's footsteps, NBC's Campbell Brown looked at the evolution of soccer moms into "security moms" for "Today." Brown highlighted the gap in views between married couples and singles. According to the latest NBC/Wall Street, Kerry leads among singles 58 to 36. Bush leads among married couples 56 to 36. Brown interviewed pollster Peter Hart who said this was "most dangerous" for Kerry because there are more married people and they vote in higher numbers than singles. "In order for John Kerry to win, he must carry married women," Hart said. He must provide reassurance on homeland security but he must also talk about the economy and health care. Brown closed by saying that both married couples and singles view the war in Iraq differently from the war on terrorism and that they have concerns about Bush's "truthfulness about just how bad the war is."


On ABC's "Good Morning America," Robin Roberts spoke with a woman who analyzed the faces of Bush and Kerry for insights into their character. She said that when Bush lowers his brow, he "looks powerful, he looks potent." Kerry's eyes "look much older than the man really is. They droop and they lack energy," she said. Kerry's hair, on the other hand, elicited a different response. "I call it exciting. Energy is being emitted from his face," she said.


Tom Fiedler, author of "Almanac of Florida Politics," appeared on CBS' Early Show and said that former President Jimmy Carter's Washington Post op-ed that said Florida's voting systems might fail again in 2000 was correct.

In her "Fox and Friends" interview, Hughes disagreed: "I know that he and the secretary of state in Florida are working very hard … and I suspect they will have good, health elections in Florida."


CNN's Jack Cafferty made his question of the day about how CBS can restore the confidence of viewers.