ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

On NBC's "Today," she 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 Senator John Kerry and his running mate of talking like if the U.S. 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."

She also slipped in a clever Vietnam reference.

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 Senator 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 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 . . ."

Hughes discussed the 32-page debate agreement this morning on ABC News Radio, saying, "It basically is insuring that there will be a healthy exchange of ideas, there'll be a lot of topics covered . . . no gimmicks, no tricks, no sudden surprises so that we really can have a debate that's dominated by the issues," ABC News' Ann Compton reports.

The New York Times ' David Stout Notes that President Bush's criticism of Kerry is not new, but "the fact that he spoke extensively about Iraq, at an event that had been billed as a "focus on education" meeting, showed how the issue was becoming even more dominant in the campaign." LINK

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank ponders the origin of Allawi's address to the joint session of Congress based on the similarities to President Bush's speeches — and does a line by line comparison for others who are curious. LINK

The New York Times ' David Halbfinger Notes the Bush campaign has taken the campaign rally "to a new state of the art, by pressing audiences to work as foot soldiers, before, during and immediately after Bush events." LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer puts the crowd estimate at 50,000 for the president's largest rally of the campaign thus far. Note too Karen Hughes' demotion to "campaign speechwriter" and Senator DeWine's statement about the state being closer perhaps than polls make it appear at the moment. LINK

"The biggest campaign rally of the year had the air of a political Woodstock, with about 50,000 people crammed into an Ohio park as rock music blared and President Bush declared he was pumped up for Thursday's debate," leads the Cleveland Plain Dealer. LINK

Bill Sammon of the Washington Times leads with President Bush mocking Senator Kerry for being able to "spend 90 minutes debating himself." LINK

The Dallas Morning News' wrap on President Bush's jaunt to Ohio yesterday: LINK

David Rosenbaum takes on the challenge of fact-checking Senator Kerry's comments on Vice President Cheney and Halliburton, and the Vice President's financial connections to the company. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

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