ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

"'Suffice to say that the ground we've been operating on has been soft and the guidance has been murky,' he said 'We've behaved very cautiously and with the advice of lawyers.'" LINK

Michael Finnegan informs his Los Angeles Times readers that California remains oh so Blue despite Gov. Schwarzenegger's 67 percent approval rating. LINK

News of day from Anne Kornblut: LINK and Maura Reynolds . LINK and Dick Stevenson LINK Al Hunt turns in a one-two punch, first reasoning that if Bush and Kerry are closers, they haven't done it yet. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney '04:

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon writes that the extension of some middle class tax cuts provides "President Bush a victory on a centerpiece of his economic stimulus program that he can trumpet on the campaign trail in the final weeks before the election." LINK

On his 37th visit to Pennsylvania yesterday, President Bush hit Senator Kerry hard on Iraq, saying that "mixed signals are wrong signals."LINK Bush told supporters in King of Prussia, PA: "you cannot lead the war against terror if you wilt or waver when times get tough."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Suzanne Parmley leads with those comments. LINK Parmley Notes that what was billed as a Focus on Education event evolved into "a sweeping campaign speech that underscored what has become his strongest advantage over his Democratic challenger: dealing with terrorism."

Dale Mezzacappa of the Inquirer takes a more in depth look at the issue President Bush was going to address — education. LINK "President Bush trumpeted his record on education and portrayed his Democratic opponent as too indecisive a leader for a nation at war," the New York Times ' Ray Hernandez reports. LINK The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on President Bush's aerial tour of flood damage in Western Pennsylvania and campaign speech in Latrobe: LINK

O'Toole Notes: "For any incumbent in an election, the line between governing and politics can sometimes be tough to discern, but that wasn't the case later in Latrobe, as Bush basked in bright sun and full-throated cheers at a rally on the tarmac of the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport."

Karl Rove and a few editors and reporters of The Washington Times , sat down to a 90-minute luncheon interview at the Hay Adams yesterday. The Man from Behind the Curtain said the president is firming up the Red states, and slowly seizing hold in the Blue and boasted gains in the Senate would clear Bush-appointed judges for confirmation.

The Caesar-salad-eating adviser said the BC'04 campaign is making strong headway in West Virginia and Ohio [where Bush "under performed" four years ago] and Noted Dems had talked a good game in several states that now seem they will go for Bush. "A lot of states that were expected to be in close contention are floating out of contention: North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri; maybe Colorado, Arizona … .I mean, some of them are gone; North Carolina is gone," he said of the home state of Mr. Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards. "Arkansas is gone. If it's not gone, it will be gone on November 2nd." LINK

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