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Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

40 days until Election Day 7 days until the first presidential debate 12 days until the vice presidential debate 15 days until the second presidential debate 20 days until the third presidential debate


With roughly the same rigorous methodology of Paula Zahn's "Voting Booth" Internet survey, The Note brings you our regular Thursday feature — "The Odds Are …"

As always, no wagering, please, and do not try this at home.


Percent chance that Bush v. Kerry will be decided more on facts on the ground in Iraq than on the perception of John Kerry as a flip flopper: 50%

Percent chance that Karen Hughes will describe a future mocking, negative attack on John Kerry as "light hearted": 100%

Percent chance that John Kerry will at a rally between now and election day blurt out "good jobs at good wages" or "it's your fight too": 100%

Percent chance that the more interesting public aspects of the debate-about-debates are still to come: 75%

Percent chance that if John Kerry wins, Democratic strategists who aren't "Clinton people" will find Democratic strategists who ARE "Clinton people" to be totally insufferable: 98%

Percent chance that Ken Mehlman will talk too loudly in a TV appearance or on a conference call in the next 2 weeks: 84%

Percent chance that the Gang of 500 will declare the presidential race over if John Kerry "loses" the first debate: 70%

Percent chance that any cable television news producer will resist a chance to use a public poll as a chat element: 0%

Percent chance that Bob Shrum will appear in the Post -debate spin room in Miami: 50%

Percent chance that John Kerry will appear on "Saturday Night Live" before election day: 30%

Percent chance that when Kit Seelye wrote for the New York Times this morning about the new campaign TV ads that they "created a brew of negativity that has raced to a boil," she knew full well that we ain't seen nothing yet: 100%

Percent chance that someone very special speaks at the Iowa Republican Party's Reagan Dinner in mid-October: 100% (Don't Mitt it!)

Percent chance that a campaign story not related to substantive issues will distract the media: 99%

Percent chance that Edwards or Cheney will experience a flare of attention not related to their one debate: 60%

Percent chance that Kerry will be able to maintain his heartfelt, impassioned manner and not slip back into peevish verbosity: ?

Percent chance that someone from the White House communications shop talked to Secretary Rumsfeld's PR operation yesterday: 80%

Percent chance that provisional ballot counting will delay a major November 2 concession speech: 45%

Percent chance that absentee ballot counting and legal fights will delay a major November 2 concession speech: 47%

Percent chance that Democrats will find examples of alleged voter intimidation by Republicans every day between now and November 2: 89%

Percent chance that Republicans will find examples of alleged voter fraud by Democrats every day between now and November 2: 87.4%

Percent chance that the Democratic Party agrees to station monitors alongside Republican monitors at jointly-chosen precincts on November 2: 1.3%

Percent chance that 30% or more Florida voters cast ballots before election day: 60%

Percent chance that Matt Blunt is turned into the next Katherine Harris by the national media: 35%

Percent chance that Democrats can make Republicans pay an election-year political price for the deficit or stiffing Senator Lincoln on the child tax credit for the poor: 10%

Percent chance that Bill Burkett's real source is outed before election day: 40%

Percent chance that Mel Martinez shakes hands with Tim Russert before November 2: 25%

Percent chance that Joe Allbaugh will ever refer to Howard Wolfson as a "good man" on "Fox and Friends" (as Wolfson refered to Allbaugh this morning): 25%

At 10:00 am ET, Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill. He will then meet with President Bush at the White House at 11:20 am and holds a joint press availability in the Rose Garden at 12:05 pm.

How many questions Mr. Bush takes — and how he answers them — could determine the identity of the next President of the United States. (How's that for drama!!!)

Before meeting with Allawi, Bush will make remarks honoring the new American Indian museum at 8:25 am. At 4:00 pm, Bush will speak at a rally in Bangor, ME, a state Gore won in 2000 that but could well be competitive this time because of a kick-ass RNC effort there.

"Security Moms" will be front and center today when Senator John Edwards holds a conversation on terrorism with an all-female audience in Davenport, IA at 3:05 pm. As the New York Times reported yesterday, Kerry is underperforming among women, and as the Washington Post reports today, women trust Bush more than Kerry on national security. At 7:00 pm, Edwards campaigns in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Taking its cues from Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" as well as Florida Senator Bob Graham, the Media Fund, an anti-Bush 527, will launch two ads Thursday seeking to link Bush with the Saudi royal family and alleging that "President Bush suppressed a report to hide what his critics say was evidence that the Saudi government financed the terrorists who carried out the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001," according to the New York Times ' Kit Seeyle. LINK Senator John Kerry holds a "meet and greet" with firefighters at a Columbus, Ohio fire station at 11 am ET. Following the fire station event, Kerry, who is suffering from a cold and a sore throat, will sit down with the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch at 11:55 am before traveling to Philadelphia where he will campaign on Friday.

"In the next few days, Kerry is scheduled to give a speech outlining steps to defeat terrorism," USA Today reports. LINK Vice President Cheney speaks at a 4:35 pm rally in St. Joseph, MO just one day after the AP's Ron Fournier confirmed that the Kerry campaign has canceled plans to begin broadcasting television commercials in the state of Missouri, a state which has voted for the winner in all but one presidential election since 1900. The Kerry campaign has also canceled its tentative plans to start advertising in Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

"Plans are still in place to air ads starting the second week of October, campaign officials said, but those will likely be tabled, too." LINK Drug reimportation is a hot issue in the presidential campaign, particularly for seniors. Kerry supports reimportation; Bush opposes it. Asked to defend his opposition, Bush typically cites his concern that unsafe drugs will get into the US. At a 12:00 pm press conference in Washington, an actual Pfizer executive is going to "debunk the myth" that these drugs are unsafe at a news conference on Capitol Hill with members of Congress.

The Christian Coalition holds its "Road to Victory 2004: God Bless America-One Nation Under God" conference starting today through Sept. 25 at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC.

At 10:30 am, a coalition of religious leaders-Priests for Life, the National Pro-Life Religious Council and Gospel of Life Ministries-will hold a news conference at the National Press Club to emphasize their belief that it is morally wrong to vote for pro-abortion candidates for public office.

The debates:

USA Today 's Mark Memmott reports on how the CBS-Burkett-Lockhart interaction is impacting journalists' feelings about the"attempt by the Bush and Kerry campaigns to require that the four moderators of the upcoming debates sign statements saying they've 'accepted' the rules drawn up by the campaigns." LINK Bob Schieffer said he has no problem signing it. The other three moderators did not comment.

The Washington Post on where Bush and Kerry plan to prepare for their debates and who their sparring partners are. LINK The Washington Post Style section on the intracacies of the debate deal. LINK UT's Daily Texan gives voice to the third-party advocates who are criticizing the debates. LINK The Miami debate is a hot ticket, the Herald heralds. LINK

Morning show wrap:

Bush-Cheney campaign manager Ken Mehlman appeared on CNN's "American Morning" and defended the campaign's ad featuring a windsurfing Kerry: "I think it was a humorous and memorable ad — that is always the goal."

Mehlman also repeated his campaign's criticism of Kerry's leaving open the idea that President Bush could instate a draft if reelected, calling it "fear mongering by a candidate who doesn't have a record he can defend."

Kerry-Edwards senior adviser Tad Devine appeared on the same show and defended Kerry's draft statement, avoiding the statement itself but saying, "Frankly, there is a draft right now — a backdoor draft … This President has no plan to win the peace."

ABC's Charlie Gibson introduced GMA's "The deciding factor: the woman's vote, 2004" by saying women represent 70% of undecided voters in this year's election. Dan Harris reported on how "the competition over who is alpha male" is in part for women who define a strong leader as being able to protect their families. Claire Shipman looked at "security moms" — mothers with young children who "have become extraordinarily interested in the security of their families … who are affected by Sept. 11 and most recently affected by those images of the attack on that school in Russia" — who are in many cases leaning toward Bush.

Katie Couric and John Stewart flirted/laughed it up on "Today." Stewart called the critique of John Kerry as a flip-flopper "silly" and "not really the case. I suppose you could say about President Bush that he opposed the 9/11 Commission before he created it. But that's not a flip-flop. That's leadership." Stewart added that he was pleased Dan Rather was "clearly picking up my mantle" of fake news.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

The new Wall Street Journal -NBC News poll shows President Bush with a slight lead over Senator Kerry — 48 percent to 45 percent — and Iraq, unsurprisingly, remains a huge issue, going from a liability in Kerry's mind to one of his strengths, reports the Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger in a must-read analysis of the strategies of both campaigns. LINK

"Though President Bush slightly leads Democratic John Kerry overall — 48% to 45% — the survey suggests the economy represents strong political ground for Mr. Kerry right now," the Wall Street Journal 's Shailagh Murray and John Harwood report.

Latest WSJ/NBC poll results: LINK

The AP's Ron Fournier reports that the Kerry campaign has canceled plans to begin broadcasting television commercials in the bellwether state of Missouri (as well as in Arizona, Arkansas and Louisiana). "Plans are still in place to air ads starting the second week of October, campaign officials said, but those will likely be tabled, too."

LINK Democrats are frustrated that despite Bush policy shifts, it is Kerry who wears the flip flop label, the Washington Post 's John F. Harris writes in a news analysis. LINK "Over the past four years, [Bush] abandoned positions on issues such as how to regulate air pollution or whether states should be allowed to sanction same-sex marriage. He changed his mind about the merits of creating the Homeland Security Department, and made a major exception to his stance on free trade by agreeing to tariffs on steel. After resisting, the president yielded to pressure in supporting an independent commission to study policy failures preceding the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Bush did the same with questions about whether he would allow his national security adviser to testify, or whether he would answer commissioners' questions for only an hour, or for as long they needed."

"Democrats working for John F. Kerry cite these twists and turns with glee — but even more frustration. Polls have shown overwhelmingly that Kerry — with his long trail of confusing and sometimes contradictory statements, especially on Iraq — is this year's flip-flopper in the public mind, a criticism that continued to echo across the campaign trail yesterday."

"Once such a popular perception becomes fixed, public opinion experts and strategists say, virtually every episode in the campaign is viewed through that prism, while facts that do not fit with existing assumptions — such as Bush's history of policy shifts — do not have much impact in the political debate."

Don't believe the flip-flop hype, writes the San Francisco Chronicle's Marc Sandalow in a must-read analysis of Kerry's ability — or lack thereof — to explain his positions clearly. Overall, Kerry's position on Iraq has been consistent. LINK

"There were times when Kerry's emphasis shifted for what appear to be political reasons, such as the fall of 2003 when former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean surged to the top of Democratic polls based on an anti-war platform and Kerry's criticism of the president grew stronger. There are many instances in which clumsy phrases and tortuously long explanations make Kerry difficult to follow. And there are periods, such as last week, when the sharpness of Kerry's words restating old positions seem to suggest a change."

"Yet taken as a whole, Kerry has offered the same message ever since talk of attacking Iraq became a national conversation more than two years ago."

"Mr. Kerry has finally begun to fight back and put the focus on Iraq instead of Vietnam. His speech on Monday was compelling and, unlike W.'s toxic cotton-candy spin, has the additional advantage of being true," writes Maureen Dowd. However, she says, Kerry's argument still has a "hollow center" because he is sidestepping the central moral issue which, she says, is not "the way" Bush went to war but what he did. LINK Apparently unironically, Senator Kerry said yesterday that "when you're horse is drowning in midstream, it's a good time to shift," the Washington Post 's Balz and Snyder report. LINK "Congressional negotiators beat back efforts yesterday to expand and preserve tax refunds for poor families, even as they added $13 billion in corporate tax breaks to a package of middle-class tax cuts that could come to a vote in the Senate today," the Washington Post 's Weisman reports. LINK

Writing for the Hill — and with the latest numbers tipping away from his candidate's favor — Kerry pollster Mark Mellman chronicles wide discrepancies in polling figures through the election cycle, arriving at one firm conclusion: "at minimum, the polls produce an uncertain portrait of the state of the race."

Mellman gets on the media's case a bit for offering headlines that are too strongly worded and articles that contain little analysis. Further, he writes news orgs don't contrast their findings with other recent studies. In an argument that seems surprsing coming from a man who's bread is buttered on the media's obsession with numbers, Mellman pushes "uncertainty" as the new lede.

"Uncertainty may not sell papers or create the aura of clairvoyance, but it has the benefit of accurately reflecting reality. Reputable polls disagree … ."

"I suggest a simple syllogism. The truth is that the state of this year's presidential contest is uncertain at best. Journalists report the truth. Therefore, journalists should be reporting that the state of the race is uncertain."

"Instead, we get each media outlet putting faith in its own poll as revealed truth and therefore reporting the race as a certain Bush lead or a certain tie. Only a consumer who consults a variety of media outlets would have a clear idea of how unclear the current picture is. It should not be so difficult for readers and viewers to get a picture of reality." LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence and Judy Keen sound like they're channeling Dr. Emmett Brown (LINK) when they write, "The outcome may hinge on whether the contest focuses on the past, the present or the future." LINK The Chicago Tribune's ed board writes, "It will be interesting to see how Americans react to Kerry's bleak prognosis. One crucial task will be to make sure he doesn't come across as a prospective commander in chief who, having long defended his war authorization vote, now thinks insurgents have made the fight too tough." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Pearson and Torriero write about the focus on Social Security by both candidates on Wednesday, making new mention of the windsurfing battle. LINK

Vince Morris of the New York Post writes up the "Windsurfing" ad, and we're almost embarrassed for him for the way he writes about how much Kerry's outfit and accessories cost in the video in the commercial. LINK Morris obviously hasn't seen VH1's Bling Off between Bush and Kerry because then he would know that Bush and Kerry are pretty evenly matched in the "oh-my-god-that's-so-expensive" category. (LINK)

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman has a memo (wink, wink) from Karl Rove to John Kerry. (And The Note just wants to make sure that Chapman is prepared for all of the yahoos out there who will write on their blogs about the amazing and demoralizing words that Rove has for Kerry and wonder how he managed to acquire such a key document!) LINK

The Washington Post looks at why women view Bush as stronger than Kerry on national security. LINK And the gender gap isn't just getting play on the national stage.

"In a brief interview Wednesday during a stop in Cleveland, it was easy to get the impression that [Planned Parenthood's Gloria] Feldt would like to grab Kerry by the shoulders and tell him to start talking about these issues," reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. LINK

"'He has an excellent agenda on women's rights issues, and I'm sure if he were to talk about that agenda, it would be helpful to him,' she said.

The Media Fund, an anti-Bush 527, will launch two ads Thursday that seek to link President Bush with the Saudi royal family and that will "suggest that President Bush suppressed a report to hide what his critics say was evidence that the Saudi government financed the terrorists who carried out the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001," according to the New York Times ' Kit Seelye. LINK If a television ad was announced yesterday, you can be sure you'll find mention of it in Nick Anderson's latest Los Angeles Times dispatch on what many Americans will be seeing on their television screens this week. LINK

Anderson includes Karen Hughes defense of the windsurfing ad as "'a lighthearted way of making a very serious point. [Kerry] may have a case of selective amnesia when it comes to some of the things he's said.'"

"Sponsors of the nation's latest campaign finance law, outraged over the millions of dollars being spent by independent "527" organizations on this fall's elections, joined forces again yesterday to propose legislation barring the groups from raising and spending unlimited sums on federal campaigns," the Washington Post reports. LINK This Jim Jordan quote courtesy of the Los Angeles Times is actually referring to his current capacity with America Coming Together, not (as some may think) a remembrance of his days with the Kerry campaign. (Insert rim shot here.)

"'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

At the same luncheon Roves boiled the Bush plan to a 3" x 5" index card: "If you want three, I can give you three: win the war on terror, make the tax cuts permanent to grow the economy and reform fundamental institutions that have sort of gotten out of sync." LINK George H.W. Bush gave Ohioans an 11-minute "folksy talk" yesterday "signaling his emergence on the campaign trail," reports the Columbus Dispatch. And 41 was able to illicit some boos at the mention of Dan Rather's name … ahhh the history! LINK "The House voted to ease some Cuba travel and trade restrictions and to eliminate a two-year certification exemption for foreign-built trucks that travel in the U.S. Both measures are likely to be vetoed by President Bush," the AP reports. LINK

"The Bush administration said that it would simply send the cards to 1.8 million people with low incomes who are eligible but have not applied for Medicare," the New

York Times' Robert Pear reports. LINK The New York Times ed board writes that Bush's Social Security plan would endanger the system. LINK While the president campaigned in Pennsylvania, Vice President Cheney made a rare appearance at a stakeout on Capitol Hill, ABC News' Karen Travers reports.

Cheney's language was similar to what he says in his stump speech and he quickly left the microphones without answering questions.

The New York Daily News reports Federal officials are "examining comments made in online postings of interviews with Sue Niederer of Hopewell, N.J., who was arrested interrupting a GOP campaign rally in Mercer County featuring the First Lady." The now-freed New Jersey mom confronted Laura Bush last week over her son's death in Iraq. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

The Boston Globe 's Glen Johnson writes up Senator Kerry's visit to Florida yesterday where he attempted to appeal "for support from Florida's critical blocs of senior citizen and Jewish voters with a pledge not to privatize Social Security and a vigorous recitation of his long support for Israel." LINK

Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times heard Kerry tie his attack on President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security into an appeal for women voters. LINK

Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi explains the ghost haunting John Kerry: Howard Dean and his strong ant-war message. She writes, "I wish Kerry had not voted to authorize Bush to take the country to war, especially since I believe Kerry did it for the wrong reason: politics." LINK

"For Kerry, the ghost of Howard Dean, presidential candidate, speaks truth. The war with Iraq was a mistake, and it is making this country — and the world — less secure. Acknowledging that is a sign of leadership."

The Note's Boston-based foreign correspondent, ex-ABC's Gayle Tzemach, sends along this article from the Financial Times:

"Nato on Wednesday overcame long-running reservations among members about a training mission to Iraq and approved establishing a training academy in Iraq expected to be staffed with 300 soldiers. The move, which is in line with a decision by Nato leaders in June to provide help for Iraq, increases the size of a mission to the country dispatched over the summer. The renewed harmony within the alliance, however, appears unlikely to develop into any commitment to send new troops to Iraq, a scenario that Democratic US presidential candidate John Kerry is increasingly touting as a central element of his policy to resolve the conflict. "

In his wrap of the windsurf ads, the Washington Post 's Howard Kurtz writes of Kerry's plan: "Many critics have said that his suggestions to recruit more global allies and step up the training of Iraqis, which is underway, would have little impact on the violence there." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin:

Unless the SCOFLA rules otherwise, provisional ballots in Florida will not count unless voters show up to the right precinct. IF — and that's a big if — this issue is settled before Election Day, it will reduce the chances of a potentially protracted post-election legal war about provisionals in Florida.

See: LINK Says the Orlando Sentinel: "Since January, registration among people 18 to 24 years old has jumped by at least one-third, or more than 55,000 new young voters, and likely more in the eight counties from Daytona Beach to St. Petersburg. Counties such as Orange more than doubled their numbers of youthful voters." LINK

The proposal to wage the minimum wage in Florida is generating a healthy about of debate: LINK Florida poll numbers! What a novel idea. Quinnipiac University has a poll out this morning that shows President Bush leading John Kerry by eight points (49 — 41) among registered voters in the Sunshine State LINK

need to know about the status of the Ohio ballot initiative aimed at amending the constitution to ban same sex marriages in the Buckeye State. LINK "If Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell does not invalidate 11,047 supplemental petitions by midnight, it appears that Ohioans to Protect Marriage will have enough signatures to place the issue on the statewide ballot," writes Leonard.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's team of Thomma and Kuhnhenn report that Kerry has a problem with women. LINK

Wisconsin is proving an uphill battle for the Kerry campaign, both in terms of image and organization, according to two new surveys.

The new ABC News poll of Wisconsin, conducted Sept. 16-19, brings good news for President Bush, whose Badger State ground game is proving impressive in contacting voters and painting a positive picture of him as a leader and the person to handle terrorism and homeland security.

Bush leads Senator Kerry 53 percent to 43 percent among likely voters, and Ralph Nader — currently on the ballot there — gets 1 percent (54 percent to 44 percent in a head-to-head matchup). Among registered voters, the numbers break down 50-44-2 with Nader in the mix, and 51-45 with just Bush and Kerry. LINK Registered voters are 6 points more likely to have been contacted by BC04 than by KE04, the poll shows — 25 to 19 percent. Sixty percent of those who have gotten Bush calls are supporters, whereas Kerry enjoys the support of fewer than half of those his campaign has reached.

Iraq, however, remains a sticking point in Wisconsin; about half of registered voters say the war in Iraq wasn't worth fighting, and a bare majority (51 percent) is dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country, reports ABC News' Dalia Sussman.

Kerry scores best on the economy, but as opposed to last week's Pennsylvania poll, which showed him 8 points ahead on economic issues, Kerry runs even with Bush in terms of who voters trust to handle them. "More cite the economy than any other issue as most important in their vote, and Kerry leads on two economic measures — in trust to handle 'creating jobs' and 'helping the middle class.' Kerry also leads Bush by 49-40 percent in trust to handle health care, an issue that's on par with terrorism in its importance to voters," Sussman reports.

Bush's biggest strengths, according to the survey, are his personal attributes — by wide margins, voters say he's a stronger leader (60 percent to Kerry's 32 percent), can make the country safer, and is clearer in his positions. Bush also leads by 10 to 15 points as the candidate with the more appealing personality, as a better commander-in-chief and on honesty. Bush's fav/unfav: 52/39. Kerry's fav/unfav: 37/43. Bush leads among men by 17 points, and Kerry leads among women by 4.

Dems remain strong in the Senate race, however. Incumbent Democratic Senator Russ Feingold leads his challenger, construction executive and former Army officer Tim Michels, 51 percent to 45 percent, and claims support among nearly 60 percent of women.

There's also a new Badger Poll out today, showing a tough road for Senator Kerry — and similar numbers to the ABC News poll.

Bush leads Kerry by 13 points — 47-34 among registered voters, with 3 for Nader, and 48-35-3 among likelies. The survey, conducted Sept. 16-21 by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison and sponsored by the Capital Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, showed Bush scoring 30 points higher than Kerry on consistency in his positions among both registered and likely voters, and more than 40 points higher on handling terrorism. Kerry pulled even with Bush on handling the economy and dealing with the budget.

"The Kerry camp, we hear, is reinforcing their Wisconsin ground troops with new staff, press people, communications staff in each media market, and some more TV ad dollars and black radio — and they have their work cut out for them. Asked if they were sure about their vote, 81 percent of registered voters said they were pretty sure, and 13 percent said they might change their minds. Among likelies, the numbers are 82 percent sure to 12 percent could change."

Registered Wisconsin voters in the Badger poll gave Bush a 54 percent favorable rating and a 38 percent unfavorable rating. Kerry's fav/unfav numbers are 36/48.

Craig Gilbert of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel rounds up all of the latest polls in Wisconsin, from the ABC News poll, the Badger Poll, and the Gallup poll showing Bush leading Kerry by double digits, but also polls by American Research Group, Mason-Dixon and Zogby showing a 2-point race. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Sharon Schmickle gives Twin Cities readers analysis of Vietnam's impact on this election. LINK

That's right, so Vietnam is still lingering in at least one target state …

Senator Kerry's Social Security comments also got play in Minnesota. LINK

Just as Kerry-Edwards was pulling ads out of Arizona yesterday, Teresa Heinz Kerry was out there "wowing" the crowd (according to the headline on the Arizona Republic story) and breaking fundraising records for state-party events in the state. LINK

Despite what the naysayers say, Arizona Dems will not go down without a fight.

The Raleigh News and Observer's Lynn Bonner tries to explain why Edwards was in South Carolina yesterday. LINK The Des Moines Register 's Tom Beaumont Notes that Edwards will step in for Kerry like in Iowa today … with Colin Van Ostern asserting that Edwards is a very good running mate. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

Two studies looking at felon disenfranchisement laws' effect on voting in individual cities has concluded that "those laws have a disproportionate effect on African-Americans because the percentage of black men with felony convictions is much larger than their share of the general population," the New York Times ' Fox Butterfield reports. LINK

Bush's National Guard service and the CBS documents:

Karl Rove denies being behind the fake documents. LINK Some News of Day articles: LINK and LINK and LINK Note that last one — in the New York Times — has four sources saying Dan Rather is not in love with the Thornburgh choice.

The Los Angeles Times on the one-two punch delivered to CBS: LINK

"With Respect,": James Pinkerton writes to Dan Rather: answer THESE questions. LINK

Says Bob Novak: "High-level Democrats, including some inside the Kerry campaign, were appalled by this week's political sideshow. Just as John Kerry began finding his voice on Iraq, he was in danger of being drowned out by Democratic operatives Joe Lockhart and Terry McAuliffe. But the Democratic presidential candidate had only himself to blame." LINK "Democratic critics can hardly comprehend that Lockhart, President Bill Clinton's spokesman who was recently taken aboard the campaign by Senator Kerry, telephoned a notorious Bush-bashing eccentric who was CBS's source of the discredited documents. They also are unhappy that McAuliffe, the Clinton-selected Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman who supposedly was eclipsed when Kerry clinched the nomination, has launched an advertising campaign attacking President Bush's National Guard record."


The Arkansas Supreme Court will hear arguments today to determine if Nader's name should be added in Arkansas. LINK

The AP's Charles Beggs reports the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously took Ralph Nader off the Oregon presidential ballot yesterday, but the consumer advocate said he will take his case to US Supreme Court. The decision supported the logic of Oregon's Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who found errors petition sheets brought Nader 218 signatures short of the 15,306 needed to put him on the Nov. 2 ballot. LINK

Nader's campaign sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates to request tickets to the Sept. 30 presidential debate in Miami, one for Nader, plus three others.

Note: Nader has declined offers to participate in other third party debates, because he feels his place is on stage with Bush and Kerry.

There are a few groups making noise about Nader's exclusion from the nationally televised debates. LINK and LINK

Al Hunt writes that "The thorn in the Democrats' side, Ralph Nader, may not be quite as deep as four years ago. But it won't go away and still could prove deadly." LINK

The Congress:

"With his top aides indicted in Texas and an ethics complaint pending against him in Washington, Representative Tom DeLay addressed House Republicans on Wednesday and emerged with broad support, lawmakers who attended the meeting said," the New York Times ' Glen Justice and Sheryl Gay Stolberg report. LINK The Hill reports the Senate GOP is backing off from its plan to paint Democrats as "obstructionists" federal appellate court nominees. LINK

Patrick O'Conner of the Hillwrites about the DNC's effort to tap black donors and the "eager network of young supporters with more disposable income than their parents' generation." LINK

Roll Call reports Hill life's rich pageantry, as Ds and Rs staged PR stunts yesterday. LINK

Politics: Happy 55th Birthday Bruce Springsteen — your fan base (like the electorate) has grown a lot more polarized in recent months! LINK "In the last few years, political races from Congress to county sheriff have begun to hinge on the Indian vote, particularly in places like South Dakota, where the Indian population is 8 percent," the New York Times ' Sarah Kershaw reports. "Republicans and Democrats alike, including the presidential candidates, are courting Indians as never before. Mr. Daschle, the Senate minority leader, has campaign offices on all nine of South Dakota's reservations." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

Some nice clips for Senate candidate Mel Martinez as Rudy Giuliani campaigned for him in Florida yesterday. LINK

The politics of Iraq and national security:

"A House Republican plan to implement the 9/11 Commission's recommendations contains a raft of additional provisions that would expand federal law-enforcement powers and centralize information about private citizens in government databases," the Wall Street Journal 's Jess Bravin and David Cloud report.

"Elections in Iraq will be held as planned early next year, but getting there will be a violent process, top U.S. military and diplomatic officials told members of Congress yesterday," the Washington Post reports. LINK George F. Will on the Iran dilemma. LINK "The incumbent president is the radical in this unorthodox election year … . The challenger is for once the pragmatist and traditionalist on foreign policy," writes Jim Hoagland. LINK


The Philadelphia Inquirer's Kaitlin Gurney leads "Seeking to craft a legacy on the very issue that haunted his ill-starred tenure in office, Gov. McGreevey issued a sweeping executive order yesterday outlawing the practice of rewarding political contributors with state contracts known as pay-to-play." LINK

The media:

In 1972, "a few top journalists like R.W. Apple Jr., David S. Broder, Jack Germond and Jules Witcover, through their diligence, ambition and supreme self-confidence, set the agenda for the whole political race. This summer, sitting in the Tank and reading campaign blogs, you could sometimes get a half-giddy, half-sickening feeling that something was shifting, that the news agenda was beginning to be set by this largely unpaid, T-shirt-clad army of bloggers," writes Matthew Klain in the forthcoming New York Times Magazine.

The cover photo will take away the breath of any Note reader.

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—8:00 am: The American Bar Association hosts a breakfast meeting with 9/11 Commissioners Jamie Gorelick and Slade Gorton on "Intelligence Prospects for Change," Capital Hilton, Washington, DC —8:25 am: President Bush makes remarks honoring the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian, White House, Washington, DC —9:00 am: Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and Sen. Hillary Clinton host a forum on Native Americans, Dirksen Building, Washington, DC —9:00 am: Kaiser Family Foundation holds news conference to release national survey of "Parents on Children, Media and Policy" including content issues, impact of food advertising on children and impact of Super Bowl incident, Barbara Jordan Conference Center, Washington, DC —9:00 am: The National Committee for Quality Assurance holds a news conference to unveil the latest version of its annual review of the U.S. health care industry's performance in key areas of care and service, Washington, DC —10:00 am: Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi addresses a joint session of Congress, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC —10:00 am: White House press secretary Scott McClellan holds a gaggle with reporters —10:00 am: New York City Speaker Gifford Miller joins 20 Council members in presenting the federal government with invoices totaling the $11 billion they say the city has been shortchanged by the Bush Administration. Rep. Rangel will participate. Rayburn, Washington, DC —10:30 am: Priests for Life, the National Pro-Life Religious Council and Gospel of Life Ministries bring together a coalition of religious leaders to emphasize their belief that it is morally wrong to vote for pro-abortion candidates for public office, National Press Club, Washington, DC —10:50 am: Sen. John Kerry holds a "meet and greet" with firefighters, Columbus, OH —11:20 am: President Bush meets with the Prime Minister of the Interim Government of the Republic of Iraq, White House, Washington, DC —11:30 am: Sen. Byron Dorgan holds a news conference on prescription drug re-importation, Dirksen, Washington, DC —11:55 am: Sen. John Kerry meets with the editorial board of the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus, OH (closed press) —12:00 pm: Mrs. Bush delivers remarks at a Victory 2004 Luncheon, Bloomfield Hills, MI —12:00 pm: Pfizer Vice President Peter Rost and members of Congress hold a news conference "debunking the myth" that prescription drugs from abroad are unsafe, Dirksen, Washington, DC —12:00 pm: Rep. Jim Turner, Silvestre Reyes, others, hold a news conference to introduce a bill to transform the Southern Border, Washington, DC —12:00 pm: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace hosts a discussion on "What has Putin's Russia become?" Washington, DC —12:05 pm: President Bush participates in a joint press availability with Prime Minister Allawi of Iraq, Rose Garden, Washington, DC —12:15 pm: The Institute for Justice and Journalism holds a news conference on the impact of "Three Strikes You're Out" over 10 years, National Press Club, Washington, DC —12:45 pm: Allawi meets with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, US Capitol, Washington, DC —1:00 pm: House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats hold a news conference on a Republican proposal for a new national sales tax that they say would increase taxes for 80 percent of Americans by more than $3,000 a year, House Radio/TV Gallery, Washington, DC —2:30 pm: Teresa Heinz Kerry discusses rising health care costs at Bruce King New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum, Las Cruces, NM —2:30 pm: Allawi meets with World Bank President James Wolfensohn, World Bank, Washington, DC —3:00 pm: Allawi meets with IMF officials, IMF, Washington, DC —3:05 pm: Sen. John Edwards holds a conversation with women and their families on "Fighting the War on Terrorism," Davenport, IA —3:15 pm: Mrs. Bush delivers remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally at the Catherine S. Mark Boys and Girls Club, Wausau, WI —4:00 pm: President Bush makes remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally, Bangor, ME —4:35 pm: Vice President Cheney participates in a Victory 2004 Rally at the St. Joseph Civic Arena, St. Joseph, MO —6:00 pm: Allawi attends Council on Foreign Relations event, Mayflower, Washington, DC —6:30 pm: The Frontiers of Freedom Institute holds the 2004 Ronald Reagan Award Gala with Sen. Zell Miller speaking and receiving the 2nd Annual Ronald Reagan Award, Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC —7:00 pm: Sen. John Edwards holds a rally for a "stronger America," Cedar Rapids, IA