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43 days until Election Day 10 days until the first proposed presidential debate 15 days until the proposed vice presidential debate 18 days until the second proposed presidential debate 23 days until the third proposed presidential debate


It might not be correct — and it might not be appropriately nuanced — but sometimes consensus reigns and for a brief moment in time, the entire meta-narrative of a presidential campaign can be boiled down to one sentence:

If John Kerry can convince Americans that President Bush will continue to make a mess of Iraq, he can win the election — and nothing else matters.

Bill Safire, Joe Klein, and at least some Democrats advising John Kerry all agree on that.

The conclusion of the debate about debates; an RNC mailing about the Bible; the economy (!); Dan Rather; Dr. Phil; David Letterman; whether John Edwards is being "used" the right way; health care (!!); Social Security transition costs (!!!); who is writing the next Bob Shrum profile; Mel Martinez versus Tim Russert; the magic of Page Belting — none of that matters at this snapshot in time.

So with Gotham City the focus of all things presidential for the next 48 hours, let us turn our attention to John Kerry's current attempt to refram the Iraq debate, and the entire campaign shooting match.

This morning, Kerry intends to discuss the consequences of "the mess" President Bush has made in Iraq at an NYU speech.

Kerry's speech is expected to outline "what needs to be done" without providing a point-by-point exit plan. Kerry's NYU speech comes on the same day that his campaign releases an ad that chides Bush for shortchanging education and health care by choosing to "go it alone" in Iraq.

You can bet that BC04RNC will respond in full force to whatever Kerry says.

While in New York, the Democratic nominee also speaks at a lunch and tapes an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

In Derry, NH, Bush is expected to jump on comments made last week by Kerry military adviser Ret. Adm. William Crowe and chide Kerry for promoting a policy of "defeat and retreat." Per campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel, Bush will be joined at the Derry event by a tax family, a small business owner, a job training graduate, and a small business owner who supports Association Health Plans.

Bush was criticized by multiple Republican Senators on Sunday for his handling of Iraq, and weekday TV evening newscasts might well find that worthy of recycling a cycle late(r). (See: LINK and LINK)

The Boston Herald's Andrew Miga writes that Kerry "got a boost yesterday from a surprise source: three top GOP senators." LINK

Both candidates end their day raising money for their respective parties at hotels in Midtown Manhattan. (Note to Gabe Pressman and Andrew Kirtzman: We know it is odd, but we don't want you to get your assignments wrong. The Republicans are actually at the Sheraton while the Democrats are at the Hilton.)

Elizabeth Edwards talks health care while campaigning in Concord at 10:00 am ET, in Nashua at 2:00 pm ET and in Durham, NH at 6:00 pm ET.

The Select Intelligence Committee holds a hearing on Porter Goss' nomination to be the new Director of Central Intelligence at 9:30 am ET.

The DNC holds a press conference featuring mothers of men and women serving in Iraq launching "Moms with a Mission: Home Front Tour" at 1:00 pm ET.

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