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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

NEWS SUMMARY

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.

Also today, he first Enron case since Arthur Andersen gets underway in Houston.

The AP reports that the Bush Administration's official announcement that it will be lifting sanctions against Libya -- an action which is expected to trigger more than $1 billion in aid to the families of victims of Pan Am Flight 103 -- might come today. (Bush's decision to lift sanctions tricked out on Sunday.).

Also today, early voting in Virginia starts.

On Tuesday, Bush addresses the UN General Assembly. Bush's speech comes just six days after UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called the Iraq war "illegal."

Kerry appears on "Regis and Kelly" and campaigns in Florida with Edwards. No excuse absentee balloting in South Dakota begins.

On Wednesday, Bush meets with the president of Pakistan in New York. Kerry campaigns in Florida.

In the last Fed meeting before the November election, the Fed announces its interest rate decision. Most economists expect the Fed's Open Market Committee to raise the key interest rate by a quarter point. This would be the third rate increase this year, ABC News' Dan Arnall reports.

On Thursday, Bush meets with Allawi at the White House and holds a joint press conference. (And at some point during the week, Sen. Kerry might have a presser of his own, but with no foreign leader by his side!!)

Also Thursday, Kerry campaigns in Ohio and Iowa. Beginning Thursday, you can cast ballots early in Wyoming, North Dakota, Missouri (with restrictions), Alabama and … Iowa!

On Friday, Bush focuses on education in Wisconsin. Kerry campaigns in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

We reported in this space on Friday that the President was scheduled to appear on "Regis and Kelly" on Wednesday. Neither Bush nor his wife Laura Bush plan to appear on that show this week. We apologize to readers and the Regis bookers who called thanking us for the good news.

The debate about debates:

Although official spokespeople for both campaigns are sticking with their "no deal yet; we won't negotiate in the press" talking points, no one is seriously knocking down the Washington Post 's broken-field reporting that the guts of the Commission on Presidential Debates schedule will be agreed to.

Expect an announcement sometime soon.

That means you can sort of start planning on:

— Sept. 30: University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL: PBS' Jim Lehrer moderates; — Oct. 5: Vice presidential debate Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH: PBS' Gwen Ifill moderates; — Oct. 8: Washington University in St. Louis, MO: ABC's Charlie Gibson moderates: questions from undecided voters — Oct.. 13: Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ: CBS' Bob Schieffer moderates.

Now, anyone for whom this is not the first rodeo knows that James Addison Baker III is the KING of "nothing is decided until everything is decided," so this could all go south, we are assured.

Is the first debate topic going to switch from domestic to foreign? Could be?

Is the sticking point the procedure for picking the audience in the second debate? Could be.

As we said, be patient — it's possible that EVERYTHING will be decided and announced today!!!

Three great insidery paragraphs from the deadline-hugging duo of Allen and Balz in the Washington Post :

"Kerry's campaign sees the debates as especially important, coming after a period in which he has been put on the defensive by the Bush campaign and its conservative allies. Polls paint a confusing picture of the state of the race, with some showing a virtual dead heat and others giving Bush a clear advantage. In many of the key battleground states, Bush appears in stronger shape than his challenger." LINK

"Bush's chief negotiator, former secretary of state James A. Baker III, agreed to add the third debate in part because of Missouri's importance as a swing state and because the president did not want to be portrayed as ducking his opponent, according to a source."

"'The Bush campaign didn't want to do the town hall because they really didn't trust the process for identifying uncommitted voters,' said a Republican source familiar with the talks. 'But things are going so well for them and so poorly for Kerry that they didn't want to give Kerry an opportunity to change the subject and say that Bush is afraid of debates. Bush not doing debates or dragging out the debate on debates could have been played by the Kerry campaign as arrogance.'"

USA Today 's Susan Page, Judy Keen and Jill Lawrence write, "A presidential election that has lasted more than a year, cost a billion dollars and divided the nation into two unyielding camps is likely to be settled by this: three 90-minute encounters in college auditoriums." LINK

In Saturday's Boston Globe , Jesse Ventura and George Farah argued that the Commission on Presidential Debates doesn't play fair and is ineffective — "[the commission] submits to the shared demands of the Democratic and Republican candidates. . . . The commission merely implements and conceals the contracts, shielding the major party candidates from public criticism." LINK

Kelly Donahue and Jonathan Greenberger of Washington University's Student Life report "[M]ultiple University administrators also confirmed that no official word has been passed down from the commission about any firm agreement." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

On the front page of the Wall Street Journal , John Harwood tries to make sense of the polls that are confounding everyone trying to track the 2004 campaign, sifting through not only the conflicting numbers, polling techniques and philosophy but also the campaigns' spin. LINK

"The Bush campaign swiftly touts favorable surveys and seeks to discredit those showing Mr. Kerry drawing closer. The approach plays on the so-called bandwagon effects that energize supporters of a surging candidate and dispirit those of a lagging one. . . . Kerry advisers embrace dead-heat polls as a way to halt high-profile critiques of their campaign's inner workings and shift public dialogue to more fruitful ground such as violence in Iraq or domestic issues."

On Saturday, The New York Times ' Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder looked at the new New York Times /CBS News poll and find that voters feel Sen. Kerry hasn't made his case for why he should be president and why he can manage foreign policy better than President Bush can. Bush led Kerry among registered voters 50 percent to 42 percent, and 51 percent to 42 percent among likelies. With Ralph Nader in the mix, the numbers become 50-41-3. Bush's approval rating is 50 percent in the survey, with 42 percent disapproving.

As for President Bush, 51 percent of Americans still think that the country is headed in the wrong direction, and 50 percent disapprove of how the president has handled the economy, the duo report. In terms of clear vision and relevance, those surveyed gave the president high marks for having a plan, and criticized Sen. Kerry for attacking and talking about the past rather than offering a reason to vote for him — and more than 60 percent said they think he's hiding something about his Vietnam service. LINK

The Washington Post looks at the shrinking middle class but the person profiled does not seem to favor either Bush or Kerry. When the voter hears Kerry talk about the economy, he sneers: "Yeah, right." When Bush's voice comes on, the voter dubs him "a liar." LINK

The Washington Post ed board takes Bush and Kerry to task for their failure to face questions from reporters. LINK

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times takes a look at the healthcare crisis in the this country and John Kerry's and George Bush's plans to solve it. After doing so, he sums up thusly: LINK

"This fall's election probably won't illuminate the full magnitude of this choice. But make no mistake: These two men are offering radically divergent alternatives for how Americans should be protected against the inescapable adversities of life."

The New York Post 's Stefan Friedman has a brief mention of the close proximity of the two candidates in Manhattan today. LINK

The New York Post reports, "A record number of New Yorkers have forked over a stunning $16 million in donations to the presidential campaign — more than three times as much as they gave in the previous race for the White House, according to Crain's NY Business." LINK

Walter Shapiro's column will help America sleep better tonight. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

"Sen. John F. Kerry is set to give a speech in New York today in which he intends to intensify his criticism of Bush's decision-making on Iraq, and the Democratic National Committee is scheduled to hold a news conference in Washington with disgruntled mothers of U.S. troops serving in the war," writes Matea Gold as she raises the curtain on today's message. (Note lightning round trivia quiz: How many days has it been since Kerry advisers reportedly said the campaign would focus almost exclusively on domestic issues?) LINK

Beginning this week, the Washington Post reports, Kerry will "challenge the president's optimistic assessment of conditions in Iraq and then draw a sharp contrast with Bush over getting the United States out of the country within four years." LINK

Newsweek's Wolffe and Meadows write on Kerry's new effort to "engage in straight talk" on Iraq and report Kerry will spend "the closing week of the election" on Iraq. LINK

That Pat Healy is at it again — today with a look at the future of the Kerry-Edwards campaign from the eyes of a strategist, chock full of gob smacking blind quotes!! LINK

"'I think we have stabilized the situation where John was falling behind Bush, and now we are playing offense,' said a senior campaign adviser in Kerry's inner circle, one of several who spoke on the condition of anonymity. 'Last week was stronger than the week before, and this week will be even better. But this is not where we hoped to be.'"

"'Is it too late? I don't think so. But no one wanted to be asking that question in September,' the senior adviser said."

And the Healy nugget of the day: "'We have to reach a comfort level with the American people — they have to view John with a certain level of respect, an appreciation of his own strength, values, and character, a feeling that they can trust this person for the next four years,' said the senior adviser in Kerry's inner circle. 'I don't know how you do all that. It's an evolving process. But we need to do it quickly.'" We should say so! Forty-three days quickly!

Bill Safire imagines being inside Kerry's head and offers a 10-step program to turn things around. Boiled down: go after the Democratic base, stay on message, take a stand on the war, and define that message — short and to the point. LINK

In Time, Joe Klein writes in his column saying Kerry has to go for broke on Iraq (but Joe isn't bullish on his changes):

"Except for the elections -- which seem highly unlikely at this point -- all of Bush's statements have the virtue of being either true, truish or unprovable. His argument is tight, concise and, so far, impregnable. It is also a clever distortion of reality. If the National Intelligence Estimate is accurate, we are facing a far more dangerous world than existed before the war." LINK

After spending a few days on the road with Kerry, the New York Times ' Elisabeth Bumiller writes that Kerry is overarticulate, adding 12 words where one would do and that Kerry is the lead in a Shakespearean drama . . . more focused on his words than on his audience. LINK

Since Labor Day John Kerry has adopted a "clearly defined theme" of "wrong choices" versus a "new direction," writes Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times. Finnegan goes on to wonder whether it may be a bit too late. LINK

The New York Times ' Kit Seelye reports that KE04 is advertising in 13 states, pulling back from several where he'd been active on the air, and that the president is on the air in 18. LINK

The New York Times looks at Bush's criticism of Kerry's record on taxes and writes: "There is a kernel of truth … . But like many charges the candidates exchange, they are exaggerated to the point of distortion. LINK

Bob Herbert writes that if Kerry "tries to play hawk and dove at the same time" this week, "if he fails to draw convincingly a clear and distinct line between his approach to this great tragic misadventure and that of the Bush administration, he might as well fold his campaign tents and go home." LINK

Leon Panetta adds to the chorus of Democrats who say Kerry needs to choose a message and stick to it. LINK

Bob Kerrey says he would like to hear Sen. Kerry talk more about trade. LINK

Uber-Democrat Donna Brazile wrote, "In the final weeks of this campaign, Mr. Kerry should take a page from the playbook of Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist. Mr. Rove often advises his clients to attack their opponents on the very issue they perceive as their own greatest strength." LINK

The Washington Post does its own version of: is Edwards visible/tough enough? LINK

The New York Daily News' Isaac Guzman and Corky Siemaszko reported on Sunday that "half of the 34 ["Vote for Change'] shows have sold out, and the pro-Kerry MoveOn political action committee has kept ticket prices between $40 and $80 to make sure there aren't any empty seats when the tour kicks off Oct. 1 in Pennsylvania." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Hitt and Jake Schlesinger look at how President Bush will try to grab control of the Iraq debate this week with a U.N. speech and a meeting with Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, to signal the U.S.' commitment to democracy in the Middle East and framing his position that the war in Iraq is a key component to the war on terror. The duo also Note that Kerry's kicking up his own Iraq rhetoric this week, talking tough on the ongoing violence there.

About Iraq, Bob Novak writes, "Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal." LINK

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign has a new ad today on the president's agenda for the war on terror, titled "War on Terror Agenda."

The ad does NOT mention Sen. Kerry, instead focusing on the President's plan for homeland security, ABC News' Karen Travers report.

The points in the ad come from the campaign's Agenda for America, unveiled at the RNC last month.

Voice Over: President Bush and our leaders in Congress have a plan:Enhance border and port security. Increase homeland security measures. Reform and strengthen intelligence services. Renew the Patriot Act, giving law enforcement tools against terrorists. Create a national counterterrorism center. Transform our military. Give the military all it needs. Find terrorists where they train and hide

Voice Over: Learn more At AGENDAforAMERICA.com.

President Bush:I'm George W. Bush and I approve this message.

The Los Angeles Times on why Bush's "mixed message" of smaller deficit and costly new initiatives "may have more appeal to swing voters than the simpler message of old-fashioned conservatism, which calls for smaller government and less spending." LINK

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen on Saturday took a look at President Bush's efforts to woo women voters, emphasizing how his policies benefit women both in the United States and in Afghanistan. The strategy appears to have worked at least in the short term, as polls show Bush narrowing the gender gap with his appeal to "security moms." LINK

President Bush plans to "challenge the global community to do more to combat terrorism by fighting poverty, disease and illiteracy" as well as recommit to free elections in Iraq and Afghanistan this week, the Los Angeles Times' Ed Chen reports. LINK

The Washington Post looks at how CAFTA and sugar might hurt Bush in Minnesota and other farm states. LINK

Gangbusters coverage of President Bush in Florida: LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

E-voting goes national, the New York Times chronicles. LINK

And Electionline.org's Doug Chapin says it best:

"'The possibility for erroneous votes or malicious programming is not as great as critics would have you believe,' said Doug Chapin, the director of Electionline.org, a nonpartisan group tracking election reform. 'But it's more than defenders of the technology want to admit. The truth lies somewhere in between.'"

Like … what happened to 245 votes in Hillsborough County, FL? LINK

Here's a classic Washington Post article on the Democratic/Republican worldview clash about ballot integrity, which leads us to ask: can ANY investigation into voter fraud NOT be seen by Democrats as potentially intimidating voters? By contrast, will ANY accusation of voter intimidation not be immediately discounted by Republicans? LINK

The CBS documents:

As we anticipate today's statement from CBS (See: LINK and LINK) a look at this weekend's developments and the newspaper tick-tocks pretty much presages where this thing is going:

In Sunday's paper, "60 Minutes" Executive Producer Josh Howard told the Washington Post that "We completely abandoned the process of authenticating the documents. Obviously, looking back on it, that was a mistake. We stopped questioning ourselves. I suppose you could say we let our guard down." LINK

On Saturday, the Washington Post 's Michael Dobbs led with a series of Internet postings by Retired Lt. Col. Bill Burkett, a suspected source of the CBS documents, calling on Democrats to wage "war" against Republican "dirty tricks." Burkett told the Post by e-mail that "he would speak out 'at the appropriate time' but 'that time is not now.'" LINK

Newsweek reports that, according to a "source who worked with CBS on the story," Burkett was "identified by a producer as a conduit for the documents" and that Dan Rather called him directly after the story ran and expressed "his and the network's '"full support.' LINK

Dobbs also Notes the Los Angeles Times' ID of "Buckhead," the first blogger to raise questions about the documents just hours after the "60 Minutes" broadcast: Atlanta lawyer Harry W. MacDougald, reported to have conservative Republican connections.

In paragraph 9, Dobbs re-caps the Pentagon's release last night of more records of President Bush's service with the Texas National Guard, including the letter from then-Lt. Bush's father to his commanding officer.

On Saturday, The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten profile "Buckhead." LINK

(See also Howie Kurtz on the bloggers: LINK )

The New York Times ' David Kirkpatrick and Jim Rutenberg led on Saturday with Burkett's post that he unsuccessfully offered the Kerry campaign advice and information to use against Bush. "Mr. Burkett did not say what information he offered. Earlier this year, he gained attention for saying that in 1998 he saw aides to Gov. George W. Bush of Texas and Guard officials dispose of pieces of Mr. Bush's National Guard record that could prove politically embarrassing. Mr. Bush's aides have denied his account." LINK

They also mentioned ABC News' conversation with former Col. Walter B. Staudt, who said he "'never pressured anybody about George Bush.'"

The New York Times ' Dick Stevenson and Raymond Bonner had on Saturday the letter to Maj. Gen. G. B. Greene Jr., then the commander of the Lackland Military Training Center in Texas, from President Bush's father thanking Greene for taking an interest in his son. LINK

The New York Times ' Sara Rimer looks at Bush in 1972 and sees "a portrait of a young man like many other young men of privilege in that turbulent time — entitled, unanchored and safe from combat, bouncing from a National Guard slot made possible by his family's prominence to a political job arranged through his father." LINK

So, in conclusion: the weekend press release from the GOP side saying more needs to be done to tease out any and all connections between Democratic/Kerry operatives and any document fakery is spot on, and Dan Bartlett should not be relied on to authenticate documents.

And now we wait, tick tock tick tock tick tock, for CBS . . .

ABC News Vote 2004: The Big Four: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin:

The Chicago Tribune's Zeleny and Silva have a must-read on how three hurricanes have changed the political terrain in Florida. LINK

A big story Republicans have complained about for weeks: that the Florida Democratic Party reported spending a trifle on federal politics when their activities showed otherwise.

"Either the state Democratic Party was doing precious little to help John Kerry win Florida, or it was violating federal election laws. Such was the impression left by the party's federal campaign finance reports for most of this year, which prompted the Federal Election Commission twice to question whether the Democrats were failing to comply with campaign finance requirements." LINK

"Despite those FEC inquiries, Florida Democratic chairman Scott Maddox said Friday the party just realized its "clerical error" and is about to file amended reports."

"'We caught it when you said that,' Maddox said after the St. Petersburg Times asked the party about its reports. 'Our problem was a reporting problem, not a compliance problem.'"

"Through July in this presidential election year, the party reported — wrongly, it turns out — that it spent less than $3,000 on federal political activity. In contrast, the state Republican Party in July alone reported spending nearly $310,000 on federal activity."

Key quote about African American turnout in Florida from an NAACP official: "I think it may not be as high as 2000, but I'm hopeful that it will be high." LINK

Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer looked at the huge Democratic GOTV push in the absolutely critical Philadelphia area, by ACT and others. LINK

Let the vote-trading begin! The Philadelphia Inquirer's Nussbaum Notes the beginning of one of the Googling monkeys' favorite election year pastimes. "You can now arrange to trade votes with a voter in another state, under a plan created by activists who don't want Ralph Nader to siphon off votes from John Kerry in vital swing states." VotePair.org is the name, getting Kerry third-party voters in battleground states is the game. LINK

Peter O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote Sunday of the huge number of absentee ballots expected in the Keystone State on Nov. 2. LINK

You gotta love state politics. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at the challenges for Pennsylvania Democrats in taking back the state legislature: "There are two major obstacles … : gerrymandering by Republicans after the 2000 census and (Ed) Rendell himself, who promised not to campaign against Republican candidates in suburban Philadelphia in exchange for votes for his budget and for slot machine gambling." LINK

On Saturday, the New York Times ' Edmund Andrews took a closer look at the state-by-state unemployment figures that show jobs weren't being created in some swing states last month. Ohio, for example, "lost 11,800 jobs in August and has about 40,000 fewer jobs than when the nation's job market began to pick up a year ago." LINK

The Amish don't just live in Pennsylvania. " … in an election that figures to come down to the wire, both political parties — particularly the Republicans — are reaching out to Amish country--" a typically low turnout group which prefers praying for politicians instead of voting for them reports the Columbus Dispatch. LINK

Shockingly, some candidates are expected in the Buckeye State this week. The Columbus Dispatch has this little nugget. "John Kerry is expected to arrive in Columbus on Wednesday night and appear at an event Thursday, where the Massachusetts senator plans to discuss homeland security and other issues with undecided voters, campaign officials said." LINK

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has the Mason Dixon poll results on the constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage (which hasn't yet qualified for the ballot) and declares its passage all but certain. LINK

The economy:

The Wall Street Journal 's Greg Hitt looks at how the unemployment numbers are playing in the battleground states. "The national employment picture has brightened during recent months and, after hesitating, employers have added 1.7 million jobs in the past year, a fact President Bush cites regularly. But the picture is mixed in the states where the presidential race is closest — and where the outcome is likely to be decided."

In the Wall Street Journal , David Wessel writes that while presidents take the hit for the economy, job creation, and the stock market, they don't have that much control over them.

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

The New York Times ' Sheryl Gay Stolberg offered up a profile of the Oklahoma Senate race — or, more accurately, the conservative GOP nominee, Rep. Tom Coburn — as a way of looking at the state's place in what Norm Ornstein refers to as a "Republican passion play" between "candidates of the establishment and candidates of the nonestablishment ideological wing" being played out in several Senate races this year. Stolberg only briefly mentions the charge from a former patient of Coburn, a family doctor, that he sterilized her without her consent (though she admits he saved her life.) LINK

Today, Stolberg wraps the fiery debate between Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and former Rep. John Thune on "Meet." LINK

No, this sentence is not a parody: "Visibly upset, Daschle called Thune's remarks 'disappointing' … ." (From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader on yesterday's debate. LINK)

USA Today 's Mimi Hall writes about how terror and some very direct television ad images are playing in the Wisconsin and Washington senate races. LINK

The Seattle Times' Jim Brunner has an excellent look at the Washington senate contest between Murray and Nethercutt, Noting that both insiders cut their teeth campaigning as outsiders. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: initiatives and referenda:

The Washington Post 's David Broder on Saturday took an excellent inventory of the initiatives on the ballot in more than 30 states, on issues from gay marriage and stem cell research to medical malpractice awards and state primary and voting processes. This one's a clip-and-save. LINK

The New York Times ' Kirk Johnson artfully deconstructed on Sunday the proposed electoral vote splitting measure on Colorado's ballot. (Read this please!) LINK

The New York Times ' John Broder and Andrew Pollack look at the California ballot measure that would defy the Bush White House and spend $3 billion on stem cell research. Gov. Schwarzenegger, who supports stem cell research in principle, "has not announced a position on the initiative." Among those backing the measure are Bill Gates and Michael J. Fox. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Nader-Camejo:

It may have been a party hearty weekend for the folks at Nader-Camejo after two big court wins that put them on the ballot in Florida and Colorado, decided late Friday. LINK

As we said, herald the return of Nader trading: VotePair.org, a new site that seeks to organize Nader and other so-called third party voters to swap votes between battleground and safe states, officially launched at the stroke of midnight early this morning. According to a project organizer, the first registrant was received within 3 minutes. LINK

The Rocky Mountain News praised the "legal high road" decision of Denver District Judge John McMullen who put Nader back on the ballot in Colorado. LINK

Gannett News Service takes stock of Michael Peroutka, Michael Badnarik, and other candidates who may make a dent in the Kerry-Bush vote. "If Ralph Nader is a third-party candidate, call these guys fourth-party candidates." LINK

The Daily Orange Notes Nader on campus ain't what it used to be as his support among younger voters has dwindled. LINK

The politics of foreign policy:

The New York Times picks up Allawi's "tepid response" on "This Week" when asked whether Iranians were causing trouble in Iraq and contrasts his comments with complaints from Powell and Rumsfeld about Iran providing support for the insurgency in Iraq. LINK

"The 9/11 commission's recommendation to create a panel that would safeguard our rights needs serious debate before the election," writes the New York Times ed board. LINK

The Washington Post 's Sebastian Mallaby smartly deconstructs the "three" debates over Iraq. LINK

The march toward democracy is not inevitable, writes the Washington Post 's Fred Hiatt. LINK

The Washington Post ed board writes that neither Kerry nor Bush has developed a "convincing plan" for dealing with Iran. LINK

Politics:

The Des Moines Register 's Tom Paluch reports that Sunday's Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola had about half the crowd of last year's Clintonfest, but Elizabeth Edwards, Tom Arnold, and Sheryl Crow were on hand … and Sen. Harkin even used his forward-in-D-and-reverse-in-R metaphor! LINK

Can you believe next Monday will mark 10 years since 300 candidates took to the West Front steps of the Capitol to sign the GOP's "'Contract with America.'" ???LINK

Roll Call Notes that Dick Gephardt has not been doing much electioneering this season. LINK

Altria, a.k.a., Phillip Morris, is shelling out to Dems, according to Roll Call . LINK

The Wall Street Journal ed board hopes that Sen. John McCain "making noises" about not supporting the highway bill will spell its death — and is nursing a powerful anger against Republican spending. "There's a good reason that John Kerry is running for President, however fabulously, as a fiscal conservative. Republicans might want to reconsider handing the Democratic challenger even more ammunition — to go along with the farm bill and Medicare drug benefit — for his stump speeches on President Bush's indifference to federal spending."

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—9:30 am: The Select Intelligence Committee holds an open hearing at the Capitol on the nomination of Rep. Porter Goss as the Director of Central Intelligence, Washington, DC —10:00 am: Sen. John Kerry delivers a major foreign policy speech at New York University, New York, NY —10:00 am: Elizabeth Edwards holds a health care discussion at Page Belting, Concord, NH —10:00 am: Andre Heinz visits a Bowling Green American Government class, Bowling Green, OH —11:00 am: Vice President Cheney holds a town hall meeting at Brenner Machine Co., Cornwall, PA —12:00 pm: Sen. John Edwards holds a town hall meeting at the Raleigh Convention and Conference Center, Raleigh, NC —12:30 pm: Sen. Kerry speaks at the Mothers and Shakers Awards at Lincoln Center, New York, NY —12:30 pm: Treasury Secretary John Snow holds a press conference at the National Press Club, Washington, DC —12:30 pm: Andre Heinz visits a University of Toledo voter registration drive, Toledo, OH —1:00 pm: Mothers of men and women serving in overseas hold a DNC press conference with Sen. Blanche Lincoln to criticize President Bush and launch "Moms with a Mission: Home Front Tour," Washington, DC —1:50 pm: President Bush holds an "Ask President Bush" event at the Sportzone Indoor Sports Complex, Derry, NH —2:00 pm: The Senate convenes for morning business —2:00 pm: Elizabeth Edwards holds a health care discussion at Hunt Memorial Building, Nashua, NH —3:00 pm: Sen. Kerry meets with business leaders, New York, NY —4:30 pm: KE04 holds a reception during the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, DC —5:20 pm: Andre Heinz holds a rally at Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH —5:30 pm: Sen. Edwards holds a community gathering at the Bond Hill recreation center, Cincinnati, OH —5:30 pm: The Senate votes on the Military Construction Appropriations bill at the Capitol, Washington, DC —5:45 pm: Sen. Kerry tapes an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman," New York, NY —6:00 pm: Elizabeth Edwards speaks at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH —6:00 pm: Vice President Cheney holds a rally at Grove City High School Rec Center, Grove City, OH —6:05 pm: President Bush holds an RNC fundraiser at the Sheraton, New York, NY —7:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a DNC fundraiser at the Hilton, New York, NY —8:35 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a DNC fundraiser at the Hilton, New York, NY