ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

For those keeping score at home: Bob Shrum's influence has diminished "significantly in the shake-up"; Mary Beth Cahill is still in charge of day-to-day operations. ". . . Lockhart, Whouley, Sasso and Cahill are 'essentially running the campaign' now, one high-level adviser to the campaign." Michael Whouley is managing trench warfare at the DNC. Michael McCurry, Joel Johnson and Douglas Sosnik, advise on message and strategy. John Sasso is "uber adult" on the road. Paul Begala "nearly" accepted a job months ago. President Clinton advised Kerry to stop being so passive and get in the game.

Flow charts made? Excellent.

Dick Morris keys off the recent staff changes at Kerry headquarters to write about Kerry's playing checkers against the president's "subtle game of chess." LINK

The New York Times ' Elisabeth Bumiller gets spokesman Mike McCurry to say criticizing President Bush's Guard record is "just not something that gets you anywhere." LINK

And she has this great color: "At the point that Mr. Kerry said Mr. Bush had not told the convention the truth, a man shouted out 'No!' As Mr. Kerry finished speaking, a few officers sat in their chairs, arms crossed. Col. Joanne F. Sheridan, of the Louisiana National Guard, got up and walked out before he was done."

So much for resisting negative campaigning. Kerry-Edwards '04 is launching a new 30-second ad slamming Vice President Cheney, saying that though Cheney has said he has no financial interest in Halliburton, he's gotten $2 million from the company while he's been in office. The 30-second spot will begin airing in battleground states and on national cable next week, and is part of the campaign's $50 million ad buy.

Script:

Cheney: "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had now for over three years."

Narrator: "The truth: As vice president, Dick Cheney received $2 million from Halliburton. Halliburton got billions in no-bid contracts in Iraq. Dick Cheney got $2 million. What did we get? A $200 billion dollar bill for Iraq. Lost jobs. Rising health care costs. It's time for a new direction. John Kerry. Stronger at home. Respected in the world."

John Kerry: "I'm John Kerry and I approve this message."

"Kerry pops up here and there, makes speeches and moves on. But nothing sticks with me, other than the nagging sense that Kerry can't quite warm to the task," opines Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson puts on his campaign strategist hat and explains why Senator Kerry needs to be more like Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral. Known as a flip-flopper, Cabral turned her image into one of a vibrant straight-talker, according to Jackson. LINK

The Washington Post 's Charles Krauthammer thinks John Kerry has "nowhere left to flop" on the Iraq war, accusing the Senator of taking every possible position on the war out of political expediency so that his credibility is shot. "These dizzying contradictions — so glaring, so public, so frequent — have gone beyond undermining anything Kerry can now say on Iraq. They have been transmuted into a character issue." LINK

Howard Kurtz's takes a look at the health care ad Camp Kerry released yesterday: LINK

AP's Carrie Spencer highlights Edwards' poking fun at Vice President Cheney's claim that economic indicators might be better if they included eBay sales. LINK

Senator Edwards has been focused on voters in Ohio and Kentucky. Local reax:

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