Morning Show Wrap, by ABC News Political Unit

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The morning shows led with blanket Ivan coverage.


On the second of three days of interviews with Bush-bashing Kitty Kelley, NBC's "Today" stepped up its criticism of Kelley's new book with Matt Lauer demanding to know: "Where are the positives, Kitty?"

In what Democrats are sure to see as a double standard, Bush campaign chair Marc Racicot rejected a news analysis by the Washington Post's Mike Allen of the cost of Bush's campaign promises by saying they will be "quantified when they actually become proposals." The Bush campaign has shown no reluctance to attach price tags to Kerry's still nascent proposals.

Howard Fineman's analysis of "Vietnam and Decision 2004" on "Today" was more critical of Kerry than Bush.


NBC's Matt Lauer challenged author Kitty Kelley about Sharon Bush's disavowal of the charge that Bush used drugs at Camp David. Kelley said: "Matt, I have three independent witnesses … good enough for a court of law … good enough for me. Good enough for four sets of lawyers who vetted this book." She also invoked a Southern adage to defend herself: "When you throw a rock at the pack of dogs, the one that is hit, is the one who barks," she said.

Kelley kept up the scrutiny on Bush's drug record by saying that Lt. Col. Robert Rogers told her that the reason for the gap in Bush's National Guard record is that the Air Force "started running drug tests."

"All he has to do is release the flight board inquiry record," she said.

Lauer read two statements from the Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Saudi Crown Prince discounting Kelley's claims about George H.W. Bush, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf War.

In the strangest moment of the interview, Kelley argued that her book included positive aspects of the Bush family. She then made a point about the "graciousness" of the Bush family by telling Lauer: "You play golf with the former President … you know that he's gracious," Lauer cut her off and denied having played golfed with 41.

"This isn't the first time that the White House, the Bush white House, has tried to trash the messenger," Kelley said.


Newsweek's Howard Fineman discussed "Vietnam and Decision 2004" with Katie Couric on "Today."

Fineman blamed Kerry for the race's focus on Vietnam and said that if he was going to talk about Vietnam as much as he did at his convention, "he needed to talk about his anti-war record." Fineman suggested that questions about Bush's National Guard service would be less damaging to him because he didn't choose to make what he did during the Vietnam era the focus of his campaign. Fineman also chided Kerry for not doing anything in advance to defend his Senate record.


With a Gallup Poll showing Bush pulling ahead of Kerry in the Badger State, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle was interviewed on CNN's "American Morning." Doyle said Bush has "got a very hard time talking about anything he's done on health care." Doyle said Wisconsin strongly support the ban on assault weapons. Doyle was challenged to explain how he could support the assault weapons ban given how it hurt Gore in 2000. Doyle pointed out that the question then was not assault weapons.

"People know the difference between an assault weapon and a deer rifle," he said.


Bush campaign chair Marc Racicot rejected Mike Allen's analysis of the cost of Bush's campaign promises. He said that they will be "quantified when they actually become proposals." (This has not stopped the Bush campaign from attaching a price tag to Kerry's nascent proposals). Racicot also counseled comparing the cost of Bush's plans to the expense of Kerry's health care plan which, Racicot alleged, will turn into a government-run system that "tells you what you can buy in terms of prescriptions."

Racicot defended Bush on the expiration of the assault weapons ban, restating that Bush would have supported it if Congress had passed it. Racicot was unphased when CNN's Bill Hemmer read a statement from Rep. Christopher Shays in which he warns that a terrible tragedy is going to happen with an assault weapon that is going to make members of Congress regret letting the ban lapse. Racicot said he was not worried and that "only the Administration has been focused on this until yesterday."


NBC's Norah O'Donnell previewed Bush's Guard speech and recapped the sparring on health care for "Today."


On CBS' Early Show, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh discussed the root causes of the abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib. He suggested that establishing a "rapport" with prisoners is a more effective way to get information than through "coercion." Hersh once again said the young men and women who engaged in sexual humiliation had to have been taught to act that way.


NBC's "Today" looked at the budget deficit, warning that "if our spending spree is not brought under control, we are in for some major turbulence."

Next week: "Today" will look at the separation of church and state.

9/11 WIDOWS:

ABC did a tell on the 9/11 widows who are expected to endorse Kerry today.


All three nets led with Hurricane Ivan.