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49 days until Election Day 16 days until the first proposed presidential debate

NEWS SUMMARY

As the Chattering Class flaunts its immaturity by asking the "Is he toast?" question with numbing repetition, the Kerry masterminds continue to look at the "facts on the ground," the semi-friendly contours of the Electoral College, and the wrong track number and point out rightly that they are very much in the game.

Facing an incumbent who (every traveling reporter agrees!) has hit his campaign-trail stride and has the attack/response/vision thing down pat, Kerry wakes up in the critical Badger State today and this is what he has to work with in terms of "facts":

1. A rock-solid Mike Allen front-page Washington Post explosion, making it clear that the President's tax and spending plans would almost certainly run up even more giant deficits than John Kerry's proposals would or than America has now — a whopping $3 trillion in new spending, a number that "far eclipses" the cost of Kerry's proposals. LINK

(Note Note: it is exceedingly difficult to get a Googling monkey to understand the concept of "Social Security transition costs," but we think we are almost there.)

Bush campaign chair Marc Racicot rejected Allen's analysis of the cost of Bush's campaign promises this morning on CNN, saying 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."

2. A car bomb in Iraq that kills more than 50, as part of a September of spiraling instability and death.

3. This parody of a Democratic Party dream of a newspaper headline leading the best selling daily in America ( USA Today ): "Medical Costs Eat at Social Security." LINK

4. The confusing Bush campaign embrace of an American Enterprise Institute study which says that the President's health care plan will cover substantially fewer new people than the White House claims.

5. Major-league bracketing of the President's appearance today before the National Guard Association of the United States — the endorsement of Kerry by some of the most prominent 9/11 widows; a revved up challenge to the President's Guard policies (from protesting families, as chronicled in the Los Angeles Times LINK); and a revved up challenge to the President's Guard past (from some military men who supported him in 2000 and a new DNC video press release with a pulsating soundtrack that is the hottest thing since "John Kerry: International Man of Mystery.")

Is all that worth, say, 2 percent in the national polls? As the clear-thinking Ed Chen would say: only time will tell.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks 225,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves have been activated for full-time duty, their largest sustained mobilization since World War II, and 50,000 of them are on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan (40 percent of the U.S. forces).

Today, the President who sent them there will speak to the Guard's annual conference in Las Vegas, two days before his opponent Sen. John Kerry does the same.

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