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


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.

At virtually the same moment 3,000 miles away, the most prominent widows of the victims of Sept. 11 will endorse Sen. Kerry in a press conference at the National Press Club, ABC News' Ed O'Keefe reports, as the candidate tries to steer the debate back to health care after spending a couple of campaign days attacking President Bush over the assault weapons ban. (AP also reports that two of them will campaign for Kerry after tomorrow.)

ABC News' Arash Ghadishah previews the President's speech today, Noting that Bush will not engage on the recent debate over his own time in the National Guard, but will tell the military audience he is proud of his service. Bush will also lavish much praise on today's Guard for their service and achievements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Just before the President's speech in Vegas, National Guard families and family members of American troops who have died in Iraq will hold a press conference criticizing the president.

"When President Bush arrives in Las Vegas today to address a convention of National Guardsmen, a group of families will be there as well, intent on protesting the Iraq war and a president who they say used his Guard service to avoid combat," writes the Los Angeles Times' La Ganga. LINK

And back in Washington the DNC officially launches "Operation Fortunate Son," an even more sustained push to portray Bush as a creature of special interests favors and interests beginning with his time in the Guard. That begins this morning at 10:30 am ET with a press conference at DNC headquarters where party chairman Terry McAuliffe will unveil a new video questioning the President's National Guard tenure.

Apparently, all this Dem activity before tomorrow hasn't been official. Go figure.

Bush's speech to the Guard is at 3:10 pm ET. Beforehand he holds a rally 10:45 am ET at Coors Amphitheater in Greenwood Village, CO.

Kerry will claim the President has neglected senior citizens by allowing Medicare premiums to rise 56 percent and bankruptcies to rise 213 percent among senior citizens. "He's driving our senior citizens right out of the middle class," Kerry will say, according to the campaign preview. "Seniors are getting squeezed like never before — but for big drug companies, these truly are the golden years."

Kerry has town halls in Milwaukee (9:30 am ET) and Toledo (3:00 pm ET).

In Washington, the Sept. 11 widows who will endorse Kerry include Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg, and Lorie Van Auken, all founders of the September 11th Advocates. They hold their press conference at the National Press Club at 2:30 pm ET.

And don't forget that the hearings into Rep. Porter Goss's nomination to be CIA director open today.

Vice President Cheney is in Arkansas and West Virginia today; Sen. John Edwards is in Oregon; Ralph Nader is in Michigan and Illinois; First Lady Laura Bush is in Ohio; Teresa Heinz Kerry is in Pennsylvania; Elizabeth Edwards in is Minnesota; and Vanessa Kerry is in Iowa.

Voters go to the polls for primaries in nine states and the District of Columbia today. Washington's Democratic gubernatorial primary between Attorney General Christine Gregoire and King County Executive Ron Sims is the highest profile race in the mix.

The other states holding primaries are: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

Ron Fournier's on the road again and gives us a short-and-to-the-point synopsis of what happened yesterday on the trail. LINK

The Las Vegas Review-Journal's Erin Neff reports, "For the first time in Nevada history, all four candidates on the Republican and Democratic presidential tickets will campaign here in the same week, placing an additional spotlight on the Battle Born state as a battleground." LINK

More: "It is a fitting place for the convention, as Nevada has the highest percentage of activated National Guard members in the country. At times this year, nearly 60 percent of the Nevada Guard was serving overseas."

And more: "The Democratic National Committee will launch a new ad today in Nevada and other battleground states, focusing on Guard service. The 30-second spot says Republicans have failed to equip troops and are to blame for involuntary extensions of duty."

USA Today 's shoe-leathery Bill Nichols previews the National Guard Association speeches by Bush and Kerry, reporting, "In more than two dozen interviews of the nearly 4,000 delegates and exhibitors arriving here [in Las Vegas], current and retired Guard members offered the same advice to Bush and Kerry: Focus on the future of the military and give the rehash of Vietnam a rest." LINK

For more on the National Guard Association of the United States, click here: LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Anne Marie Squeo deftly reports on Bush and Kerry's mutual calls for broadband for all, Noting that "both duck a central issue: Should a nationwide broadband rollout be subsidized by the government?"

The Wall Street Journal 's editorial board thinks Kerry is calling for détente with Iran and North Korea. The board does not like what it hears.

The Washington Post ed board argues that while neither President Bush or Sen. Kerry has anything resembling a real plan to cut the deficit, Kerry has "endorsed real budget discipline measures" as Bush, "despite those changed circumstances [of 9/11], and the additional costs of prosecuting the war in Iraq . . . pressed ahead with tax cuts that dug the hole deeper — and he wants even more, at a far higher cost, if he is reelected." LINK

We bet that the end of George Melloan's Wall Street Journal column extolling the virtues of the Bush economy will make Bob Rubin and Roger Altman (and Paul Krugman) annoyed:

"The Bush administration likes to take credit for the recovery and it has a legitimate claim. Instead of trying to finance homeland security and the Iraqi war and reconstruction with higher taxes, it made the crucial decision to lower taxes instead. A reduced tax burden correlates with faster economic growth just about anywhere you look."

"The upshot of all that spending, of course, was a large federal deficit, now estimated at $422 billion for the fiscal year ending 16 days from now. Earlier, a $477 billion shortfall was predicted, but faster growth pumped up revenues. The deficit is huge, of course, and Mr. Bush has caught hell from both left and right for not exercising better control of spending. Yet Dems of the past, citing the sainted Lord Keynes, would have argued that deficit spending was exactly the right medicine for recession. A better argument is that when interest rates are low, it's wiser to borrow than to tax."

"It's wiser still to control spending. But that's an argument for another time. Right now, Mr. Kerry has a problem. The good times are rolling on."

"Another time," indeed!!!

Elie Wiesel shakes his head at the state of politics on the Washington Post op-ed page and writes that this year, "One could almost say that the goal is not to inspire but to incite, not to inform but to dumb down." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry: the politics of health care:

USA Today 's William Welch reports, "With a new Medicare drug benefit set to begin in 2006, Americans 65 and older can expect to spend a large and growing share of their Social Security checks on Medicare premiums and expenses, previously undisclosed federal data show." LINK

Knight Ridder's Ron Hutcheson and James Kuhnhenn take a great look at the health care back-and-forth between the Bush and Kerry camps on Monday, with President Bush saying Senator Kerry favors a huge government-run health care program and Kerry, strenuously avoiding comparisons to the failed 1993 health care proposal by the Clinton Administration, saying a new bureaucracy would not grow from his plan, which tax incentives would fuel. LINK

"The Kerry camp, citing an independent study, says its plan would cost about $650 billion over 10 years and would be paid for by ending the current tax cut for taxpayers with incomes greater than $200,000. But the Bush camp is relying on a new study by the American Enterprise Institute, a center-right think tank, which places the cost of Kerry's plan closer to $1.5 trillion over 10 years. . . . The Kerry plan, the study said, would cover 27.3 million currently uninsured Americans, whereas the Bush proposal would cover only 6.7 million uninsured Americans."

The New York Times ' David Sanger writes up President Bush's Monday criticism of Kerry's health care plan. LINK

ABC News' Karen Travers reports that the RNC is not going up with a new ad, Republican officials say, but are going in on a coordinated buy with the BC04 campaign on today's new health care ad attacking Sen. Kerry.

Hitting back on an issue that BC04 officials admit could pose problems for them, the campaign has released its second ad in a week focusing on health care, "Healthcare: Practical Vs. Big Government."

It will begin airing on national cable and in local markets in battleground states today.

The ad compares President Bush's health care plan, focusing on small businesses, medical liability reform and health savings accounts, with Sen. Kerry's, which the ad calls "government-run health care," that puts "Washington bureaucrats in control."

The ad says that Sen. Kerry's health care plan will cost $1.5 trillion, citing the "non-partisan American Enterprise Institute" as it source in the ad facts. Vice President Cheney also cited the study yesterday at a town meeting in Iowa, saying Kerry's health care plan "breaks the bank," Travers reports.

ABC News' Arash Ghadishah reports that the President touted his own modest health care reform plan while attacking his opponent's proposal as a "government takeover of health care with enormous prices." The explicit result of Kerry's health plan, said Bush, would be higher taxes, a change the president called characteristic of Kerry. "What would you expect from a Senator from Massachusetts … You can't pay for it unless you raise taxes," warned President Bush.

The study released by AEI today says: "Over the ten-year period between 2006 and 2015, the Kerry plan would increase federal outlays by about $1.5 trillion. That estimate nets out the savings that could be obtained from several provisions included in the plan."

The Kerry campaign calls the report "flawed" and Notes that AEI is "A Major Employer of the Cheney Family."

Last week the campaign released an ad, "Medicare Hypocrisy," which the campaign says "highlights John Kerry's record of voting for higher Medicare premiums and missing a vote to give seniors prescription drug coverage."

Script for "Healthcare: Practical vs. Big Government":

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

Voice Over: On healthcare … President Bush and our leaders in Congress have a practical plan: Allow small businesses to join together to get lower insurance rates big companies get. Stop frivolous lawsuits against doctors. Health coverage you can take with you.

Graphic: President Bush & Congressional Plan: Small Businesses Join Together to Get Lower Rates. Stop Frivolous Lawsuits. Health Savings Accounts — Job to Job Coverage

Voice Over: The Liberals in Congress and Kerry's Plan:Washington bureaucrats in control. A government-run healthcare plan.1.5 trillion dollar price tag.

Graphic: Liberals in Congress & Kerry's Plan: Big Government-Run Healthcare At a Cost of $1.5 Trillion

Voice Over: Big government in charge. Not you. Not your doctor.

Nick Anderson of the Los Angeles Times offers up his "Ad Watch" on the spot. LINK

For more on Bush's criticisms of Kerry's health care plan, see Allen again: LINK

And USA Today 's Richard Benedetto: LINK

An issues story!!! The Los Angeles Times sizes up the candidates' health care proposals and only briefly refers to the latest Time magazine poll numbers showing Kerry with a slight advantage on this issue and a breezy Rahm Emanuel looking for a health care bumper sticker slogan from Kerry. LINK

"For Kerry, healthcare's rising cost is a big part of the 'middle-class squeeze' that he says is Bush's legacy. For Bush, the health insurance system is — like pensions and workplace rules — an outmoded, government-regulated relic of another era. He would replace it as part of his push for an 'ownership society,' which he says would give individuals more responsibility and control over their lives."

Peter Wallsten of that same Left Coast paper hones in on the back and forth over importing prescription drugs from Canada. LINK

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

The Washington Post 's David Brown reports Bush's AIDS plan has increased the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy by 25,000. LINK

The New York Times ' Felicity Barringer writes the administration's environmental policy has "accelerated resource development on public lands" and "pushed to eliminate regulatory hurdles for military and industrial projects." LINK

The AP reports that Bush's baseball buddies are standing behind their man. LINK

Have you ever wondered how exactly a President of the Untied States can just hop off a bus in the middle of Michigan and get some ice cream? Michigan's Holland Sentinel has every last delicious detail from yesterday's OTR. LINK

"Van Dam suggested the 'Tommy Turtle,' the shop's signature sundae of vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, hot caramel, butter pecans, whipped cream and cherries."

"While she tried to give him the $2.50 sundae for free, Van Dam said the president told them he was legally obligated to pay for it."

"So, when he pulled out his wallet and gave them a $10 bill, Van Dam decided to charge him 25 cents. Bush gave Van Dam and cashier Nicole Prince a two dollar tip, which they split."

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

Vice President Cheney talked about the recent terror attacks in Russia and the war in Iraq in the same sentence yesterday, reports ABC News' Karen Travers.

Cheney: "Russia of course did not support us in Iraq, they did not get involved in sending troops there. They got hit anyway. I think we're back now reassessing what the motives may be of the people who are launching these attacks."

Speaking of European countries, Cheney said, "I think some have hoped that if they kept their heads down and stayed out of the line of fire they wouldn't get hit. I think what happened in Russia demonstrates pretty conclusive that everybody is a target."

The Washington Post 's Lisa Rein on Dick Cheney's statement that recent terrorism in Russia may signal an increasingly aggressive response from European governments. LINK

At a town meeting in Ottumwa, IA, Vice President Cheney met Branden Zahlne, a 19-year old military convoy escort who served six months in Iraq and wanted to tell the Vice President yesterday that he supported the war effort there despite his injuries.

Zahlne was wounded when he was thrown from his Humvee in June, sustaining internal injuries and a broken pelvis.

The 19-year old said that he went to Iraq supporting the Bush Administration and what they were trying to do there and despite being injured, he came back still supporting the president. After he finished his remarks, Cheney came over to speak to him for several minutes.

Zahlne told Travers that he is a long-time Republican from a Republican family. When asked about the war in Iraq as a campaign issues, he said that he was upset about Senator Kerry's vote on the $87 billion funding for Iraq.

Zahlne said that he saw Humvees there that did not have armor. In fact, on just his 7th day in Iraq, he saw a fellow soldier lose a limb after getting hit in his Humvee that did not have armor. Zahlne's unit did have body armor but he said, "when I hear how Senator Kerry voted against the $87 billion, I don't understand why he wouldn't want to protect us like that."

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren wraps Kerry's yesterday criticism of Bush and the assault weapons ban lapse and reports that the campaign has asked Mike McCurry to join the daily press staff. LINK

"The campaign asked Michael D. McCurry, the former White House press secretary, to travel with Mr. Kerry for the remainder of the race. Mr. McCurry's successor as Mr. Clinton's spokesman, Joe Lockhart, had planned to fill that seat when he joined the campaign last month but has instead assumed a broader strategic role."

"Kerry's comments came as he accepted the endorsement of the National Assn. of Police Organizations, a coalition of unions and law-enforcement groups," adds Michael Finnegan of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Buried at the end of his stellar write-up of the days' activities with the campaigns concerning assault weapons, Pat Healy of the Boston Globe shares some Kerry tidbits. LINK

"Kerry plans to spend several hours a week on debate work, such as briefing books and memos prepared by aides that include shorter responses with plainer language. At recent town hall meetings with voters, Kerry has been trying to tighten up his opening remarks to between 15 and 20 minutes — about half as long as he took at some of these forums as recently as last month."

The Washington Post 's Jim VandeHei reports on Kerry's criticism of President Bush yesterday and says campaign advisers are calling Kerry's speech in Detroit on Wednesday the "biggest economic speech of the fall." LINK

The Washington Post 's E.J. Dionne writes that "it was heartening to see Kerry challenge Bush on the president's failure to push for a renewal of the assault weapons ban. Here is a chance to move the gun debate away from the vague terrain of 'pro-gun' vs. 'anti-gun' to a concrete discussion of a measure that 57 percent of those with a gun in their household and 32 percent of NRA members support." LINK

The Washington Post 's Richard Cohen thinks Sen. Ted Kennedy has something to say — and that Sen. Kerry should listen. LINK

Juan Gonzalez Notes grumbling among key Democratic black leaders (many of whom he was glad-handing with at the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner on Saturday night) and union officials who are growing worried about the direction of John Kerry's presidential campaign with a familiar refrain that he is playing too much to the middle. LINK

Edwards pushes the KE04 health care plan in New Mexico: LINK

The New York Times ' Sharon Waxman reports that George Butler "took a hatchet" to his "Going Upriver" documentary after the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads attacked Kerry's Vietnam service record. LINK

Page Six has the scoop on Teresa Heinz Kerry's conversation with Kenneth Cole for the upcoming issue of Harper's Bazaar. LINK

"[People] think that if you have money you have no feelings or conscience. But when people get to know me, if I was any of that, they wouldn't dare hug me, kiss me and speak to me in personal terms," says Heinz Kerry.

President Bush and the National Guard: the politics of the documents:

The New York Times and the Washington Post take us in two different directions today; The Post furthers the investigative angle, while the Times dishes with unnamed (and named) CBS News correspondents like, oh, say, Mike Wallace.

The bottom line of this story has not changed: CBS News broadcast charges against the president of the United States in an election year based at least partially on documents that many leading experts believe to be forgeries.

If an IBM Executive or Selectrix Composer could reproduce the documents faithfully, that might settle some of the questions. But we have yet to see evidence that either machine could do so — or that such machines were used by the Texas Air National Guard in the early '70s.

The Washington Post 's Dobbs and Kurtz report:

"The lead expert retained by CBS News to examine disputed memos from President Bush's former squadron commander in the National Guard said yesterday that he examined only the late officer's signature and made no attempt to authenticate the documents themselves." LINK

"'There's no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them,' Marcel Matley said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. The main reason, he said, is that they are 'copies' that are 'far removed' from the originals."

"Meanwhile, Laura Bush became the first person from the White House to say the documents are likely forgeries. 'You know they are probably altered," she told Radio Iowa in Des Moines yesterday. 'And they probably are forgeries, and I think that's terrible, really.'"

The Note asked FLOTUS spokesguy Gordon Johndroe what Mrs. Bush based this on and whether others in the campaign or White House agree, and here's what he told us:

"Mrs. Bush was asked her opinion and she shared it."

Dana Milbank on Dan Bartlett's handling of Bush's National Guard documents. LINK

"The expert chosen by CBS to check Dan Rather's disputed National Guard documents got his start as a graphologist analyzing 'Spirituality in Handwriting' and lacks recognized document training, The Post has learned," writes Deborah Orin of the New York Post . LINK

The New York Times ' Rutenberg and Zernike get a CBS "network correspondent" to say the the staff in "deep concern . . . not panic — we all want it to be right . . . Dan really put himself on the line and I can't imagine him knowingly defending something he knew not to be the case" and another "longtime" correspondent to declare, "I'm distressed." LINK

Joseph Newcomer, the computer typography expert of the hour! LINK

The New York Post 's Ian Bishop chats with him too. LINK

"Newcomer's analysis concluded that the chances the documents were written in 1972 are 'so vanishingly small as to be indistinguishable from zero.'"

Who is CBS News expert Bill Glennon? LINK

John Podhoretz uses his New York Post column to argue for the removal of the question marks and declare the documents forgeries. LINK

Alan Murray on the red/blue media, entrenched by Dan Rather's sticking behind his National Guard memos reporting. LINK

The New York Sun on the bloggers who started it all. LINK

In a Note section on Friday about the blogosphere's role in the Bush/National Guard document story, we wrote that Buckhead, a poster on Free, posted a critique of the "60 Minutes II" story at 8:59 pm ET . . . which lead us to suggest that he posted it before the broadcast was over. Mr. Buckhead, an Atlanta lawyer, has since informed the world that he saw the show at 8:00 pm ET and posted his response at 11:59 pm ET.

The time stamp incorrectly suggested he had 50 minutes, rather than more than two hours, to look at the documents.

Web sites we'll check today: LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, LINK, and LINK

The debate about debates:

AP's Scott Lindlaw reports: "In late July, Bush began practicing with Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., inside the White House residence, officials said Monday. Gregg also played Al Gore in debate preparation in 2000 … In practice sessions, Gregg challenges Bush directly, according to a former official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the debate plans have not been completed. Gregg tries to knock the president off balance, the former official said." LINK

"Candidates Unplugged" is good for the public interest. Thomas Oliphant looks at the significance of the presidential debates in terms of showcasing the candidates in a real way for the voting public. LINK

"After dithering in '92 and getting hurt (remember Chicken Man?), Bush's dad did the right thing; after dithering in 2000 and getting hurt (Gore was ahead), Bush Jr. did the right thing. This time, with interest high, it would seem clear that debating is smarter than dithering. It's also in the public interest."

Washington University's student newspaper Student Life takes front-page Note of the legacy of the "High-profile, down-to-the-minute debate negotiations have only multiplied in recent years." LINK

Getting tickets to the debate at Arizona State University is next to impossible, according to the Arizona Republic. There are no public seats, there is a lottery for students, and the rest to "donors who've given or are willing to give $100,000 or more to help put on the debate." LINK

Here Kitty, Kitty:

Michiko Kakutani's review of Kitty Kelley's book includes this:

"Though Doubleday is promoting Ms. Kelley as 'a master investigative biographer,' she lavishes all too much of her admirable energy on trying to ferret out personal peccadilloes, ranging from drug and alcohol binges to temper tantrums, from weight problems to bad taste in gift-giving. Certainly family members (particularly George W. Bush, running in the aftermath of the Bill Clinton scandals) have to some degree invited this sort of scrutiny by selling themselves as a close, wholesome, all-American clan, but Ms. Kelley's relentless concentration on these matters, often to the exclusion of far more serious issues, makes for a tacky, voyeuristic and petty-seeming narrative. " LINK

And Note to the Times ' correction department: you still don't seem to have a correction for John Broder claiming that the Bush campaign in 1988 ran the famous Willie Horton ad. Since this review repeats the error, maybe you should consider just one big super-correction. Just a thought . . .

You do have a cute Harkin correction, though. LINK

USA Today 's Kathy Kiely has White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan dismissing the Kelley book as "'so trashy that even the tabloids should cringe.'" LINK

The Washington Post 's Linton Weeks sits down with Kitty Kelley, the woman who longs to write an authorized biography. LINK

On Today today, Matt Lauer continued to pummel Ms. Kelley, begging the question of why she is coming back tomorrow.

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

Anne Kornblut writes in today's Boston Globe that it's not all about Ohio. Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are also vital to both campaigns. LINK

"A new poll in the swing state Wisconsin shows President Bush starting to open up a lead — now 8 points — over Democrat John Kerry in a state that's a near must-win for Kerry," so leads Deborah Orin's New York Post dispatch. LINK

As for us, we're eagerly awaiting the ABC News poll of Pennsylvania out today . . .

With a Gallup Poll showing Bush pulling ahead of Kerry in the Badger State, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle appeared on CNN's "American Morning," and said Bush has "got a very hard time talking about anything he's done on health care." Doyle said Wisconsin strongly supports the ban on assault weapons. When 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.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Larry Sandler reports on Democratic efforts to secure the African-American vote in today's state primary and in 49 days for Kerry. LINK

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert reports, "While both campaigns have called Wisconsin a tossup, that anxiety among Democrats is the flip side of the heightened optimism that GOP activists in the state have voiced during and since their party's convention." LINK

In the paper's ongoing analysis of different Ohio regions, the Columbus Dispatch's Lee Leonard reports that southwestern Ohio looks to be solid Bush country. LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Greg Korte writes, "Republican leaders pushing a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would ban gay marriage say the movement could energize conservative voters and help re-elect President Bush." LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer analyzes the wardrobes of the candidates and their families. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

Quoting Zogby, considering the opinions of Bush sources and taking stock of the president's visit there yesterday, Ken Bazinet of the New York Daily News Notes Michigan is Bush's weakest large battleground. LINK

Arizona Democrats are pushing back against all those who say the Grand Canyon State is in the bag for Bush-Cheney. The Kerry-Edwards field staff out there is flying high after Senator Edwards was surrounded by an 8500-person crowd yesterday — his biggest group on his own.

Edwards' message seemed to resonate — his stump speech got big replay in the Arizona Republic. LINK

The Arizona Daily Star focused on Edwards' accusing the president of "failing to win Mexico's cooperation to secure America's borders."

Folks in Arizona are mixed when it comes to response to the expiration of the assault weapons ban. LINK

The Denver Post Notes "deja-woo" as both candidates return to Colorado this week where "registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by roughly 180,000. Unaffiliated voters make up nearly a third of the electorate." LINK

The politics of the assault weapons ban:

The New York Daily News reports Mayor Bloomberg, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, New York's two senators and House Democrats joined Sen. Kerry in warning that lifting the ban "on 19 types of rapid-fire weapons such as Uzis and 'Street Sweeper' shotguns would put cops at risk by allowing criminals to skirt New York's tough gun laws." LINK

House Republicans are hoping to repeal all of Washington, DC's gun restrictions. LINK

"Guns, clips back on market," headlines the Denver Post on the morning after the assault-weapons ban expired. LINK

Gun control proponents — and the campaigns — are already seizing on an incident in Florida Sunday in which a man wounded a Miami-Dade police officer with a spray of bullets from an assault weapon. Camp Kerry released a statement former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno saying that letting the ban expire "'sends a dangerous signal to criminals and further increases the danger to our communities. . . . ''That officer experienced firsthand why the ban on military-style assault weapons needs to be renewed.'''

The White House responded that crime is at a 30-year low. LINK

The politics of national security:

David Brooks on the battle between gradualist hawks and confrontationalist hawks. LINK

Paul Krugman says that President Bush is politicizing the war on terror and putting American at risk. LINK

Roll Call takes Note of an "aggressive, behind-the-scenes" campaign, staged by the White House and insiders, to make Porter Goss head of the CIA (or something like that). LINK

The politics of Iraq:

The Washington Post 's Walter Pincus highlights Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement that finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is "unlikely." LINK

On the Hill:

Emily Pierce of Roll Call looks at deadlines, deadlines. Congress is three weeks away from the due date for passing new spending bills, four weeks from its own self-imposed closing gavel and seven weeks from Nov. 2. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

USA Today reports that "[turnout] expert Curtis Gans" says that early voting has actually decreased turnout since 1998. LINK

The Seattle Times' Susan Gilmore reports on the new types of ballots that will be used in today's Washington primary. LINK

Dementia in the voting booth!? LINK

The land of 5 + 2 = 7:

Amy Keller and Mark Preston of Roll Call report Reps. Marty Meehan and Christopher Shays will file suit against the FEC today, "claiming that the agency has acted negligently by failing to rein in the independent campaign-related groups known as 527s." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

Alan Keyes told donors that he is planning "'inflammatory' comments 'every day, every week' until the election, according to several sources at the session," reports our friend Rick Pearson at the Chicago Tribune. LINK

Former Rep. Bill McCollum (R) "endorsed Republican Senate nominee Mel Martinez on Monday, even though he says he's "'deeply disturbed' by the tenor of their tough primary battle that ended two weeks ago," AP reports. LINK

The Raleigh News & Observer 's Rob Christensen reports on how the health care issue is in the spotlight in the Burr-Bowles Senate race. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Nader-Camejo '04:

Lucy Morgan of the St. Petersburg Times writes that Florida Secretary of State Glenda Hood appealed and blocked a court order denying Ralph Nader ballot access in the Sunshine State, blocking an earlier decision by a judge to keep him off and adding him to the ballot as the Reform Party candidate in time for the oversees absentee ballots to be printed and mailed by Saturday. If another court rules that Nader should not be on the ballot, elections officials wouldn't count votes cast for him. LINK

After saddling him with the "spoiler" title and the dubious distinction of waging "the most quixotic presidential campaign since Socialist Eugene V. Debs," the Miami Herald opines Nader is being unfairly shut out of the electoral system in Florida. "Closing the ballot so that only the big boys can play isn't a victory for the American democratic system — it's a defeat." LINK

The Wall Street Journal makes a case that Democrats may be going too far to block their "former ideological soul mate" from getting on battleground ballots by organizing lawyers to challenge him in court and running a media campaign against him. The paper Notes, "In Nevada, Democrats have contested 11,571 of the 11,888 Nader names. This is brass-knuckle politics for sure, but also perfectly legal."

Also, a group of non-profit group of independent voters called the Committee for a Unified Independent Party has filed a complaint that Democrats have gone too far in Oregon, Illinois, Connecticut and West Virginia.

Much to the annoyance of the DNC, Nader is on ballot in Minnesota as well: LINK

The Vermont Green Party has decided by a one-vote margin not to back the national party's ticket of David Cobb and Patricia LaMarche, reports the AP. Instead the group has endorsed Nader for president though they did not technically nominate him as their candidate in November. The Green Party in Utah has also broken with the national organization LINK

Ralph Nader campaigned in Michigan and Ohio yesterday. LINK

"What is your breaking point as a liberal Democrat?" Nader students at Michigan State University Yesterday according to the Lansing State Journal. "If you give them a free ride, you will be on a bandwagon going downhill." LINK


George Tenet could receive as much as a $1 million advance for his book that he is currently peddling to New York publishers according to the New York Post . LINK

A Harvard study finds that colleges and universities are not all that helpful (and perhaps not fully in compliance with the law) when it comes to registering young people to vote. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—6:00 am: Earliest polls open in New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York state primaries —7:00 am: Polls open in Massachusetts and District of Columbia primaries —8:00 am: Polls open in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Rhode Island state primaries —8:30 am: The Commerce Department releases the August Retail sales report —9:30 am: 9/11 Commissioner Jamie Gorelick testifies before the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee at the Capitol, Washington, DC —9:30 am: Sen. John Kerry holds a conversation with seniors about health care at St. Ann's Intergenerational Care Facility, Milwaukee, WI —9:45 am: The Senate convenes for morning business before debating the Homeland Security Appropriations bill —10:00 am: Vanessa Kerry holds a conversation about health care at the Mason City Room-Public Library, Mason City, IA —10:00 am: Medicare administrator Mark McClellan testifies before the Senate Finance Committee at the Capitol, Washington, DC —10:00 am: The Senate Intelligence Committee opens up hearings on the nomination of Rep. Porter Goss to be the National Intelligence Director at the Capitol, Washington, DC —10:00 am: Bush/Cheney and Kerry/Edwards campaign policy advisors Colin Roskey and Sarah Bianchi participate in a discussion on public health sponsored by the American Public Health Association and the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services, Washington, DC —10:00 am: Polls open in Washington state primary —10:15 am: Elizabeth Edwards speaks about education at Lincoln Center Elementary School, South Saint Paul, MN —10:30 am: Laura Bush speaks about the economy at Clintonville Woman's Club, Columbus, OH —10:30 am: Campaign for America's Future co-director Robert Borosage and pollsters Stan Greenberg and Celinda Lake discuss the current political landscape at the Capital Hilton, Washington, DC —10:45 am: President Bush holds a rally at Coors Amphitheatre, Greenwood Village, CO —11:00 am: Ralph Nader speaks at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI —11:30 am: Vice President Cheney attends a rally at the Staple Cotton Warehouse, Blytheville, AR —11:30 am: Teresa Heinz Kerry speaks about health care at Maritime Museum, Erie, PA —11:30 am: Sen. Chuck Schumer holds a press conference at the Capitol about the Democratic Task Force homeland security report, Washington, DC —11:30 am: Former Sen. Bob Dole speaks to the Potomac Officers Club at the Ritz-Carlton-Tysons Corner, McLean, VA —12:05 pm: Sen. John Edwards holds a pool event at Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, OR —12:30 pm: The Democratic and Republican Policy Committees meet in their weekly closed sessions at the Capitol, Washington, DC —12:35 pm: Sen. Edwards holds a town hall meeting at Clackamas Community College, Oregon City, OR —1:00 pm: Laura Bush speaks about community colleges at Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, OH —1:30 pm: Families of National Guard members and families of American troops who have died in Iraq hold a press conference criticizing President Bush before his speech to the National Guard Association conference, Las Vegas, NV —1:30 pm: House Democratic Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer holds a pen and pad only briefing at the Capitol, Washington, DC —1:45 pm: Elizabeth Edwards speaks about education at John Marshall High School, Rochester, MN —2:30 pm: September 11th Advocates founders Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Monica Gabrielle, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie Van Auken endorse John Kerry during a press conference at the National Press Club, Washington, DC —3:00 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a town hall meeting focused on health care at the Chester J. Zablocki Senior Center, Toledo, OH —3:10 pm: President Bush speaks to the National Guard Association conference, Las Vegas, NV —4:15 pm: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean holds a town hall meeting, Edina, MN —3:30 pm: Teresa Heinz Kerry speaks about health care at Lackawanna College, Scranton, PA —3:15 pm: Sen. Edwards attends a DNC fundraiser at the Benson Hotel, Portland, OR —4:00 pm: Vice President Cheney attends a rally at Nathan Goff Armory, Clarksburg, WV —4:00 pm: Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman holds a press conference to officially shift about $3.5 billion from Iraqi reconstruction projects to Iraqi security —5:15 pm: Elizabeth Edwards speaks with military families, Mankato, MN —5:30 pm: Gov. Dean signs copies of his book "You Have the Power" at Barnes & Noble, Edina, MN —7:00 pm: Polls close in Vermont state primary —8:00 pm: Polls close in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and District of Columbia primaries —8:00 pm: Ralph Nader speaks at Loyola University, Chicago, IL —8:50 pm: President Bush returns to the White House —9:00 pm: Polls close in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, and Rhode Island primaries —11:00 pm: Polls close in Washington state primary