ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

On Friday, Sen. Kerry heads from Colorado to Minnesota. The president stops at events in Washington, DC, and Charlotte, NC, and Mrs. Bush talks about the economy in West Virginia on Friday, followed by stumping for Rep. Jim DeMint for Senate in South Carolina and attending a rally in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Kerry is in New Hampshire on Saturday, and the president spends the day in Kennebunkport, ME.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

"With barely two months before the presidential election of 2004, the campaigns of Republican President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry are haunted by past campaigns involving the president's father, George Bush," write Bill Adair and Wes Allison of the St. Petersburg Times. LINK

"But while the current Bush camp is obsessed with avoiding the elder's mistakes, addressing them almost point by point, the Kerry campaign seems oblivious to some of the biggest lessons of Dukakis."

In Newsweek, Howard Fineman and Mike Isikoff wade into the mud pit and try to figure out how we got here. LINK

The Washington Post 's Howard Kurtz looks at how covering the news and actions of the candidates 30 years ago, not to mention the tawdry, the press not only has made everything fair game, but gives short shrift to actual issues that affect voters. LINK

"If journalists devoted the same investigative energy to the candidates' efforts to bolster Medicare and Social Security or deal with the mess in Iraq — as opposed to precisely what happened on the Bay Hap River in 1969 — perhaps more people might find campaign coverage compelling."

The Wall Street Journal 's Jacob Schlesinger and Greg Hitt examine the war on character that's taken prominence in the campaign. LINK

Key graphs: "The character tilt to the campaign so far has helped Mr. Bush and could continue to give him an edge if it remains the dominant theme through the fall. Republicans have been more persistent with personal attacks against Mr. Kerry than Democrats have been against Mr. Bush, and polls show Mr. Kerry's negative ratings rising more sharply than Mr. Bush's. While Democrats vow to fight back, it is harder to change public perceptions of an incumbent president than a lesser-known challenger.

"Democrats also risk taking the focus off the economy, health care, and Iraq, where polls show voters still have serious concerns about Mr. Bush's record. A character debate 'is clearly much more effective for Bush because it takes him away from the issues,' says Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center, which analyzes public opinion. 'Kerry has to talk about how bad conditions are.'"

"The danger for both Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush is that a nasty personality fight, while exciting core supporters, turns off undecided voter."

Colin Powell did his best to refuse to enter the fray over Vietnam service in the presidential campaign, but did repeat his claim that "the system was disturbing to" him to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos when asked about those who were able to avoid the draft. The Los Angeles Times has a look at Powell's Sunday circuit. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood gives front-page real estate to the Colorado ballot measure seeking to apportion the state's electoral votes based on the percentage of votes each candidate receives.

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