ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

Bob Novak cautions President Bush not to follow in his father's footsteps, and lays out a checklist for what Bush needs to accomplish: (1) clear up whether or not he thinks the war on terror is winnable; (2) link his plan for private Social Security accounts to the idea of an "ownership society"; (3) push perma-tax cuts; (4) don't trash Kerry. Why get your hands dirty when the job has been so thoroughly done? LINK

In his syndicated column, Novak gives the Kerry campaign a little protein, comparing President Bush's Iraq "misstatement" to Gerald Ford and Poland. LINK

"In privately confessing that the president made a mistake, his own aides do not go deeper into why he erred. In the Lauer interview, Bush gives the impression that he was not concentrating on one of his final pre-convention interviews, acting as if he really were bored by the process. He obviously meant to say, as he did the next day, that "we may never sit down at a peace table." Instead, he hurried over and blurred the well-rehearsed explanation."

"The lesson for Bush strategists and other Republican politicians is that George W. Bush is no John F. Kennedy who can nonchalantly respond to reporters' questions. At his best, Bush is tightly disciplined in giving answers that have been carefully prepared. He had answered Lauer's question many times before but chose not to Monday, a loss of concentration he will repeat at his own risk in the next two months."

The Washington Post's Broder and Weisman look at the importance of the economy to Bush's re-election, Noting that "some leading Republicans have said that they are worried about a possible voter backlash to economic conditions and that Bush must defend his record on the economy in his Thursday night acceptance speech." LINK

"Rep. Rob Portman (Ohio), a Bush intimate from a state that has been hit hard by the loss of manufacturing jobs, said that while overall numbers have begun to improve, 'there is an anxiety out there. There is a nervousness about the new economy.'"

There is also some nervousness about this:

"About 10 hours after President Bush accepts his party's nomination tonight, the government will release an important report on the state of the economy. Even some of his allies say that if it is weak it could dampen Republican enthusiasm coming out of the convention and leave Mr. Bush on the defensive for a pivotal issue heading into the campaign homestretch," reports Richard Stevenson of the New York Times. LINK

The topic of terror overshadowed all others reports Dana Milbank on the third day of the Republican Convention. LINK

"This week's Washington Post-ABC News poll shows why. A majority of Americans disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy, but 60 percent of the country continues to give him high marks in the struggle against terrorism. By 56 percent to 38 percent, Americans trust Bush more than Kerry to fight terrorism -- Bush's strongest issue in the poll."

"Even given the political imperative, the convention's focus on terrorism -- and the charge that Kerry is ill-equipped to combat it -- speeches with barely a mention of the economy, passing reference to domestic policies, and no specific discussion of Bush's agenda for a second term. While the Post poll found public discontent with Bush's handling of Iraq, convention speakers have discussed Iraq as a part of the more popular 'war on terrorism.'"

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