ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

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2 days until the Republican convention 66 days until election day

NEWS SUMMARY

The new joke in Washington -- told by all gallows, quasi-panicked Democrats -- goes like this:

"John Kerry read in The Note that this was his race to lose, and he's giving it his best shot."

Someday, Karl Rove's precocious grandchildren will say to him, "Grandpapa, what's it like to run a presidential campaign against an opponent who has had his own background thoroughly researched well before the general election; who is broadly personable and possessed of great campaign skills; and who projects an image of constancy?"

To which Grandpapa Rove will reply, "I haven't the slightest idea."

Both of which explain why, as they gather in New York this weekend -- from L'Affaire Kirtzman in the south, to the best alcove table at 'Cesca in the north, and at Madison Square Garden in between -- Republicans are arriving in Gotham City more upbeat and optimistic about their chances of keeping the White House than they have been in a long, long time.

Iraq is still a mess, the economy is still uneven, sure -- but, the thinking goes in GOP circles, when it's a good man versus John Kerry…..

Now, just as long as Karen Hughes isn't forced to resign in the next six days over time spent with someone's toes at the Jefferson Hotel…

Which means (everyone pay attention!!!): things might change again.

President Bush continues his run to the convention with a three (official) stop tour of Battleground Ohio, holding rallies in Troy (10:35 am ET) and Perrysburgh (5:30 pm ET) and an "Ask President Bush" event in Lima (1:35 pm ET).

Sen. John Kerry has a final event (with Gen. Wesley Clark in Tacoma, WA at 3:00 pm ET) before going on vacation for the next week, save his speech to the American Legion in Nashville the day after President Bush speaks to the same group.

Sen. John Edwards is down, as is Vice President Cheney.

Republican National Convention: the President:

AP's Ron Fournier, as always trying to fly in the face of the CW, leads strongly with "Nervous Republicans are urging President Bush to unveil a robust second-term agenda at his convention next week to shift voters' focus from the unpopular war in Iraq and other issues that are a distraction to his re-election drive. Some contend the party should ditch the GOP-fueled controversy over rival John Kerry's combat record in Vietnam." LINK

James Rainey goes back in time to look at the clues held in President Bush's 2000 Republican National Convention speech that now are "signals of a presidency that would be both bolder and more partisan than most had predicted." LINK

Rainey recounts Bush's story of Lewis Morris of New York, who waved off his brother's suggestion that he not sign the Declaration of Independence with the words, "Damn the consequences, give me the pen." Bush said then: "That is the eloquence of American action."

And now "[a]s Bush prepares to give another acceptance speech Thursday in New York City, political observers will be poised to discern a roadmap for a potential second term," Rainey Notes.

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