ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News




Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

2 days until the Republican convention 66 days until election day


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.

ABC News' Karen Travers reports from Miami that President Bush used one of his favorite lines against Sen. Kerry to appeal to a Cuban-American crowd at the Miami Arena. In almost every stump speech, the President will highlight Sen. Kerry's statement that "'I actually voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

The line always delivers a laugh and when President Bush says "there is nothing complicated about supporting out troops in combat," the crowd tends to go wild with approval.

Yesterday, President Bush picked up on that statement of Sen. Kerry's and applied it to the Democratic nominee's position on the Helmes-Burton Cuban embargo act, saying that Kerry acted the same way, voting yes to an early version of the bill but no when it came up for final passage – or as President Bush said yesterday, "Voto si despues de voto no" – "He voted yes and then he voted no."

El Presidente sprinkled his speech with Spanish yesterday, declaring his confidence in winning Florida's 27 electoral votes, "Vamos a ganar a noviembre" and saying "Por su Apollo…and with your help, I will do so por quatro mas anos."

The New York Times picks up on the video distributed to some reporters yesterday showing Ben Barnes, former speaker of the Texas House, saying he was ashamed of his role in helping President Bush get into the National Guard in 1968. LINK

Odd to us that the story has no byline….hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick has great details of that oh-so-exclusive Council for National Policy group and gets a "participant" to tell him that the group met recently in New York for a "pep rally" to re-elect Bush. LINK

Great story, Dave-o, but: at the end of every election year, The Note gives an award for the dumbest decision to bury a story in the Saturday paper. Although it is only August, you can stop sending in entries -- this one wins.

Peter Wallsten on John Ellis Bush: LINK

In his admiring profile of Rep. Mark Souder, David Brooks writes that "Across the party, there is a great deal of admiration for Bush's core instincts, but a belief that his administration has not performed that well." LINK

Republican National Convention: platform and politics:

The New York Times' Edmund Andrews writes up Greenspan's declaration that Social Security and Medicare are not safe and Notes that Greenspan "conspicuously avoided" any mention of President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. LINK

Fox News' James Rosen thinks it's a shame that the Republican convention will likely gloss over Richard Nixon and instead glowingly eulogize Ronald Reagan. LINK

Republican National Convention: protests and security:

We're pretty sure the delegates will love this New York Post wood when they start coming to town today: "D Train Bomb Plot" LINK

The New York Times' Randy Archibold followed a few hundred cycling "anti-Republican" protesters through New York City last night. Archibold reports the NYPD made more than 100 arrests. LINK

The New York Daily News pegs the cycling arrests at 264. LINK

Republican National Convention: potpourri:

The New York Times' Justice and Burros look at the convention party scene and write that the Republican convention "will be a more lavish, and certainly more expensive, affair than the Democratic bash in Boston last month" and "is expected to be a far larger opportunity for special interests than its Democratic counterpart." LINK

Senator McCain's boffo "Mamma Mia"-playing invitation finally gets the print coverage it deserves!!!!

None other than Mr. Zagat himself thinks delegates will arrive in New York to a "solicitous" welcome -- at least in restaurants. LINK

Republican National Convention: the Democrats:

The New York Daily News' Maggie Haberman Notes the Democratic response kicks off on Sunday with President and Senator Clinton attending church after her many television appearances. LINK

President Clinton will address the worshipers from the pulpit and likely draw some distinctions between the Kerry-Edwards ticket and those other folks coming to town this week.

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

The New York Times' David Stout (and an awesome AP photo of the Senator being briefed behind a curtain) ably captures Sen. John Edwards' becoming the attack dog for the KE04 campaign. LINK

The Kerry-Edwards campaign will be quite pleased with the New York Times' exploration of the "middle-class squeeze." (And pretty happy that the paper chose to explore it in Iowa.) It "may be the sleeper economic issue of the presidential campaign," reports the Times. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

The Washington Post's Mike Allen leads strongly that White House strategists are "worried" about losing Florida. LINK

(And read down to the end for Karl Rove's take on Florida and his pitch on the BC04 grassroots strategy down there.)

The Washington Post's Roig-Franzia and Becker give a good look at Florida's primary next Tuesday that "will test whether Florida has figured out how to avoid a repeat debacle" of 2000. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Nick Anderson on the latest Wisconsin ad project figures. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

An administrative law judge concluded that state law cleanly and clearly requires manual recounts to be conducted on all types of voting machines and that touch screen machines which aggregate votes violate that law. LINK

Secretary of State Glenda Hood had exempted the 15 counties with touch screen ballots -- used by about 50% of Florida voters -- because those machines don't record undervotes or overvotes.

Plus, she argued that manual recounts of each and every vote cast electronically is impossible.

The judge disagreed, saying that the machines are programmed to print out a list of votes, and that if the legislature had wanted to exempt touch screen machines from the law, they would have done so explicitly.

The Secretary of State is considering an appeal.

Florida's primary is next Tuesday, and while the ruling technically applies now, it's hard to see how these 15 counties can reconfigure their machines and buy printers in time to comply with the ruling. (They're crossing their fingers and hoping that no race comes down to a margin of less than one quarter of one percent.)

How this effects November is TBD.


The Washington Post's Ann Gerhart sits down with historian Douglas Brinkley, whose "admiring recounting" of Kerry's war record isn't exactly getting the same reaction that his history of Rosa Parks received. LINK

Here are two paragraphs that will make Michael Meehan's hair stand straight up:

"The Kerry campaign has refused to release Kerry's personal Vietnam archive, including his journals and letters, saying that the senator is contractually bound to grant Brinkley exclusive access to the material. But Brinkley said this week the papers are the property of the senator and in his full control."

"'I don't mind if John Kerry shows anybody anything,' he said. 'If he wants to let anybody in, that's his business. Go bug John Kerry, and leave me alone.' The exclusivity agreement, he said, simply requires 'that anybody quoting any of the material needs to cite my book.'"

The Washington Post's Michael Dobbs has a nice (long) front-page look at John O'Neill and John Kerry and their postwar paths which illuminate "a much broader cultural divide that was born out of the Vietnam trauma -- and is haunting American politics once again." LINK

The New York Times' Blumenthal and Worth profile John O'Neill of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who (according to the scribes) was "disdainful" of President Bush's statement that Kerry did not lie about his Vietnam war record. LINK

Did everybody but us know that O'Neill was tapped to be a federal judge by 41?

Michael Kranish on Admiral Schachte. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—8:40 am: President Bush departs the White House —9:00 am: Senate candidate Alan Keyes, CURE Founder and President Star Parker, and approximately 40 black pastors from across the U.S. hold a press conference in commemoration of the 41st anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech and in support of a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. —10:35 am: President Bush speaks at a rally in the Troy Public Square, Troy, OH —1:35 pm: President Bush participates in an "Ask President Bush" event at Lima Senior High School, Lima, OH —1:45 pm: DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe attends the final rally of the DNC's "America Can Do Better Bus Tour" before it arrives in New York City, Philadelphia, PA —3:00 pm: Sen. John Kerry attends a rally with Gen. Wesley Clark at the Tacoma Dome, Tacoma, WA —5:30 pm: President Bush speaks at a rally at Fort Meigs State Memorial Park, Perrysburg, OH —8:25 pm: President Bush returns to the White House