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3 days until the Republican convention 67 days until election day


Some POTUS interviews, more new polls, more unrest in Iraq, wild and crazy 527 lawsuit fun, more convention news bits, more wrong-track-driving economic stats, and yet, and yet … .

It all adds up to the same fundamentals we have had for months:

1. President Bush is going to have to win over a disproportionate share of wrong-track voters to take this race, and the way to do that is to disqualify John Kerry.

2. John Kerry is failing to take full advantage of the wrong-track dynamic, and has yet to clear the national security, likeability, and credibility bars.

3. No matter how much the President fills in his second-term agenda, his case amounts to "I will keep you safer."

4. If John Kerry has a health care plan, an education plan, and a jobs plan (and we are pretty sure he does/might … ), he hasn't figured out how to explain them yet.

This morning, the Commerce Department pegged Q2 GDP growth at 2.8%, not the 3.0% predicted by the department earlier, and way down from the 4.5% the economy grew in Q1. Those who told us the economy was on a glide path to growth and job creation, time to start 'splanin'.

Here is a summary of the macro shared findings of the latest round of polls:

Bush tied with Kerry, basically; President still has a good 10 point lead on most terrorism-related questions; Gallup says "Bush's favorable rating of 54% was his highest since April. By contrast, Kerry's 52% was his lowest since January;" wrong track in NBC's poll is 53%; right track is only 36%; 52% disapprove on the economy; 51% think Bush needs to take a new approach to Iraq, so undecideds swing Kerry's way on most issues — but maybe not the vote; "the poll also shows the president trailing Mr. Kerry by four percentage points among respondents in 17 closely-contested battleground states;" and …

Swifties hurting Kerry at the margins (Mark Warner agrees!) "Just 35% of voters say they have confidence in the Massachusetts senator's ability to be commander in chief, essentially unchanged since the spring. Some 49% give Mr. Bush high marks as commander in chief;" race is still as tight as our stomachs get when we watch Karl Rove on television. See: LINK and LINK

The bottomest of lines: Bush goes into his convention tied or slightly ahead nationally, and Kerry is not taking advantage of a lot of incumbent vulnerabilities.

(Note Notes on the bottomest of lines: it isn't a national election, however, and/but Kerry's opportunities for taking advantage of the incumbent's vulnerablities are probably not related to new pitches on consumer protection for credit cards, debate challenges, or his anti-war protests.)

The first of what are expected to be multiple Bush interviews show up today in the

Leaving aside our shock that David Sanger asked the president about North Korea, here is what you need to know:

New York Times : LINK The paper's choice of a lead: President Bush said he does not think Sen. Kerry lied about his war record in Vietnam, but nonetheless refused to criticize the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad alleging that he did.

The actual news: President Bush admitted he "miscalculated" what post-war Iraq would be like, before saying that the insurgency since official combat was declared over is a result of a faster-than-expected victory in Iraq.

The best color: Tie.

Policy: "On environmental issues, Mr. Bush appeared unfamiliar with an administration report delivered to Congress on Wednesday that indicated that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases were the only likely explanation for global warming over the last three decades. Previously, Mr. Bush and other officials had emphasized uncertainties in understanding the causes and consequences of global warming."

And setting/posse: "A cinderblock dressing room, outfitted with a conference table and leather reclining chairs, accessible only by walking through a men's room underneath a small stadium here, where he appeared for a campaign rally. The president was joined by one of his closest advisers, Karen P. Hughes, who is now traveling with him; the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice; former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, who was introducing him at rallies across the state; and his press secretary, Scott McClellan."

Characterization of the POTUS mood: He appeared "relaxed," and aides said he was in a "good mood."

The best Bush line: "'Five twenty-sevens — I think these ought to be outlawed. … 'I think they should have been outlawed a year ago. We have billionaires writing checks, large checks, to influence the outcome of the election.'''

The most macho Bush line: "I don't think you give timelines to dictators."

USA Today : LINK

The paper's choice of a lead: "As President Bush prepares for the Republican convention in New York next week, he says losing the election has never crossed his mind and the Iraq war was worth putting his political future at risk."

The actual news: "Bush said he believes voters won't deny him a second term even if they disagree with the war."

The best color: Bush doesn't remember meeting Kerry; Kerry spokesguy David Wade catalogues a lot of meetings.

Characterization of the POTUS mood: "expansive and upbeat"

The best Bush line: "'They've seen me make decisions, they've seen me under trying times, they've seen me weep, they've seen me laugh, they've seen me hug,' he said. 'And they know who I am, and I believe they're comfortable with the fact that they know I'm not going to shift principles or shift positions based upon polls and focus groups.'"

The most macho Bush line: "There's a lot of my friends who come and bass-fish with me. They don't say it out loud, I know they're thinking it: 'Why?' And the answer is because the stakes are high."

Then the Convention Bard — the New York Times shockingly underrated Michael Slackman — allows Bush imageguy Mark McKinnon to talk openly about how the president's plan to appear on a stage-in-the-round for his acceptance speech is a cosmically giant metaphor for, well, pretty much everything. LINK

On this warm Friday before the Republican National Convention, President Bush travels to Mel Martinez-less Miami while trying to take the offensive on two major issues: Sen. Kerry's war record and intelligence reforms.

Bush leaves the White House in the early afternoon and has a 4:25 pm ET briefing on Charley damage (pool at the bottom) before a 5:00 pm ET Miami rally featuring Democratic Senator/Republican Convention keynoter Zell Miller.

The Florida trip is the beginning of a five-day tour that will take him through Ohio (Saturday and Wednesday), West Virginia (Sunday), New Hampshire and Michigan (Monday), and Tennessee and Iowa (Tuesday), leading up to his New York City arrival next Wednesday.

Kerry is out West today talking about protecting consumers from mortgage brokers, credit card companies, and payday lenders with a partially new plan designed to attack President Bush as "not on families' side."

He begins his day in the non-battleground state of California in most non-battleground city of San Francisco with a 12:15 pm ET town hall just outside the city and a 3:00 pm ET fundraiser inside it. Kerry then flies to Everett, WA, just outside of Seattle, for an 8:15 pm ET town hall and an 11:30 am ET fundraiser in downtown Seattle.

Kerry has one event tomorrow in Tacoma, WA, before heading to Nantucket, where he'll spend the entire week except for a trip to the American Legion convention on Wednesday, one day after Bush addresses the same group.

Senator John Edwards today has a single 11:30 am ET event in St. Charles, MO, before heading to Washington for the weekend, and his wife Elizabeth Edwards has a single 9:30 am ET event in Tampa, also before heading to Washington.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

Barb Chiamulera of Florence, WI, speaking with the Los Angeles Times, precisely placed the presidential contest in these stark terms: "disappointment in Bush" vs. "uncertainty about Kerry." There's the rub!

Ron Brownstein and Kathleen Hennessy roll out the paper's day two poll numbers from Ohio, Missouri, and Wisconsin and the president is edging out (within margins of error) Sen. Kerry in all three. And perhaps we should start listening to all those folks who keep telling you (and us) that Missouri is tightening up! LINK

Ohio: Bush 49% Kerry 44%

Wisconsin: Bush 48% Kerry 44%

Missouri: Bush 46% Kerry 44%

(Even Ken Mehlman would have to concede Sen. Kerry's consistency here!)

" … the state surveys underscore Kerry's difficulty in converting a general desire for change into support for his candidacy."

The Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood writes up the latest Journal/NBC News poll, which shows President Bush with 47 percent support nationally to Senator Kerry's 45 percent, inside the 3.5 percent margin of error.

Harwood Notes, "Three years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 transformed [Bush's] presidency, his handling of the war on terror continues to give him a solid foundation of support," though "majorities disapproving of his approach to critical foreign and domestic issues alike and saying his policies on Iraq, health care and jobs and the economy need "major adjustments" or outright reversal. Among the one in five voters who say they are undecided or leaning one way but open to persuasion, those majorities are overwhelming." LINK

Other highlights: Kerry ahead by 4 points in 17 battleground states, and a whopping 60 percent wrong-track number.

Complete poll results: LINK

Today's Washington Wire has all sort of fun stuff, including additional WSJ/NBC numbers, a vague hint at a kicked-around major tax change, and booking and battleground state book tour wars from Kitty Kelley and Robert Rubin.

The Wall Street Journal 's John McKinnon details a new Kerry plan to deal with predatory lenders which advisers see as "a bold strike by Mr. Kerry against the middle-class squeeze he often cites" and part of an effort to "assail President Bush's record on credit practices, saying he's 'not on families' side.'" The plan features not only some new ideas, but others based on policies Kerry previously advocated, as well as those championed by Sen. Edwards during his presidential bid.

The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren writes up Sen. Kerry's weekly debate challenge to President Bush. LINK

The Washington Post 's Eric Weiss reports that a new Annenberg Election survey shows veterans overwhelmingly pick President Bush, 56 to 38 percent, over Sen. Kerry. LINK

The latest Census numbers on poverty levels and those Americans without access to health care should in theory be devastating to President Bush's reelection effort, but Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times explains why they may not be. LINK

"But the trends' ultimate effect may turn on whether Sen. John F. Kerry can exploit these issues more effectively than he has in his Democratic presidential campaign."

The New York Times ' David Leonhardt gets into more specifics: median income rose at the same rate as inflation, but the gap between rich and poor grew, poverty grew for single-parent families, and families that make less than $75,000 a year were more likely to be uninsured. LINK

The Washington Times gives voice to the Heritage Foundation's rebuttal on the new poverty figures. "It's important to recognize that the census poverty figures … are one year old. They cover 2003, not the current year," says Robert Rector, a senior fellow with the Heritage Foundation. LINK

The Washington Post 's world-weary-but-wonderful Connolly and White on the census numbers. LINK

The Washington Post 's wonky Jim VandeHei on Kerry yesterday. LINK

The Washington Post 's wacky Dana Milbank on Bush yesterday. LINK

More NOD: John Thune and John Kerry find common ground. Bring on the debate over debates! LINK

Wars in the land of 5+2 = 7:

The Los Angeles Times' super duo James Rainey and Michael Finnegan write the media interest in the controversy surrounding John Kerry's Vietnam service appeared to be "waning." LINK

"One Kerry campaign operative predicted that the furor over the Vietnam ad was waning, saying, 'Two days from now, a lot of these stories are going to start fizzling out.'"

The duo also Notes the McClellan "shadowy" count was at 18 yesterday aboard the Air Force One gaggle.

Dan Balz and his Washington Post colleagues sat down with John McCain, who told them it's more important for Bush to oppose all 527s than to condemn the Swift Boat Veterans' ad, that he didn't deliver Bush an ultimatum over the ad because it would have affected his "reelectability," and that questioning Kerry's post-war activities is different, to a point, than questioning his war record. LINK

"I think his activities after the war open, and are subject to, any debate and discussion that they want to, but I still say that it has the effect of reopening these wounds. Everybody is accountable for what they do, and certainly John Kerry is accountable for what he did after the war, and people can make a judgment."

That "reelectability" line is either total Straight Talk or total mumbo jumbo!!!

Ryan Lizza has a semi-definitive piece on the Kerry campaign's communications strategy to handle the Swifties, writing that the campaign believed the rules of the road changed on them midstream. If it weren't for cable and conservative echo chamber, the campaign could well have ignored the charges and went forth on that assumption initially. Lizza still finds much to be desired in how the campaign responded.

"The Swift Boat controversy has been bubbling for months, and inside the campaign, some aides, such as John Hurley, Kerry's veterans' coordinator, and John Martilla, a senior adviser, had been making the case that Kerry needed to get ahead of the story. The consensus--and perhaps not unreasonable--view, however, was that aggressively taking on the Swiftees would only raise awareness of their accusations. Still, Democrats outside the campaign are astounded at how unprepared the first Kerry surrogates were to do battle with the vets on the cable chat shows. For example, when O'Neill made his first round of TV appearances, the Kerry campaign sent out Jeh Johnson, a former Air Force attorney, to rebut him. Though he is a telegenic and savvy spokesman, Johnson got buried by a barrage of accusations from Unfit for Command for which he seemed to have no specific fact-based response." LINK

Then there's this:

"A final postmortem critique is that the last few weeks highlighted the need to revamp Kerry's communications staff. Senior communications aides have been turf-conscious and reluctant to share authority with others. But, at the peak of the Swiftee frenzy, the campaign finally added two old Clinton pros to help out. Former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart will now serve as the traveling press secretary, while ex-Clinton adviser Joel Johnson will run the campaign's war room, a position aides say had never been clearly defined. After the toughest stretch of the campaign thus far, the news was greeted like a breath of fresh air at Kerry headquarters. 'It's like the adults are coming in to babysit the kids,' says one staffer. 'I've been in meetings where I think, 'What the fuck experience do any of us have with this stuff?' These guys are adults.'"

Lt. Larry Thurlow et al have challenged Kerry on his recollection of the night he won the Bronze Star, saying that he was not under fire when he rescued Jim Rassmunn. Thurlow says Kerry concocted the report on which the Bronze Star was based, but that report doesn't have Kerry's name on it as a witness — it has "R.E. Lambert."

The Nation's David Corn obtained Lambert's full citation, published here, LINK, but Lambert was not quoted in that story.

Now, AP has found Lambert and he says not only that his report supporting Kerry is correct but also that Thurlow probably didn't even realize they were under attack: "Thurlow was far too distracted with rescue efforts to even realize he was under fire. He was concentrating on trying to save lives."

Ret. Admiral Bill Schachte disputes Kerry's account of his first Purple Heart in an interview with Bob Novak. LINK

Novak's Schachte scoop makes the front page of the New York Post . LINK

Under the headline "We're Not GOP Shills," John O'Neill asks John Kerry on the The Wall Street Journal 's op-ed page to "please stop maligning your fellow veterans."

Vietnam veteran Larry Heinemann writes on the New York Times op-ed page that "in Vietnam medals were handed out like popcorn, right down to the Good Conduct Medal and the Rifle Sharpshooter Badge, particularly among career-minded officers and NCO's," and the important thing is that Kerry turned his boat around to rescue Jim Rassmann. LINK

"The awards for Purple Hearts were mostly initiated by the medical staff. A wound is hard to fake, and you didn't put in for a Purple Heart, it was given to you whether you wanted one or not, or deserved it. And anyone who went looking for a Purple Heart was called 'John Wayne,' and avoided like the plague."

The New York Post 's Orin, Morris, and Bishop writes the Swift Boat story has "exploded into an election 'X factor.'" LINK

The New York Times ' Rutenberg and Zernike detail the President's new efforts against 527s and report that his campaign is filing two lawsuits: one is intended to expidite its original complaint before the FEC and another is to seek tighter restrictions on 527s' fundraising. LINK

The Chicago Tribune team looks at the lawsuit and lays out all the political complications involved. Below are a couple good points. LINK

1. "With less than 10 weeks remaining before the Nov. 2 election, it is highly unlikely that a court will stop the actions of 527s because federal campaign finance laws allow them."

2. "And it's not clear that the parties want the 527s to be reined in because they are important players in the Democratic and Republican campaign arsenals."

The Los Angeles Times' Rainey and Finnegan Note "the continued reverberations from the ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth came as both camps said they wanted to focus on other matters." LINK

More: LINK and LINK and LINK

The Boston Globe 's Jessica Vascellaro (you go, Crimson girl) presents her interview with Judith Droz Keyes, the widow of Senator Kerry's best friend in Vietnam Lieut. Donald Droz, who says she doesn't feel she "can remain silent anymore." LINK

Keyes talked at length with her late husband about the medals the two men earned together, documented on in a letter, and she protested the war with Kerry upon his return.

Keyes also has a New York Times op-ed piece supportive of Kerry. LINK

The Des Moines Register's William Petroski writes about "Iowa's most-decorated living veteran" who compares Kerry to Benedict Arnold. LINK

The Washington Post 's editorial board thinks the McCain-Feingold bill wasn't a total failure, pointing out, as, uhm, some others have that it broke the tie between the big donors and solicitations by electeds. LINK

A Boston Globe editorial explains how Ben Ginsberg is "the smoking gun." LINK

The poverty numbers in the states:

USA Today 's Peronet Despeignes writes that the poverty numbers "were interpreted by [Kerry] as proof that President Bush's economic policies have failed the middle class." LINK

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's headline: "State poverty rate hits 10-year high." LINK

The Columbus Dispatch's headline: "Poverty plight worsens in Ohio." LINK

The Seattle Post Intelligencer's write-up of the poverty numbers sounds like a John Edwards' stump speech: "New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau yesterday painted a picture of two Washingtons, one in which the number of people without health insurance rose to historic levels and the other in which middle-class workers enjoyed a bump in income." LINK

The Manchester Union Leader has relatively good news for New Hampshire. LINK

Plenty of other battleground state papers lead with the census reports: LINK and LINK

Republican National Convention: politics:

David Brooks goes searching for the Republican Party image and how it will be reinvented going forward. In a sneak peak of what will be hitting your doorsteps and newsstands this weekend in the New York Times Magazine, Brooks describes the state of affairs in the Grand Old Party.

And, you guessed it, it is a must read.

"There used to be a spirit of solidarity binding all the embattled members of the conservative movement. But with conservatism ascendant, that spirit has eroded. Should Bush lose, it will be like a pack of wolves that suddenly turns on itself. The civil war over the future of the party will be ruthless and bloody. The foreign-policy realists will battle the democracy-promoting Reaganites. The immigrant-bashing nativists will battle the free marketeers. The tax-cutting growth wing will battle the fiscally prudent deficit hawks. The social conservatives will war with the social moderates, the biotech skeptics with the biotech enthusiasts, the K Street corporatists with the tariff-loving populists, the civil libertarians with the security-minded Ashcroftians. In short, the Republican Party is unstable."

Watch for mentions of this at the convention: The New York Times ' Julia Preston reports that a federal judge in New York on Thursday declared the late-term abortion ban unconstitutional because it has no provision for the mother's health. LINK

Republican National Convention: platform:

The New York Times ' David Kirkpatrick writes that the platform draft that passed yesterday was met with grumbling by both liberals and conservatives who argued with the attempts to control access to the platform draft and tamp down lobbying members of the platform committee. LINK

The Washington Post 's Chuck Babbington reports that Republican platform writers "easily squelched all serious dissent" during the platform debates yesterday. LINK

If the primetime speakers resemble the moderate wing of the party, the more conservative Republicans may be able to find solace in the party's platform which has been voted out of committee and will be presented to the delegates on Monday, the Los Angeles Times says. LINK

Republican National Convention: protests and security:

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows 66 percent of city voters believe the protests will be a major disruption. Eleven percent plan to participate in one. More key findings: LINK

The New York Times ' Janny Scott and Marjorie Connelly write up a local Times/CBS poll that shows New Yorkers before the Republican convention are "like reluctant hosts wishing the party were in someone else's house," 53 percent of which are "very or somewhat worried" about a terrorist attack. LINK

To all of you heading to New York for the convention: just how safe do you feel? Well, the AP's Hays could put some of your fears at bay today. Not only do the police and Secret Service got your back, but "The EPA and dozens of other federal, state and local agencies were drafted by the Secret Service to play largely behind-the-scenes roles in a security plan that is considered unprecedented in its size and scope." LINK

"Beginning today, RNC protesters plan to use wireless phones to call in live, in-the-trenches reports that will be streamed over the Internet and picked up for rebroadcast nationwide on community-based micro radio stations — some licensed, most illegal," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Mayor Bloomberg "laughed off" the naked protests in his fine city yesterday, "This is New York. Of course, we had seven naked people on Eighth Ave. What's the question?" reports the New York Daily News. More antics to come. LINK

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tells the New York Daily News that protest organizers should discourage the riff raff, "The organizers could perform a public service by telling the extremists to stay away." Meanwhile some organizers say they are more worried extremist law enforcement officers. LINK

"The heightened security for the Republican convention resulted in four Pakistani students from St. John's University being detained in Times Square last night," reports the New York Post . LINK

Those bomb sniffing dogs will be wearing bulletproof vests too. LINK

Republican National Convention: potpourri:

Do not mistake our inclusion of this article for an endorsement of its premise.

The AP's Frommer explains how the Republicans are like the Yankees, while the Democrats are more like the Red Sox. LINK

"The Yankees embody values of the Republican Party — wealth, entrepreneurship … And the Yankees are successful — winning American League pennants in five of the last six years, just as the GOP has won four of the last six presidential elections."

Escape from New York — throngs of locals get out, in the nick of time. LINK

Republican National Convention: the Democrats:

DNC: Mission to flood everyone with e-mails yesterday: ACCOMPLISHED!

Our trained eyes were flipping through the New York Times and when we saw the word "schmear" — we thought we had stumbled on an advertisement for Jano's Bagels. But then we looked closer, and the word was "smear," which we thought might make it a Ben Ginsberg-related advertisement. Then we looked even closer and discovered that the DNC (forgetting its real estate on the editorial page) had taken out a full page ad about the Swifties.

The New York Times ' Jonathan Hicks writes up the Democrats' oppo plans in New York. LINK

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

The New York Times ' Jehl and Shenon report that the White House is planning on issuing an executive order as soon as this weekend that would "effectively create as powerful a national intelligence chief as permissible under current law" and without congressional action. LINK

ABC News' Ann Compton's sources say that a draft is, indeed, circulating.

And do read the St. Petersburg Times on President Bush losing Cuban American support in South Florida as stricter travel restrictions "have created cracks in the once rock-solid support among Cuban-American voters for President Bush, who will hold a campaign rally today in Miami." LINK

"If the presidential race is as tight in Florida LINK as it was four years ago, peeling even a few more Cuban-American voters away from Bush could prove crucial," Tamara Lush and David Adams report.

The Washington Post 's Juliet Elperin reports that a new Administration report suggests that global warning has begun to affect animal and plant populations in visible ways, going "further than previous statements by President Bush." LINK

A Howell Raines missive on Bush's mind, in, again, the Washington Post . LINK

The economy:

The Los Angeles Times' Gosselin on the latest census figures on those living in poverty and without health insurance (and what will likely be a Kerry talking point for quite some time): "It was the third year of bad news in both categories and further evidence that the U.S. economy had not snapped back from the downturn of earlier this decade." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: battlegrounds:

Bush-Cheney '04 should give a raise to the advance staffer who created the visual of the Bush New Mexico design on the floor of the stage for the aerial shot. Cameras simply can't resist that and neither can photo editors. Here's the tick-tock of the president's day in the Land of Enchantment. LINK

"Just hours after President Bush landed in Las Cruces, Democrats countered with a rally for vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards in Mesilla's plaza. Before about 3,000 people, Edwards spoke for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry with the message 'We can do better,'" reports the Albuquerque Journal. LINK

The Detroit News looks at how Michigan did in the latest round of Census figures and reports, "Michigan's stumbling economy cast thousands more people into poverty last year, continuing a pattern of rising poverty rates here and nationwide." LINK

The New York Times ' Sarah Kershaw profiles the battleground state and independent voting streak of Oregon. LINK


Today's offering of Nader articles suggest if Ralph Nader wants his campaign message to be about ideas rather than ballot access — maybe he should stay in Missouri though he is not on the ballot in the state (for now anyway).

In an article that balances the "spoiler" question with discussion of Nader's platform, Robert Cronkleton of the Kansas City Star reports on a candidate who is trying to raise questions about "universal health care, living wages for full-time workers, military spending, and the reduction of corporate influence on campaign financing and governmental regulations." While campaigning in Kansas City yesterday, Nader advocated a six-month "responsible withdrawal" policy in Iraq and advocated humanitarian aid to Iraq. Nader says the deadline for pulling troops out should precede an internationally supervised election. LINK

Nader spoke IDEAS to graduating students Thursday at Drury College in Springfield, MO. LINK

The AP reports Nader is planning a legal challenge to make the Show Me ballot. LINK

Democrat and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner Virginia's said Ralph Nader deserves a spot on the state's presidential ballot if his petitions pass the test. LINK

In Iowa, everybody's talking about a decision by state officials on Thursday that Nader should make the ballot. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

USA Today 's Andrea Stone looks at the eight truly competitive races, Noting that they're all in what was Bush country in 2000. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the governors' races:

The Seattle Times reports that Gov. Gary Locke officially endorsed Christine Gregoire over Ron Sims yesterday, giving her a "boost" for the Sept. 14 primary. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the House:

"… [M]any GOP House candidates — while continuing to support the president — are developing subtler, more nuanced and less confrontational ways to approach the issue" of Iraq," write Richard Simon and Mary Curtius of the Los Angeles Times. LINK


Now Golan Cipel is simply looking for an apology, says his lawyer. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—8:30 am: The Commerce Department releases its second look at the 2nd quarter GDP —9:30 am: Elizabeth Edwards hosts a living room discussion, Tampa, FL —11:00 am: The balloon crew of the Republican National Convention and the Baldwinsville High School Band preview the preparations behind next Thursday night's balloon drop, New York, NY —11:30 am: Sen. John Edwards holds an event at Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO —12:15 pm: Sen. John Kerry holds a town hall event at Westmoor High School, Daly City, CA —3:00 pm: Sen. Kerry holds a DNC fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, CA —4:25 pm: President Bush receives a briefing on Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Charley, Miami, FL —5:00 pm: President Bush speaks at a rally, Miami, FL —8:15 pm: Sen. Kerry holds a town hall meeting at Everett Events Center, Everett, WA —8:45 pm: President Bush returns to the White House —11:30 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a DNC fundraiser at the Westin, Seattle, WA