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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.

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