ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

Today's stories featured former Sen. Dole's Sunday charge (which ABC's Jake Tapper smartly pointed out was, in part, factually flawed), Kerry's new ad charging "smears" and "lies," Ken Cordier being dismissed by the Bush campaign after appearing in a "Swift Boat" ad, two vets stepping forward to support Kerry's version of events, and Edwards calling (once again) on Bush to take the ads down.

CNN's Kelly Wallace said Kerry is scheduled to give a speech tomorrow in which he will try to bring the focus back on the issues while staying on the offensive on the Swift Boat charges.

Roll Call 's Morton Kondracke said on "Fox and Friends" that the net political effect of the story has been negative for Kerry since he is now a "hero with a question mark."

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: political implications:

The Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood and Jeanne Cummings write that Kerry was "hurt" by the Swift Boat Veterans ads, is trying this week to blunt a possible pre-convention bounce for President Bush, and that the Bush campaign was "embarrassed" by a Florida Republican flyer advertising a Swift Boat Veterans rally and by the resignation of a Bush-Cheney volunteer who appeared in the second Swift Boat ad. LINK

"Polls suggest the attacks by the group 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' have harmed Mr. Kerry significantly, whittling the four- to five-percentage-point lead the Democratic nominee built following his party's convention last month. A CBS News poll released late last week showed Mr. Kerry leading Mr. Bush by 46% to 45%, down from 48% to 43% earlier. . . . . But without a quick halt in the erosion, Kerry aides face the prospect that the president could emerge from the Republican convention with a national edge heading into the election homestretch."

The New York Times ' Adam Nagourney made this key point in Saturday editions: LINK

"For one thing, this was no ordinary issue, since it was so central to Mr. Kerry's candidacy. For another, it was no ordinary time, coming right after his convention. And finally, one Democrat said, even if the White House was not behind the attacks, stories questioning Mr. Kerry's account of this central moment in his biography had the effect of reinforcing a main line of Republican attack — that Mr. Kerry was not trustworthy."

Today, Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg get that "Democrat close to the [Kerry] campaign" to give this dire synopsis: "When you're basically running on your biography and there are ongoing attacks that are undermining the credibility of your biography, you have a really big problem." LINK

The duo also Note that in the midst of criticizing Kerry and saying he owed answers and an apology to veterans on CNN this weekend, Sen. Dole said Kerry has "the edge" in the Electoral College and battleground states.

Maureen Dowd used her splashy Sunday column to take President Bush and Karl Rove to task for allowing others to do their fighting. LINK

Ditto Joe Klein:

"The Swifties' ability to dominate the news with incendiary nonsense is, I believe, a direct result of Kerry's unwillingness to dominate the news with tart, controversial substance by challenging the president on Iraq."LINK

Howard Kurtz writes that the Kerry campaign's new ad reflects "anxiety and astonishment" over the Swift Boat Veterans ad. LINK

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