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10 days until the Republican convention 74 days until election day

NEWS SUMMARY President Bush: rest, write, read, plan, listen, meet, practice, watch, clear, ride.

Senator Kerry: travel, listen, seethe, plan, read, strum, ignore, shake, unpack, hire.

And for the staff of The Note, headed into the last quiet weekend, there are only three things:

1. Whither Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania?

2. Can we continue to publish with the help of only 500 of 1,000 Googling monkeys?

3. Today, who is more confident he will win 270+ electoral votes — George W. Bush or John F. "W" Kerry?

Following one of the biggest days of his campaign since the convention, at least in terms of the volume of press coverage, Senator John Kerry stops in Charlotte, NC, this morning before making good on his plan to visit Florida following his post-convention tour, a plan that he cancelled after Charley came ashore.

Following two early morning Charlotte events — a town hall meeting with unemployed workers at 8:15 am ET and a jobs creation speech at 9:00 am ET at Central Piedmont Community College — Kerry flies to Ft. Myers, FL, where he'll meet home state Senator Bill Nelson for a tour of some of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Charley.

Also in and around Ft. Myers? Gov. Jeb Bush, who's expected at the Charlotte Regional Medical Center in Punta Gorda in the early afternoon. Sorry to repeat the joke, but: watch the banks!

Everybody else stays down: President Bush at his Crawford ranch (engaged in convention prep), Vice President Cheney in Wyoming, and Senator John Edwards in Washington, DC.

And there are two new ads of Note: the second from the Swift Boat vets who oppose Kerry, and . . .

. . . the DNC also has a new TV ad to be announced today that we would describe as "timely."

According to our source, the ad is going up tomorrow in 21 states, with a focus on the commander-in-chief debate and it features retired General Merrill McPeak, saying something like, "As a fighter pilot, I saw my share of combat. As chief of staff, I led the Air Force during the first Gulf War. And four years ago, I endorsed George Bush for President. But this year, I'm voting for John Kerry."

And the DNC unveils its "America Can Do Better' bus tour leading up to the Republican National Convention.

Also today: both campaigns release their monthly and cumulative money totals — Kerry's of course telling us how much he raised for the entire nomination season — and the Labor Department releases the most recent state and regional unemployment figures.

The Democrats also will begin a new focus on new overtime rules, which go into effect on Monday, beginning tomorrow with Senator Edwards' Democratic address. While Kerry is in closed fundraisers on Long Island, NY, tomorrow, Edwards campaigns in West Virginia before heading to Charlotte, NC, for Sunday campaigning that will also include Milwaukee and Racine, WI.

On Sunday, "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" will have loads to talk about — from Kerry economic adviser Gene Sperling and Rep. Rob Portman (R-OH) on the economy, to Iraq and Kerry and the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

Also on Sunday, be sure to tune in to C-SPAN for the first episode of an awesome series on Washington Journal examining battleground states. This one is about Missouri and guests include the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Jo Mannies, BC04 strategist Lloyd Smith, Missouri Lt. Gov. (and KE04 adviser) Joe Maxwell, and St. Louis radio talk show host Mike Sampson. And according to a release, "the program will include a series of short vignettes with volunteers and campaign aides from the Kerry and Bush campaigns . . . in both St. Louis and Kansas City." It's like New Hampshire and Iowa all over again!

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

The New York Times Kate Zernike and Jim Rutenberg furnish a careful must-read look at the formation of the group, along with charts and graphics galore. Roy Hoffmann seems to be the protagonist, and Jim O'Neill was instrumental in securing funds from Bob Perry and Harlan Crow, who he has known for years.

There's also an accounting of the Merrie Spaeth-Tex Lezar-GWB nexus, as well as the Perry-Rove nexus. All-in-all, nothing more suspicious than, say, Harold Ickes and Mary Beth Cahill being acquaintances either. An interesting twist: the ads themselves are crafted by Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm, which has both a McCain and Bush 41 pedigree. LINK

While some of the connections the group makes read more like something from The Nation or Salon, the shots at some of the stories the members have told are bound to carry some weight with the Gang of 500 gatekeepers.

The key paragraphs:

In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr. Kerry's authorized biographer, Douglas Brinkley, provided by Mr. Brinkley to The New York Times , Roy F. Hoffmann, a retired rear admiral and a leader of the group, allowed that he had disagreed with Mr. Kerry's antiwar positions but said, 'I am not going to say anything negative about him.' He added, 'He's a good man.'"

"Mr. Rove, Mr. Bush's top political aide, recently said through a spokeswoman that he and Mr. Perry were longtime friends, though he said they had not spoken for at least a year. Mr. Rove and Mr. Perry have been associates since at least 1986, when they both worked on the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Clements."

"When asked if she had ever visited the White House during Mr. Bush's tenure, Ms. Spaeth initially said that she had been there only once, in 2002, when Kenneth Starr gave her a personal tour. But this week Ms. Spaeth acknowledged that she had spent an hour in the Old Executive Office Building, part of the White House complex, in the spring of 2003, giving Mr. Bush's chief economic adviser, Stephen Friedman, public speaking advice."

"The group also offers the account of William L. Schachte Jr., a retired rear admiral who says in the book that he had been on the small skimmer on which Mr. Kerry was injured that night in December 1968. He contends that Mr. Kerry wounded himself while firing a grenade."

"But the two other men who acknowledged that they had been with Mr. Kerry, Bill Zaladonis and Mr. Runyon, say they cannot recall a third crew member. "Me and Bill aren't the smartest, but we can count to three," Mr. Runyon said in an interview. And even Dr. Letson said he had not recalled Mr. Schachte until he had a conversation with another veteran earlier this year and received a subsequent phone call from Mr. Schachte himself."

As we wait for Ad Two (which may well be about Kerry's post-war comments) . . . chew over these questions:

Will Senator Kerry address the (what strikes us as mostly meaningless) Cambodia question?

Or wait for Brinkley to do so in The New Yorker?

How much free media will the new SBVfT ad get?

Will other veterans emerge to contradict Senator Kerry or fortify his claims?

Does Michael Meehan ever get asked questions raised by this blog? LINK

Or Hugh Hewitt's? (LINK)

What does Joe Lockhart say in the morning meetings about whether to release Senator Kerry's full medical record?

Does the story peter out on its own over the weekend, or does the now opened-can of worms continue to bear … well, worms? Does a focus on Kerry's credibility (even as it relates to Vietnam) really help Kerry in the long run? Is this the reason for the equivocal BC04 response to the simple question about whether President Bush thinks the allegations themselves are true?

The Los Angeles Times has this nugget: Stephanie "Cutter said that if charges about Kerry's service continued, the candidate would 'talk comparatively' about his military record and that of Bush, who has been shadowed by questions about whether he fulfilled his service while in the Texas Air National Guard."

Ms. Cutter confirmed this sentiment to The Note this very morning.

ABC News' Jake Tapper reported today on "Good Morning America": "In addition to the involvement of Perry, other GOP donors, and former Reagan White House media liaison Merrie Spaeth, O'Neill told ABC News that when his group was forming, he sought and received free legal advice from Jan Baran, an expert on election law who … was the former counsel for George H.W. Bush's 1988 presidential campaign, and for four years counsel to the Republican National Committee." LINK

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth: Kerry pushback:

In describing the Senator's pushback, Deb Orin writes John Kerry "went ballistic." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' news of day story is chock-full, including the Lockhart and Johnson hires, but our favorite is this three-graph tick tock. LINK

"Kerry reversed course Wednesday night after arriving in Boston from a campaign trip to Cincinnati. As his motorcade pulled up to his Beacon Hill townhouse, he asked senior adviser David Morehouse, communications director Stephanie Cutter and press secretary David Wade to come inside."

"With campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill on the phone, Kerry told his aides, 'I think it's time to go at this.'"

"Aides hired a delivery service to drive through the night from Washington, D.C., to Boston with thick, bound copies of Kerry's naval records to distribute to reporters traveling with the candidate."

From the Wall Street Journal 's Washington Wire: "Though Kerry hit back yesterday at a Bush 'front' attacking his military service, one outside Democratic strategist says failure to do that days ago evokes "a bad case of Dukakis déjà vu." Bush aides say they aren't involved. Kerry beefs up communications team with former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart."

"Some Vietnam crewmates of Kerry's urged him over the last week to personally condemn the swift boat ads, a task he left until yesterday to spokesmen and friends like McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam. But according to aides, Kerry was particularly incensed Wednesday when he heard reports that Bush donor Perry had written a second $100,000 check to continue financing the group and stayed up late that night writing eight new paragraphs to insert into the speech," reports the Boston Globe 's Pat Healy. LINK

The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren has her write up, including the CBS News poll. LINK

The Washington Post 's Lois Romano and Jim VandeHei. LINK

The AP's Ron Fournier: LINK

USA Today 's Andrea Stone and Jill Lawrence: LINK

The Los Angeles Times plays catch up to the Washington Post with truth squadding Thurlow's citation too. LINK

USA Today 's Stone writes that a clear picture of what Kerry "did or did not do in Vietnam . . . may never emerge." LINK

More "Unfit for Command" excerpts from the Washington Times : LINK

The New York Daily News on Kerry's retort to ads questioning his military service. LINK

The Columbus Dispatch's Darrel Rowland writes that Kerry "escalated the battle over his Vietnam service yesterday." LINK

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert writes that a "bristling" Kerry was "[a]bruptly ending his silence on the subject." LINK

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn writes that Kerry dust[ed] off an old primary-campaign rallying cry." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

The Washington Post 's Lois Romano on what was originally supposed to be Senator Kerry's storyline yesterday: hitting Bush on drug imports in New Hampshire. LINK Kerry's health care front-porch event in Derry, NH, was completely overtaken by his Swift Boat pushback, but not so much that Matea Gold didn't give it some play in the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Manchester Union Leader's Garry Rayno reports that Mary Knowles, who was featured in a Kerry television spot and numerous Kerry speeches about health care, "was eligible for 26 weeks of disability but didn't take it because her husband had been laid off and it would mean a cut in the family income." LINK

The Manchester Union Leader's Scott Brooks writes that "Kerry is hitting on the singular issue that could put him over the top:" health care. LINK

The Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb explains why the claims by John Kerry recently that "a recent Congressional Budget Office report proves that the tax "burden" on the middle class has gone up as a result of the Bush tax cuts" are false. LINK

Yah, man. Let's all just motivate and vote for John Kerry this year, OK? The Boston Globe 's Kaushik reports that Hempfest "Organizers are pushing pot smokers to help elect Senator John F. Kerry president." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney v. Kerry-Edwards:

ABC News' Karen Travers reports:

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign raised $14 million in July, according to the FEC report it filed for the month, bringing the campaign's grand total to over $240 million, the highest total of any presidential campaign in history.

The Kerry campaign figures will be available today and will show the entire pre-convention fundraising total for the campaign.

The Bush campaign also reported that it had $32.5 million in cash on hand on July 31. In comparison, the campaign had $64,287,947 on hand at the end of June.

The BC04 campaign put up five new ads in July and spread its ad buy to North Carolina with two previously released ads. The campaign also went up on radio with two new ads.

Three of the television ads aired on national cable and local television markets in battleground states, 1 aired only in New Mexico and another was just aiming at local markets in key states.

The specifics on the campaign's disbursements (including how much it spent on advertising) will be available later today.

The campaign Noted in a release that 229,410 donors contributed to that figure and the campaign has received donations from more than 1.24 million contributors.

For the July total, $11.2 million came from direct mail/phone donations and the campaign raised $2.3 million online.

From the Wall Street Journal 's Washington Wire: "Seeking focus on domestic issues, the Kerry camp next week will pair criticism of new administration overtime rules with complaints about the widening rich-poor gap as new poverty figures are released. The Bush camp awaits coming data expected to show gains in housing and manufacturing."

Also from the Wall Street Journal 's Washington Wire: " Republicans eye lection lift from expatriates in Israel. Though Jewish voters at home lean Democratic, Bush allies say his strong backing for Sharon could yield dividends among expats registered in pivotal Florida and Pennsylvania. A Democratic organizer, citing rumors Kerry might make Bill Clinton a Mideast envoy, says the party's Web site already has 5,000 absentee-ballot applications from residents of Israel."

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

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten gives an in-depth look at the Bush plan for overhauling Social Security and pushing for personal investment accounts — an issue that the president has started to tout on the campaign trail without details. LINK

And Wallsten reports — don't hold your breath for specifics before election day.

Wallsten looks at the politics of the president's plan, Noting: "Confronting such matters, Republican strategists fear, could make Bush and other GOP candidates vulnerable to attacks in key states such as Florida, where senior voters have a history of punishing candidates who talk of changing Social Security."

"The decision to stick to generalities also reflects the political complexities facing Bush as he tries to outline a domestic agenda for a second four years in office."

Note to Mr. Wallsten: great piece, but please understand — the POINT of private/personal accounts is to take pressure off of the trust fund by lowering the guaranteed minimum benefit. That is the POINT, not something that MIGHT happen.

The AP's Deb Reichman reports President Bush and Mrs. Bush are working on convention speeches during their down time at their Crawford ranch. LINK

And as for where he will deliver that speech, Maggie Haberman of the New York Daily News reports that President Bush will use a "specially made blast- and bullet-proof stage" at the Republican National Convention. LINK

"The type of onstage entrance that Bush will make has been a well-guarded secret throughout the convention planning. Officials have refused to say if it will be a conventional platform or something else, but some organizers have said a 'theater-in-the-round' approach is likely."

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign released a positive ad last week timed to the start of the Olympics. The spot heralded the fact that these Summer Games would feature two new democracies, showing the flags of Iraq and Afghanistan. And on the stump, President Bush has touted the Iraqi Olympics soccer team, saying last week in Oregon "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it? It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."

Yet in interviews with Sports Illustrated, members of that Iraqi team don't appreciate being a part of the political debate here. LINK

"'Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign,'[Iraqi midfielder Salih] Sadir told through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. 'He can find another way to advertise himself.'"

SI writer Grant Wahl report: "But they also find it offensive that Bush is using their team for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions in Iraq. 'My problems are not with the American people,' says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. 'They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?'"

The New York Daily News Bazinet writes up the soccer story: LINK

David Bossie's Citizens United is producing a pro-Bush documentary called "The Big Picture." directed by Lionel Chetwynd. As Salon's Joe Conason points out (and Fred Wertheimer has nightmares about), Chetwynd "is also preparing two films to be screened at the Republican National Convention, according to Daily Variety. The first is a 'tribute' to the late President Ronald Reagan, for whom Chetwynd once served as a speechwriter. The second is a 'toast to George W. Bush.'" LINK

The Washington Post 's Alan Cooperman follows yesterday's New York Times report on Bush campaign adviser Deal Hudson: "Deal W. Hudson, publisher of the conservative Catholic magazine Crisis and a close ally of the Bush White House, has resigned as an adviser to the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign because of allegations that he sexually harassed a Fordham University student a decade ago." LINK

Yesterday, we suggested that Maureen Dowd's New York Times column implied that she wanted American athletes to be booed at the Olympics. In fact, as the column made clear, she wishes for a world in which swaggering American athletes are welcomed and cheered. We also suggested that no American athletes have been booed, when in fact, the men's basketball team was during its weak efforts. The Note regrets the errors.

The politics of national security:

The Washington Post 's Robin Wright examines the dissatisfaction with President Bush's policies in the Muslim world from both inside the Bush Administration and outside critics who say that the administration has not followed through thoroughly on its plans such as the Greater Middle East Democracy Initiative, or to deal with anti-American anger that is at the heart of the terror threat from the Middle East. The war of ideas — not to mention hearts and minds — hasn't gotten as much attention as homeland security and intelligence, sources tell Wright. LINK

The Washington Post 's Charles Krauthammer heartily endorses President Bush's military re-deployment plan. LINK

The Washington Post 's Sara Kehaulani Goo on how Senator Ted Kennedy ended up being flagged on the government's no-fly list. "Critics said the senator's experience served as the latest example of how a system designed to improve security is instead targeting innocent travelers." LINK

"In at least one instance, a US Airways ticket agent refused to let him board. 'I said, I've been getting on this plane for 42 years,' Kennedy said. 'Why can't I get on the plane back to Washington?' " LINK

Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe writes up how hometown Senator Ted Kennedy found himself unable to board the Shuttle. LINK

The Republican National Convention:

Zell Miller will reappear at Madison Square Garden as the convention keynote speaker, reports Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

"'The administration has done a very good job for three and a half years, perhaps too good a job, of shoring up his conservative base,' said Charles Cook, an independent analyst based in Washington. 'At this point, reaching to the middle is what he needs to do. The convention program, highlighting moderates and a Democrat, is a sign that this is what they intend to do.'"

"U.S. Senator Zell Miller — a conservative, pro-Bush Democrat from Georgia — will become the first member of an opposing party to deliver the keynote address at a national convention," writes Stefan Friedman of the New York Post . LINK

USA Today 's Judy Keen looks at Senator Zell Miller's 12-year journey from keynote to keynote. LINK

More schedule highlights: LINK

The Washington Times ' Ralph Z. Hallow writes about "the ex-Marine from the foothills of Appalachia" who will keynote the Republican National Convention. Zell Miller will be the first speaker ever to keynote both major party conventions. In what the Washington Times calls a "ideological kaleidoscope" other prime-time headliners will include Arizona Senator John McCain, New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. LINK

Haberman and Bazinet report the a Republican Party official who says the GOP is planning a "tasteful" tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, including family members of the victims. "Why do you think we picked New York? It's not because it's Republican territory," a Bush adviser told the Daily News. LINK

Anarchists as wild cards? "Moderate" anarchists? What are the chances for something ugly to happen at the convention? LINK

The NYPD played for cameras yesterday. LINK

Money and politics: The Washington Post 's Tom Edsall looks at the new FEC rules, effective Jan. 1, "that will make it significantly more difficult for independent political groups to continue to raise and spend millions of dollars in contributions for the 2006 election." One regulation limits to $5,000 any contribution resulting from a solicitation indicating that "any portion of the funds" will support or oppose a federal candidate. The other stipulates that 527 groups must finance at least half of their efforts with limited hard money donations from individuals. LINK

The AP's Sharon Theimer breaks down the new ground rules on interest groups laid down by the FEC yesterday. Starting after Nov. 2, 2004, "The Federal Election Commission rules, approved 4-2 Thursday, will require nonparty groups that raise more than $1,000 to take only limited donations from individuals if they tell donors the money will be used to promote or oppose a particular presidential or congressional candidate. They will also have to disclose their financing and spending to the FEC." LINK

"The Federal Election Commission passed a series of complicated campaign finance rules on Thursday in an effort to make it harder for some independent political groups to spend millions in unrestricted contributions in future elections," the New York Times ' Glen Justice reports LINK

A new campaign finance "loophole?" Members of Congress can give money to GOTV groups. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Ad traffic summary for the week of Aug. 16-20:

Ad traffic highlights, in addition to those described in the summary:

· KE04 turns the lights on to combat the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth with a new ad featuring Kerry crewmate Jim Rassmann. ·'s PAC responds to the SBVfT too for a couple of days, and gets rebuffed by both BC04 and KE04 … and MCCAIN! · The SBVfT hits back with another anti-Kerry ad. · The DNC unveils its third ad, focusing this time on health care. · After a period of positive ads not mentioning Kerry, BC04 strikes hard at Kerry's service on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Here's what's on the air right now … · 4 BC04 ads: 3 positive ads on ownership, homeland security, and the Olympics; and 1 slamming Kerry on his record · 1 KE04 ad biting back at the SBVfT · 1 (brand new!) anti-Kerry ad by the SBVfT · 3 pro-Kerry DNC ads including a new one on health care · 1 (old and re-released) anti-Bush ad by's PAC contrasting Kerry and Bush's wartime service · 6 anti-Bush ads by the Media Fund in battleground states · 4 ads by the New Democrat Network in selected markets promoting Hispanic support for Democrats

The politics of Hurricane Charley:

The Miami Herald 's Leslie Clark previews Senator Kerry's visit to Southwest Florida today to see the areas of the state hit by Hurricane Charley with Senator Bill Nelson. LINK

The Washington Post 's Manuel Roig-Franzia and Ceci Connolly wrap the slow progress toward "normal" for the victims of Hurricane Charley. LINK

The Orlando Sentinel's Bob Mahlburg reports that Gov. Jeb Bush "declared an elections emergency in the counties struck by Hurricane Charley, giving local officials the power to delay early voting and more time to hire and train poll workers for the Aug. 31 primary." Bush and Secretary of State Glenda Hood said, however, that the election would go on schedule in all counties. LINK

Sean Mussenden of the Orlando Sentinel writes that property appraisers expect Gov. Bush to back their plan for tax breaks to homeowners whose property was damaged in the hurricane. LINK

McGreevey: what's next:

Ah, New Jersey politics!!!!

The New York Times ' David Kocieniewski reports that the fight to remove Gov. James McGreevey by Sept. 3 began to collapse Thursday "as Democratic leaders indicated they feared an escalating and increasingly personal fight with the governor." LINK

Kocieniewski reports that "on Wednesday, six days after Mr. McGreevey said he would resign because of an extramarital affair with another man, Channel 2 (the local CBS station in New York) reported that an unnamed administration official was warning United States Representative Robert Menendez to stop criticizing Mr. McGreevey because Mr. Menendez himself had engaged in an affair. The official cited in the Channel 2 report accused Mr. Menendez of setting the woman up in business and referring clients to her." Shortly thereafter, Menendez released a statement in support of Gov. McGreevey staying in office until Nov. 15.

The Newark Star Ledger looks at Gov. McGreevey's plans to finish his days in office with an agenda including choosing a management team to run the new stem-cell research institute, regulating limiting building in the Highlands and presiding over the first meetings of a state task force mapping out a constitutional convention on how to end the run-up of property taxes. LINK

Now that State Senate President Codey will likely become governor on Nov. 15, the state's Democrats are beginning to rally behind him, reports the Trenton Times. LINK

But repercussions remain for McGreevey for not playing ball with the party bosses who wanted him to step aside early, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer's Tom Turcol. LINK

And don't expect John Kerry to be coming to New Jersey anytime soon, report the Trenton Times, as the politics of the state remain too volatile and awkward. LINK

Now that it looks like he'll be sticking around Drumthwacket for a little while longer, the story can devolve into sex, sex, and more sex!

The New York Post reports that "embarrassing tapes and photos" were part of Golan Cipel's alleged extortion plot. Cipel's lawyer, Allen Lowy, denied having any such document. "Never. It's absurd," Lowy said. "We haven't threatened anyone. We contemplated filing an action. After that, there were settlement discussions." LINK

Cipel responded strongly yesterday, denying accusations that he also had an affair with a male professor from Livingston, N.J. In addition, Cipel said, "I am a single person fighting a monstrous and organized machine of lies and manipulations, systematically working to destroy me," in a statement. LINK

The New York Post also has Cipel's comments. LINK

The Star Ledger calls into question the credibility on the Livingston professor who claims to have had an affair with Cipel. After reviewing police records, the Star Ledger reports that Michael David Miller, the professor, has "falsely told police he is a CIA operative and that the satellite dish on his house is used for CIA communication. In a series of phone calls to police and Essex County courts, the doctor has told a bizarre tale of an Iranian tenant he claimed would blow up the Essex County Courthouse in Newark." LINK

The New York Daily News takes a look at the once lofty political aspirations of Golan Cipel. LINK

In other New Jersey news, former Governor and Chair of the 9/11 Commission Thomas Kean announced "yesterday that he will step down as president of Drew University next spring after nearly 15 years as head of the Madison school," reports the Star Ledger. Kean said he was not stepping down for "any specific reason," saying, rather, it was just time. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

The Orlando Sentinel's Gwyneth Shaw reports that "Six members of Congress asked Attorney General John Ashcroft on Thursday to investigate whether the Florida Department of Law Enforcement committed civil-rights violations in questioning some Orlando voters as part of a probe of last spring's mayoral election." LINK

Read Bob Herbert's second column about alleged voter suppression in Orlando if only to get a sense of what type of allegations are in store for November. LINK

Read carefully the FDLE's explanation for the document (already chewed over in the Florida press) that Mr. Herbert obtained.

ABC News Vote 2004: The Big Four: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Wisconsin:

"The University of Cincinnati's latest Ohio Poll out Thursday shows Democrat John Kerry and President Bush "neck and neck" — and their supporters chin to chin," reports Carl Weiser in the Cincinnati Enquirer. LINK

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Joel Dresang reports, "The Wisconsin job scene continued to improve last month as factory employment grew again and the unemployment rate dropped below 5% for only the second time in nearly three years, the state Department of Workforce Development reported Thursday." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

Kerry legal adviser and former co-chair of the Michigan Democratic Party Butch Hollowell was cited for "allegedly picking up a prostitute," reports the Detroit Free Press. Hollowell says he was simply trying to help the woman. LINK

"Hollowell is temporarily stepping down from his legal position in the Kerry campaign until the matter is resolved. 'I look forward to returning as soon as I'm cleared which I trust will be very soon,'' he said."

The Detroit News got this from Kerry Michigan spokesman Rodell Mollineau: "We are still collecting information and have no further comment at this time . . . " LINK

AP has the story too. LINK

"Rapidly rising crude oil prices are threatening the nation's economic recovery, taxing Michigan businesses and sparking fears that consumers may soon have to pay more for everything from soccer balls to lipstick," reports the Detroit News. LINK

The Raleigh News & Observer 's Lynn Bonner writes about North Carolina the perceptions of competitiveness. LINK

New Mexican fourth- and eighth-grade students showed improvements in language arts and math, according to test scores released yesterday. LINK

"Despite the improved test scores for fourth- and eighth-graders, Garcia said she expects more schools to be placed in corrective action when her department announces new school ratings. That's because low scores from subgroups, such as ethnic groups, can hurt the rating of a whole school under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Garcia said."

The Albuquerque Journal describes yesterday's courthouse dedication ceremony as a "Petefest." Even Antonin Scalia showed up for the naming of the federal courthouse in Albuquerque after Senator Domenici. LINK

A Wheeling, WV, man is getting national attention after he was asked to leave a July 31 rally for President Bush for wearing a John Kerry t-shirt. John Prather attended a Kerry-Edwards rally in Wheeling later that evening and wasn't bothered when he wore his George Bush t-shirt. The 38-year-old mathematics professor at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville says when he showed up at the Bush rally in Kerry-gear, he was first asked to turn the shirt inside out but then security personnel said he couldn't enter at all. LINK

The politics of Iraq:

The Washington Post 's Rajiv Chandrasekaran writes that the pressure is rising in Najaf as interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi on Thursday declared a "final call" for Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr to agree to Iraqi government conditions for peace in Najaf. Sadr has urged his followers to hand over the keys to the shrine to Shiite leaders, but refused to disband his militia. LINK

This morning on "Good Morning America," ABC News' Mike von Fremd said Sadr is reported to be trying to intervene on behalf of the freelance American journalist, Micah Garen, who was taken hostage by terrorists in Iraq. Sadr is reported to have asked them not to kill Garen.

The Los Angeles Times reports the CIA plans on issuing a saving-face report projecting what Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities could have been if the United States didn't take military action in Iraq. LINK

Prison abuse scandal:

The Washington Post 's Josh White and Tom Ricks report that sources say an Army investigation into the role played by military intelligence in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal has concluded that leadership failures, not a small band of soldiers behaving inappropriately, helped cause the scandal. LINK

The politics of labor:

Leigh Strope of the AP looks at the new overtime laws taking effect on Monday. "The Labor Department says as many as 107,000 workers could lose overtime eligibility under its new rules, but about 1.3 million will gain it. The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal Washington think tank, says 6 million will lose, and only a few will get new rights to premium pay for working more than 40 hours a week." LINK

From the outside:

The Media Fund will announce today that Steve McMahon, Mark Squier and John Donovan will be their principal media firm for the two months leading up to the election. M and S were top advisers to Howard Dean (along with a globetrotting T). Donovan is a New York-trained whiz who's done ads for many Democratic Senators.

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

Charlie Cook reports in National Journal on the "teetering" dominoes in the Senate. Arguing the odds in three Senate races have changed over the past few months: Oklahoma, South Carolina and North Carolina, with the five other Senate races looking like cliff hangers (Florida, Colorado, Louisiana, Alaska and South Dakota) . Note: "In 2000, tight races broke overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats."

According to the Chicago Tribune's Long and Parsons, Republican candidate for Senate from Illinois Alan Keyes was met with a lukewarm reception at Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair yesterday — the day following Democrat Barack Obama was greeted by his party at the same fair as if he was Elvis or something. LINK

It was a rough day for both Senate candidates from Illinois yesterday apparently. Colleen Mastony of the Chicago Tribune writes that Barack Obama was also met with an un-enthused response at the annual meeting of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police Thursday. LINK

Nader-Camejo '04:

Allison Benedikt The Chicago Tribune reports Ralph Nader's petitions flunked their validity test in Illinois Thursday, where a State Board of Elections unanimously found the independent candidate should not make the ballot because many of the addresses of petition signers did not match their addresses in voter registration records. Nader's attorney argues there are better ways to confirm signatures, as many of the independent candidate's supporters are young and transient. But the state review board does not have the last word — a federal judge does. That ruling is scheduled for Monday morning. LINK

Shea Anderson of the Albuquerque Tribune Review reports the Nader Factor (LINK) hits the airwaves Monday in Albuquerque and Wisconsin with their ad linking Nader and the GOP. "It's got to be one of the strangest alliances in the history of American politics," say David Jones, a former Democratic fund-raiser and anti-Nader guru. Arizona Republican State Senator Rod Adair — a Republican — recently included a copy of a Nader ballot petition in an e-mail newsletter he sends to about 24,000 supporters. Adair said he is defending the right of an independent to get on the ballot. In 2000, Al Gore won New Mexico by a measly 366 votes over Bush. Nader received 3.6 percent of the vote in New Mexico in 2000. LINK

Will the Nader Factor's Bush/Nader 04-logo campaign have legs?

The AP Notes legal proceedings to review Nader's status in Pennsylvania have been set for Sept. 3. There will be four or five separate hearings. LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times Notes Americans like their politicians married. Which means — if you buy the argument that Republicans will do anything to push Kerry leaners to vote for Ralph Nader — what the GOP should really be doing is getting a profile up on "70-year old seat-belt loving non-smoker seeks companion for campaign trail." (LINK). Deborah Pickett's article: LINK

Democrats in Arkansas are up in arms after the names of at least two dozen state Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller's chief of staff, showed up on petitions to get Nader included on the state ballot. Nader is listed as the Better Life Party nominee in the state, reports Dennis A. Byrd of the AP. "This is a clear sign that Republicans recognize how vulnerable President Bush is in Arkansas and, contrary to their public statements, know that Arkansas is a key battleground state . . . " states the Democratic Party's news release. LINK

Free Matt Cooper:

Walter Shapiro writes, "Punitive leaks have been a constant of Washington life, regardless of which party is in power. But what adds a sad irony to this story is that Cooper was not the journalist who unmasked Valerie Plame's undercover career. That role was obligingly played by conservative columnist Robert Novak, who in July 2003 reported that Wilson had been sent by the CIA to Niger on Plame's recommendation to investigate purported Iraqi efforts to purchase uranium." LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua:

The birthday time capsule was actually big enough to fit the former President's memoirs and a few other things too. LINK

Politics: While the Washington Post 's E.J. Dionne examines the politics of the Southwest and writes that although there is political polarization in the U.S., "the truth we avoid is that we are, if you'll forgive the phrase, a much more national nation than we like to admit." LINK

See correction one: LINK

Slow down, Mr. Vice President, and remember — you won the popular vote!!: LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—8:15 am: Sen. John Kerry speaks about the economy and jobs with laid-off workers at Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, NC —9:00 am: Sen. Kerry speaks about his plan to create and keep jobs in America at Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, NC —10:00 am: The House Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee and the Constitution Subcommittee hold a joint hearing on privacy and civil liberties in the hands of the government since 9/11, Washington, DC —10:00 am: 9/11 Commission Vice-Chairman Lee Hamilton, Commission member Slade Gorton and others testify before the House Judiciary Committee at the Capitol, Washington, DC —10:00 am: The Bureau of Labor Statistics issues its regional and state employment and unemployment report —11:00 am: The Democratic National Committee holds a news conference to unveil details of their "America Can Do Better" Bush Tour at the DNC Headquarters, Washington, DC —1:00 pm: Sen. Kerry accompanies Sen. Bill Nelson on a tour of areas damaged by Hurricane Charley, Fort Meyers, FL —4:15 pm: The Federal Reserve releases weekly conditions report of large commercial banks —5:40 pm: Elizabeth Edwards holds a backyard discussion at the Home of Jolene and Steve Benoit, Albuquerque, NM