ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

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In an unpublished interview in March 2003 with Mr.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:

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