ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

"Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry assailed President Bush's plan Wednesday to dramatically reduce the number of troops stationed around the globe, calling the realignment a potential threat to the nation's security," writes the Washington Post 's Lois Romano. LINK

The Columbus Dispatch's Joe Hallett writes, "The VFW audience, older and Republican-leaning in general, gave Kerry a tepid welcome, far cooler than the reception Bush received Monday." LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer's Howard Wilkinson reports, "Like the electorate at large, the thousands of veterans at the convention center seemed split over which man is best suited to lead the country in time of war." LINK

"As with the president's speech Monday, about half the VFW crowd stayed in its seats while the other half leapt to its feet and cheered."

As we've reported before, Nevada and Florida have minimum wage hike questions on their November ballot, and the Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip highlights how that initiatives "could increase voter turnout among Democratic-leaning African-Americans, Hispanics and low-income workers — and possibly boost Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry's showing against President Bush."

The politics of national security:

The Washington Post 's Robin Wright examines the new Pew Research Center poll released Wednesday, which concludes that "Foreign policy and national security concerns are considered more important by Americans this campaign year than at any time since the Vietnam War." Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they think the war in Iraq and terrorism are the two most important issues facing the country, and 26 percent cited economic issues. The key is swing voters, Wright Notes, who "were split over which candidate is stronger on foreign policy and terrorism, the survey found. Swing voters tended to agree more with Democrats on foreign policy issues, but their opinions were closer to Republican positions on combating terrorism, pollsters said." LINK

More on the Pew Poll: 80 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of independents say the U.S. has lost respect in the world, while 47 percent of Republicans say it has. Nearly six in 10 Americans — 59 percent — said they think the Bush Administration is too quick to use force internationally, while 33 percent said the White House tries hard enough to use diplomacy. In addition, 43 percent of Americans said they believe torture is often or sometimes justified to gain information. Fifty-eight percent said they approve of how President Bush is handling terrorism, compared to 42 percent who approve of his handling of foreign policy, and his overall job approval rating of 46 percent.

Want to know what surprised Andrew Kohut most about the latest Pew results?

"'What surprised me most [about the survey] is just how clearly we can see these two counter-patterns — success in the war on terror and disappointment with the war in Iraq,' said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Center." LINK

The Boston Globe looks at the Pew poll too. LINK

As does the Washington Times . LINK

The Washington Post 's Bradley Graham reports Secretary Rumsfeld "said Wednesday that he is still working out the rules dictating when and under whose authority to fire a new system to protect the United States from missile attack, and is awaiting a final assessment about the system's readiness to begin operations." LINK

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

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