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24 days until the Republican convention 88 days until election day

NEWS SUMMARY

Secret meetings/conference calls for which we wish we could turn a Googling monkey into a fly on the wall:

1. the Washington lobbyists for the Saudi government meeting to discuss how to deal with John Kerry

2. the PR people for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth meeting to deal with George Elliott's retraction of his affidavit (go ahead and link to THAT story, Matt Drudge!!)

3. Sen. Kerry meeting with his vast polling and political staff to have it explained to him YET AGAIN why he got no bump/bounce from his convention

4. the leading Republican 527s meeting to discuss how they are going to get these rich people to pony up

5. the White House communications staff preparing President Bush for his UNITY speech, and explaining to him that the journalists there gave John Kerry repeated (sometimes standing) ovations

6. the Kerry campaign traveling press corps trying to remember if they ever asked John Kerry to condemn 527 ads attacking President Bush

7. tax lobbyists chewing on the trial balloons about "tax reform"

8. any meeting Ralph Reed is in, ever

9. the gatherings in local TV station news rooms and business offices where discussions are under way on whether or not to run the swift boat ad

10. the Kerry communications staff meeting to discuss which Michael Moore allegation the candidate will stress today

11. the Homeland Security Department meeting to discuss how future terror alerts will be announced and when that meeting with Gail Collins will be scheduled

12. the "Politics Live" planning meeting at which Chris Cuomo, Mark Halperin, and the show's producers go over today's 1:30 pm ET episode, on ABC NEWS NOW (available in Washington, D.C. on Channel 194, in Manhattan on Channel 730, and here LINK) (Note Note: that is a meeting we WILL be at . . .)

13. Dr. Frist's chat with his state director about the results of Thursday's primary in Tennessee and all of the Republican candidates who will be on the ballot there in November

14. the Crossfire morning call where Novak and Carville agree on some things

15. the RNC and DNC field directors and staff plotting their meticulous targeting and massive get-out-the-vote plans

As for today . . .

Under the headline "U.S. employment growth surprisingly weak in July," Reuters writes that a "paltry" 32,000 workers were added to payrolls last month, the Labor Department reports today. The much-weaker-than-expected "will come as unwelcome news for President George W. Bush ahead of the presidential election."

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent from 5.6 percent in June in a separate government survey of households.

Says ABC News' Betsy Stark: "This is a very disappointing number. It raises serious questions about the sustainability of the economic recovery, especially with record oil prices. May and June payroll numbers were also revised downward. Look for a weak stock market open."

The Wall Street Journal 's E.S. Browning brings some pretty grim economic news, Noting that the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 163 points yesterday, consumer spending is down and the price of crude oil has risen to more than $44 per barrel, and a separate Journal story says that the Fed is still gonna raise interest rates, even with the apparent slowdown.

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