ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News




Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

24 days until the Republican convention 88 days until election day


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.

We think it is safe to say at this point that the Gang of 500 will view the economy as mixed at best by election day; what the American people will think (and feel) is another matter.

President Bush speaks at the UNITY: Journalists of Color Convention in Washington at 9:20 am ET before heading to Stratham, N.H. to speak at a picnic at 12:35 pm ET. The president spends the weekend at his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he will attend the wedding of his nephew, George P. Bush.

Vice President Cheney participates in a town hall meeting at Cabela's Sporting Goods Store in East Grand Forks, Minn., at 1:00 pm ET. On Saturday he attends a private fundraiser in Westchester, N.Y.

Sens. Kerry and Edwards discuss energy independence at a family farm in Kansas City, Mo., at noon ET. In the late evening, they chug along on their train tour, heading to Lamar, Colo., for their first stop.

On Saturday, the Senators travel from Lamar to La Junta, Colo., where they hold a 1:45 pm ET rally. Following the rally, they travel to Las Vegas, N.M., and finally to Albuquerque where they overnight.

On Sunday, Sen. Kerry heads to Arizona for a tour of the Grand Canyon. He overnights in Flagstaff.

Sen. Edwards departs for Chicago for an event on Monday. He rejoins the tour from Aug. 11-13 to complete the journey across the country.

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth:

So what's next? Or is this story basically over, Kranishized, cycled through one news day and digested by cable news viewers?

Will Sen. McCain continue to put public pressure on the White House to denounce the ads? And will this re-open the rift between himself and the president? He told ABC News' Jake Tapper in an exclusive TV interview yesterday: "I condemn the ad, it is dishonest and dishonorable, I think it is very, very wrong. I hope that the president will also condemn it."

Tapper looked at the ad for "Good Morning America" in a piece that included McCain's comments and called into question the credibility of George Elliott, a Vietnam veteran who appears in the new anti-Kerry ad.

Elliott says in the ad, "John Kerry has not been honest about what happened in Vietnam." But back in 1996, when Kerry was running for re-election in Massachusetts, Elliott came to Kerry's defense, saying at a press conference, "The fact that he chased armed enemies down is not something to be looked down on."

This morning, CBS News' Cynthia Bowers Noted that a Houston-based Republican was behind the ad, and that the Kerry campaign has asked local television stations to pull it.

On CNN's "American Morning," Bill Hemmer interviewed two Vietnam vets — anti-Kerry Bob Elder and pro-Kerry Dal Sundusky.

Elder said his gripe with Kerry was not only his betrayal that followed the Vietnam War, but also the way he "grossly exaggerated and lied" to get his first Purple Heart — an honor, Elder said, that did not meet the military's requirements for the award, which is that it come from hostile fire. Asked if he was there that day, Elder said, "No," but that he could "fill this studio with eyewitnesses." Why is his group only coming forward now? Elder said, "We have sat in silent and actual visceral contempt of this man for so many years because of his betrayal." Elder said they are only coming forward now because Kerry has decided he wants to be commander in chief.

Sundusky vouched for Kerry's Bronze Star, Silver Star and two of his Purple Hearts though he was not there for Kerry's first incident either. Sundusky said, "John Kerry is a warrior" and that the United States needs a "warrior" in the White House because we are facing a "mess in Iraq."

What will Rush say today? LINK

Tim Russert's Today treatment was very on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-handish.

Democratic lawyers are putting pressure on stations not to run the ads — will any station manager accede to their request? (The Kerry campaign claims three already have . . .)

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth promises to send an additional $200,000 to stations today to round out their ad buy.

But the buy features, among other vets, George Elliot (as mentioned above) and Adrian Lonsdale.

Elliott is backing away from his assertion that Kerry shot a fleeing teenager in the back, telling the Boston Globe that he made a terrible mistake by signing an affidavit to that effect. LINK

And who will first get to Lonsdale, who, in 1996, quite easily praised Kerry for the same conduct he is now criticizing him for in an ad?

"As far as I was concerned, the war was won over there in that part for that period. And it was mainly won because of the bravado and the courage of the young officers that ran the boats, the SWIFT boats and the Coast Guard cutters and Sen. Kerry was no exception. He was among the finest of those," he said in 1996.

The Washington Post 's Jim VandeHei and Mary Fitzgerald Note how the president's men handled McCain's call for condemnation: "White House spokesman Scott McClellan declined to do so and instead criticized the financing of the ad, saying the president 'deplores all the unregulated soft-money activity.'" LINK

The biggest battleground state is paying attention — the Columbus Dispatch 's Darrel Rowland leads with this: "Steve Gardner says John Kerry is a liar, traitor and unfit to serve as commander in chief." LINK

The Los Angeles Times ' ed board writes, "The GOP has no monopoly on deceptive tactics. But the smear campaign against Kerry relies on highly dubious accusations to sow doubts about a well-documented military record." LINK

A brief New York Times wrap: LINK

More: LINK

Historian Douglas Brinkley, who has studied Sen. Kerry's war record "extensively," tells Salon 's Martin Lewis that the accusations in the Swift Boat ad are lies. "These are malicious fabrications in the heat of the election." The veterans in the ad "are simply malcontents who have never forgiven Kerry for his actions in speaking out against the war. They seek retribution by fabricating stories to destroy him." LINK

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

John Kerry said Thursday he would have jumped into action more quickly than President Bush did on Sept. 11, 2001, raising the stakes in the political fight over terrorism as Bush warned that the United States can't afford to "grow timid and weary and afraid" in Iraq or elsewhere," reports the AP 's Ron Fournier. LINK

Boston Globe -r Pat Healy on the new Bush attacks from the Kerry camp. LINK

The Los Angeles Times ' Michael Finnegan writes about Kerry's remarks about Bush's reaction in the classroom on 9/11. LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence has the same story. LINK

USA Today 's Mark Memmott reports on the journalists' applause during Kerry's UNITY speech. LINK

The Washington Post 's Peter Slevin and Jim VandeHei wrap the speeches by Sen. Kerry and Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UNITY Journalists of Color Convention Thursday, beginning and ending with Powell's remarks, in which he "delivered a spirited defense of U.S. foreign policy and the war in Iraq, telling a convention of minority journalists in Washington yesterday that he was 'solidly behind' the use of force against Saddam Hussein. In the middle: Kerry's discussion of domestic issues, race and class, as well as Bill Cosby's remarks on personal responsibility." LINK

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

Bush arrives in New Hampshire today for this third visit since the Jan. 27 first-in-the-nation Presidential primary. Campaign officials say they expect an energetic crowd. LINK

The Union Leader expects heavy traffic delays. LINK

An editorial in New Hampshire's Union Leader revs up for Bush's visit, saying, "that he needs to shore up support here may be due both to his willingness to take strong stands on tough issues and to the free media ride given John Kerry on those same issues." LINK

This Wall Street Journal Washington Wire item should be digested in full:

"TAX CODE'S OVERHAUL is on table for second Bush term. It could be the 'big idea' some advisers want for the campaigning president. They say he wouldn't be specific until after re-election — much like Reagan in 1984. The need to cut deficits and reform 'alternative minimum tax' that's hitting middle-class 'will be the driving force for tax reform, no matter who's elected,' says Bill Hoagland, fiscal adviser to Senate leader Frist. Rumors Bush will seek a 'flat tax' stir Realtors, who fear it would mean an end to mortgage-interest deduction. Their lobbyist calls Congress' Republican leadership offices, which contact White House. Realtors reassured after White House signals: 'Message delivered.'

Read also the item about Sen. McCain.

Alan Murray takes on Bush and taxes in the second term in the Wall Street Journal . LINK

USA Today 's Richard Benedetto Notes "In a tight re-election race against an aggressive opponent, President Bush has been forced out of the Rose Garden." LINK

Yesterday the president hit two battleground states:

The Washington Post 's Amy Goldstein wraps President Bush's stops in Michigan and Ohio Thursday, touting both his national security and economic credentials and talking up his plan for flex time and allowing workers to use their overtime either for pay or time off. His Ohio stop featured an "Ask the president" town hall event, and, Goldstein Notes, "A Bush-Cheney '04 campaign official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that tickets for such formats were handed to supporters to ensure the events stay focused on the themes the campaign prefers. But the official said, 'In no way, shape or form are the questions pre-screened.'" LINK

The Columbus Dispatch 's Joe Hallet and Mark Niquette lead with this: "President Bush acknowledged yesterday that Ohioans are 'skittish' about job losses, but he assured an audience in Columbus that his policies are beginning to pay economic dividends." LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer 's Jim Siegel writes, "Bush's personal charm was on display Thursday as he stood in the center of more than 2,500 supporters, many of whom are part of his volunteer army." LINK

There's also a great graphic of Ohio counties in this article. Check it out.

When the president visited Saginaw, Mich. yesterday, he was stopping in a "blue-collar, traditionally Democratic zone." LINK

That was intentional, reports the AP , because these voters are also largely Catholics who "tend to be socially conservative." LINK

On the economy, the President did admit yesterday in Saginaw that "the recovery here in Michigan has lagged behind other parts," reports the Detroit Free Press. LINK

The Los Angeles Times ' Janet Hook and Peter Wallsten report on the president flexing his flex-time muscles. LINK

Anne Kornblut of the Boston Globe looks at the president's self-deprecating humor on the campaign trail, Noting that "in the course of a single event here, Bush compared himself to a hot-air salesman, a lawyer, and a talk-show host — and hardly bothered to disguise the fact that audience members were there as political props, not as undecided voters trying to make up their minds or glean information about the candidate." LINK

Kornblut gives readers a familiar mental picture, writing: "Bush hunched his shoulders as he laughed at his own joke."

Also, the Washington Post 's Al Kamen looks at the latest Bushism from yesterday and Notes "President Bush's battles with the English language are sometimes like a gift that keeps on giving, if not an antidote, then perhaps a palliative to these rather grim times." LINK

Vice President Cheney stops by East Grand Forks, Minn., today for a town hall meeting at Cabela's, an outdoor store. LINK

The Grand Forks Herald Notes that the Vice President, "a hunter and sportsman, plans to tout Cabela's as an example of a vibrant, growing company.

After making four campaign visits to Virginia in the past two months, "Bush will make his first non-fund-raising campaign foray into Virginia Monday, crossing the Potomac River to address a rally at a Northern Virginia community college," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

Per the keen-eared Jon Karl:

Sen. Kerry talked foreign policy with Steve Inskeep this morning on NPR's "Morning Edition," pledging to significantly reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq within one year, as opposed to his earlier statements that he would do so by the end of his first term. "I believe that within a year from now we can significantly reduce American forces in Iraq," Kerry said. LINK

The Senator also said he would scrap the color-coded terror warning system and replace it with a better way to inform the public about threats.

James Kuhnhenn of Knight Ridder and Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star team up to report on Kerry's plans to unveil a proposal for advancing clean-burning motor vehicle fuels today in Kansas City. Campaign aides say Kerry hopes 20 percent of motor vehicle fuels come from renewable sources by 2020. Choo-chooing across Missouri on Thursday, "Hundreds of people waved as the campaign train rolled through Lee's Summit about midnight." though a much smaller crowd greeted him when he deboarded the train at 1 a.m. LINK

The AP 's Mary Dalrymple reports "Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry wants to spend $20 billion over a decade developing clean-burning fuels and environmental technology, part of an effort to reduce American dependence on foreign oil." LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence previews Kerry's energy plan announcement. LINK

The Detroit Free Press has details of Kerry's energy plan and its goals for hybrid cars. LINK

Ryan Lizza's latest New Republic piece should really be read in its entirety, but being the gossipy SOBs we are, we particularly enjoyed this paragraph: "While Teresa Heinz Kerry and Elizabeth Edwards introduce each other with warm anecdotes that suggests they've gotten to know and like each other, their husbands' knowledge of one another seems limited to their primary campaigns' respective clichés. Edwards talks mostly in boilerplate language about Kerry's Vietnam service. Kerry awkwardly refers to his running mate as a 'son of a mill worker,' as in 'this son of a mill worker is ready to lead!' Their styles are extremely different. Edwards can seem rehearsed to the point of phoniness, while Kerry often wings it, groping from stump line to stump line. Once, when Edwards briefly departed the tour Sunday night for a solo trip to the South, Kerry seemed noticeably more on his game. LINK

"The forays into Bush country are one of the most tangible signs of the strength of the Kerry campaign right now."

And this is just brilliant and funny. LINK

In the Wall Street Journal , Robert Kagan urges Sen. Kerry to re-read his history books. Pre-emption is more common, Kagan asserts, than Sen. Kerry seems to think. Dan Henninger uses his column to make the same point.

Bill Lambrecht of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Kerry and Sen. John Edwards vowed to bridge the growing gap between the rich and the poor in Missouri yesterday — before pulling out of St. Louis' Union Station for their westward-ho 1,800-mile trip. "There are more homeless, more poor, more people who are feeling the spread of the gap between the haves and the have-nots." LINK

Also Thursday, Edwards hit on his support for states' rights down in the Boot Heel of the state, Cape Girardeau. Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Edwards made it clear that his ticket had no objection to Missouri's vote in favor of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage approved in the state this week. "We're both opposed to gay marriage and believe that states should be allowed to decide this question." LINK

A Fox News poll shows a bump for Kerry? LINK

The Washington Post 's Charles Krauthammer argues that it's no wonder Senator Kerry didn't get a bounce from his convention. Despite the recurring emphasis on Kerry's Vietnam experience, "The problem is that the association of fitness for the presidency with military experience does not withstand five minutes of reflection." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Ad Traffic Highlights:

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth make big news this week with a small buy for an anti-Kerry ad The Bush-Cheney campaign now has two positive ads out without a mention of Kerry or Edwards The DNC and the Media Fund fight Kerry's fight on the air while Kerry-Edwards remains dark

Here's what's on the air for now … 2 positive Bush-Cheney ads 0 Kerry-Edwards ads 1 pro-Kerry DNC ad 5 anti-Bush Media Fund ads in battleground states 4 New Democrat Network ads touting the Democratic Party in battleground states 1 anti-Kerry ad by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in West Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin 1 anti-Kerry ad by the Club for Growth 0 anti-Nader ads

The politics of national security:

The Washington Post 's Kamran Khan and Dana Priest tick tock the Pakistani military operation targeting suspected al Qaeda hideouts that prompted the most recent terror warning, Noting that it used American eavesdropping and computer ID technology. "The operation is being paid for with millions of dollars from the CIA, supported with equipment from the National Security Agency and carried out by Pakistani soldiers and intelligence units." LINK

Walter Pincus of the Washington Post writes that when Vice President Cheney was Secretary of Defense in 1992, he said he "would recommend a presidential veto of a bill that would have established a director of national intelligence with authority over the Pentagon's intelligence-collection activities." LINK

Cheney's views come from two letters released Thursday by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. Pincus Notes that when this view was compared to President Bush's support for a national intelligence director, Cheney's spokesman, Kevin Kellums, told the AP that the Vice President would not comment on his dealings with the president "and cautioned against comparing current and historical positions."

"At the time, the argument against giving a new intelligence czar control over Pentagon collection operations, particularly satellites that collect electronic signals and imagery, was that it would interfere with war-fighting capabilities," Pincus writes.

The Washington Post 's John Mintz reports that government officials are still working out the kinks of how to deal with terror alerts, and that "Americans should prepare for more confusion, uncertainty and cynicism as the government continues to learn how to balance its need to raise alarms about a possible terrorist attack without revealing classified information or compromising sources, according to homeland security experts." LINK

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

"Leaders of several immigrant and labor rights organizations in South Florida on Thursday accused President Bush and his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush, of failing to keep promises to help undocumented migrants legalize their presence," reports the Miami Herald . LINK

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel finds there is a deep "racial divide" when it comes to using touch-screen voting machines in the state: black voters are "wary" of the machines, while a majority of whites say they have confidence in the systems. LINK

The Sun-Sentinel also has details of a new report written by Florida's Secretary of State — herself a staunch supporter of electronic voting machines — in which she says touch-screen machines performed "more poorly" in the 2002 gubernatorial election than older, optical-scanning machines. LINK

The Democrats' leaders in the Florida House and Senate co-signed a letter they sent to Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday, demanding he order the state's 15 counties that use touch-screen voting machines "to give voters a choice in November between the electronic machines and those that use paper ballots." LINK

Plans for a lovely vacation didn't pan out well for Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess who returned early from his trip to allay fears that the county's electronic voting machines would cause problems in upcoming elections. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: battleground states:

Lots of poll numbers out this morning. Kerry leads Bush among New Hampshire voters, 49 percent to 42 percent, in this new poll, the Manchester Union Leader reports. LINK

The AP reports from Manchester, New Hampshire: "One of the nation's top Homeland Security officials got an earful, as local officials urged him to help expand their shopping list for anti-terrorism equipment, make sure the gear goes to people qualified to use it and send money directly to cities and towns, not state governments."

If you cringe at the thought of the SAT Math section, proceed with caution when reading this Arkansas-Democrat Gazette lede: "If the state's economy continues to produce at its current pace, there's a good chance that the 3 percent income tax surcharge that's now in effect will be discontinued for tax years that start on or after Jan. 1, 2005."

While a new Iowa poll has Kerry narrowly ahead of Bush (at the margin of error) with 49 percent to 46 percent, it also confirms the worst fears of some Kerry campaign officials — as the Des Moines Register's Tom Beaumont puts it: "The race for president is essentially unchanged in Iowa" since last month's Democratic convention. LINK

Iowa prisons have found a way to reduce the cost of medications provided to inmates, a necessary move in an era of repeated budget cuts. LINK

The pressure of being such an important battleground doesn't seem to be getting to Iowans — according to a federal survey released Thursday, residents in the Hawkeye State ranked lowest in the nation in recent use of illegal drugs. Washington, D.C. had the nation's highest rate while Alaska, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Nevada were close behind.LINK

And on a similar Note, the St. Paul Pioneer Press lets us know that come November, Minneapolis voters may get the chance to approve a citywide distribution system of marijuana for medicinal uses. LINK

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports: "Seven Minnesota soldiers serving in the National Guard in Kosovo are under investigation for alleged misconduct after two civilians complained about mistreatment during a search operation." LINK

Lovers and haters of new smoking regulations in St. Paul, Minn., bars and restaurants should get their next chance to weigh in later this month. LINK

Minnesota's courts are in "a tizzy," as thousands of defendants, serving stiffer prison terms than state guidelines require, gear up to challenge their sentences under a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. LINK

"Audacious" is one way to describe them: the AP reports that a group of 50 volunteers in Maine have opened an "unofficial" campaign office for Sen. Kerry with a message of "Kennebunkport is for (gasp) Kerry." LINK

In a dispute that involves faith-based initiatives and gay rights, the federal government is promising to "battle local government" in Portland, Maine, reports the Portland Press Herald . LINK

Thanks to the federal government, there's more money headed to the battleground of Maine, reports the Central Maine Morning Sentinel. LINK

Missouri's Republican candidate for governor, Matt Blunt, is on the campaign trail after a so-easy-you-could-do-it-it-your-sleep win against his GOP rival this week. Of the Holden-McCaskill showdown he says, "They spent $10 million trying to prove who was the most liberal candidate. They were both successful," reports Kit Wagnar of the Kansas City Star.

Anthony S. Twyman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports the African-American Museum in Philadelphia will conduct a national search to replace its president, who resigned last week. LINK

It's a battle of battleground versus battleground: Nevada says it will sue the Department of Energy if it allows an Ohio uranium processing plant to ship its waste to the Nevada Test Site. LINK

The Nevada Secretary of State is taking the get-out-the-vote message to the Web. LINK

And the Web site — or something else — seems to be working in Nevada. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports election departments throughout the state are being "swamped" by voter registrations, which have been coming in at near-record totals each week for the last six months. LINK

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton visited Nevada yesterday to sign the "record funding authorization" that will send more than $27 million to the state for "interpretive trails and park development projects." LINK

The Las Vegas Review-Journal ed board wonders aloud if Sen. Kerry really believes that if he is elected, the job of fixing Iraq will be "quickly accomplished by the timely arrival of Sen. Kerry's pals, the sharply honed combat troops of France, Belgium, and Andorra?" LINK

The Nevada ACLU is considering suing the state "to clear up confusion" regarding provisional voting. LINK

With Sen. Kerry planning to return to Las Vegas and Nevada next week, his campaign is again bringing up his "numerous" votes again Yucca Mountain, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal . LINK

ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — is raising concerns for a link to" bad voter forms" in Colorado. Susan Greene of the Denver Post reports, "A Denver-based community activist group said Thursday it may be responsible for some of the potentially fraudulent voter registration applications being investigated by state prosecutors." Colorado ACORN board chairwoman Betty Wilkins wrote a letter to say, "We fear that some of these cards may have been submitted from our office. We are investigating the situation and reviewing our systems to see if this is the case." LINK

Some of Oregon's students seem to be getting left behind and officials look to this year's declining test scores as proof. LINK

Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas re-emphasized her support yesterday for a bill to allow people to buy pharmaceutical drugs from Canada. LINK

An Arkansas legislator said a top priority in next year's state legislative session will be legislation aimed at combating a serious drug problem in the state. LINK

While this Northwest Arkansas News headline may initially excite state officials, "High School Standardized Test Scores Improve Statewide," parents reading on will likely be concerned. Fewer than half of high school juniors in Arkansas scored at or above grade level on recent literacy exams, according to test results released yesterday. LINK

Dow Chemical Corp. announced yesterday the layoff of 165 workers in the Kanawha Valley region of West Virginia. Since 2001, Dow has shed nearly 1,400 of its 2,400 workers in the area. LINK

It may seem an odd match, but many executives in Detroit's auto industry tell the Detroit Free Press that they support a national health care system in the U.S. Says the finance chief of General Motors, "We're not there yet, but nothing is more important to us. Nothing." LINK

In Charlotte, N.C., the Catholic community is starting to take sides on the issue of whether local priests should offer communion to politicians who support abortion rights, reports the Charlotte Observer . LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

The New York Times front-pager on the hazards of provisional ballots is a must-read. LINK

Top Democrats urge Bush to OK a paper-ballot option for November's election, the AP reports. LINK

Republican National Convention:

Now, we know all conventions are alike, but this is getting ridiculous. Especially because The Note distinctly remembers words like this coming out of the GOP convention committee's mouths not so long ago: "At least we don't have labor disputes all over the papers every day."

Tom Hays of the AP may make them eat those words: "The Republican National Convention is more than three weeks away, but an unlikely group of demonstrators has turned up to protest: off-duty police officers and firefighters agitating for a new labor contract." LINK

The blogger credentialing has started for the RNC! First one goes to Matt Margolies, a 24-year-old architectural designer and graduate student who created, reports the Boston Herald . LINK

Continuing to defended his decision not to release the names of some delegates bound for the party's convention in New York City, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie pointed to a Web site that he said suggests Republicans may be targeted for protests. LINK

Republicans are worried that their delegates could be a target for harassment after a anti-Republican group started listing names and phone numbers for delegates on its Web site, reports Maggie Haberman of the New York Daily News. LINK

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel ed board takes the state's Republican Party to task for refusing to disclose who the state's delegates will be to the Republican National Convention. LINK

The Washington Post ed board has something you might not: a preliminary schedule for the Republican convention — with an appearance by Gen. Tommy Franks, which seems to be contrary to his statements (or a recently official add) that he hasn't been asked to come. LINK

The Washington Times ' James Lakely pulls out an unexpected lead today, "Republicans are proud of producing the most racially diverse convention in the party's history this year, with the number of minority participants increasing 70 percent since 2000."LINK

And Georgia Republicans echo that statement, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

The Chicago Tribune hears from Republican sources who say Alan Keyes has agreed to run against Democratic hopeful Barack Obama for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. LINK

The Chicago Sun Times ' Scott Fornek also reports that Keyes has told Land of Lincoln Republicans that he's in. LINK

An editorial in the Chicago Tribune features these thoughts about a candidate not from Illinois being the Republican nominee for the Senate race: "If Keyes accepts, he will run and will lose. And then he will hop on the next flight back to Maryland, and the state's GOP will be left with nothing but the smell of jet fumes." LINK

"If Keyes decides not to run, how stupid Republicans will look. They'll be back to finding a candidate from Illinois, because the candidate from Maryland spurned them."

In an excellent pre-primary Senate race breakdown, Mark Couch of the Denver Post writes "Republican U.S. Senate candidates Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer remain locked in a tight race as they near the end of the hard- fought primary campaign." A recent study by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. polled result too close to call, considering the margin of error. "It may come down to whether Coors is able to spend more down the stretch," said pollster Brad Coker. LINK

The Democratic contest is clear cut: "Salazar leaving Miles in campaign-trail dust." More, from Couch. LINK

Outsourcing is becoming a hot-button issue for U.S. Senate hopefuls — especially between South Carolina's Democrat Inez Tenenbaum and Republican Rep. Jim DeMint. Charles Hurt has more in the Washington Times . LINK

Are Blackberry devices the newest electronic cheat sheets for political debates? Could be — at least in this week's debate among Florida's Democratic Senate candidates. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the House:

Described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as "the Republican Party's favorite Democrat," Sen. Zell Miller jumped into the GOP runoff for Georgia's 8th Congressional District yesterday. LINK

Reproductive Politics:

Southern bishops harden their stance on abortion and say they would not offer communion to pro-choice politicians like Kerry. LINK

Nader-Camejo '04:

Frank Phillips of the Boston Globe reports Ralph Nader's chances of seeing his name on the Massachusetts ballot are in "serious trouble," according to election officials. The campaign failed to meet Tuesday's deadline to submit signatures, though many of the other papers were filed late, says Secretary of State William Galvin. Nader's campaign had a different view. "I feel pretty confident we will make it," says Michael Richardson, the national ballot access coordinator for the Nader campaign. Nader needs 10,000 certified voter signatures to get his name on the Nov. 2 ballot in Massachusetts. Nader won 6 percent of the vote in the Bay State in the 2000 presidential election. LINK

"Though the Democrats have the right to robustly oppose my independent presidential campaign, they don't have the right to engage in dirty tricks designed to deny millions of voters the opportunity to choose who should be the next president," opines Ralph Nader in the Los Angeles Times , in a message that is getting louder than his campaign platform. LINK

Fahrenheit 9/11:

The Los Angeles Times reports that the FEC dismissed Citizens United's complaint against the film's promos yesterday. LINK

Bootlegged copies of Michael Moore's Bush-bashing documentary were shown to packed cinemas in Cuba and his movie is generating a new wave of attention — "this time from Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits." LINK


D.C. voters will not be voting in November on whether or not to legalize slot machines in the city, the Washington Post 's Lori Montgomery and Serge Kovaleski report. There weren't enough valid signatures on the petitions to place the measure on the ballot. LINK

The Washington Times has more detail for all you D.C. high-rollers. LINK

The Washington Post 's Brian Faler reports Jerry Falwell "said he is tired of being accused by civil liberties groups of abusing his ministry's tax-exempt status," and says he plans to organize a conference in September to brief conservative clergy on what they can and cannot say about politics. LINK

Awesome Al:

The Note would like to bid a fond farewell to a man who has come to define what political journalism should be.

Al Cross, long-time political reporter from the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal , will write his last column this Sunday after well over two decades covering politics from the Blue Grass state.

If you haven't read any of Cross' work, make this Sunday a first. Anyone who covers politics, from the newest beat reporter to the most cynical veteran, would do well to read up and learn from someone who has perfected the art. LINK

We aren't the only ones who'll be sorry to see Al go. Even politicians like Sen. Mitch McConnell, who often feared seeing Al's red convertible parked in front of events, will feel the loss. LINK

So thanks again, Al. You'll be sorely missed.

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): — 8:30 am: The Labor Department issues its employment report for July — 9:00 am: Charles Abell, principal deputy to the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, holds a briefing on the Federal Voting Assistance Program at the Pentagon, Washington, DC — 9:20 am: President Bush speaks at the UNITY: Journalists of Color Convention at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC — 11:00 am: The George Washington University hosts a forum to discuss "Election Countdown: The Race for the White House and Congress and the State of the Democratic Party," Washington, DC — 12:00 pm: Sens. Kerry and Edwards discuss energy independence at the Nelson Family Farm, Kansas City, MO — 12:35 pm: President Bush speaks at a picnic at the Bittersweet Farm, Stratham, NH — 1:00 pm: Vice President Cheney participates in a town hall meeting at Cabela's Sporting Goods Store, East Grand Forks, MN — 3:00 pm: The Federal Reserve issues the consumer credit report for June — 4:15 pm: The Federal Reserve releases its weekly conditions report of large commercial banks — 10:30 pm: Sens. Kerry and Edwards depart Kansas City, on their train tour