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25 days until the Republican convention 89 days until election day

NEWS SUMMARY Every Aug. 5, for the last 17 years, The Note has handed out its annual "Best in Politics Awards."

So, without further ado, here are the 2004 Awards:

Best Mark McKinnon quote: "We think it's unfortunate these particular fine musicians have decided to affiliate with a hate-filled fringe group like MoveOn.''

Best capacity to stay on message: Steve Schmidt of the Bush campaign.

Best ability to hide seething anger: George W. Bush and John Kerry (tie).

Best ability to make a party salivate before winning a statewide race: Barack Obama.

Best ability to withstand political ads every 0.25 nanoseconds: the voters of Ohio and Pennsylvania (tie).

Best political reporter you (probably) aren't paying enough attention to: Jeff Zeleny of the Chicago Tribune.

Best case of not instantly referring another reporter to the PR department: Carl Cameron of Fox News Channel.

Best attempt to deflect annoyance away from a colleague: Cara Morris of the DSCC.

Best Bush advance person: Greg Jenkins.

Best Kerry advance person: Greg Hale.

Best capacity to collegially share a beat: Pat Healy and Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe .

Best examples of entertainers supporting BC04 that Mark McKinnon could come up with: Lee Ann Womack, Kid Rock, and Jessica Simpson.

Best list of states that will determine who wins the White House: Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio.

Best unwritten newspaper story: "Barack Obama's Very Liberal Voting Record."

Best congenial quotemeister of the cycle: Jano Cabrera of the DNC.

Best job staying off of TV: Karl Rove.

Best political reporter of the cycle: the one who first writes the definitive early voting story.

Best bet to piss off the Service: Vince Morris of the New York Post .

Best back-to-school gift for the young children of those busy with the 2004 campaign: the fantastic new Disney Dream Desk PC. LINK

Best ratio of quality stories to number of stories: Davie Maraniss and Blaine Harden (tie).

Best August headline on a Jennifer Steinhauer story: "Foreigners Shun New York, Keeping Hotel Rates Down."

Best headquarters security: Bush-Cheney '04.

Best professional synergy: David Lightman and Joe Lieberman.

Best leveraging of a Bush Cabinet job toward future White House ambitions: n/a.

Best bad job of vetting of the cycle: whoever hired Dr. Brenda Bartella Peterson, the DNCS' first-ever director of religious outreach, and one of the co-signers of an amicus brief filed to support Michael Newdow's plea to get "under God" removed from the pledge. (Note news: She resigned yesterday.)

Best on-message regional press shop: BC04, bar none.

Best job keeping his background quotes anonymous: Richard Armitage.

Best high-volume prolific ACT spammer: Minnesota's Meighan Stone.

Best luck of the Bush Administration: Henry Kissinger stepping down as head of the 9/11 commission.

Best manipulation of the adolescent sensibilities of some of America's leading political reporters: the deployment of Bruce Springsteen.

Best ability to hide quality Jonathan Weisman and Jeff Birnbaum stories from public view: the Washington Post business section.

Best badge of honor achieved in a Bob Novak column: Ginny Wolfe, who is today branded "supremely uncommunicative to this column"!!!

President Bush signs the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005 at the White House at 9:55 am ET, participates in an "Ask President Bush" event at the Aladdin Shrine Center in Columbus, Ohio at 1:00 pm ET, and speaks at a rally at the Wendler Arena in Saginaw, Mich., at 6:00 pm ET.

In Ohio, aides say the president will again voice support for letting workers who log more than 40 hours in a week take time off later. Unions say that's an opening for employers to avoid paying premium overtime in cash.

The Labor Department reports that new jobless claimed dropped to 336,000 for the week ending July 31 — the lowest since the beginning of July and a little better than expected, AP Notes. The number of workers who still get unemployment checks dropped 35,000 to 2.91 million for the week ending July 24. Job growth numbers, however, are still trudging along slowly, analysts say.

Today at 10:30 am ET, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton joins former President of the National Partnership for Women and Families Judith Lichtman for a conference call to talk about President Bush's new flex time proposal. Expect to hear the sentence "The current Bush proposal is a warmed-over version of a proposal that the conservative House leadership could not even bring up for a vote this year because of opposition from moderate House Republicans" more than once.

Sen. Kerry speaks at the UNITY 2004 Journalists of Color Conference in Washington, D.C. at 9:00 am ET. He then flies to St. Louis, Sen. Edwards joins him for a 1:30 pm ET rally at Union Station. The two Senators attend a second rally at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson at 6:25 pm ET.

The Kerry-Edwards campaign reunites Kerry coming from the North and Edwards from the South to get on the train in St. Louis. Their message of the day: the troops, terrorism, and restructuring the military.

The outline: expanding active-duty forces, doubling the size of the Special Forces, invest in technology, integrate the National Guard into homeland security plans, and work with military families and veterans.

Then the duo do their own version of the Whistle-Stop Express and head along the tracks for an 1,800-mile trip with stops in Missouri, Colorado, and New Mexico, before ending up in Arizona.

Sen. Edwards remains on the tour until Aug. 8.

And when that train comes, we'll get on board . . .

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

Today, it's Meet Me in St. Louis.

The good people of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch report that Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards will be in St. Louis today after traveling through opposite ends of the state. Kerry campaigned in No Mo late Wednesday, with a rally in Hannibal. Edwards heads up from a night in Cape Girardeau — or to locals, "Cape." The two headline a rally in Union Station before traveling by train to the state's capital, Jefferson City — or to locals, "Jeff." LINK

Yesterday, it was Rumble in Davenport.

The New York Times ' David Halbfinger and Elisabeth Bumiller wrap the dueling campaign events of President Bush and Sen. Kerry, which "gave humid Davenport the feel of a crisp day in late October." LINK

We love this paragraph:

"Just who was shadowing whom was not quite clear, though each campaign accused the other of following it around the country. The mayor of Davenport, Charlie Brooke, a Republican, said city officials heard from the Bush campaign early last week that the president would be dropping by, and only later from the Kerry campaign. But Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Kerry's spokeswoman, said that the Kerry advance team was in town on July 19 to book the site for the forum and that 'we have hotel invoices to prove it.'"

The Washington Post 's Dan Balz and Amy Goldstein wrap the Close Encounter in Davenport on Wednesday, Noting the "dueling campaign events within blocks of each other where they painted sharply contrasting portraits of the economy and U.S. policy in Iraq" and the "Ocean's Davenport" bank robberies. LINK

The Washington Post 's Ann Gerhart Notes, few people in "this homogeneous slice of the heartland," i.e., Davenport, found it unusual when Kerry and Bush campaigned within blocks of one another; "these are Iowans, after all, smug and secure in their disproportionate political power." LINK

In their write-up of the showdown in Davenport yesterday, the Chicago Tribune's Zeleny and Zuckman write "In the end, after two hours of speechifying, the political landscape in Davenport may not have shifted, but the back-to-back events offered a window into the final 90 days of the campaign as both candidates concentrate on shoring up their supporters and fighting for a small set of undecided voters in highly targeted regions of the country." LINK

"And in a race that seems to be frozen in a deadlock, the game of follow-the-leader is just beginning."

AP's Nedra Pickler and Deb Reichman point out that "Bush lost Iowa to Al Gore by 4,144 votes in 2000 — and Scott County around Davenport narrowly as well — and wants the state in his column come November. So does Kerry, whose path to victory calls for holding all states that voted for the Democratic ticket in the last election while adding some that went the other way." LINK

Anne Kornblut of the Boston Globe looks at what it means for small towns like Davenport, Iowa when two dueling presidential campaigns descend upon them (It made the locals really start talking about the issues … ) and what it means for the campaigns. "[B]oth sides had a chance to hobnob with reporters covering the other team, offer up their admittedly biased spin about the symbolism of the events, and fire off zingers at close range." LINK

"Most importantly, the Bush and Kerry visits gave both sides a chance to prevent the other from dominating the local news."

The Des Moines Register's Thomas Beaumont does his thing on the dueling Bush and Kerry visits to bustling metropolis Davenport. And because this is Iowa, he also takes Note that the visits "illustrate the state's place among the most contested states in the tight race for the White House." LINK

Beaumont and Register buddy Jonathan Roos also write up the "competing visions" the candidates offered. (And in case you were wondering, here's the Iowa plug: ". . . underscoring the state's significance to the general election.") LINK

Roos, for his part, writes up the Kerry event. LINK

While Beaumont takes on the Bush one. LINK

The Des Moines Register 's David Yepsen posits that the Davenport events failed to grab any voters for either side. LINK

David Wessel in the Wall Street Journal tries to get to the bottom of what raising taxes on upper income brackets actually means. LINK

The Washington Post 's Richard Cohen looks at the accusation that Kerry is a flip-flopper, claiming that "Bush has flipped and flopped with the best of them." LINK

The Denver Post's Karen Crummy steps in with some solid commentary on the art of this year's presidential prebuttle. LINK

Last week, as the Democratic convention was in full swing, President Bush toured his ranch with an editor of Field and Stream and posed for its cover. His interview is scheduled for the October issue, which will be out in late September.

Bettcha didn't know that Sen. John Kerry was interviewed for the same issue — or that Kerry and Bush were both interviewed for a special "he said, he said" article in the October issue of Outdoor Life.

So both candidates are appealing to the estimated 40 million self-identified outdoor sports enthusiasts fishermen and hunters.

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

USA Today 's Kathy Kiely writes about President Bush's "selling job ahead" in trying to court New Hampshire voters, and seems to unconsciously use the phrase "turning a corner" in her final paragraph. LINK

We can't help but wonder if this story in the New York Times — about Houston's crime lab in crisis — won't somehow make it into the discourse this fall, especially if questions are raised about death warrants signed by the former governor of Texas. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards:

Today, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth goes on the air with a 60-second TV spot questioning John Kerry's Vietnam record. The ad will feature veterans who will talk about Sen. Kerry's service record. The spot goes up in — Ohio, Wisconsin, and West Virginia, with a buy they claim is $500,000. As of the group's second-quarter FEC filing, they had $158,750 in donations, and had spent $60,403.

So perhaps characterizing their fundraising as "kicked up" isn't the right description.

We're told that this is the first, but not likely the last, ad buy the group will do, and they're planning events with veterans to shadow Kerry campaign stops.

Some opponents claim the buy is smaller — as always, as some of you have learned, heaven help the political identity that lies to the press about how much they are spending, and tries to transform a video press release into a real buy.

We aren't claiming that that is the case here, but we watch all first-time buyers closely, to make sure they put their money where their mouths are.

Jodi Wilgoren previews the swift boat ads in the New York Times . LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Maria La Ganga and Stephen Braun also write up the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's new ad campaign. LINK

USA Today 's Mark Memmott calls it one of "the harshest ads of the presidential campaign." LINK

The New York Times ' Jim Rutenberg highlights the continuing barrage of ads for the Kerry campaign sponsored by a "newly formed arm of the Democratic Party." Read the end for a nice Tad Devine quote about coordination (or lack thereof) between the 527s and the campaign. And poor, lonely Ellen Moran! LINK

The Washington Post 's Glenn Kessler looks at Kerry's careful approach on Iraq, Noting that his questions about President Bush's decisions are "suggestive, not pointed." LINK

Here's the nut graf: "Kerry has strongly criticized the Bush administration's competence in handling the war, principally its failure to enlist other nations to its cause in Iraq. But he has not questioned the basic tenets of the policy, nor has he outlined a course of action substantially different from the one Bush is pursuing to shore up the interim government and prepare for national elections. While he has said he would substantially cut troop strength in Iraq by the end of his first term, he has not provided details on how."

The Wall Street Journal 's Robert Greenberger looks at Kerry's position on medical malpractice (or, as the Chamber folks say, medical liability reform) and Notes that "to many doctors, Mr. Kerry is carrying heavy baggage on his metaphorical trip to China: his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina."

Still, the Kerry-Edwards tickets has some pretty detailed proposals that at least deserve a closer look, such as the one the Journal takes today.

The AP's Willy Baird writes up Sen. Edwards' visit to Tennessee and Notes this week's focus on the South. LINK

The Washington Post 's Lois Romano wraps Sen. Edwards' trip to Little Rock, Ark. "just 24 hours after Vice President Cheney made his pitch to smaller, targeted crowds." LINK

The Arkansas News Bureau on Edwards' visit to North Little Rock: LINK

The Washington Post 's David Broder revisits his Notes from the Democratic convention, including his iconoclastic stance on Kerry's speech performance, Noting he "was not surprised at the apparent lack of progress by the Democratic challenger." Read on carefully, Mr. Devine, as surely your BC04 counterparts are. LINK

"Left largely unanswered — or only vaguely outlined — was the question of what Kerry had done with his life in the decades since he came home from Vietnam, particularly in his 20 years of Senate service. … As for indicting the incumbent administration, Kerry and other speakers soft-pedaled their criticism — or couched it in cliched terms."

George F. Will poses the questions he doesn't think Senator Kerry answered in his acceptance speech — and throws in a deliciously nasty class-and-values jab. LINK

Of course, substitute "Kennebunkport" for "Sun Valley" at the very end, and we sort of would like to see the president answer these same questions!!!

The Washington Post 's Michael Shear reports "Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said he believes business leaders who supported his efforts to raise taxes and balance the state's budget will also support John F. Kerry for president because they are concerned about the economy and the size of the federal budget deficit." LINK

The Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman wraps Sen. Kerry's list of business backers. LINK

The Boston Globe takes a closer look today at the woman from New Hampshire Kerry mentioned in his convention speech — Mary Ann Knowles. LINK

Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe Notes the latest effort by Sen. Kerry to localize his speeches. Some speech-goers like it, and some don't. LINK

Pat Healy of the Boston Globe Notes Sen. Kerry seemed to be on the defensive yesterday. LINK

Music Makes (Some of) the People Come Together:

Politics and show biz: are there two words in the English language as sexy as that to a news organization?

First thing's first. Bruce Springsteen himself explains his motivations and what he thinks about the election on the New York Times ' op-ed page today. LINK

"I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America's citizens, courage and faith."

Sorry to say, but it sounds … shall we say … Fentonized.

If you missed The Boss talking about it with Ted Koppel on last night's "Nightline," never fear — you can catch it today on ABC News Now.

And for the hard-core fans, Backstreets magazine sat down with Springsteen to talk about the tour, why he's doing it, the creative process, and whether or not the Kerry campaign got permission to use "No Surrender" as entrance music. (Answer: No, but that appears to be OK.) LINK

Gotta hand it to the guy: he's got message discipline.

Are "Springsteen Republicans" going to be important in the coming months? Check out this quote from one hard-core fan: "The diehard and longtime fans shouldn't be surprised, but there will be some fans who will never buy a ticket again."LINK

Coverage of yesterday's tour announcement:

The Los Angeles Times Ron Brownstein had some quality time with The Boss: LINK

The New York Times , with that awesome McKinnon quote. LINK

The Washington Post : LINK

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer on the full-concert offensive. LINK

The Orlando Sentinel's Mark Silva on the Florida leg of the tour. LINK

The politics of national security:

USA Today 's Kevin Johnson and Mimi Hall reports that the al Qaeda operative arrested July 13 in Pakistan made contact with people in the U.S. as recently as the U.S. LINK

"The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee yesterday called on colleagues to be cautious in legislating reform of the intelligence community, prompting criticism from the panel's ranking Democrat that the process is moving too slowly," reports the Washington Post 's Walter Pincus. LINK

"Federal investigators concluded that Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) divulged classified intercepted messages to the media when he was on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence," writes the Washington Post 's Alan Lengell and Dana Priest. LINK

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

The Columbus Dispatch's Robert Ruth writes about a local lawyer and "avid Bush supporter" who got into trouble for telling his 13-year-old daughter to take a Kerry campaign sign out of the yard of a "determined Kerry supporter." LINK

The Washington Post 's David Maraniss examines the possible positive implications of Senator Kerry's trip to Cuba City, Wis., a town that was "snubbed" by President Bush but that Kerry made a point of detouring to visit. A classic Maraniss look at the mechanics of retail politics. LINK

Today's top Miami Herald story: Florida voting machines. "While state election officials publicly proclaim their faith in touch-screen voting machines in the midst of criticism, their own reports may have been the first to highlight potential shortcomings in the technology more than 18 months ago," reads the article. LINK

As concern about the county's voting equipment continues, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas asked that the election department study the feasibility of using different machines in November. LINK

The Miami Herald picks up on the potential voter phenomenon of "Gee, the name is familiar," Noting that candidates in Broward and Miami-Dade counties with names similar to better-known political figures can benefit — unintentionally or not — at the polls. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: battleground states:

Kansas City voters approved a new arena in the downtown area on Tuesday. The Kansas City Star Notes it was the end to one "of the most bitterly contested issue campaigns in recent memory." Look for it to open in 2007. LINK

Under funded, yet impassioned, casino opponents kept the gambling out of the nostalgic resort town of Rockaway Beach, Mo. LINK

"Environmental concerns, Native American issues and a focus on rural America will be at the forefront of the Democrats' presidential campaign as John Kerry visits northern Arizona and the Grand Canyon on Sunday and Monday," writes the Arizona Republic. LINK

This piece in the Albuquerque Journal zones in on a New Mexico businessman that says he has seen firsthand the trickle-down effect from the Bush Administration's tax cuts. LINK

Maybe candidates visiting the state of West Virginia will talk to concerned voters about the environment — Charleston's air quality is only going to get worse as global warming speeds up formation of lung-damaging smog. LINK

But the "living is easy" in North Carolina. At least that's what the Raleigh News & Observer says, reporting that state officials expect a decline this year in mosquito-borne illnesses and shark attacks. LINK

Kerry will help boost the economy and balance the budget — so sayeth North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. LINK

But voters that listened to Sen. John Ensign of Nevada yesterday got a different message: Bush's tax cuts help small businesses and the economy grow. LINK

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spread his message around Nevada yesterday about the revival of his state's economy. How was the crowd? "More interested in the show than the substance," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. LINK

Touting federal plans for homelessness in Las Vegas, supporters say Bush is standing behind his 10-year plan to end homelessness with an investment of $3 billion. LINK

The AP offers up some drama for you this morning regarding Nevada's Yucca Mountain project. LINK

"Detroit voters said yes to marijuana for medical purposes at the polls on Tuesday, and now, some are wondering how soon they can light up," reads this informative Detroit Free Press Q & A, which attempts to sort out the issue for citizens. LINK

The Detroit News offers lots of detailed write-ups of Tuesday's Michigan primaries. LINK

This stat just in: about 20 percent of Michigan voters, or 1.38 million, cast ballots in Michigan's Tuesday primary. LINK

Regardless of where she stands on the optimisms/pessimism debate, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is taking issues into her own hands with steps to spur manufacturing development and reverse auto-related employment losses in the state. LINK

John Sullivan of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, "An ad hoc committee formed by the Rendell administration to speed the implementation of slot machine gambling agreed yesterday to limit its scope after lawmakers raised concerns that the group would usurp some powers from the yet-to-be-formed gambling control board." LINK

Kerry made some pretty funny sports-related gaffes recently, so naturally the New Hampshire Union Leader editorial board is all over it. LINK

Officials gave the go-ahead for a Maine terrorism task force, which is intended to analyze intelligence and conduct investigations. LINK

With the improved weather, Maine's restaurants and hotels are looking for good times in August and September as the state's tourism industry hopes for a strong summer season finish, the AP reports. LINK

More and more towns in Maine are pledging to use anticipated increases in state school money to lower property taxes. LINK

The politics of same-sex marriage:

The New York Times ' Monica Davey Notes that "leaders on each side of the [same-sex marriage] issue viewed Missouri's 70 percent approval of the amendment on Tuesday as a glimpse of what might lie ahead." LINK

"Support for the amendment was especially high in rural Missouri, where the yes votes often topped 80 percent. But the measure also did well in suburban areas and narrowly passed in Kansas City," writes Tim Hoover of the Kansas City Star. "The issue appeared to be failing in St. Louis." LINK

The Washington Post 's Alan Cooperman reports "After an overwhelming vote to ban gay marriage in Missouri on Tuesday, both sides said yesterday that an issue that has gained little traction in Congress appears to be resonating with the American people and could play a growing role in this year's congressional and presidential elections." LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Lynn Marshall and Elizabeth Mehren report, "Gay and lesbian couples can marry under Washington state law because denying them that right is unconstitutional, a judge ruled Wednesday." LINK

More: "If sustained, the ruling would go beyond the law in Massachusetts because Washington has no residency requirements and would allow out-of-state couples to wed."

Arkansas, which has a proposal similar to Missouri's on the ballot, will not necessarily accept the proposal as openly, writes Laura Kellams of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Republican National Convention: Bob Novak writes in a must-read that the White House and BC04 are intent on platform discipline. LINK

The New York Times ' Diane Cardwell reports "members of a group opposed to the Republican National Convention, many describing themselves as anarchists, said yesterday that they would carry out illegal protest activities on the convention's second day." LINK

Convention protesters? The AP's Sara Kugler's lead today is not a big surprise, but a glimpse at what's about to hit New Yorkers. "Activists plan to hold sit-ins at delegates' hotels, take over city intersections, block doors to major corporate offices, confront GOP leaders, and infiltrate events when Republicans come to town for their political convention." LINK

The New York Daily News Notes that protesters are a-comin' — with permits or not — in acts of civil disobedience. LINK

Michelle Goldberg of Salon previews the protesters of the upcoming Republican convention, which will likely include, "homeless women and their children, men furloughed from rehab centers, public housing tenants, wheelchair-bound people without healthcare and poor people hanging on to life by their fingernails." LINK

Today, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie will proclaim the upcoming convention the most diverse in the party's history . . . but Floridians will have to take his word for it. "Citing privacy and security concerns, Florida Republicans are refusing to make public a list of delegates who will attend the convention later this month." LINK

"Several Colorado delegates to this month's Republican National Convention are questioning Bill Owens' leadership of the party's platform committee, saying the governor doesn't represent their 'pro-family' values," writes Susan Greene of the Denver Post. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate: The AP's Maura Kelly Lannan reports "Illinois Republican leaders asked two-time residential hopeful Alan Keyes on Wednesday to be their Senate candidate, but like a string of previous possibilities, Keyes said he needed a few days to think about it." LINK

House Speaker Dennis Hastert's support might have been what punched Keyes' ticket. LINK

A week later, Tina Brown is still in full-blown Obama swoon. LINK

Cindy Adams says that Barack Obama's book will be re-released. LINK

Pete Coors and Bob Schaffer play a game of who's more conservative. Think they're playing to their base? Check out the article from the Aspen Times' Scott Condon. LINK

Curtis Krueger of the St. Petersburg Times Notes that Karen Saull's "unusual" Florida Senate campaign has come to an end. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the gubernatorial races:

Republican and gubernatorial candidate in Missouri Matt Blunt has thrown down a "go time" challenge to Democrat Claire McCaskill. He'll debate "any time, any place to shed light on the 'stark contrasts' between them," writes Terry Ganey of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Great," McCaskill replied. "Let's have six." Taking a page from the BC04 playbook, Blunt is already trying to paint McCaskill as a "career liberal politician." McCaskill, who now holds the Post of state auditor, is of attacking the fresh-faced Blunt, who now holds the Post of secretary of state, as short on experience. LINK

Kit Wagner of The Kansas City Star Notes it was the rural vote that cinched the victory for McCaskill — who snatched the nomination from incumbent Gov. Bob Holden, who grew up in the Ozarks. LINK

Nader-Camejo:

Chris Brennan of the Philadelphia Daily News reports Democrats are feverishly testing Nader's signatures to beat the Monday, 5 p.m. deadline. "Fifty Democratic volunteers started working in shifts yesterday at the City Commission office, building the case for a Commonwealth Court challenge to Nader's spot on the ballot. LINK

The AP Notes musician Vedder supported Nader in 2000. LINK

Presidential campaigns come and go but for Nader the Good Fight remains. The Toledo Blade reports, Ralph Nader has made a written appeal to Toledo Mayor Jack Ford to save a small mom and pop auto repair business from eminent domain and a Daimler Chrysler plant in North Toledo. LINK

Politics:

Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik tells 20 members of the Hastings Rotary Club the first thing he'd do if elected is to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Reserve, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the U.S. Department of Education, "saying they're all sucking away people's hard-earned money," reports Brad Buck of the Palatka Daily News. LINK

The hometown paper Notes Chrissy Gephardt — daughter of Richard and Jane — is a contender on Showtime's political reality show "American Candidate." LINK

The Washington Times reports that an L.A. radio station's talk show hosts "have enlisted their audience to identify and target for defeat one local Republican congressman they deem soft on issues such as border security and benefits for undocumented aliens." LINK

ABC News NOW

Did we mention that you'll see more live coverage of Bush and Kerry events on NOW than anywhere else?

Well you will.

Check and see where it's on in your area: LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET): — 8:30 am: The Labor Department releases the weekly jobless claims report. — 9:00 am: Sen. John Kerry speaks at the UNITY 2004 Journalists of Color Conference at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC — 9:55 am: President Bush signs H.R. 4613, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2005 at the White House — 11:00 am: The Treasury Department announces details of next week's bill sale — 12:00 am: Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks at the UNITY 2004 Journalists of Color Conference at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC — 1:00 pm: President Bush participates in an "Ask President Bush" event at the Aladdin Shrine Center, Columbus, OH — 1:30 pm: Sens. Kerry and Edwards attend a rally at Union Station, St. Louis, MO — 1:30 pm: Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks at the UNITY 2004 Journalists of Color Conference at the Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC — 1:30 pm: RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie holds a teleconference to announce the Republican Party's 2004 delegation diversity numbers — 4:00 pm: Secretary of State Colin Powell meets with Mikhail Saakashvili, president of Georgia, Washington, DC — 4:30 pm: The Federal Reserve releases weekly reports on aggregate reserves and the monetary base, factors affecting bank reserves and money supply — 6:00 pm: President Bush speaks at a rally at the Wendler Arena, Saginaw, MI — 6:25 pm: Sens. Kerry and Edwards attend a rally at the Missouri State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO

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