ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

The New York Times' Steve Lohr previews the Bush Administration's plan, to be announced today, for "a long-term plan for modernizing the nation's health care system with information technology, bringing patient records and prescriptions out of the realm of ink and paper and into the computer age." LINK

President Bush will head west to California in August to raise campaign funds and lend support for Senate candidate Bill Jones, the Los Angeles Times' duo of Martelle and McManus reports. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Miller and Wallsten report on a grand jury investigation into Halliburton, "into whether the oil services giant violated federal sanctions by operating in Iran while Vice President Dick Cheney was running the company." LINK

The Washington Post's Robert O'Harrow Jr. looks at the latest on Halliburton, and reaction of Democrats like Sen. Lautenberg. LINK

Note to Sen. Lautenberg: if you run into Dick Cheney, don't act all chummy.

The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson examines the demise of Ag Jobs under Bush's watch. LINK

The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Tom Webb writes that Minnesotans "overwhelmingly" believe that President Bush has made America safer since 9/11 and continue to give him high marks on all issues terror-related, according to a Pioneer Press/Minnesota Public Radio Poll. LINK

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

The Wall Street Journal's Schlesinger and Jordan write in a must-read that population shifts in the west have created both opportunities and challenges for John Kerry and the Democratic Party.

"The challenge: The old Democratic strongholds in the Northeast and industrial Midwest continue to shrink. The states carried by Mr. Gore have lost seven of the 267 electoral votes they had in 2000. Four of those votes have landed in the Western states Mr. Kerry is targeting."

"The opportunity: Demographic and economic trends are making the region more receptive to the Democratic Party's message. Many new arrivals are lower-income workers drawn to the booming resorts, social liberals migrating from California and, most importantly, Hispanics, who tend to vote Democratic by a two-to-one ratio. In Nevada, Latinos are expected to cast 10% of all votes this year, up from 3.9% eight years ago, according to Brookings Institution demographer William Frey. In New Mexico, Hispanics this year will cast one of every three ballots."

USA Today's Peronet Despeignes writes about how the latest economic news plays into the fight over battleground states and he reports, "Job growth showed continued strength across much of the USA in June, but there was weakness in employment in" Michigan and Ohio. LINK

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn and William Douglas write about Bush and Kerry's courting of African-American voters, Noting that an "examination of their records reveals that they share similar beliefs on how to foster racial reconciliation and that neither can fairly claim to be 'the' civil-rights candidate." LINK

The Wall Street Journal's John Harwood takes a look at the missing platform debates within today's political parties. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten keys off some new Midwestern battleground state poll numbers and wonders if Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik might serve as President Bush's spoiler as some believe Ralph Nader might for John Kerry. LINK

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