ABC News' The Note: First Source for Political News

The GOP is planning a "rapid-response command center" at the Democratic National Convention, according to The Hill's Geoff Earle. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

Da Dream. Da-Dies.

LINK and LINK and LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: battleground states:

Minnesota is likely to make it through this year without adding to their deficit, as tax collections come in $194 million above estimates. LINK

In a front-page story today, the Albuquerque Journal's Andy Lenderman writes, "Sen. John Kerry's forest management plan would create jobs, provide sufficient funding for firefighters and reduce fire risk near homes, according to a position paper released by the Democratic presidential campaign."

Robert Redford, a celebrity who has never been anywhere near the center square, soundly criticized the Bush administration's environmental policy, while speaking in New Mexico on Wednesday, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican's Ben Neary. LINK

Joe Garner and Jim Tankersley of the Rocky Mountain News gauge the reaction of Colorado lawmakers to the Kerry-Edwards campaign's forest fire policy, which includes a Forest Restoration Corps. LINK

The New York Times' Matthew Wald walks through the arguments for and against burying nuclear waste at Nevada's Yucca Mountain, as Congress tries to determine how to define nuclear waste and what to do with it. LINK

In a less-auspicious debut than was likely hoped for, yesterday's KE04 rollout of a new forest-health initiative received little attention in key Western battleground state newspapers, with most featuring only a short, perfunctory summary of the proposal. LINK and LINK

The editorial board of Tucson's Daily Star returns to the all-important trial lawyer dilemma today, and concludes that the president's rhetoric about trial lawyers being bad for business isn't always true: "The fact is that small businesses may find good use for a trial lawyer if they find themselves being abused by major corporations." LINK

In the key battleground state of West Virginia, it can't be good news for the Kerry campaign that the Republican candidate for governor "is trying to capitalize on Bush's popularity" ("We're going to be just like jam on bread," says the campaign manager), while his Democratic opponent "is staking a different course," in "seeking to distance his candidacy from Kerry's." LINK

The Charleston Gazette says Zogby International polling shows Sen. Edwards has given the KE04 ticket a slight boost in all of the battleground states — except in the Mountain State. "Edwards' magic doesn't seem to be working in West Virginia," says Zogby. LINK

Interesting strategy: the Kerry campaign's spokeswoman in West Virginia tells the Charleston Gazette that Bush supporters — even those wearing pro-Bush t-shirts — will be allowed into today's Kerry rally at the University of Charleston. In response, a BC04 spokesman refused to say whether anti-Bush protestors would be allowed into Friday's presidential stop in the state. LINK

In this time of fear over outsourcing, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Notes this morning that nearly $75 million in Washington state government contracts have been "farmed out overseas." But Washington state is not alone: for instance, it is one of three-dozen states to use foreign call centers to help food-stamp recipients. LINK

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