Evening Newscasts Wrap: ABC News Political Unit

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ABC leads with the Senate debate over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Linda Douglass reports. NBC and CBS lead with Bush defending his decision to go to war in Iraq. NBC: Andrea Mitchell/ CBS: Bill Plante.


ABC's Linda Douglass reports issue of same-sex marriage is consuming the Senate. Senators' offices were overwhelmed. Some Republican Senators made dire predictions about what could happen if same-sex marriage was allowed and argued the decision cannot be left up to the courts. Democrats called the debate a cynical ploy. Both parties agree the ban does not have the votes to pass. Feinstein SOT against the amendment. Bush SOT in favor of the amendment (from Friday). Polls show most Americans are ambivalent, opposing same-sex marriage, but against an amendment banning it. Some Republicans worry this week's high profile debate may backfire. Stu Rothenberg SOT. Democrats are also uncomfortable. Sens. Kerry and Edwards oppose same-sex marriage but will vote against a constitutional amendment. Yesterday, Democrats had some help from Lynne Cheney (who has a lesbian daughter), which proves this is not an easy issue for anyone.


ABC's Terry Moran notes President Bush is trying to shore up his credibility on national security issues. At the Oak Ridge National Library in Tennessee today, he showed off some of trophies: the nuclear-weapons making machinery that Libyan leader Qaddafi surrendered last year. Bush also repeated a claim about his leadership in the worlds "the American people are safer." However, when it came to his original justification for going to war, President Bush was forced into a painful admission: "Although we have not found stockpiles of WMD's, we were right to go into Iraq. We removed a declared enemy of America." But the Bush campaign knows they are in trouble in Iraq. The latest ABC News poll shows 55 percent of Americans disapprove of the President's handling of Iraq. 52 percent say the war was not worth fighting. This may explain why Vice President Cheney went on the attack today, accusing the Democratic ticket of flip-flopping on Iraq: "John Kerry and John Edwards voted to authorize force. Now they're trying to have it both ways." Kerry responded in Boston: "It's not enough just to give speeches. America will only be safer when we get results. The facts speak for themselves."

NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports "President Bush fought back today, insisting America is safer after riding Iraq of Saddam Hussein. Bush SOT. Most polls show voters are skeptical on the decision to go to war. In addition, a scathing Senate report means more bad news for the Bush Administration. On cable networks today, Condoleezza Rice defended Mr. Bush's decision to go to war. Vice President Cheney reminded Democratic contenders that they voted for the war. The Kerry campaign tries to define the failures in Iraq. Madeline Albright SOT. Anne Richards SOT from Kerry's Boston rally. Now the White House is trying to restore its credibility on intelligence and find a new CIA director in the middle of an already bitter campaign".

CBS' Bill Plante reports "President Bush offered a new defense of his war on terrorism. Bush again defended his decision to go to war in Iraq even with bad information. Kerry: "it's not enough just to give speeches." Senators from both parties doubt their colleagues would have voted for the war if they had all the information. Kerry on 60 Minutes defended his vote for the war. The public knew even less than Congress."


ABC's Barbara Pinto reports in Ohio, supporters and opponents are working to mobilize voters. Conservatives are collecting signatures, trying to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban same-sex marriage. Among the states considering a same-sex marriage bans in November, are at least four major battleground states, in which the race for President is expected to be tight. As a result, some Democrats who are against the measure worry that the issue is receiving too much attention. Mayor Edward Kelley of Cleveland Heights SOT. In Ohio, political analysts say the louder the debate, the more Democrats stand to lose. During the 2000 election, millions of conservative voter stayed home, so Republicans are doing everything they can to get them to vote. Ohio Democrats worry that issues like the economy and jobs could get lost in this fight, and that a win on same-sex marriage could cost the election.


NBC's Ron Allen reports the "Kerry campaign's new Spanish ad aimed to connect the Senator with the Hispanic community. A study by USA Today shows the Democrats have run almost twice as many ads in 17 key battleground states as President Bush. This month Kerry and Edwards outspent the Bush campaign. Another big factor is Democratic groups like move-on.org known for harsh criticism of the President. Kerry and Edwards must spend their cash on hand before the convention in two weeks. Today, Bush put out an ad in Spanish as well, attacking Kerry for missing recent Senate votes to lower health care costs and fund the troops."


NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports "Ron Reagan is about to be a vocal critic of the Bush Administration as he speaks at the Democratic convention in favor of stem cell research. Bush opposes stem cell research, but Kerry believes the work could help cure diseases. Both candidates use the word "values" as a weapon, and each campaign defines it differently. T On abortion, Bush is using today's radio ad as a new attack on Kerry's position. On same-sex marriage, the President supports a constitutional amendment to ban it. Kerry also believes marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, but does not support amending the constitution."


CBS' Wyatt Andrews reports "John Kerry has tapped into the fear of not having affordable daycare with two promises: expanding after school programs for 3.5 million children and raising the tax deduction for child care from 3,000 to 5,000 per child. President Bush doesn't have a brand new child care proposal, but the tax deductions that are in the law now were increased in the Bush tax cut back in 2001. He also says that by increasing the child tax credit, he's giving parents cash to spend how they choose. The Bush campaign does not promise new money for child care and argues Kerry has promised too much."


1. Same-sex marriage. (Linda Douglass, Washington) 2. Same-sex marriage in a battleground state. (Barbara Pinto, Cleveland Heights, Ohio) 3. Bush defends his record on National Security. (Terry Moran, Washington, D.C.) 4. The government of the Philippines said late today it would withdraw its troops from Iraq as soon as possible to meet the demands of hostage takers. 5. Iraqi interim President Ghazi al-Yawar first he said that he would reinstitute the death penalty and deal even more harshly with the insurgents. But he also said the government would offer amnesty to fighters who laid down their arms. 6. Closer Look: What would happen if terrorists tried to disrupt the Presidential election? (Pierre Thomas, Washington) 7. Rockefeller and Sanford obits. 8. The fifteenth International Aids Conference is underway in the Thailand capital Bangkok - the first time it is being held in that region of the world. (Mark Litke, China) 9. In Greece today, there was a blackout for a few hours in the capital Athens - which is getting ready to host the Olympics in a month's time. 10 . The government has issued tough new guidelines today for cholesterol. (John McKenzie, NY)


(Brian Williams anchors)

1. Bush fought back today, defending his decision to go to war in Iraq. (Andrea Mitchell, Washington, D.C.) 2. Terrorism and the election. (Pete Williams, Washington, D.C.) 3. Political advertising. (Ron Allen, NY) 4. "Values" (Kelly O'Donnell, Boston) 5. In Depth: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (Don Teague, Atlanta) 6. Lea Fastow reported to prison this morning. 7. Wall Street Today. 8. Bush was forced to change airplanes after a mechanical problem was found on AF1. 9. An exclusive look at the Boca Raton Building where Anthrax was once discovered. (Kerry Sanders, Boca Raton, Fla.) 10. Isabelle Sanford has died. 11. Athens faced a massive blackout today. 12. Latest on the U.S. Olympic trials. (Michael Okwu, Los Angeles)


(Harry Smith anchors)

1. Bush defends his record on national security. (Bill Plante, the White House) 2. Terrorism on Election Day. (Jim Stewart, Washington, D.C.) 3. Terrorists holding a Pilipino man hostage have extended their window for a day. 4. The military is continuing to discharge gay soldiers. (David Martin, the Pentagon) 5. Osama bin Laden is isolated, alluding capture, but cut off. (Lara Logan, Kabul, Afghanistan) 6. Blackouts in Athens. 7. Lea Fastow turned herself into prison today. 8. Morgan Stanley will pay 54 million dollars to settle case. 9. Fallen heroes. 10. Inside Story: Boy who was shot is trying to take down the company that manufactured the gun. (John Blackstone, Oakland, Calif.) 11. The rise in gas prices may be over. 12. Ron Reagan will pitch hard for stem cell research at the Democratic convention. 13. What does it mean to you? Daycare. (Wyatt Andrews, Phoenix, Arizona) 14. Isabelle Sanford has died. 15. New cholesterol guidelines. (Elizabeth Kaledin, NY)