Evening Newscasts Wrap: ABC News Political Unit

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LEADS:

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.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DEBATE:

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.

BUSH DEFENDS WAR IN IRAQ:

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".

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