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Yesterday, America's most influential political journalist who doesn't bring make up on the campaign trail interviewed the person in charge of planning and executing the President's re-election strategy.

The Associated Press' Ron Fournier did an interview with Karl Rove at some point Thursday, and the most succulent fruit was buried deep inside the AP's new poll story -- with numbers suggesting a smallish Bush-Cheney resurgence in the horserace, even as John Edwards was being brilliantly unfurled.

"The conditions for a Bush victory are all there -- a strong economy, an improving position in the global war on terror and a growing sense that there are sharp and clear differences in values between the two campaigns," Rove told Fournier.

For months, the Bush campaign has said that this election is about national security and the economy, and all of a sudden, the dyad has become a three-legged stool -- with the addition of values.

Does this have to do with the naming of Edwards and the Kerry campaign's push on the values front?

We leave that to greater minds than ours.

Such things are hard to measure, but yesterday felt to some of us like the most intense day of the presidential campaign so far.

And today, this weekend, and next week are going to be big too.

Today, the President plans to escalate the values fight with a speech in Pennsylvania, some new print and broadcast ads, and serious surrogate work (read those muscular talking points . . .). This follows on the new BC04 TV ad unveiled yesterday and some strong POTUS and FLOTUS words on values. Jenna Bush is on Air Force One this morning . . .

The Kerry-Edwards ticket has already hit back on the values issue today, pre-butting the President at a morning Manhattan event, with John Edwards taking the lead.

The Edwards rollout continues -- having already achieved the morning success of getting the Kerry, Edwards, and Heinz adult children on both GMA and Today -- with Sunday impacting hard with newsweekly covers and a passel of serious newspaper interviews, along with "60 Minutes."

With the Kerry campaign planning a media conference call with its high command this morning, then, the Edwards rollout is now competing with the values fight for media attention.

And last night, after the network newscasts and right-on newspaper deadlines, KE04 did something that could fade away or could become the top political story of the day.

If a Republican presidential candidate, running against an incumbent Democrat, appeared with his newly-minted extremely conservative running mate in front of a packed house of fat cat donors in the capital of the GOP base at a fundraiser at which, say, country and western stars and conservative entertainers attacked the president in personal, mocking, and disrespectful ways, its pretty likely that the press would be in high dudgeon.

The coverage of last night's Radio City event in print has some elements of this, but not enough for the Bush campaign. And the TV coverage has largely ignored it.

Although the Kerry campaign and the DNC did not allow the event to be recorded by news organizations, the words of Chevy Chase, Whoopi Goldberg, and others are out there for all to read.

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