The Note

13. No one — included John Kerry or the smarties who work for him — has any idea what the reaction will be among elites, masses, and political reporters if someone other than John Edwards is picked as Kerry's running mate. And the range of possible reactions is wide as all get out.

14. The White House has some carefully planned and perfectly appropriate August/September/October surprises up its sleeve.

15. The Kitty Kelley book.

16. No matter how many times they try to deny it, Democrats are trying to talk down the economic recovery.

17. No matter how many times they try to deny it, Republicans are planning to tactically use gay marriage to influence certain voting groups.

18. No matter how many cute quotes Gene Sperling can come up with, if employment, personal income, and consumer confidence are on the rise in a given battleground state, Senator Kerry needs to find something else to talk about.

19. 50-minute speeches to minority groups do not make up for perceived failures in other outreach areas.

20. You sure do know a lot of secrets for a Note from Brooklyn. (Note: Item #20 only accessible to readers of the New York Times advertising column.)

Today's must-reads include:

--John Harwood's Virginia focus group, which asks "Who is John Kerry?" in the Wall Street Journal .

--The Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman on the fight for the fiscal future of the GOP. LINK --The New York Times ' Johnston and Stevenson on John Ashcroft's political problems, most Notable for how little the Times men were able to get. LINK --The Washington Post 's Harold Meyerson on Dick Cheney and a double standard. LINK -- USA Today 's Judy Keen and Richard Benedetto on Laura Bush — the most balanced and thoughtful piece we have read about Mrs. Bush in some time. LINK --The Washington Post 's Robert Samuelson on why he doesn't buy red-state/blue-state arguments. LINK In an election year rarity, President Bush and Senator Kerry are both down all day — at the White House and the Heinz estate in Pennsylvania, respectfully.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates today for the first time since May 16, 2000 in a 2:15 pm announcement.

RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie continues his Catholic Outreach Tour in Portland, Ore. and Bellevue, Wash., where he campaigns for Rep. Nethercutt.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

Are we really polarized (Michael Barone)? Or do we share similar values (Alan Wolfe)? The debate rages. Robert Samuelson believes that CW is wrong and polarization is overstated.

If the country were more polarized, you'd expect to find it in the polls. You don't. After scouring surveys, sociologist Paul DiMaggio of Princeton University concluded that 'the public actually has become more unified in attitudes toward race, gender and crime since the 1970s.'" LINK "Perhaps party programs have diverged? Not so. On many issues, the parties broadly agree. In practice, both favor bigger government and lower taxes (and aren't embarrassed by the contradiction)."

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