The Note

"For Mr. Kerry, the 2½-hour conversation among military members and spouses underscores the flip side of the nation's election-year focus on problems in Iraq. While that preoccupation has eroded support for President Bush, it also has muffled the Massachusetts senator's attempts to raise his profile among American voters."

"'Behind John Kerry's name right now is a huge question mark,' says pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the focus group for the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. Between now and Election Day, 'He's going to need a very firm handshake with the American people,' says Mr. Hart. He requested that last names of the 12 focus-group participants not be used, citing the sensitivity of members of the military expressing political opinions."

"Military families represent a big chunk of the electorate; more than half of the U.S. population consists of active or former soldiers and their immediate relatives. Mr. Kerry hopes his status as a decorated veteran will help him make inroads with this Republican-leaning group."

"One geographic target is Virginia Beach, next door to the naval home port of Norfolk. In June alone, Mr. Kerry has spent some $261,000 on advertisements in the Norfolk market to bolster his chances in a state that has voted Republican in nine consecutive presidential elections. Mr. Bush's advertising spots accusing Mr. Kerry of flip-flops have aired here only on national cable channels, not the Norfolk affiliates of broadcast networks."

"Still, the focus group suggests Mr. Kerry's message hasn't broken through. Lisa, a 44-year-old Naval electrician who is the only definite Kerry voter at the session, laments that the candidate 'can't express' strong opinions."

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

An editorial in Cleveland's Plain Dealer predicts that education concern nationwide could serve as a powerful political issue, though whether either presidential candidate will use it effectively remains to be seen. LINK

Education Secretary Rod Paige paid a visit to Portland, Oregon to talk to teachers Tuesday about No Child Left Behind and was met with mixed reviews, according to the AP's Julia Silverman. LINK Which will mean more for the folks in swingy Oregon, that their personal income growth lags behind the national average LINK

or that the jobless rate is rebounding faster than most other states?LINK

Cleveland State University joins Miami and Ohio universities as the third public university in the state to extend health benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees. LINK

A farm-based fraternal group that sponsored Washington's popular blanket primary 70 years ago, is back with a "Top 2" replacement proposal that if given the go-ahead will replace a recently approved system that requires voters to take only one party's primary ballot. LINK

Nevada's status as a battleground state was reflected in the divided opinion of 1500 local student leaders who took part in a mock election which showed the president winning on popular votes but losing on electoral votes. LINK President Bush's signing of legislation supporting the development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository is creating problems for Republicans hoping to gain Nevada's swing voters in the November election, a column in the Las-Vegas Review-Journal discusses. LINK The Arizona Republic's Kamman writes up Senator Kerry's appearance in Phoenix yesterday.LINK

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