The Note

So did the New York Times' Elizabeth Bumiller, who threw in this graf: "It was last week when Mr. McCain was spurning Senator John Kerry's repeated proposals to be his running mate, dashing hopes of Democrats who viewed a Kerry-McCain ticket as unstoppable. A CBS News poll recently found that a Kerry-McCain ticket had a 14 percentage point edge over Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney among registered voters, 53 percent to 39 percent, compared with most head-to-head polls that show Mr. Kerry alone tied or slightly ahead of Mr. Bush." LINK

On Sunday, Dana Milbank looked at the way the Bush White House is reacting to the preliminary findings of the 9/11 commission, and the potential affect the final report could have on this fall's presidential election. It might not harm Bush, Milbank reasons, but the onus is on Sen. John Kerry to cast doubt on the President's credibility and to separate the war on terror from the war in Iraq in voters' minds. LINK

On Sunday, the New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Jim Rutenberg looked at how the 90-day offensive by the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, including massive spending on television ads, once Sen. Kerry locked up the Democratic presidential nomination has affected Kerry's standing with voters. Answer: not much, though Bush has succeeded in raising doubts about the Senator. But polls continue to show the race basically even. LINK

"The state of play does not appear to be the result of any particular expertise by the Kerry campaign, or of mistakes by Mr. Bush. Rather, it reflects the extent to which both campaigns have been whipped by events beyond their control, and the challenges of trying to influence public opinion at a time of turmoil and voter polarization."

The Washington Post's Jonathan Finer on Sunday looked at the competition between the Bush and Kerry campaigns for New Hampshire's four electoral votes. LINK

Newsweek reports that former President Clinton advised Sen. Kerry not to delay accepting the Democratic nomination for president, and that Clinton "hopes to tune up the message of a senator who lacks Clinton's political perfect pitch." LINK

Perry Bacon of Time magazine writes about the importance of being optimistic, and the challenge for Sen. Kerry to be both serious about the problems of the country and his solutions to them without appearing pessimistic about its future. LINK

On Saturday, David Halbfinger of the New York Times tick-tocked the veepstakes process of the Gore campaign that so put Kerry off and informs the way he's conducting his own search. LINK

On Sunday, The AP's Ron Fournier wrote that the Kerry campaign has been largely successful in keeping mum on search for a VP candidate, and that beyond the few Notable candidates "little is known for sure," and that even then the nomination tends to go to a candidate who isn't widely reported. The decision, writes Fournier, could be "last minute." LINK

On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman examined how the Republican base around Pittsburgh, scarred by a tough Senate primary fight and frustrated over Iraq and economic issues, could affect voter turnout -- and President Bush -- on election day. LINK

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