The Note

USA Today's Jill Lawrence writes, "Many of Kerry's proposals would speed up, expand or intensify Bush's efforts to keep nuclear bomb-making material out of terrorists' hands." LINK

Former Wall Street Journal reporter James Gannon writes a bitingly negative assessment of Kerry's Catholicism on USA Today's op-ed page, calling Kerry a Catholic in label only. LINK

"Given his beliefs and his voting record, I wish John Kerry professed another religious faith or none at all. I would rather have an agnostic or an atheist in the White House than a person who proclaims himself a Catholic but tosses overboard those parts of Catholic doctrine that are politically inconvenient."

The Wall Street Journal's editorial page urges Kerry to support the African Growth and Opportunity Act, arguing that only a "hardened protectionist" would oppose it. The Journal calls a previous version of the act one of the better achievements of the Clinton era and portrays AGOA as a political nightmare for Kerry should he vote against it.

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

The Boston Globe's Brian Mooney visits Canton, Ohio, and describes why Stark County is arguably a microcosm of the country. LINK

"In a county and state with a knack for picking the winner, an unprecedented political ground war is already underway. Fully five months before presidential ballots are cast, the partisan armies are mobilizing across this most critical of battleground states."

Echo chamber alert: Did we read this Stark-County-is-a-microcosm story before? Like in yesterday's Washington Post? LINK

One of Sen. Kerry's top political operatives was dispatched to Ohio yesterday to wheedle away the 6-point lead Bush holds in Ohio (according to a recent Cleveland Plain Dealer poll of 1,500 likely voters). Teresa Heinz Kerry went on a mission for hearts and minds in Austintown, where she met with and "listened" to military families outside the library, then later attended a private reception with campaign supporters. "Our obligation is to help them -- body and soul and brain," says Heinz Kerry. On her husband's alleged flip-flopping on issues, "There's nothing wrong with changing your mind" over time. "It's a sign of intelligent people." LINK

The Portland Press-Herald's Joshua Weinstein writes up a Kerry report that claims Maine will lose up to $15 million in federal funding if Bush wins in November. LINK

The figures pass the look test apparently for some: University of Maine political scientist Amy Fried calls them "a reasonable extrapolation" of a Bush Administration memo.

In Kansas City, Star reporter Scott Canon says they're still talking about Cheney's visit yesterday, where his Patriot Act speech mimicked in "stagecraft and substance" an appearance by Attorney General John Ashcroft last September. LINK

Kerry heads to Kansas City this afternoon. KMBC-TV reports that he may be coming at the right time, with Zogby showing Kerry with a slight lead over Bush and one Republican conceding that "Kerry's intense campaign on television has had an effect." LINK

A KCCI poll (Des Moines, Iowa) released this morning has Kerry leading Bush, 48 percent to 43 percent in Iowa. LINK

Seattle columnist Joel Connelly claims in the Post-Intelligencer that in the Northwest, "Bush's negative ads pose a great peril" for his "tortoiselike challenger." LINK

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