The Note

John Kerry is going after the president's National Guard record. Republicans (John Kerry says) are going after John Kerry for throwing his medals and/or for allegedly not being straight about whether he did or not. Dick Cheney, anchoring the non-ironically named "Winning the War on Terror Tour," is going after John Kerry's national security record. BC04RNC is going after John Kerry for trying to recoup the Cold War peace dividend. The Kerry campaign is going after Dick Cheney for doing the same. Karen Hughes is going after John Kerry's national security record, and decrying negativity. Terry McAuliffe is going after Dick Cheney and Karen Hughes and George Bush, and decrying negativity. BC04RNC and KerryDNC are going after reporters' inboxes. Deborah Orin is going after Mrs. Heinz Kerry's car. Bob Novak is going after John Kerry's coal votes. The American government is going after insurgents in Iraq — it's just unclear how. And, most significantly of all, the Center of New Hampshire Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire is now … the Radisson Hotel at the Center of New Hampshire!!!!! LINK and LINK When The Note last left John Kerry, he hadn't yet (a) done a Friday afternoon document meta-dump on his Vietnam health records (thus annoying the pooling sensibilities of the lovely and talented Jodi Wilgoren); (b) taken Friday night Communion; (c) gone to a doctor's appointment for his shoulder without telling the pool (thus annoying the pooling sensibilities of network types); (d) gone bike riding on the Charles River (avec le helmet!); (e) brought back "Bring … it … .on!!" in Iowa; and, (f) gotten to see his spouse on the cover of Newsweek (in a very favorable treatment). And over the weekend the president's women and men floated to the New York Times a military onslaught of Fallujah, which they then pulled back, all while Mr. Bush enjoyed Camp David. But no time to review the weekend in greater detail, because as all Note readers and Googling monkeys know, following Bush v. Kerry is all about being forward looking, and there is a lot to look forward to this week. Let's start with the question of how much other news organizations (besides ABC News and the New York Times , who have already reported the story) will follow up with Senator Kerry on the medals story, about which aides say Kerry is "furious." As for Kerry's first-ever strong pushback against Bush on the National Guard issue, spokesgal Stephanie Cutter says: "We've been sitting back and taking hits by the Republicans for eight weeks now … This is all a Karl Rove-directed effort … So he (Kerry) has hit his limit." The story that started it all, from ABC News chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and senior investigative producer Chris Vlasto. LINK "Contradicting his statements as a candidate for president, Senator John Kerry claimed in a 1971 television interview that he threw away as many as nine of his combat medals to protest the war in Vietnam. "'I gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine medals,' Kerry said in an interview on a Washington, D.C., news program on WRC-TV called Viewpoints on Nov. 6, 1971, according to a tape obtained by ABCNEWS." "Throughout his presidential campaign, Kerry has denied that he threw away any of his medals during an anti-war protest in April 1971." Kerry appeared live on "Good Morning America" to answer questions about his seemingly shifting account. Kerry called the allegations a "phony controversy" being pushed by Republicans. He also directly challenged President Bush's National Guard record. Kerry, who had held back from that tack since February, brought up Bush's Guard record on three occasions. As to the direct question of his shifting account, Kerry argued the military "makes no distinction between ribbons and medals." ABC's Charles Gibson reminded Kerry that he has over the years himself made the distinction between medals and ribbons. "In 1984, when you were running for the Senate, that was the first time that you called someone in from labor because they were upset that you had thrown ribbons away. You called them and you made the distinction and said 'I didn't throw my medals away. I just threw the ribbons away,'" Gibson said. Kerry responded: "I was asked specifically in greater detail about what took place. I answered the question truthfully." "I think to this day that there is no distinction between the two," Kerry added. Here's a recap of Kerry's direct hits on Bush's Guard record: —"This comes from a President who can't even show or prove that he showed up for duty in the National Guard." —"This comes from a President and a Republican Party that can't even answer whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. I'm not going to stand for it." —"George Bush has yet to explain to America whether or not to tell the truth about whether he showed up for duty." As we wait for RNC/BC04/conservative media machine push-back … . The BC04 campaign launches its latest ad today (planned leaked to the New York Times for its impacting Sunday editions), criticizing Senator Kerry's voting record on weapons systems. "Weapons," will run on national cable and in nine different spot markets in key states. The versions running in those nine states will feature a message specific to the state. Despite their rhetorical allegiance to fiscal discipline, the Bush political team has always liked to attack on these pork barrel/weapons-systems-have-to-be-built-somewhere matters. "Weapons" will move into the ad rotation with "Troops/Fog" on national cable and in the spot markets. That ad features the "voted before it before I voted against" line from Senator Kerry. "Doublespeak," which was launched last Wednesday and featured newspaper editorials on John Kerry, will move out of the BC04 ad rotation. The BC04 campaign also will run a full-page black and while advertisement today in the main news section of two newspapers in West Virginia — the Wheeling Intelligencer and the Wheeling News-Register. The newspaper ads will be a Top Ten list of "Questions West Virginians Should Ask John Kerry." The campaign says that the list comes from Senator Kerry's record in the Senate "of supporting anti-coal policies that would devastate the industry in West Virginia, votes against funding troops fighting the War on Terror, and a renowned opposition toward the second amendment rights of West Virginians." Vice President Cheney will deliver a foreign policy speech in Fulton, Missouri today and a senior campaign official tells ABCNews' Karen Travers that Cheney will aim to put the war on terror in "historical context" and will contrast the president's "clear vision for fighting and winning the war on terror with John Kerry's inconsistent statements and votes against funding for the tools and funds to help our troops fight and win the war on terror." "He will talk about the need for our leaders to recognize threats as they gather and speak out against them. He will talk about the steps we took as a nation, and as an administration, to adjust to the threat of global terror-the creation of the department of Homeland Security, passage of the Patriot Act, and the Bush doctrine that says that any person or government that supports or harbors terror will be held to account." Also today, President Bush makes remarks at the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Convention in Minneapolis. During these remarks, he will announce his Innovation Economy Policy Book. This evening, the president attends a RNC Victory 2004 Fundraising Luncheon in Edina, Minnesota. Senator John Kerry attends a kick-off rally for his jobs bus tour this morning in Wheeling, W.Va. He then heads to Canonsburg, Pa. where he will tour the All-Clad factory and speak with workers. On Tuesday, President Bush has no public events planned. Senator Kerry campaigns in Ohio focusing on the economy. The Supreme Court hears arguments in the case brought by Judicial Watch against Vice President Cheney and the National Energy Policy Development Group. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee begins hearings on the nomination of John Negroponte to be US ambassador to Iraq. Pennsylvania holds their presidential primary and Senate primary between Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). In Spain, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero goes before parliament to detail a timetable for withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq. The U.S. Conference Board releases results of monthly consumer confidence survey. On Wednesday, President Bush meets with the Prime Minister of Sweden. Senator Kerry continues his campaign bus tour visiting Ohio cities Cleveland and Toledo ending the day in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Supreme Court begins hearing oral arguments in two cases involving the open-ended detention of two U.S. citizens whom the government has labeled enemy combatants. The court says it will issue audio tapes of the arguments immediately afterward. On Thursday, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney appear before bipartisan commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Also, on Thursday, the preliminary estimate of 1st quarter GDP growth will be released. Per ABCNews Ramona Schindelheim: "And the consumer shall lead us. Economists are looking for strong growth for the first 3 months of the year, thanks once again to the consumer who got a boost from low interest and mortgage rates and Uncle Sam." Senator Kerry campaigns in Philadelphia. The Bush-Cheney campaign holds a "National Party for the president Day." On Friday, President Bush meets with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to review key bilateral and multilateral issues. The president also meets with Guatemalan President Oscar Berger at the White House. Senator Kerry campaigns in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) keynotes the South Carolina Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, Columbia, S.C. Also Friday, Times Square celebrates its 100th anniversary, and Good Morning America will cover it like there's no tomorrow. Saturday is the first anniversary of President Bush's landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln, Bush has no public events planned. First Lady Laura Bush gives commencement speeches at Miami-Dade College and Cedarville College in Ohio. Senator Kerry's plans are still to be determined. Vice President Cheney delivers Florida State University's commencement address and Lynne Cheney delivers Cedarville College's commencement address in Ohio. In Washington, reporters gather for the White House Correspondents' Association dinner. President Bush is there. And perhaps he will share the room with other presidential candidates.

ABC News Vote 2004: Senator John Kerry and the medals:

Rutenberg and Dao of the New York Times write up the ribbons/medals controversy using Kerry's recent statements on the matter versus those made on WRC in 1971. Make sure you don't miss David Wade doing his best Col. Nathan R. Jessup! LINK The New York Post 's Ed Robinson on the medals controversy: LINK Pat Healy of the Boston Globe also previewed the GMA interview. LINK

The politics of Iraq and national security:

In the must-read Iraq political story of the day, Janet Hook of the Los Angeles Times writes up some Republican hand wringing over the current state of affairs (and its cost) in Iraq. LINK "Indeed, for all the politicians who have been stalwart supporters of President Bush's Iraq policy, the conflict is no longer just an abstraction — their constituents increasingly bear the burden of personal sacrifice for the mission."

"Casualties are mounting, sending more loved ones home in coffins. Tours of duty have been prolonged, keeping thousands of troops away from their families longer than expected. And the price tag is growing rapidly, forcing Congress to consider additional war funding at a time when popular domestic programs are being squeezed." We wonder what the Republican lawmaker quotes will read like if the next set of poll numbers aren't as good as the last set. For now, the White House can be politically heartened by this story. On the Wall Street Journal 's op-ed page, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar writes, "Many of us in Spain feel ashamed about the withdrawal of our troops. And many more of us are worried about the consequences of this decision for our security, and for the defense of our liberties in the face of terrorism." Also in the Wall Street Journal , a father of a fallen soldier expresses support for President Bush's funeral attendance policy and the ban on photographing flag draped coffins at Dover. "If it is truly the intention of those who support the lifting of the ban to honor these gallant individuals while giving the American public the opportunity to grieve with them — and if it is truly the intention to bear witness to sacrifice and view at first hand the cost of this war — then let them visit the families of those who freely chose to join the military family. Let them visit the grave sites, let them journey to Fort Bragg or Fort Campbell or Fort Hood and speak to those who have returned or who might soon be joining the fight." The Wall Street Journal 's Jaffe reports, "With security in Iraq deteriorating, the U.S. military is laying plans to increase by about 10percent the number of National Guard forces moving into Iraq this fall as part of the next rotation of troops at the same time it retrains more than 100,000 soldiers so it doesn't run out of troops in more than a half-dozen critical specialties." William Safire sees a mistake prone Lakhdar Brahimi. LINK ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: It's been a busy morning for the press office at the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign (which means it's a busy morning for BC04 campaign reporters and their Googling monkeys), with a flurry of press releases on the launch of the curiously titled "Winning the War on Terror Tour," which features the campaign's newest television ad, a print ad running today West Virginia newspapers and events with BC04 surrogates at plants that manufacture weapons and/or military equipment. The Washington Post 's Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei report that Kerry and other Democrats will launch a weeklong attack on Vice President Cheney aiming to damage Bush's credibility. "Cheney is less popular than Bush in polls, and Democratic strategists said they need to further inhibit the vice president's effectiveness as Bush's attack messenger." LINK

DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe will hold a press conference today to "rebut Republican criticism of Kerry's Senate voting record and military background. The event also was timed to blunt a speech by Cheney," the AP's Superville reports. LINK McAuliffe, calling Cheney the Bush Administration's "attack dog in chief," told the AP "If Dick Cheney wants to challenge John Kerry … he better be ready to have the light shone on him." Expect McAuliffe to question Cheney's record on weapons programs used now in Iraq and to also attack Cheney's credibility with lines like this: "Why should we believe a word Dick Cheney says about John Kerry — especially when it comes to defending our country? For four years, Dick Cheney hasn't been straight with the American people. Why would he start now?" "You remember Dick Cheney. He's the guy who took a year to finally admit to America that the Bush Administration had sent our troops to war in Iraq without the body armor they needed." President Bush heads to Minnesota today to address the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention at the Minneapolis Convention Center. The president also will attend a Republican Party fundraiser in Edina at the home of developer David Frauenshuh. With the headling "Edina all atwitter about Bush visit," the Star Tribune's Randy Furst previews the president's visit and describes a scene at the Frauenshuh's house that seems almost like preparations for a wedding: LINK "Sandy Frauenshuh was baking cookies for the Secret Service agents. Out in the front yard of her house in west Edina, two Qwest workers were installing 22 additional phone lines, 10 for the news media, and a half dozen employees of Apres Inc. were decorating a party tent they'd set up. And Note this great quote that must be taken in the context of making sure the irrigation system was shut off: "'I don't want to be the guy that watered the president,'" said Randy Henderson of BNR Irrigation." Patrick Sweeney of the Pioneer Press Notes that Frauenshuh has contributed "more than $65,000 to about a dozen candidates during the last six years, according to state and federal records" and Senator Norm Coleman has been his favorite recipient. LINK The Associated Press' Deb Riechmann previews President Bush's speech today in Minneapolis where he will urge Congress to slap a permanent ban on taxes consumers pay for high-speed Internet hookups and sets a 2007 deadline for providing speedy Internet access called broadband to every American home. LINK

And the New York Times reports that the president will "announce actions to promote research into hydrogen-fueled cars" and "announce that the Energy Department has selected 28 companies, universities and national laboratories to receive $350 million for research into hydrogen vehicles." LINK The New York Times Elisabeth Bumiller examines why the Bush campaign spoke fondly of Bob Woodward's new book "Plan of Attack." "Bush campaign officials gamed out their response to Mr. Woodward's book in a strategy session several weeks ago, before they had even read it, figuring they had no choice but to embrace the book because the president had given Mr. Woodward an extraordinary three and a half hours of interviews and had ordered his high command to cooperate." LINK

The Washington Post 's Mike Allen has this: "An administration official said Bush aides had learned from their failure to squelch critical books by ignoring or attacking them. So, the aides decided that not only would they not attack Woodward's book, they would promote it." LINK

US News's Washington Whispers says to look for the Vice President to give reporters more access as the campaign gets closer. Says one adviser: "The more reporters get to see him up close, the more appealing he is." LINK Public notice to Mr. Kellems: We eagerly await the chance to see the appealing side in action.

ABC News Vote 2004: Senator John Kerry:

Oh, Ms. Tenenbaum. Writes Lee Bandy in the State: "The U.S. Senate campaign of Inez Tenenbaum is going to great lengths to distance itself from John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee." "Tenenbaum's campaign views Kerry, a Massachusetts liberal, as a hazard to her political health. Tenenbaum, the state's popular education superintendent, is seeking the Democratic nomination to fill the seat of U.S. Senator Fritz Hollings, the Charleston Democrat who is retiring. Tenenbaum's supporters are said to have discouraged any visits here by Kerry. His presence, they maintain, would harm Tenenbaum, especially at a time when she is trying to portray herself as an S.C. Democrat." LINK Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times looks back at John Kerry's "Meet the Press" answer on his full agreement with President Bush's recent pronouncements concerning the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and wonders if the Senator's penchant for nuance may be needed here as well. LINK

From ABC News Kerry campaign reporter Ed O'Keefe: DES MOINES, Iowa., April 25—The last time Senator John F. Kerry stood in Veterans Memorial Auditorium in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, he had just fired his campaign manager, suffered a brutal week in the press, and announced he would opt-out of federal financing, refusing to rule out the possibility of dipping into personal funds to keep his struggling campaign afloat. On Saturday, November 15, 2003, the Massachusetts Senator stood before a capacity crowd at Iowa's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner to unveil the "Real Deal" stump speech and what would become a signature line, "Bring it on!" For the first time since his upset caucus win, Kerry returned to the Hawkeye State Sunday to attend a "Welcome Back" rally. The presumptive Democratic nominee gushed, "I love Iowa," but merely cupped his right ear and smiled as audience members shouted "VP" whenever the Candidate mentioned Governor Vilsack's name. And, for the first time in two months, Kerry concluded his thirty-five minute speech by exclaiming, "Bring it on!" The Senator's fondness for old habits continues this week as he embarks on 3-day, 4-state bus tour, the first such campaign swing since the icy roads of New Hampshire. Kerry, who in the days before motorcades and armed agents rode with a small band of traveling press routinely, promised, "I'll ride with you for part of the time." The bus tour takes Senator Kerry to West Virginia, Pennslyvania, Ohio and Michigan. And if the Senator is looking for some bus trip reading material, it's highly doubtful he will pick up the Boston Globe 's new Kerry biography. En route to Iowa, Kerry asked a television producer what she was reading. The producer explained it was a portion of the Boston Globe 's biography, printed in their Sunday edition. The Senator replied, "Oh, barf." Despite a sometimes rocky Globe-Kerry relationship, it seems Kerry was not critiquing his hometown paper's work, but rather expressing a distaste for yet more dissections of his personal and political life. Bob Novak writes for your must-reading pleasure that "If Kerry is perceived as anti-coal, he could lose both states — and the presidency." "On this week's visit to West Virginia, Kerry is likely to condemn as inadequate Bush's investment for clean coal technology (currently $2 billion over 10 years). He echoes the anti-Bush line by the state's most powerful Democrat, Senator Robert Byrd. Mine owners laugh it off, noting you can't have clean coal if Kerry-backed measures eliminate all coal." LINK "This disadvantage of an incumbent senator running for president may explain why only two have been successful. While governors (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) have obscured their positions on delicate questions, Kerry cannot escape the impact of thousands of votes during 20 senate years." The Wheeling Intelligencer's Betheny Holstein Notes Kerry's on-message arrival last night, as part of his "Jobs First" tour. LINK Rush and Molloy report some rumblings from members of the Al Smith Foundation that some might be worried about Cardinal Egan courting favor with the Pope and refusing to invite Senator Kerry to the famed October dinner. LINK (The gossip duo also have Ben Affleck teaming up with Ted Kennedy on minimum wage and Al Sharpton's almost-done TV deal.) Celebrity studded fundraising concerts for John Kerry on both coasts are headed your way in June. Cindy Adams reports the left coast fundraiser will be headlined by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. LINK

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ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

USA Today 's Jim Drinkard Notes "the debate over whether John Kerry as president could keep America safe from its enemies heats up this week as both sides intensify TV messages aimed at voters in key states." LINK

In a must-read by Farah Stockman of the Boston Globe detailing the future PR struggle over Senator Kerry's foreign policy — which is eerily similar to his opponent's — she sprinkles all sorts of Noteworthy fun-facts. To mention a few: the regular Monday lunch meeting of Kerry foreign policy advisers and the title of the upcoming Foreign Policy magazine article: "Meet George W. Kerry." LINK The Boston Globe 's Bruce Kluger previews the new reality show on the Discovery Channel, called "Staffers," and profiles tomorrow's featured political staffer, Senator Kerry's body man a.k.a. "Chief of stuff" 6-foot-8 Marvin Nicholson, Jr. LINK The multi-talented Jim Loftus gets appropriate kudos. USA Today 's Susan Page writes that the economic pictures being painted by the Bush and Kerry camps make it "sound as if they're running for the presidency on different planets." And according to Page, both of them are right. LINK

And Peronet Despeignes breaks down what signs point to a good economy and what signs point to a bad economy and that the U.S. economy is overall a "mixed bag." LINK

The Washington Post 's David Finkel spent oodles of time in Sugar Land, Texas, home district of Rep. Tom DeLay, and tried to learn what makes conservatives there tick. LINK Gasp! Folks there like conservative Web sites! An editor might want to tease out the assumptions that led Mr. Finkel to add an article to the following sentences.. "a Web site called WorldNetDaily … .a Web site called FreeRepublic … ." The story is full of color and some insight, but it may seem strained and patronizing to some of its conservative readers.

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds: In the second installment of his four-part series on the battleground states, Ron Fournier talks to voters who say they are not happy with either choice. "Interviews with dozens of voters in five crucial states along the Mississippi River indicate they are warming to change because of the war in Iraq and the balky U.S. economy," — a bonus for Kerry — "many of these voters don't know much about Kerry — and much of what they do know comes from Bush's negative television ads," — a bonus for Bush. LINK

The Detroit Free-Press reports on a new, huge vehicle assembly plant being built by Ford Motor Co. in Detroit. LINK

"The Dearborn-based automaker has invested more than $2 billion in factories and infrastructure to turn Henry Ford's model of 20th-Century manufacturing — in all its dirty, back-aching glory — into Bill Ford's vision of 21st-Century manufacturing that nurtures workers, the environment and shareholders." The Denver Post's Julia C. Martinez Notes the 2004 General Assembly in Colorado has faced a growing number of bills from conservative Republicans designed to expand the government's reach into the public domain of colleges, courts, and classrooms. They have, for the most part, been squelched by moderate Republicans with the aid of Democrats. This rash of legislation has led moderates and others to wonder about the growing power of conservatives in the state, whose members now make up half of the 37 Republican House members in the Colorado legislature. LINK The Rocky Mountain News' Burt Hubbard reports on the $13 million in donations that Coloradoans have pumped into the coffers of federal candidates and political committees in the past 15 months. Overall, Colorado donations have a decidedly Republican bent. LINK The Rocky Mountain News' Jeff Smith reports on the availability of high-speed Internet service as a campaign issue, which, though far behind the urgent concerns of the economy and the war in Iraq, remains critical to the country's place as a global technology leader. Bush has made announcements that his goal is to provide affordable high-speed Internet to all Americans by 2007, while Kerry is known to have a similar goal of universal broadband service but has not made a speech on the subject. LINK The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Bill Salisbury Notes Bush's visit to Minnesota today, where he will visit the site of what is shaping up to be one of the most aggressive "ground wars" in this year's presidential campaign. Both the Bush and Kerry camps are recruiting thousands of Minnesota volunteers to rouse support for their election bids in a form of old-fashioned, grass-roots politics making a comeback across the country this year. LINK The MoveOn.org bake sale got coverage in Arkansas. The Cincinnati Enquirer's Denise Smith Amos reports that Presbyterian minister Stephen Van Kuiken will have his appeal heard by the synod over Ohio and Michigan this week. Van Kuiken was removed from his ministry in the Cincinnati area after performing marriages between homosexual couples, an act forbidden by the Book of Order. LINK "The government's most ambitious plan yet to seal the Arizona-Mexico border is drawing criticism from environmentalists who say granting the U.S. Border Patrol greater access to federally protected lands will only trample the landscape and do nothing to solve immigrant and drug smuggling in the region," reports the Washington Post 's Ryan Slattery. LINK Floridians may soon see an end to the days of voters placing constitutional amendments directly on the ballot. LINK The Seattle Times' Andrew Garber observes the scores of initiatives seeking a place on this November's ballot, most likely further crowding the airwaves with "issue" ads as November approaches. LINK .

The Supreme Court this week:

USA Today 's Joan Biskupic reports "the Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider whether Vice President Cheney must release internal documents that detail the membership of a task force that met privately while helping to form President Bush's energy plan." LINK

And in another article, Biskupic reminds us that Justice Antonin Scalia, "the most confrontational and quotable justice," will absolutely be in attendance. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate: "With hours left before tomorrow's primary election, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter spent yesterday appealing to local voters and polishing his credentials on key Republican issues such as gun rights and terrorism," the Philadelphia Inquirer's Kerkstra writes. "His challenger, U.S. Rep. Patrick Toomey, welcomed troops returning from Afghanistan, then took most of the day off to rest after months of relentless campaigning. The conservative congressman has come from far behind to make it a close U.S. Senate primary race, according to a pair of independent polls released last week." LINK Polls open tomorrow at 7:00 am ET and close at 8:00 pm ET. One new feature: voters must show an approved form of identification (name and address) before casting ballots. It's a dry-run for the November general election. And if it's close, we might have a result for a bit … as absentee/military ballots might cover the difference.

The weekend must-reads:

On Sunday, the Washington Post 's David Von Drehle took a look at the divided electorate in the first of three articles examining "America in Red and Blue," and the hardening into two "uncompromising camps" of American politics. Not only is it the marketing of the parties, Von Drehle wrote, but also the way the country is polarized and the self-imposed segregation of the sides — ideology is aligned along party lines. LINK Von Drehle also looked at the side effects of the Red-Blue divide, namely the need for the parties to play to their base, and the fine line they walk between firing voters up and turning them off with rhetoric. Complete with graphic: LINK The Washington Post 's Mark Leibovich lead the Style section on Sunday with an excellent look at Kerry's likeability factor — or rather, the "you have to know him" factor. While Kerry's no Kennedy-style back-slapper, and not everyone would want to hang out and have a beer with him, Leibovich writes, the focus on his reserve and interpreting it as aloofness is not entirely fair. LINK "Like all caricatures, this is a shallow rendering of a complex man. Interviews with people who have known and worked with Kerry reveal a personal and political bearing that defies easy characterization. Senate colleagues from both parties say Kerry can be a "good friend" (even in a place where that term, like hair spray, is badly overused). They also acknowledge his reserve, occasional social clumsiness and the catalogue of stories that have animated the caricature over the years." And for our money, any story about Kerry that opens with a memory from Bill Weld is OK. The New York Times ' Halbfinger wrote at length about the "delicate issue" of Kerry's anti-war past. LINK

The Boston Globe excerpts the Kerry biography by Michael Kranish, Brian Mooney and Nina Easton. This installment's headline: "Restless intellect drives Kerry's positions." LINK

On Saturday, the Washington Post 's John Harris offered up a fascinating look at the way the Bush campaign is framing Kerry, not simply on the issues but as a person who can — or cannot, they reason — identify with average Americans. LINK "This battle over cultural identities has become an important second front in the presidential race. President Bush's campaign scores Kerry daily on conventional issues: national security, taxes and a liberal voting record. Meanwhile, a variety of surrogates and outside groups are amplifying and broadening this attack by using humor, insult and innuendo to portray the Kerrys as exotic figures whose rich lifestyle and cosmopolitan values leave them unable to understand ordinary Americans." More Harris: "The campaign to portray Kerry as culturally out of touch because of his privileged youth and current wealth is replete with ironies. Bush, a son of one of America's most successful political dynasties, and Vice President Cheney are both multimillionaires. Republicans, on policy grounds, have no objection to vacation houses or inherited wealth; Bush has led an effort to eliminate the estate tax, which is paid mostly by the wealthy." "But the competition over which candidate will score better on one of the most common questions asked by pollsters — who 'understands the problems of people like you' — is influenced by many factors. Some are economic, others more impressionistic." Harris also took a look on Saturday at Kerry's attempts to define himself. LINK The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold on Sunday Noted that many voters still don't know much about the presumptive Democratic nominee. LINK About halfway through Gold gets down to the real lay of the land, despite cries from the party types about strategy and defining himself, how voters have made up their minds: "New polls, meanwhile, have found that about two-thirds of Kerry's supporters back him simply because they do not like Bush; in contrast, most of the president's supporters plan to vote for Bush because they admire him and his policies." Ron Fournier began his 1,800 mile trek "to size up the political landscape in the battleground states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas. The Mississippi River region is a barometer for the Nov. 2 elections, and the five states with 44 electoral votes have a recent history of close presidential races as well as diverse and rapidly shifting populations." "Judging by more than six dozen interviews, one element unites an otherwise polarized electorate — a perception that life in this unrivaled superpower is not quite right, that change is coming too fast and leaving too many people behind. "This is an anxious America." The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank on Sunday looked at how the Bush Administration's rhetorical skills have held on to support for the war in Iraq, despite the number of U.S. casualties and the expense. LINK The Boston Globe 's Susan Milligan and Maud Beelman reported Sunday that Andrew Lundquist, the executive director of Vice President Cheney's energy task force, became a registered lobbyist for the energy industry nine months after leaving government service. He opened a consulting business the day after leaving the government. LINK "Government ethics law prohibits a former senior government employee from lobbying his former department or agency for one year," Milligan and Beelman Note. The Chicago Tribune's Midwest correspondent, Tim Jones, had a hauntingly-good Sunday story about the economy from Ohio. It's about the working poor. LINK We're grateful that Newsweek's Richard Wolffe found a way to discuss the importance of the single woman vote without using the loathsome "Sex and the City" moniker. LINK On Sunday, David Broder of the Washington Post took a look at the perception of Kerry as a canny operator skilled at knowing what's politically expedient. LINK On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times' James Rainey and Maria La Ganga looked at Catholic politicians — Kerry, specifically — and the abortion issue, and how lawmakers of (Catholic) faith are reacting to a cardinal's comment that they should not receive communion. LINK In a Web special on Sunday, the Boston Globe 's Michael Kranish took a look at the roles of Jane Fonda and Richard Nixon in shaping Kerry's public persona. LINK Newsweek put Teresa Heinz Kerry on the cover this week, and Melinda Henneberger examines the candor, influence, and by any standard, fascinating profile of the would-be First Lady. LINK "Her loose talk is perhaps particularly high risk in these wildly polarized times, when anything can become fodder for the culture wars. Unless, of course, the political handlers have it all wrong, and should get her out in front as soon as possible. Not only could Teresa charm the faithful, but she could work crucial swing states where her moderate politics might win over voters if they could be convinced that Kerry, who's struggling at the moment, would give his Rockefeller Republican wife a voice in the White House." Newsweek's Susannah Meadows took some time to catch up with the first Mrs. Kerry: Julia Thorne. LINK The New York Times ' Seelye and Rosenbaum on Mrs. Kerry's fortune and the question of privacy when it comes to her tax returns. LINK The New York Post 's Orin wrote of GOP piling-on after the "revelation" that Mrs. Kerry drives a German Audi while her husband is "preaching the importance of buying American cars to save U.S. jobs." LINK On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times' Peter Wallsten wrote about the reemergence of the Patriot Act as a key issue for BC04, and how Democratic nominee John Kerry has had to tone down his criticism of it, as polls show the law is not unpopular among voters — and in fact, helps Bush's image on national security. LINK

Jim Mulhall gets quoted high up: "'There's a dangerous trap here for Democrats,' said Jim Mulhall, a Democratic strategist working with independent groups targeting Bush. 'It's a terribly unfair characterization, but … if Democrats are not careful, they will sound more like they're worried about technical concerns than they are about locking up terrorists.'" Wallsten also ran through the change in Kerry's rhetoric, from offering vehement and blistering critiques to talking about how it can be improved. The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank wrote on Sunday about the questions arising from the 9/11 Commission joint interview with President Bush and Vice President Cheney — from the ventriloquist jokes by Democrats to the administration's reasoning that they'll tie together testimony from other officials. LINK The New York Times ' Schmitt reported Gen. John Abizaid told him "he was likely to ask for another extension in the current troop levels in Iraq, now at 135,000, and might even ask for more troops beyond that." LINK

The march and the politics of abortion:: The Washington Post 's Elizabeth Williamson chronicled Sunday's "March for Women's Lives," attended by an estimated crowd of hundreds of thousands, from the arrival of Gloria Steinem and the speech by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton to the protesters who lined the route. LINK Robin Toner of the New York Times saw more Democrats than Republicans at the abortion rights march in Washington. "The day had a decidedly partisan edge, with many in the crowd carrying signs for Senator John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee; several members of his family were among the marchers, as was Howard Dean, who had also sought the Democratic nomination; Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader of the House; and Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Party chairman." LINK The New York Times explores the issue of choice within the Latin American community and finds some women from Brooklyn who see abortion as a sin, but traveled to Washington to march for abortion rights nonetheless. LINK

The Washington Post 's Ceci Connolly on Sunday looked at the ways access to abortions has been limited over the past 12 years. LINK The Washington Post 's Hank Stuever lent his eye for the Monday paper. LINK The Washington Post 's Alan Cooperman profiles those Catholics who oppose certain church doctrines, an attitude which has become increasingly prevalent in the political debates over abortion and the like. LINK With lots of color, the Boston Globe writes that what "might have been the largest women's rights rally in history," was an attempt to bring domestic issues back into a national conversation dominated by Iraq and national security. LINK USA Today highlights the march and the merging of generations of women's rights protestors. LINK

The Clintons of Chappaqua: New York Magazine's Intelligencer reports (from a single publishing source) Bill Clinton's memoir will be published in August following the Democratic National Convention. LINK

Politics: Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza reports, "Just six months before the 2004 election, independent groups formed to harvest and spend soft money on House and Senate races have largely failed." These smaller groups, whose news contrasts sharply with the success of bigger groups like ACT and Media Fund, blame their ineffectiveness on "lack of energy in the donor community about anything other than the presidential race to the ongoing legal battle over the applications of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act." Roll Call 's Ethan Wallison writes that two political committees controlled once by Senator-turned-Attorney-General John Ashcroft are still faced with $50,000 in legal debts since the FEC found his 2000 Senate campaign guilty of accepting $110,000 in illegal contributions from his PAC. Paul Kane of Roll Call reports that Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats are gearing up for a Tuesday nomination hearing and appear to have not let go of any grudges "by preparing a line of questioning that could encompass a decade's worth of Washington scandals." They will ask Brett Kavanaugh, formerly of the White House Counsel's office and before that of Ken Starr's Independent Counsel office, "about whether he or anyone else in the Bush Administration saw any of the more than 4,000 Democratic memos that were taken off committee computers in 2001 and 2002." The Department of Health and Human Services delivers a scathing report on the failure of child welfare programs throughout the country to properly protect and care for children. LINK

Politics of same-sex marriage: Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is holding strong to his anti-same-sex marriage stance and pushing forward on banning of controlling same-sex marriage in the Bay State by enforcing an old state law not allowing marriage of out-of-staters whose states have differing marriage laws, according to the Boston Globe . A spokesman for the governor told the Globe that those coming from states where same-sex marriage is legal would be permitted to marry in Massachusetts — but no other state has legalized it. LINK The Boston Herald reports that despite his opposition, Gov. Romney is taking the stance that "Justices of the peace who refuse to perform gay weddings will be asked to resign and could face formal discrimination charges if they don't." LINK The Boston Globe also Notes a big event at Bloomingdales in Lenox Hill, Mass. yesterday targeted at gay couples called "The Pink Event." It "drew more than 150 people and featured more than a dozen vendors hoping to cash in on the same-sex marriage market. Dozens of gay and lesbian couples checked out wedding bands, floral arrangements, and place settings. Nearly two-dozen signed up for a gift registry. Couples modeled the latest in same-sex marriage attire culled from the collections of Hugo Boss and Vera Wang. Guests dipped strawberries in a chocolate fountain and sampled all manner of cakes." LINK The AP's David Espo Notes the presence of gay marriage in political ads across the country by campaigns of a small number of conservative Republicans. LINK

Nearly one-third of Californians think same-sex couples should be allowed to marry according to the latest Los Angeles Times poll. ">LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—7:00 am: DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Jon Kyl appear on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends." —7:06 am: Sen. John Kerry appears live on ABC's "Good Morning America" —9:45 am: The U.N. Economic and Social Council holds a joint high-level meeting with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization, on financing of U.N. development goals, New York, N.Y. —10:00 am: U.S. Supreme Court meets to release orders and hear arguments, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe delivers address pre-butting Vice President Cheney's speech in Missouri, Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: Sen. Joe Lieberman speaks before The Brookings Institution and the Saban Center for Middle East Policy on "Winning the War in Iraq." Washington, D.C. —10:00 am: Commerce Department releases the new home sales report for March. Washington, D.C. —10:25 am: President Bush speaks before the American Association of Community Colleges Annual Convention, Minneapolis, Minn. —10:30 am: Sen. John Kerry attends kick off rally for jobs bus tour, Wheeling, W.Va. —10:45 am: Secretary of State Collin Powell meets with the Danish foreign minister, Washington, D.C. —12:00 pm: More Magazine and TV's Extra honor Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton with the Alpha Woman Award, New York, N.Y. —12:00 pm: The House meets for a pro forma session. —12:30 am: President Bush attends a RNC Victory 2004 fundraising luncheon, Edina, Minn. —12:30 pm: Vice President Cheney delivers a speech on foreign policy at Westminster College, Fulton, Mo. —12:30 pm: U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young speaks at Hunter College on the presidential campaign and terrorism threats, New York, N.Y. —1:00 pm: Politics Live on ABC News Live and AOL —1:00 pm: The Senate convenes for morning business —1:30 pm: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz meets with Denmark's Minister for Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moeller, Arlington, Va. —2:00 pm: The Senate resumes debate on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S. 150, the Internet Tax Bill —2:00 pm: Sen. Kerry tours All-Clad Factory, Canonsburg, Pa. —2:30 pm: Sen. Kerry speaks with All-Clad Factory workers, Canonsburg, Pa. —2:30 pm: Secretary of State Collin Powell meets with the prime minister of Georgia, Zurab Zhvania, Washington, D.C. —3:00 pm: The U.N. Security Council holds closed consultations on U.S. draft resolution on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, New York, N.Y. —4:00 pm: Secretary of State Collin Powell meets with special United Nations special envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Washington, D.C.

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