The Note

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NEWS SUMMARY

Swirling out there: a new Bush-Cheney 60-second TV spot going hard after John Kerry; two new Kerry TV spots, including one dovetailing perfectly with a hard-impacting Washington Post story on Iraq spending; and the rolling release of Kerry's military records.

(Sorry, Woodward -- we've sort of moved on.)

Per a Republican source, the new BC04 ad will rotate into their national cable buy and it "will address John Kerry's claim that 'a lot of people don't really know who I am.' The ad points out that John Kerry's problem isn't that people don't know him. It's that they do."

Its charming and evocative title: "Doublespeak."

The Kerry spots interestingly avoid the biographical stuff for which some Democrats are clamoring, but do smartly provide Kerry specifics (as much as one can in a 30-second spot!) about what he would do about Iraq and what his priorities would be (security, healthcare, the economy).

And then there are those military records.

It takes a gutsy (read: "foolish") weatherperson to predict tomorrow's outlook or November's in the middle of a hurricane-tornado.

That's why we don't want to project out too many conclusions from the flap over these records.

But four things are clear:

1. Proving that the transition from nomination-campaign-to-general-election-campaign is still underway for both candidate and staff, Team Kerry was totally unprepared for something that should have been researched and ready to take off the shelf a year ago.

(If this costs Kerry the election, we'll dissect what happened at the Institute of Politics post-November, and we bet the candidate gets his share of the blame.)

2. The WhiteHouseBC04RNC machine is awesome at seizing on an issue in the news, getting their talking points and marching orders disseminated and putting Kerry on the defensive and looking Clinton-Goreish. They are organized, relentless, and savvy.

3. The Kerry campaign's rolling release of the military records (We loved the Aaron Brown-Kelly Wallace play-by-play on the process last night!!) suggests that they are doing the kind of purge-it-all-out move that such contretemps demand. But what of the Washington Post report that Mrs. Heinz Kerry's tax returns could be next?

4. It's clear that it's NOT clear if the military records will yield a darn thing. So far, the only clear area of possible controversy (beyond the non-release) involves the terms of the first Kerry Purple Heart, and we are old enough to know that it didn't take much to get one, and there is at least some documentation of an injury.

Republicans will continue to try to raise questions, and here are ours at this writing:

a. Is the campaign withholding any records?

b. Has the military got any records that the Kerry campaign doesn't have?

c. What, if any, documents are missing?

Must-reads:

1. The Washington Post's Weisman on the Bush Administration's money gap on Iraq funding. LINK

Will these quotes turn out to be true (and repeated on camera?): GOP Rep. Curt Weldon "charged that the president is playing political games by postponing further funding requests until after the election, to try to avoid reopening debate on the war's cost and future" and described "the administration's current defense budget request as 'outrageous' and 'immoral' and said that at least $10 billion is needed for Iraqi operations over the next five months."

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