The Note

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne: "The Bush campaign wants to re-create the dynamic of 2002 and render criticism of Bush's anti-terrorism policies illegitimate and unpatriotic. Kerry wants Bush held accountable for the decisions he made. The side that wins this definitional war is likely to win the election."

The Wall Street Journal's Jake Schlesinger and John Harwood: "(BC04 strategist Matthew) . . . Dowd pointed to two new polls released late yesterday, by CNN and ABC, that showed Mr. Bush's standing against the Massachusetts senator rising in recent weeks. Despite the steady stream of bad news out of Baghdad, Mr. Kerry slipped in the polls when voters were asked which candidate could best handle Iraq."

"'Kerry has not offered any acceptable and viable alternative to the public,' Mr. Dowd said, underscoring a central Bush campaign argument: that no matter how much negative reporting comes out about the incumbent, voters may still harbor greater doubts about the challenger."

But let's keep our eyes on the ball here. One in every eight people in these national polls is a Californian, and, in terms of anticipating results, we don't much care what they think. One in every 14 is a Texan, and, again, their views are meaningless to the outcome of this election.

What really matters are the views of people in 17 states. A day like yesterday -- with Bush in Pennsylvania and Kerry in Florida -- is going to be repeated many times between now and November -- with each man in a battleground state, fighting for hearts, minds and free media.

So let's see how they did, print-wise at least.

The President and Sen. Specter get center of the front page treatment in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Philadelphia Inquirer this morning, below the resignation of the US Airways CEO, which was the top story in both cities.

Front page images:

LINK (and Note the "roadmap to the primaries" banner featuring a rather dour cartoon of the senior Senator from Pennsylvania) and LINK

The coverage in Pennsylvania, unlike the national political reporters, focused heavily on the Bush/Specter relationship and the heated primary battle that Specter is engaged in with Rep. Pat Toomey.

The Post-Gazette headline: "Specter gets a big boost from Bush visit, Senator hoping president's support helps thwart challenge from the right."

The Inquirer headline picks up the same theme: "Bush tells Pa. he wants Specter reelected, The conservative President's support could sway voters for the moderate senator."

The Post-Gazette also writes what seems to be the obligatory local story about protestors outside events featuring the President or Vice President. Outside the convention center in downtown Pittsburgh yesterday, several protestors were arrested for allegedly leaving a designated area on the sidewalk and trying to disrupt traffic. LINK

As for the challenger:

Miami Herald headline: "Kerry, Bush court Jewish vote as a key"

Tampa Tribune: "Kerry Backers Hope Fundraising Record Falls"

Orlando Sentinel: "Kerry conjures up memories of 2000: Campaigning in the Palm Beach area, the Democrat spoke of a 'stolen' election."

St. Petersburg Times: "Kerry seizes on oil allegation"

Palm Beach Post: "Kerry focuses on economy at local rally"

Sun-Sentinel: "Kerry pitches jobs, tax break plan to S. Florida"

Naples Daily News: "Election 2004: Kerry criticizes Bush over oil report"

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