The Note

The Tampa Tribune's William March reports Kerry supporters hope to raise close to $500,000 today at a fundraising lunch in Tampa. LINK

"The amount Kerry backers hope to raise today wouldn't be unusual for a Democrat in Miami or Palm Beach. Kerry raised $1 million at events Sunday night and Monday in West Palm Beach and Juno Beach.

"Nor would it be a large sum for a Republican in Tampa. President Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush have raised seven-figure sums in the area.

"For a Democrat, though, it's a big deal."

Mark Silva of the Orlando Sentinel writes that appearances by Sen. Kerry and Sen. Lieberman in Palm Beach county yesterday ignited feelings of resentment over the 2000 election. "The scars of 2000 are motivating Democrats this year in a closely divided state where the turnout of core supporters could determine whether Bush holds a state he won by only 537 votes." LINK

The Palm Beach Post writes the glitches that began Sen. Kerry's campaign rally -- such as his normal being late and his microphone not working -- did not dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd at yesterday's rally. LINK

President Bush participates in a conversation on the Patriot Act in Buffalo, N.Y. and attends a Victory 2004 reception at the River Club in New York City.

Sen. Kerry discusses clean water and its effect on the economy at event in Tampa, then attends a luncheon fundraiser. In the evening, he attends three more reception fundraisers in Miami Beach and Bal Harbor, Fla.

The Supreme Court hears arguments on the Guantanamo Bay detainees while the Senate considers the asbestos bill.

Polls:

Two big new polls out today find President Bush's approval rating holding steady, John Kerry's standing on the issues losing ground, and the country continuing to be almost evenly divided on the presidential race. The issues most important to Americans have also seen a bit of a shift.

The new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows President Bush maintaining his approval ratings, despite nearly six in 10 Americans saying the United States has gotten bogged down in Iraq, writes ABC Polling Director Gary Langer. It's a split country, Langer Notes, with Bush's overall approval rating at 51 percent to 47 percent -- roughly the same as February -- and the same margin split over whether the war in Iraq was worth fighting. The survey has a +/- 3 percent margin of error. LINK

Other highlights:

-- In a head-to-head matchup, Bush took 49 percent to Kerry's 48 percent. Add Nader into the equation, and the numbers read thusly: 48 percent for Bush, 43 percent for Kerry and 6 percent for Nader.

-- Bush's numbers have improved in relation to John Kerry in terms of public trust to handle the situation in Iraq; he's up 11 points, compared to the 1-point advantage Kerry had in March.

-- The economy now shares top billing with Iraq and terrorism as the most important issues to voters, as opposed to clearly topping the list in March. In addition, Bush and Kerry came in with equal scores in terms of public trust over how to handle the economy.

The Washington Post's Richard Morin and Dan Balz also take a look at the new ABC News/Washington Post poll, highlighting positive findings for President Bush, who holds "significant advantages" over Sen. Kerry regarding who can better handle Iraq and has reduced Kerry's previously held advantages on domestic issues. LINK

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