The Note

Meanwhile, Kerry's long-awaited initiative on job creation, which was supposed to bond the patrician Massachusetts Democrat with blue-collar voters, has been doubly trumped: First, by surprisingly strong job growth in March, then by the explosion of fighting in Iraq.

The result is two candidates stymied in their early attempts to frame the 2004 presidential race to their advantage. In each case, the candidate found his carefully crafted playbook shredded by events beyond his control.

Now, supporters of both candidates agree, uncertainty surrounding all major issues — Iraq, Al Qaeda, jobs, and energy prices — has left Bush and Kerry standing flat-footed on shifting sands.

They could stay in that position for months, analysts say.

After a string of presidential elections heavily influenced by strategic maneuvers, from George H.W. Bush's "Willie Horton" attacks to George W. Bush's embrace of "compassionate conservatism," leaders of past campaigns increasingly believe this contest is going to be determined by events off the campaign trail.

-- Mark Barabak, Liz Sidoti, Peter S. Canellos, and 1,000 Googling monkeys all contributed to The Note summary today.

(Note to Howie Kurtz: this is not a Stephen Glass issue. It is satire.)

President Bush speaks about the economy in Des Moines, Iowa, in the very same Marriott he first came out for ethanol subsidies.

Sen. Kerry attends a DNC breakfast and meets with the prelate of the Greek Orthodox Church in New York before heading to Washington, D.C. to deliver remarks at Howard University and to meet with Washington's Archbishop at Kerry's residence before heading to East Rutherford, N.J. for a fundraiser.

Vice President Cheney is in China and South Korea.

The FEC continues its hearings on the status of 501(c) groups and 527s. And today is a deadline for numerous campaign finance reports to be turned into the agency.

The politics of Israel, Iraq and national security:

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller reports "a major shift in American policy" announced by President Bush yesterday with Prime Minister Sharon at this side. LINK

Bumiller goes on to get a Bush Administration official to make some Israeli political predictions. "'There's a great deal of suspicion of Sharon — that's a fact,' the senior administration official said. He then predicted that 'in a month this coalition government will fall, and will be replaced with a different coalition with Labor in it.'"

"'Palestinians are more comfortable with that,' the official added."

Palestinian leaders directed sharp criticism at President Bush yesterday after he announced his support for Israel's peace plan reports Greg Myre of the New York Times . LINK

The Washington Post's Milbank and Allen assess the benefits and risks for Bush by embracing Sharon's plan. LINK

More articles in the Washington Post: LINK and LINK

On Wednesday, Kerry stated that Bush's stubbornness in Iraq has put U.S troops at risk, reports the Washington Post's Dan Balz.

"I think the approach of this administration has been consistent and stubborn in the way that it persists in this American occupation and in proceeding down its own road," Kerry said. "It has made that mistake from Day One, and it is costing us money and I think it is costing us lives." LINK

Politics and the 9/11 commission:

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