The Note

Wednesday, Kerry didn't talk much about his college tuition for public service initiative, despite the campaign's billing that as the message of the day. Iraq took center stage yet again and not just because the Senator wanted to respond directly to the President's press conference of the night before in his first press availability in eight days.

Retired mathematics professor (and socialist) Walter Daum challenged the Senator's positions on Iraq and asserted that there was little difference between the Kerry and Bush policies. When a loud, defiant, challenging audience member speaks, journalists simply cannot resist.

On to the Kerry clips:

The New York Times' Halbfinger gives Daum a lot of space after reporting the "news" from the Senator's availability. LINK

Kerry urged President Bush to "share responsibility for Iraq with the United Nations, saying the administration's 'stubborn' insistence on controlling the reconstruction there was costing Americans money and lives," writes Halbfinger.

Glen Johnson adds his breakdown: LINK

As does Jill Lawrence: LINK

In what is becoming now a signature daily double-whammy, Glen Johnson of the Boston Globe Notes that while campaigning, Kerry has been avoiding the normal Holiday Inn/unfamiliar sleeping accommodations by staying at one of his five homes across the country or with friends. LINK

The Los Angeles Times duo Gold and Wallsten highlight what they see as a key difference between President Bush and Kerry on Iraq. LINK

"'I have always said from day one that the goal here … is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy,' the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee told reporters after conducting a town hall meeting at the City College of New York in Harlem. 'I can't tell you what it's going to be, but a stable Iraq. And that stability can take several different forms.'"

"Kerry's remarks, although not a change of position, stood in sharp contrast to Bush's comments Tuesday about the importance of establishing a democratic Iraq."

We'd urge Matea and Peter to go back to the transcript of the press conference from Tuesday night and count how many times the president used "democratic" as opposed to "free and secure" when describing the desired result for Iraq.

Matea Gold also has the book reading anecdote but wisely adds the "somewhat awkward" attempt by Kerry to describe his relationship with the Clintons while they were in the White House. LINK

"'We knew each other, but we sort of didn't know each other,' he said. 'She and the president visited my wife and me in Massachusetts on vacation. We've had times where we'd sort of hang together a little bit, we'd talk and so forth. But there was always this sort of sense … of distance, a little bit, just because of the presidency, and she was the first lady.'"

Former First Lady skills to the rescue! Kerry got some good photo op help from Sen. Clinton on Wednesday. LINK

Deb Orin plays up the $6.5 million haul and Hillary Clinton's day on the trail before getting to Prof. Daum's heckling. LINK

The New York Post's Lathem followed up on yesterday's Boston Globe story regarding one of Kerry's Purple Hearts, but was still not able to determine Lt. Cmdr. Grant Hibbard's motivation for coming forward. LINK

"Hibbard, who is a registered Republican, would not say why he decided to come forward now."

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