The Note

The New York Post editorializes on the topic. Kerry "needs to authorize the release of all relevant medical records for each of his three Purple Hearts. If Kerry's medals were deserved, he has nothing to fear. If not — well, it's time to find that out." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect:

President Bush heads to Des Moines today in his first election-year trip to Iowa to talk about the economy to a rural development symposium.

What does Iowa look like now for the incumbent President?

"The president will find in Iowa a scale model of the nation: Sharply divided along party lines, losing faith in his handling of the war and uncertain about the economy's future," the Des Moines Register's Beaumont writes.

"How those issues play out with independent voters in Iowa will say a lot about whether he carries the state he narrowly lost in 2000 and wins re-election."

Beaumont looks at the polarization of party activists in Iowa, where "registered Republicans and Democrats are nearly identical in numbers" and Iowa Democrats are energized by Kerry's win in the caucuses there.

Also Note the Iowa's contribution to the war in Iraq:

"The U.S.-led war in Iraq and the wider war on terrorism has relied disproportionately on Iowa's military reserves. More than 5,000 Iowa National Guard and Army Reservists have been called to active duty. At least 1,100 are overseas today." LINK

Iowa Gov. Vilsack, "in a conference call with Iowa and national news reporters arranged by the campaign of Bush's Democratic rival, Senator John Kerry," called on the president to speak about rural economic issues today in Des Moines and to make his stop "about more than election-year politics," reports Beaumont. LINK

Ed Tibbets of the Quad City Times previews the President's trip to Iowa and Notes the political positioning of both parties in anticipation of his visit.

Picking up on Gov. Vilsack's conference call with reporters, Tibbets turns to the GOP side:

"'The only way this becomes a political trip is if Tom Vilsack tries to advance his vice presidential aspirations,' said Gentry Collins, the executive director of the Republican Party of Iowa." LINK

AP's Lindlaw writes that the president will use his visit to Iowa to "call on Congress to make his tax cuts permanent and to argue that they helped create 308,000 jobs last month," according to a White House spokesman. LINK

Bob Novak on the President's performance: "The president's performance Tuesday night eased their anxiety about an imminent loss of support by his base, but worriers were not completely reassured." LINK

"Congressional Republicans I reached, while unwilling to be quoted by name, were harshly critical that the president and his aides had failed to evoke the impression of strong leadership. They could not believe that Bush stuck to his plans to be at his Texas ranch as violence spiked and death tolls mounted in Iraq. They grumbled that there was no effective White House response to rising criticism and that beleaguered Bush spokesman Scott McClellan was a disaster. They cited Bush adviser Karen Hughes, hawking her book on 'Meet the Press' two Sundays ago, as the only effective voice for the president."

AP's Ron Fournier gets out and talks to voters in battleground states and turns in this must-read on a key dynamic to watch -- the political implications of Iraq and how it effects Bush supporters in critical states.

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