The Note

The Orlando Sentinel's analysis of the Bush ad "Wacky," now airing in the battleground state of Florida, is less than glowing. LINK

"Gas prices have spiked to record levels on Bush's watch. The ad was unveiled the same day Kerry offered his proposal for curbing the rising cost of gas."

"The commercial is based almost entirely on votes Kerry cast and comments he made in the context of President Clinton's economic-stimulus package."

It says Kerry 'supported higher gasoline taxes 11 times.' That's not exactly the case."

Susan Page of USA Today writes of debate over gas and Notes the voters' reactions, "In a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday, nearly seven in 10 Americans said the cost of gas was a crisis or a major problem. Nearly half said the price hikes had caused financial hardship in their households. Even more said they expect gas prices to cause financial problems for them this summer." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry:

Dick Morris writes in the New York Post that Richard Clarke's keeping the media focused on national security is a good thing for President Bush. LINK

"If voters are focused on terrorism on Election Day, Bush will win. If their gaze is on economic issues, Kerry is likely to prevail. The struggle between the two candidates is, at its core, a competition between these two issues for domination of the national agenda."

Karen Hughes attacked Kerry for his desire to raise taxes while hawking her book in Connecticut. LINK

More Balz:

The Bush campaign has sought to change the political dynamics after two months of bad news and unified Democratic attacks. "For six months, it was a one-way conversation, and then you had the final five or six weeks when Kerry was winning primaries that improved his image," said Bush senior strategist Matthew Dowd. "Right after March 3, a dialogue started about who is or who isn't John Kerry, and the president started advocating for himself. I think we're better positioned from that and Senator Kerry is worse positioned." LINK

"Kerry's advisers discount the changes that have occurred. 'They've thrown their very best shot at us,' said Kerry adviser Tad Devine, 'and the result is essentially a dead-heat horse race. If they cannot open up some daylight with Kerry in the next few weeks, they are in trouble, and that's why they're acting the way they are.'"

"Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg said the damage inflicted so far can be overcome with an effective and consistent message from Kerry. 'The Bush White House has chosen its weapons well,' he said, 'but I really want to emphasize that while Kerry has taken some hits, I think they are surface wounds. People . . . want to learn more about Kerry.'"

"Democrats also said that voters are more than willing to take repeated looks at a candidate before making a final decision, as they did in 1992 with Bill Clinton, who was badly battered by personal problems early that year and still defeated Bush's father."

The AP's Mike Glover analyzes the Bush campaign's attacks on Kerry, writing "Bush not only draws distinctions with Kerry but tries to get under the Massachusetts Democrat's skin. There's a clear edge to many of the president's attacks, along with hopes of provoking a reaction. And it's worked a few times." LINK

Lloyd Grove Notes a special potential Kerry cabinet member: former President Bill Clinton as Secretary of State. Stephanie Cutter did not deny it. LINK

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