The Note

As for the big new charges in the presidential race -- that John Kerry's budget numbers don't add up and that his positions on the war against Iraq and the Patriot Act represent stark differences from those of the President -- the Democrats might say "bring . . .them . . . . on," but the heart of the charges are accurate, and the terrain that this leads the fight to is certainly as soft and springy as a Moonbounce for the incumbent.

Much , much more on the ads below.

And don't forget to tune in "This Week" for George Stephanopoulos' extended interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Among the Madrid bombing, elections in Russia, and the hunt for Bin Laden (not to mention his National Journal interview gently chastising the press for all the stories about State vs. Everyone!), there will be lots of ground to cover on this anniversary of the war in Iraq. Stay tuned!

President Bush speaks about women's rights from the White House today, and then gets some quality down time at Camp David until he attends the Ford Theater Gala on Sunday night.

Vice President Cheney is in Kentucky today. He will be in Washington, D.C. over the weekend.

Sen. Kerry is in Boston with no public events scheduled. He will be in Illinois and Pennsylvania over the weekend, returning to Washington Sunday night into Monday.

Rep. Kucinich is in Cleveland. He will spend the weekend in Illinois.

Rev. Sharpton is in New York.

Ralph Nader is in Washington, D.C.

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

Pointing to a "window of opportunity" in the election cycle, the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign rolled out its first Kerry-mentioning ad yesterday, "100 Days," to begin airing today in 18 battleground states and on cable networks.

The campaign will continue to run "Safer, Stronger," the ad that contained the images of Ground Zero and the firefighters and will rotate it with the second phase of ads.

BC04 chief strategist Matt Dowd said that the ad, which sparked some controversy last week over the use of the 9/11 images, was getting a "tremendous amount of positive feedback" and that the campaign was happy with the debate it had started.

So is it too early to go negative, er, um, go contrast?

Historically, this is early for an ad that focuses on a challenger. In 1996, President Clinton's re-election campaign waited until mid-May to take on Bob Dole directly (although the DNC did run those DoleGingrich spots in '95 . . .), and in 1992, the ads did not begin until late summer.

Campaign officials said yesterday that they feel very confident about the ads and that they are the right message at the right time.

The national political reporters all highlight the shift in tone for the President's re-election campaign, focusing on the contrast ad over the other 30-second spot that is positive. The ads have gotten significant free media from the cable networks and network news shows, and the staff out in Courthouse will be happy to Note that the tag line of "100 Days," is getting the most love: "John Kerry: Wrong on taxes. Wrong on defense."

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