Focused and Pensive, Not Peevish or Irritated




Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

29 days until election day

1 days until the vice presidential debate

4 days until the second presidential debate

9 days until the third presidential debate


It's tempting to focus on this week's two debates, and lose sight of everything else.

But — as always, remembering the distinction between "what is" and "what ought to be" — The Note urges you to please drive safely and think like the Gang of 500 does.

Don't ignore these pending questions:

1. How long will the uncharacteristically murderous, hand-wringing, shoe-on-the-other-foot Repubican blind quotes continue to plague the Bush campaign?

2. What will today's ABC News inaugural tracking poll show? (It set to be released this evening on World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and on The survey, based on 600 general population interviews per night, is a series of consecutive, one-night polls reported in a multi-night rolling average.)

3. Will Friday's pre-debate employment numbers be salvation or horror for the president?

4. Is the press filter starting to screen out negative, misleading Bush campaign attacks on national security and taxes, blunting their impact?

5. When does Bush win a news cycle? (Overcoming the "another poll shows the race tight as Kerry surges" storyline will be tough … )

6. How spooked should conservatives be that even a classic Drudge Sunday float (about John Kerry allegedly cheating during the debate!) didn't seem to work?

7. Jut how much amplification will the now serendipitously-timed Springsteen et al. tour give the Kerry poll movement?

8. What does it mean that the last 72 hours have seen more of Karl Rove on the record than Karen Hughes?

9. How much grief did the staff of The Note save itself (from Lynne Cheney alone!) by dropping at the last minute our original, brilliant moniker for the veep debate: Shrek vs. Breck?

10. What unexpected Nixon-goes-to-China endorsements is each campaign holding in the proverbial back pocket?

11. Whither the Columbus Dispatch and other key paper endorsements?

12. In the wake of the Sunday New York Times stunner on the thickness of aluminum tubes, are there more investigative stories in the hoppers of major news organizations on Bush or Kerry?

13. Does anyone in the dominant media "root" for Cheney over Edwards? (If you can't list the reasons the press will be rooting for the Tar Heel, you have been asleep for at least four years … )

14. What state polls will pop out of the woodwork — and when — to show battlegrounds tightening up like the national numbers?

15. Do those who remain unswayed by Bernie Goldberg need any more evidence than gained by comparing the press' coverage of Zell Miller (almost universally negative, typical of what conservative Democrats get … ) to today's New York Times slobbering over Lincoln Chaffee (who gets the normal glowing coverage afforded moderate, heretic Republicans)? LINK

16. Who will be dumb enough not to read and take to heart and head this passage from John Harris' must-read Washington Post story on the Buckeye State ground game?

" … .(E)very poll that comes out in Ohio between now and Nov. 2 should include an asterisk — or perhaps even a question mark. On all sides, this year's field operations are devoted to overturning the assumptions of pollsters — about who will vote, and how many — to the advantage of either Bush or Kerry, in ways that could produce an Election Day surprise … .For now, the Ohio ground game is kicking up plenty of dust, but the reality behind the fervent and sometimes contradictory boasts of who is winning is hard to discern."

17. How do you do on this campaign IQ test: Do political reporters agree with the President or Sen. Kerry on stem cell research, and does the answer to that impact the coverage?

18. Which television news organizations have the courage and stamina in the last month to make sure a campaign is putting real money behind an "ad" before they give a "video press release" the free media coverage that causes a flurry of high fives in the communications shops?

19. As we crest toward election day, which side will have more energy on its side, and what will create it? (Developments in Iraq, the Fitzgerald investigation, the CBS News investigation, the debates, etc.)

20. Keep in mind, it is October, and thus: brace for the mythical "surprise."

In Des Moines, IA today, President Bush begins a weeklong "Blue State tour" by extending $150 billion worth of popular tax breaks for children and couples through 2010.

He will continue the tax cut theme in his 12:45 pm ET town hall, during which he will point out Kerry's "history of supporting higher taxes and voting against tax relief," according to the campaign, but also continue to criticize Sen. Kerry for using the phrase "global test" in last week's debate, ABC News' Karen Travers reports.

Iowa has been front and center for the Bush campaign's tax cut strategy since the 2000 election; in December 1999 Bush outlined his economic policy to a Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce luncheon, calling for a $480 billion tax cut spread over a five-year period — presented back then less as stimulus than to refund a large surplus.

Sen. Kerry spends his Monday morning talking about stem cell research. Kerry holds a 9:30 am ET town hall in Hampton, NH with Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's and as recently as 9/28 criticized the president for letting "ideology, not science, guide his decision making."

The Kerry campaign won't let the day go by without engaging the president on foreign policy, though, as more than 175 former ambassadors will endorse Kerry at a 10:00 am ET National Press Club news conference.

In the afternoon Kerry will fly to Philadelphia to meet with clergy before heading to Cedar Rapids to preposition for Tuesday events. Kerry also tapes an interview with BET that will air during primetime Thursday night.

The Vice President and the Vice Presidential candidate continue their debate prep seclusion; Cheney will do some fishing in Jackson Hole, WY, and Edwards will fly from western New York to Cleveland this afternoon to pre-position for the Tuesday night debate.

By the end of today, a handful of important voter registration deadlines will have passed. In Florida, Arizona, Michigan, Missouri (well, tomorrow), New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In Washington today two big ongoing stories: the Supreme Court begins its October term and the Senate gets closer to voting on the intelligence reform bill. The Court today hears oral arguments in U.S. v. Booker and U.S. v. Fanfan, cases that will resolve major issues over federal sentencing guidelines. (Linda Greenhouse's preview of the term: LINK)

On the Hill, the 9/11 Working Group meets for another closed-door session and the Senate votes on amendments to the Collins/Lieberman intelligence reform bill. A cloture vote on the bill is expected as early as Tuesday.

And Ralph Nader is on a "van tour" of mostly battleground states. He's in Massachusetts today. (AP's Theo Emery preview: LINK)

Tomorrow, while the Vice President and the Vice Presidential candidate sit down at a table to debate at Case Western Reserve University, Sundance airs its first installment of "Tanner on Tanner." Which to TiVo is the question …

"Fahrenheit 9/11," "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House," and "Horns and Halos," which revisits how the President spent 1972, are all released on DVD, and Ann Coulter's new book "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter" is released.

That day, the President spends the day in Washington without any public events while Kerry is in Tipton, IA before heading to Denver to spend a couple of down days prepping for Friday's town hall debate. Laura Bush stumps in Milwaukee and Reno. And Cornell hosts a presidential debate for Green Party candidate David Cobb, Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik, Socialist Party candidate Walt Brown, and Constitutional Party candidate Michael Peroutka in Ithaca, NY.

On Wednesday, the President continues his Blue State tour with a town hall focused on medical liability reform in Wilkes-Barre, PA before a rally in Farmington Hills, MI. Kerry's version of On the Couch with Dr. Phil airs as he remains outside of Denver preparing for the debate. Both Cheney and Edwards head to Florida for campaigning in Tallahassee and West Palm Beach, respectively.

On Thursday the president is in Wausau, WI, Kerry is in St. Louis, and Laura Bush is in Sioux City, IA and Philadelphia. Kerry's BET interview airs during primetime.

On the morning of the Friday town hall-style debate, the Labor Department releases its final jobs report before the election, detailing the number of jobs added during August and finalizing the number for July.

And on Saturday, Afghanistan holds its first-ever national elections.

Pearl Jam, the Boss and others continue their Vote for Change tour of battleground states throughout the week.

Morning show wrap:

ABC's George Stephanopoulos said on GMA: "There is no question the debate gave Kerry a 'new lease on life.'" He reviewed poll numbers that show people view Kerry as the stronger leader 47 to 44 as more likable by 47 to 41. Stephanopoulos said Kerry's improvement in these personal attributes will have the effect of turning people's attention back to Bush's record. Stephanopoulos said "Democrats were about to give up" and that they now have "energy and enthusiasm going into the last month."

Chris Matthews reacted to Kerry's surge in the polls by saying on "Today" (in his usual over-the-top manner): "We've never seen anything like this. Not even in the Kennedy-Nixon debates. The numbers are like four to one," people preferring Kerry to Bush in the debate. Matthews said he thought the most interesting part of the debate was Bush having to admit, "Of course I know it was" Al Qaeda and not Iraq that attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11. Matthews said 40 percent of the country still thinks going to war in Iraq was some kind of vengeance for 9/11. "The president was finally forced to react and say that it wasn't Iraq but Al Qaeda that hit this country." Matthews predicts there will be a high turnout of 110 million which, he thinks, will be "better for the Democrats."

ABC's Dan Harris reported that the campaign is turning towards domestic issues and that "if the polls are to be believed, Kerry enjoys a real advantage." He also highlighted Michael J. Fox's plans to campaign with Kerry today on the issue of stem cell research as well as two new ads out. Harris also reported that the Bush campaign begins airing today two new ads that attack Kerry for "voting to raise taxes." The ad featured shows a woman in a car hearing on the radio that Kerry (allegedly) voted to raise gas taxes 10 times. The woman asks herself, "10 times?" And concludes: "Gas prices are high enough already."

CBS' Bill Plante looked at the White House reaction to a Sunday New York Times story on skewed intelligence and included National Security Adviser Condi Rice telling George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that "we" in the Bush Administration were "all unhappy" about mistakes in intelligence but that the "essential judgment was absolutely right."

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

As previewed on "Meet the Press," Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times writes of the different dynamics in the race depending which candidate is in the spotlight. LINK

"As Sen. John F. Kerry and President Bush prepare this week for their second debate, it seems increasingly likely that the winner in their marathon duel for the White House will be the candidate who best keeps the focus on the other. Each man has tended to wilt in the spotlight."

Brownstein also has this on Republican hand-wringing over the President's cutaway shots:

"The images were bad enough that senior Republicans, gathering on a campaign conference call Friday, asked if anything in the debate agreement could prevent Democrats from splicing the cut-away shots of a perturbed Bush into an ad. (Apparently not: The Democratic National Committee released a greatest-hits video Friday.)"

Note Note: The agreement actually does prevent any debate footage being used in a campaign TV or Internet ad, but the agreement only pertains to the campaigns not the parties.

USA Today 's Susan Page writes, "Favorable public reaction to his performance in the first presidential debate has boosted [Kerry] and narrowed the contest with President Bush to a tie, according to a new USA TODAY /CNN/Gallup Poll." LINK

"Bush's lead of 8 percentage points before Thursday's debate evaporated in a survey taken Friday through Sunday. Among likely voters, Bush and Kerry are at 49% each. Independent candidate Ralph Nader is at 1%."

The New York Post 's headline for the Gallup poll: "JOHN POLL-VAULTS INTO TIE." LINK

The Boston Herald's main page lead headline: "Poll vault lifts Kerry: Dem works to keep debate momentum." LINK

Bob Novak writes, "With two more debates and a month to go before the election, Bush has serious problems to solve." LINK

BC04 campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel told ABC News' Karen Travers that the campaign has always expected a close race.

"Since day 1 we have indicated it would be a close race," Stanzel said. "We're working hard in all the battleground states, turning out every Bush supporter. The average of the national polls shows a four percent lead for the president."

"There's a natural tightening of the polls as we get closer to election day," Stanzel said. "The Democrats' convention was not successful — they didn't lay out a vision and we did and that contributed to some increase [in poll number]. I think over the next 30 days we'll see the polls close."

ABC News' The Note loves the phrase "natural tightening" more than any other single thing in politics, just so you know.

The Wall Street Journal 's Schlesinger and Calmes calmly wrap the state of the post-debate race, proclaiming that "the vice-presidential debate suddenly has higher stakes," and report that the Kerry campaign's ad buy this week cost a whopping $8 million, "larger than any previous week's ad buy by the Democratic nominee." LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence writes, "Kerry's new thrust is that Americans are 'paying the price' for Bush's wrong choices on Iraq and the economy." LINK

Over the weekend, two of the nation's top political reporters weighed in with race assessments:

"Senator John Kerry's aides are moving to shift the battle with President Bush to what they said was stronger ground — domestic policy — as the two men head into a second debate that is expected to focus on the economy, job creation and health care," reports the New York Times ' Adam Nagourney. LINK

"Thursday's debate produced a dramatic psychological shift in the presidential race, but strategists said it is less clear how much impact the 90-minute encounter would have on a lead that Bush has enjoyed since his convention in New York a month ago," writes the Washington Post 's Dan Balz. LINK

In their you-are-there week-that-was, which includes a look inside the Bush hold, Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Company make a metaphor over how the campaigns spent the night before and the night of the debate. LINK

The Washington Post 's Howie Kurtz casts a keen eye on how influential polls — and a tight race — are on political journalism. LINK

"'The polls drive media coverage,' says Roger Simon, chief political correspondent of U.S. News & World Report and part of the media invasion in Coral Gables. 'It controls the language. All of a sudden there's a front-runner and there's a challenger,' and Kerry had been depicted as being "in a hole. He's trying to make up lost ground. He must close the gap. He must come from behind. It's voodoo news.'"

The New York Times ' Jim Rutenberg takes a great look at the evolution of perception about a candidates and post-debate spin, which is a part of debate prep nearly as important — and some would argue more so — than making sure the candidate is on his toes. LINK

Don't miss the end, where Nicolle Devenish plays political pundit and media analyst!!!!

The Washington Post 's Richard Morin looks at the "Security Mom" demographic, a "cleverly named and totally bogus groups of swing voters." . LINK

The Boston Globe 's Rick Klein reported on Sunday that "the Christian Coalition's voting guides will ship out shortly. And pastors across West Virginia are making the case — sometimes explicitly, sometimes less so — that President Bush is a better choice on spiritual grounds than Democrat John F. Kerry." LINK

"An unscientific survey of U.S. military personnel shows they support President Bush for re-election by a 4-to-1 ratio. Two-thirds of those responding said John Kerry's anti-war activities after he returned from Vietnam make them less likely to vote for him," reports USA Today 's Dave Moniz. LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson writes about how the two candidates use sports, sports enthusiasts, and sports celebrities to score points. LINK

William Safire looks back at Kerry's debate performance and declares him the newest neocon. LINK

Cheney versus Edwards:

Well, apparently, one is bald and the other has good hair — if the cookie-cutter newspaper curtain-raiser on the veep debate are to be believed.

Also, apparently, their styles couldn't be more different.

The New York Times ' Dick Stevenson and Randal Archibold outline the challenges for both Vice President Cheney and Sen. Edwards in the vice presidential debate (along with some tough blind quotes from BC04!) and Note that the debaters will talk about themselves and each other much less than about their ticket mates. Cheney is likely to speak to Kerry more than engage Edwards, and Edwards may be looking take a shot at Cheney as emblematic of a stubborn Administration. LINK

The Washington Post 's Allen and Harris lead strongly in their vice presidential debate preview that Republicans are "depending on Vice President Cheney to halt the ticket's slide in momentum." LINK

"Kerry's aides are hoping that at the debate in Cleveland, Edwards will summon his skills as a trial lawyer to cast Cheney as the architect of the administration's worst policy judgments, as well as a symbol of corporate excess because of his former position as chief executive of Halliburton, which has received huge Iraq contracts but has also faced accusations of improper billing there."

"Cheney does not lack for advantages of his own. Although he is hardly a charismatic politician in the traditional sense, he has some skills that make him well suited for television. These include an articulate command of issues that Democrats acknowledge is superior to that of Edwards, as well as a cool and subdued style that allows him to score even tough points in a conversational style."

The Los Angeles Times on the drastically differing styles of the Numbers Two. LINK

Not adding to the hype or anything, Helen Kennedy Notes tomorrow night's Dick Cheney-John Edwards face-off "has the potential to be a debate for the ages." LINK

Elisabeth Bumiller on the Bush and Kerry debate doppelgangers, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Washington lawyer Gregory Craig (D-way cute). LINK

The New York Post 's Ian Bishop writes that "all eyes will be on the boyish Edwards to see if he can counter Cheney's experience." LINK

The Raleigh News & Observer's Rob Christensen has comments from North Carolina attorneys about what it's like to face Edwards — complete with a 1997 courtroom photo! LINK

"From a friendly smile at the airport to hundreds of fall flowers on campus to a new paint job in the debate hall, university and civic leaders have worked hard to capitalize on the brief spotlight on Cleveland," writes the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Hollander. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

The New York Times ' Kate Zernike and Ford Fessenden preview Registration Monday, the last day voters can register in 16 states including Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Elections officials and outside groups report surges in voter registration, but all are careful to caution that the link between registration and voting isn't iron-clad. LINK

The New York Times ' Michael Moss reports, "Amid new evidence that civilians lagged far behind soldiers in voting from abroad four years ago, political operatives on both sides of the presidential campaign raced this week to help Americans overseas cast their ballots in time for next month's election." LINK

The St. Pete Times on a voting mystery. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

Sen. Kerry will visit the Philadelphia area again today, and this trip will include a meeting with supporters of stem-cell research, reports Tina Moore of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Note the PA tactic: "Kerry aides say he does not need to persuade city voters to vote for him, he just has to persuade them to vote. The city's Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of about 4-1." LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer's Thomas Firtgerald also marks Sen. Kerry's switch to domestic issues. LINK

This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette headline should actually be on top of a Kerry-Edwards press release: "Kerry thrives in town-hall event." LINK

THK gets a shout-out from her hometown paper. LINK

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the traditionally Republican Arab-American vote in Florida and how the Democrats (with the help of one Cam Kerry) are courting it. LINK

"Kerry's Florida campaign includes a carefully crafted message that seeks common ground between moderate Arab and Jewish voters on civil liberties and other domestic concerns — but shies away from the details of the Israel-Palestinian conflict … "

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold Notes Kerry's use of the New York Times reporting on aluminum tubes intelligence to attack the president's credibility with the American people and how that allows for an easy rhetorical pivot point between foreign and domestic issues. LINK

The Cincinnati Enquirer Notes Kerry's appeal for the black vote last night at an Ohio church. LINK

The New York Times ' Lawrence Altman looked comprehensivly at Sen. Kerry's health over the weekend. LINK

Kerry's team had the good sense to come clean with the Good, Gray Doctor.

The New York Times ' David Halbfinger writes that at least in Ohio, "swing voters are giving Mr. Kerry a second look after his strong showing in the first presidential debate. And they are liking what they see." LINK

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank on Kerry's focus on the economy. LINK

The Kerry campaign has finally admitted Virginia is not a battleground and has sent the state staffers elsewhere, the Washington Post 's Michael Shear reports. LINK

Walter Shapiro tries out his Roger Ebert impression and Notes that "what gives Going Upriver relevance is its connection to Kerry's performance in last Thursday night's debate." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman writes about Kerry including Supreme Court talk in his stump speech (which she describes as new, but we might respectfully disagree … ). LINK

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

Bush travels to Iowa today to sign the "Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004." Bush will tout the tax cuts he has signed while in office and also point out Sen. Kerry's "history of supporting higher taxes and voting against tax relief," campaign officials said.

The Bush-Cheney '04 campaign will also emphasize this point with two new ads today that hit on Sen. Kerry and taxes.

The first ad, "Thinking Mom," will be released this morning at 10:00 am ET. The ad has a woman listening to a radio voiceover that mentions "John Kerry and the liberals in Congress have voted to raise gas taxes 10 times" and "voted to raise taxes on senior social security benefits and raise taxes on middle class parents 18 times."

The ad will run on national cable and local markets in battleground states.

The second ad is due out later today and will also hit Sen. Kerry on taxes.

Script For "Thinking Mom"

Mom Voiceover: 5:30, I need to get groceries … . I'm gonna be late.

Radio Voiceover: John Kerry and the liberals in Congress have voted to raise gas taxes 10 times.

Mom Voiceover: 10 times … gas prices are high enough already.

Radio Voiceover: They voted to raise taxes on senior social security benefits and raise taxes on middle class parents 18 times … No relief there from the marriage penalty …

Mom Voiceover: More taxes because I'm married … what were they thinking?

Radio Voiceover: 350 times … Higher taxes from the liberals in Congress and John Kerry.

President Bush: I'm George W. Bush and I approve this message.

President, Bush has traveled to Iowa for two of the four tax days (2002 and 2004).

After signing his first tax cuts into law on June 7, 2001, President Bush went to Dallas Center, Iowa for a "tax celebration event" at a farm — the same farm where Bush laid out his farm policy on Sept. 1, 1999.

President Bush counts Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley as a top ally on his tax cut packages and the Senator was an architect of the original tax cut legislation.

Campaign officials said to expect Bush to also continue to push against what he called the "Kerry Doctrine," and Sen. Kerry's use of the phrase "global test" in the debate last week.

Judy Keen has a good week ahead for President Bush, with some "even Judy Keen" elements. LINK

Keen Notes of the schedule: "Bush's itinerary was locked in before last week's debate, when he held a steady lead in most national polls. His strategy then was to try to force Kerry to spend time and money in states the Democrat must carry. But negative reviews of Bush's repetitive rhetoric and testy demeanor in last week's debate have tightened the race. Bush is under new pressure to defend his own territory and find ways to shift the campaign's story line away from Kerry's resurgence."

The Wall Street Journal 's Marc Champion has an excellent look at how European countries "at loggerheads with Mr. Bush in the past are preparing to work with a second Bush term" and reports that the German and French governments "have been sending out quiet warnings not to raise expectations, because they would likely decline to provide troops" in Iraq if a President Kerry made that request, as he has promised to do. LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times Darel Jevens writes up SNL's debate skit. "Comedian Will Forte, who became the NBC show's Bush impersonator only last spring, played the commander-in-chief as weary, whiny and at wit's end — a shift from the dimwitted but cocky Bush that Will Ferrell depicted in the 2000 race." LINK

Saturday, the New York Times ' Bumiller and Halbfinger Noted that "in a sign that the Bush campaign suddenly found itself on the defensive, the president's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, who is normally elusive to the press, sought out reporters to push the campaign's argument that Mr. Kerry was a walking contradiction on Thursday night and that Mr. Bush was focused and pensive during the encounter, not peevish." LINK

Two new polls show Bush has the edge with Catholic voters, the Washington Times reports. LINK

The politics of Iraq:

The New York Times opus that dominated the Sunday shows: LINK

The Times ' Jeff Gerth wraps Condoleezza Rice's defense of the Iraq war on the Sunday shows despite intelligence analysts' contested belief that Iraq was not rebuilding its nuclear program, as revealed in Sunday's paper. LINK

The Washington Post 's Glenn Kessler wraps Rice's defense of the Iraq war on the Sunday shows. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Big Four battlegrounds: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin:

The Washington Post 's John Harris takes Note in his must read of the bragging from sides of the GOTV effort in Ohio and writes that "this year's field operations are devoted to overturning the assumptions of pollsters — about who will vote, and how many — to the advantage of either Bush or Kerry in ways that could produce an Election Day surprise." LINK

More troubling ACORN registrations in Florida. LINK

The I-4 corridor: lots of votes, not a lot of campaign contributions. LINK

Cuban-Americans in Florida who are rethinking their Republican voting habit. LINK

Democrats are on the stump for Jewish hopes in South Florida: LINK

George Will examined the "GOP fault lines" in Ohio this weekend. LINK

"In Cuyahoga County, 58,000 voters requested absentee ballots as of Sept. 27, and election officials expect a total of almost 110,000 requests before Nov. 2. That's an increase of 45 percent from four years ago," reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. (And Note the robo calls by President Bush urging absentee voting in the Buckeye State!!!) LINK

On the last Sunday before the registration deadline in Ohio, some churches got to work, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. LINK

But we all know that the Ohio news with the greatest impact this weekend actually occurred in Evanston, IL. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Brian Mooney reports in Pennsylvania "fresh polls have indicated that Sen. John F. Kerry, the Democratic challenger, is thumping President Bush in the suburbs but is in a statistical tie statewide." LINK

Today marks the last day of voter registration in Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports "The number of Philadelphia's registered voters increased by 49,080 in the last two months, from 986,316 on Aug. 3 to 1,035,396 on Sept. 27. And Lee's staff will be counting registrations until midnight tonight." LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Hopey reports that while the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs' meeting last week was dominated by pro-Bush talk, but an unusual criticism: "Critics say that voting block has been eroded over the last four years by Bush administration environmental policies that have allowed timbering to muddy pristine trout streams, pushed oil and gas drilling on public lands and removed Clean Water Act protections from waterfowl supporting wetlands." LINK

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel looks at the power of the Native-American vote in critical battlegrounds such as Wisconsin. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the battlegrounds:

Today is the last day to register to vote in the state of Colorado and GOTV groups will make use of every second before the 5:00 pm deadline, reports the Rocky Mountain News. LINK

The Denver Post Notes Kerry the populist in Ohio. LINK

The Denver Post zooms in on a Newsweek poll that shows the debates "erased" Bush's lead over Kerry. LINK

The Wall Street Journal takes an interesting look at the battle over charter schools, which isn't playing a big role in national politics but is in the states as a ballot measure. The issue is on the ballot in 15 states, but nowhere hotter than in Washington state, where the teachers union is making it a real battle. LINK

The Detroit Free Press has some of the details on the President's 10th trip to Michigan this year. LINK


The AP reports Ralph Nader plans to continue campaigning in battleground states through the final stretch of the presidential election. LINK

Nader campaigns in Maine and New Hampshire this week. He speaks today at Harvard University. LINK

A Southern California peace activist with the credentials of having once fasted for 63 days to protest violence in movies and popular culture has set his sites on Ralph Nader, reports the AP. Hunger Artist Jerry Rubin says he won't eat until Nader is out of the race. LINK

New York Times By A.O.Scott Notes "one surreal detail" in "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," the new documentary directed by George Butler: "a 1971 memo to President Richard M. Nixon from Charles Colson, a future Watergate convict, worrying that Mr. Kerry might become 'the next Ralph Nader.'" LINK

The economy:

USA Today 's Dennis Cauchon and John Waggoner report, "The long-term economic health of the United States is threatened by $53 trillion in government debts and liabilities that start to come due in four years when baby boomers begin to retire." LINK

The economy is picking up with stronger showings in car sales and home construction, but oil prices around $50 a barrel remain a risk, write the Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip, Neil King, and Lee Hawkins.


Jeffrey Birnbaum on the National Association of Realtors' own version of "showing the flag." LINK

The Washington Post 's Peter Slevin looks at "My man Mitch," a.k.a. former White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels, and his race against Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan. LINK

"Regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats win control of the Senate in November, the chamber will face significant changes in some of its most influential leadership and policy posts over the next two years," reports the Washington Post 's Helen Dewar. LINK

"Congressional Republicans are poised to hold or to slightly expand their majorities in the House and Senate this November, though Senate Democrats retain an outside chance of slipping back into control," wrote the New York Times ' Carl Hulse over the weekend.LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

In their bid for U.S. Senator, neither Ken Salazar nor Pete Coors are talking about immigration in the state that ranks 10th in the number of illegal immigrants Notes the Rocky Mountain News. "These guys are avoiding the whole immigration thing like the plague," said Mike McGarry who represents a group that opposes unauthorized immigration to the United States. LINK

The Washington Post 's Lois Romano covers the Carson/Coburn debate on Meet the Press and Notes that "at times it was hard to tell who was the Democrat and who was the Republican." LINK

The San Francisco Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead gives a sketch of the eight states that are the battlegrounds for control of the Senate. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—9:30 am: Sen. John Kerry holds a town hall meeting with Michael J. Fox at Winnacunnet High School, Hampton, NH

—10:00 am: The Commerce Department releases factory orders figures for August

—10:00 am: Former U.S. ambassadors criticize President Bush's foreign policy and endorse John Kerry in a news conference at the National Press Club to announce the endorsement of more than 175 former ambassadors for Kerry, Washington, DC

—10:00 am: The Senate convenes for morning business

—10:00 am: Krist Novoselic, co-founder and bass player of Nirvana, discusses his new book "Of Grunge and Government: Let's Fix This Broken Democracy," at a news conference at the Mott House meeting room, Washington, DC

—11:00 am: The Senate resumes debate of the intelligence reform bill

—11:00 am: Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Tom Harkin host DNC conference call prebutting Dick Cheney

—11:15 am: President Bush signs the Working Families Tax Relief Act at the South Suburban YMCA, Des Moines, IA

—12:00 pm: Sens. Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman holds a news conference at the Capitol on their intelligence reform bill, Washington, DC

—12:00 pm: Campaign to Save the Court chairwoman Kate Michelman, interim NARAL President Elizabeth Cavendish, AFSCME President Jerry McEntee and others hold a news conference criticizing President Bush on the steps of the Supreme Court, Washington, DC

—12:00 pm: The American Enterprise Institute co-hosts a lecture, "Assessing the Cost of the Bush and Kerry Health Care Reform Proposals," Washington, DC

—12:30 pm: The House of Representatives convenes for morning business

—12:45 pm: President Bush participates in an "Ask President Bush" event at the 7 Flags Event Center, Clive, IA

—1:00 pm: NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds holds a pen and pad briefing for reporters

—1:30 pm: Teresa Heinz Kerry Holds a "Conversation on Health Care" at the Teamsters Temple 249 Local Hall, Pittsburgh, PA

—1:30: Chris Heinz holds a rally at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

—2:00 pm: The 9/11 Working Group, assigned to oversee intelligence reform, holds its second meeting at the Capitol. Stakeout follows with Sens. Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid

—4:15 pm: The Senate votes on amendments to the intelligence reform bill

—4:15 pm: Sen. Kerry attends a meeting with clergy at the First District Plaza, Philadelphia, PA

—5:30 pm: Chris Heinz attends a GOTV Shoe Polish Party at the campaign's headquarters, Albuquerque, NM

—5:45 pm: Cate Edwards holds a town hall meting at Hiram College, Hiram, OH

—6:00 pm: Ralph Nader speaks at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

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