Focused and Pensive, Not Peevish or Irritated

" … .(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.

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