Focused and Pensive, Not Peevish or Irritated

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

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