Morning News Wrap - 10/5/04

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HIGHLIGHT:

The political highlight of the morning shows was the interchange between Mary Matalin, Joe Lockhart and Harry Smith on the CBS Early Show regarding Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recanting his Monday denial of an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection just hours before a vice presidential debate in which Sen. John Edwards is expected to challenge Cheney's ambiguous statements about Iraq-Al Qaeda linkages in the run-up to war.

Matalin familiar and pleased with Rumsfeld recanting denial of Iraq-Al Qaeda connection on eve of vice presidential debate:

During a mini-debate between Joe Lockhart of the Kerry-Edwards campaign and Mary Matalin of the Bush-Cheney campaign on CBS' the "Early Show," Lockhart said "it's the record that matters" and that tonight will be the night when Dick Cheney is accountable for (allegedly) telling us there "absolutely was a nuclear program" and that there "absolutely was a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein on 9/11. We know that's not true. He's never come clean on that."

Even though Lockhart did not explicitly invoke Rumsfeld's Monday speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, CBS' Harry Smith took Lockhart's statement, "We now know that's not true" to bring up "for the record" that Rumsfeld "reneged on that comment on his Web site last night."

Lockhart, seemingly more focused on Rumsfeld's CFR speech and possibly unaware of Rumsfeld's subsequent recanting, said, "Dick Cheney seems to be the last one."

Matalin, seeming to be familiar and pleased with Rumsfeld's recanting, said, "Yes, there you go."

VP DEBATE PREVIEWS:

ABC's Dan Harris included video of President Bush saying that Kerry's plans were dangerous to world peace. Kerry spokesman Mike McCurry responded, saying that when you see an incumbent president fighting "that aggressively" you know "that they think they are in trouble."

CBS' Jim Axelrod reported that vice presidential debates usually have the excitement of watching "paint dry" with the 1988 debate being the notable exception. Sen. Joe Lieberman was on tape saying that he and Cheney were able to "disagree without being divisive" in 2000. Axelrod remembered Cheney as "cordial an collegial, somber and reasonable" in that debate with Lieberman.

NBC's Campbell Brown described tonight's event as a contrast between "the charming upbeat style of Edwards vs. the sometimes dour Cheney." Brown said Edwards plans to attack Cheney on his ties to Halliburton, the economy, and Iraq. Edwards arrived last night and plans to be aggressive and try and provoke the Vice President. The Republican game plan is to stay cool and let Cheney's experience and self assurance speak for itself as he focuses on terrorism and post-9/11 response. The Republicans are working to lower expectations one calling Edwards the man with golden tongue.

EARLY VOTING:

CNN's Kelly Wallace looks at early voting which some critics are saying does not increase turnout. However many disagree noting the expectation for this election year is that 1 out of every 4 voters will cast their votes early.

ANN COULTER:

Ann Coulter on the man once described by the Boston Herald as the "gigolo's gigolo":

In a "talking to a conservative" segment on "Good Morning America," Ann Coulter said Kerry has "made his living, living off rich women."

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE DEBATE:

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