The Note: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Looking ahead to one Thursday event that is already making headlines: "President Bush and 25,000 AARP members will be in Las Vegas at the same time this week, but the Republican incumbent won't drop in on the organization that gave a boost to last year's Medicare prescription drug law," the AP reports. "The Bush campaign said it is dispatching first lady Laura Bush." LINK

Kerry will address the AARP at the Las Vegas Venetian Hotel at 2:30 pm ET tomorrow. LINK

Finally — and quick!!! — which presidential campaign knows more about another upcoming, politically potent New York Times Magazine story for this weekend that is already on the street????

ABC News Vote 2004: the Tempest in Tempe: Schieffer speaks:

On CBS "Early Show," Bob Schieffer said he had come up with the questions and recalled the commission told him "not to even tell them [the commission] what the questions are. 'We want this to be domestic policy. You find the areas,'" he recalled their telling him. Schieffer added that he hasn't even told his wife what the final questions are going to be.

Asked if "the future of the republic depends" on tonight's debate, Schieffer, with his understated drawl, said, "Now let's put this in some perspective."

As to whether he felt any pressure, Schieffer said "I may be the umpire at the World Series but the pressure is on these two men."

Schieffer said he is excited because the country has "finally taken this campaign off of the TV commercials and put it on a stage where you can have an intelligent discussion."

He then recounted how 20 people approached him in the airport suggesting questions and urging him to be "tough on them."

Read more in the Morning Show Wrap

ABC News Vote 2004: the Tempest in Tempe:

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney previews the third and last presidential debate, rounding up the stakes and recapping the first two rounds, while conveying a sense of both Bush and Kerry's message strategy not only tonight but for the last three weeks of the campaign. LINK

Note it: this is a must read.

Ditto for the comparable piece by Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, who beautifully sets the stage. LINK

"Whenever possible, Bush hopes to broaden the face-off in Tempe, Ariz., from disputes over specifics — such as healthcare or education — to frame the election as a starkly ideological choice between limiting or expanding government, said a senior Republican strategist familiar with White House planning."

"Kerry, as signaled by his dismissive rejection of political "labels" at Friday's debate, aims to blur ideological distinctions and focus as concretely as possible on his individual proposals."

"Bush's goal, in short, is to aggregate the choice voters face into a single referendum on government's size and scope, while Kerry wants to separate the debate into sparring over his ideas — and Bush's record — on key domestic issues."

Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh explains how the Tempest in Tempe makes today possibly the most important day in this election cycle. LINK

Attention President Bush and Sen. Kerry: No pressure, though.

The Wall Street Journal's Jake Schlesinger and Shailagh Murray look at the different economic worldviews of Kerry and Bush, and take a detailed and must-read look at what the candidates might say during the debate, from taxes and health care to trade, outsourcing, Social Security, and the deficit. LINK

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