The Note: Not for the Faint of Heart

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13 days until Election Day

NEWS SUMMARY

Much will happen between now and Nov. 2 — and we mean more than just battleground state campaigning, an endless profusion of polls, and the cable news obsession with showing that same "hanging chad" video over and over (the shot of the guy in Florida holding up the ballot and eyeing it like it is a severed hand).

We are pretty sure that ALL of the following things will occur, but, in classic Note style, we'll hedge by doing it as a quiz -

Which of the following things will happen before John Kerry or George Bush concedes the 2004 presidential election:

— a profusion of Red Sox metaphors (win or lose tonight)

— Charlie Gibson's exclusive interview with President Bush on next Monday's "Good Morning America" (Just to be clear — this one IS happening!!! — and it's his only morning interview before the election.)

— a high viz national poll that is out of whack with the rest of them and gets tongues wagging

— the Columbus Dispatch endorsement

— Peter Jennings' continued reporting tour of battleground states (tonight: Cleveland, OH)

— John Kerry goes hunting

— either Matthew Dowd or Stan Greenberg has to admit error, and explain why

— at least two Drudge-inspired events that bring newsrooms across America to a halt

— a helicopter ride of Note

— Nightline's "day in the life" with John Edwards tonight (Again — there's no doubt about this one!!)

— a hockey game of Note

— wide-spread false, negative advocacy phone calls will be made and detected and nearly every news organization in America will wrongly deem them "push poll" calls

— a series of lame, unoriginal movie-title-driven plays on words when Arnold Schwarzenegger campaigns for President Bush in Ohio

— undisciplined, foolish political reporters will begin to go on television shows galore and make predictions about the popular and electoral vote outcomes

— The Note will begin to publish on weekends

— Ralph Nader will have one moment in the sun of an indeterminate nature

— at least one major candidate sibling, spouse, or parent will commit a newsmaking gaffe

— the CBS News National Guard investigation will NOT be completed

— Bill Clinton will hit the campaign trail and the mixed reaction — vis a vis John Kerry — will at once surprise, and confirm the worst suspicions of, Al Gore

— we are unlikely to read any quote we like more than the one that appears in this morning's New York Times from corporate spokesguy Eric Anderson regarding his company pulling ads from Sinclair stations: "Burger King wants to maintain neutrality during this election."

— the surfacing of at least one robo-call, one radio ad, and one mass e-mail that the press will inadequately scrutinize and still deem illustrative of elevating the level of personal negativity

— final spending figures will be tallied up and the campaign media will for the most part (wrongly) equate spending on political speech with evil incarnate

— campaign war rooms will increasingly be populated by can't-handle-the-pressure-of-a-tight-race staffers who assume the fetal position upon entry each day

— lobbyists and PAC directors will suffer creeping doubts about whether they bet on the right pony or not

President Bush makes remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally at the North Iowa Fairgrounds in Mason City, IA at 11:05 am ET and participates in a "Focus Event with President Bush" at J&D Manufacturing in Eau Claire, WI at 4:05 pm ET. President Bush's theme today will be reaching out to rural America and rural voters on issues such as health care, education, lawsuit reform and low taxes.

A Bush campaign aide tells ABC News' Kate Snow that today is Bush's first trip ever to Mason City, IA. The Bush aide says Bush never went to Mason City, IA in 2000 and never spent any money in Mason City, IA on TV. This Bush aide claims Mason City is not subsumed in any neighboring media market. According to this Bush campaign aide, once 2000 was over, the Bush campaign felt that Bush's failure to campaign in Mason City is why he narrowly lost the state of Iowa to Gore.

Senator Kerry speaks about national security at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in Waterloo, IA at 11:00 am ET and holds a "Fresh Start for America" rally at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA at 6:00 pm ET.

According to excerpts released by his campaign, Kerry will say in his 11:00 am ET speech on "A Fresh Start for America's Security": "America is fighting and must win two wars: The war in Iraq. And the war on terror. President Bush likes to confuse the two. He claims that Iraq is the centerpiece of the war on terror. In fact, Iraq was a profound diversion from that war and the battle against our greatest enemy: Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda network. But now that we're fighting two wars, we must and we will prevail in both."

When one reporter suggested to Kerry on Tuesday that the campaign might need to make a detour to New York to catch his beloved Red Sox, Kerry replied, "Keep your eyes on the prize. They do that; I'll do this."

Vice President Cheney and Mrs. Cheney participate in a roundtable discussion at the Big Boy Restaurant in Clio, MI at 11:00 am ET and attend a Victory 2004 rally at the Grand Traverse Civic Center in Traverse City, MI at 1:35 pm ET.

Senator Edwards holds a roundtable on jobs at the Canton Memorial Civic Center in Canton, OH at 10:05 am ET before meeting with voters at 10:30 am ET. The Senator then attends a "Fresh start for America" rally at Quaker Stadium in New Philadelphia, OH at 1:00 pm ET, holds a conversation with steelworkers and their families at the United Steelworkers Local 1190 in Steubenville, OH at 3:20 pm ET, and attends a final rally at the Loren Walker Arena in West Burlington, IA at 9:30 pm ET.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush headlines a RNC Victory 2004 Rally with U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium in Sarasota, FL at 12:45 pm ET.

Jenna and Laura Bush speak at a 'NASCAR for Bush' event at the Millennium Hotel in Cincinnati, OH at 11:30 am ET and speak at a Miami University 'Students for Bush' Rally in Oxford, OH at 1:35 pm ET.

ABC News Vote 2004: the polls:

President Bush's lead over John Kerry in last night's ABC tracking poll is at 5 points, 51 percent to 46 percent, among likely voters. ABC's Sussman and Langer Note that Bush's support "has crept above the critical 50-percent mark for the first time in two weeks, but one group — new voters — could be John Kerry's wildcard." Kerry holds an 11-point advantage among those who haven't voted before; Gore held a 9-point advantage heading into the 2000 race. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's John Harwood writes up his paper's new poll with NBC News, which found at 48 percent-48 percent tie between President Bush and Senator Kerry among likely voters. It also showed both men making headway in crucial areas — Kerry on ability to be commander in chief and confidence to handle terrorism, as well as jobs and health care, and Bush on Iraq and personal attributes like likeability, which have pushed his approval rating two points higher than last month, to 49 percent. Do not miss the high-wire comments from Bill McInturff and Peter Hart. LINK

"Those trends have allowed Mr. Bush to retain a slim 48%-46% lead among the larger group of all registered voters. Barring a Democratic voter-turnout tidal wave, a national popular-vote edge of two percentage points would almost certainly yield an Electoral College majority. The poll suggests Republicans might indeed avoid getting swamped by such a wave, as equal proportions of Republican and Democratic voters report being contacted by the respective parties in battleground-state turnout drives."

"The poll shows that Mr. Bush and his campaign strategists also have managed to leverage public-opinion benefits. Even as he displayed less debating flair than his Democratic rival, the president widened his edge in voter perceptions of the candidates in 'being consistent and standing up for his beliefs'; 57% prefer Mr. Bush on this score, compared with 19% who prefer Mr. Kerry."

"That has helped edge the president's approval rating up to 49% from 47% in September. Though that remains below the 50% level some Bush advisers believe is necessary to assure victory on Election Day, it is Mr. Bush's highest mark in seven months."

WSJ/NBC poll results: LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at "cord-cutters;" those folks who do not have land-lines or phone with cords. The cell-only group could be impacting polling as pollsters are prohibited from calling them. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry:

The Washington Post 's Howard Kurtz turns in a must-read on Kerry's air war, reporting that "some of the Kerry commercials are being written, edited, produced and put on satellites for the purpose of generating news articles. They have not actually aired on any network or local station — except in reports about the Democrat's campaign." We'd love to have been in the room for Tad Devine's comment about disingenuousness. Every reporter who's ever tried to get an answer about whether an ad buy is real, and every voter who's read or heard about specific spots targeted toward them and then haven't seen them needs to read this story. LINK

In the final two weeks of the campaign, the ad wars come down to distort vs. stretch, writes Kurtz in a separate installment. And, he Notes, while the president took the lead on misleading attack ads during the spring and summer, Senator Kerry has certainly caught up. LINK

The New York Post 's Deb Orin looks at the new 9/11 themed ads. LINK

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank and Lois Romano follow Bush and Kerry's swing from slamming one another on national security issues to slamming one another on domestic issues from the economy to flu shots and Social Security on the trail Tuesday. Note the Kerry talking point about wrong-track numbers. LINK

"Presidential Rivals Try to Tap Into Social Insecurity," reads the Los Angeles Times headline above the Gold/Reynolds daily joint effort from the Kerry and Bush campaign trails. LINK

The Boston Globe 's Johnson and Kornblut write about Senator Kerry's "chastising" of the president over Social Security while the president attempted to "reassure" voters about the flu vaccine. LINK

Walter Shapiro writes, "Scare tactics are a depressing, but probably inevitable, motif in a presidential race so close that partisans on both sides study the fluctuating daily polls with the avidity of baseball fans following the electrifying playoffs." LINK

USA Today 's Benedetto and Kasindorf document the latest scariness. LINK

William Safire responds to fearmongers: "My advice to voters in this political Year of Fear, as well as to journalists and our sources, is from Joshua 1:9: "Be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed." Courage and freedom will win, and the purveyors of panic will lose." LINK

Thanks, Bill.

The Washington Post 's Michael Dobbs Notes that "for all his criticism of Bush's record on education, Kerry has not called for major changes to the administration's controversial No Child Left Behind initiative." And once again, it's not the law itself, but the way that it's been implemented that forms the crux of Kerry's criticism. LINK

A cheat sheet of both sides' education proposals: LINK

The New York Times ' Kit Seelye reports "Senator John Kerry appears to have reversed his slide among women who are voters and has taken a lead over President Bush in this crucial category, new polls show." LINK

The Los Angeles Times on the fight for the Jewish vote and the Republican hope to increase Bush's 19% take from 2000. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Gerald Seib Notes the reliability of the Catholic vote in terms of predicting the election's outcome — Catholics have voted for the popular winner every election since 1972 — and calls the Catholic vote, which is torn over John Kerry, a metaphor for the country's polarization.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies poll of African Americans, but the senior research associated who designed the survey urges to view the results cautiously. LINK

The Washington Times ' double-D team of Dinan and DeBose Notes "Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry has spent part of the past three Sundays at predominantly black churches in Florida and Ohio, as a new poll shows President Bush doing twice as well among black Americans as he did in 2000." LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Elwin Greene finds common ground between the presidential candidates when it comes to energy policy, and points out their differences. LINK

It doesn't get much more personal than this: www.bushrelativesforkerry.com LINK. The family members of George W. Bush's great aunt on his father's side began a Web site that opens with the slogan "Because blood is thicker than oil!" and the Boston Globe talks to the family of Mary Bush House. LINK

The Washington Times corrals the thoughts of a few Democrats who begrudgingly believe Bush will win. LINK

The Boston Herald says four more years. LINK

USA Today 's Susan Page looks at differing opinions on the role of the First Lady. LINK

Rep. Anthony Weiner and New York mayor wannabe unveiled a new TV ad yesterday casting Mayor Bloomberg as a leader who has aligned himself with the president, despite Bush's failure to look out for New Yorkers in Washington. It opens with Bloomberg at the Republican National Committee saying: "I want to thank President Bush for supporting New York City," and accuses Bush of "withholding $2.5 billion from city schools and slashing city anti-terrorism funding by $68 million, reports the New York Daily News. LINK

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

"As he toured southern Ohio by bus seeking to energize Republican supporters, Mr. Cheney hit hard on a central theme of the Bush campaign: that the president had a better grasp than Mr. Kerry of the threats facing the nation, and the will to stymie terrorists," reports the New York Times ' Randall Archibold. LINK

"Cheney's manner is not one of a pumped-up candidate sprinting to the finish line of a heated election, but of someone moving at his own measured pace," writes James Gerstenzang of the Los Angeles Times in your Cheney must-read of the day. LINK

The word "apocalyptic" rears its head again in a story about Cheney on the stump Tuesday — so does "nuked." LINK

Noelle Straub has this headline in the Boston Herald: "Vote Kerry, get nuked, veep warns: Dem on 'wrong side.'" LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Rick Pearson juxtaposes the president's criticism of Kerry's scare tactics with the Vice President's remarks about Kerry. LINK

The Washington Post 's Glenn Kessler previews Condoleezza Rice's upcoming speaking engagements in Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida (with a helpful graphic!) on behalf of President Bush — throwing out the precedent that the national security adviser not get too involved with the presidential campaign, even though she avoids overtly political questions in the local press. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren Notes "Mr. Kerry's recent language reveals his decidedly dual focus in these final days of the campaign: trying to raise profound doubts about Mr. Bush's stewardship on both the domestic and national security fronts in order to make the argument for change." LINK

The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman reports that "Kerry stuck to a dual message of fiscal discipline and national security as part of his strategy to win over undecided voters with substantive policy talk in the final two weeks of the campaign." LINK

The Washington Post 's Helen Dewar and Thomas Ricks look at the factors upon which Kerry bases his approach to the use of military force: "Win as much allied support as possible before going to war, listen to advice from the professionals, and, most significantly, heed the many lessons of the Vietnam War." LINK

"As the future of Iraq has emerged as a critical political issue, the Bush campaign has attempted to paint Kerry as both indecisive and so negative about the U.S. presence there that he would never achieve success. The reality of Kerry's record is more complex. More often than not, he has backed the use of force, especially after diplomacy has been tried extensively."

The Post offers loads of detailed segments about Kerry's positions on Iraq in 2002-2003 and continued occupation in 2005, the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

John Kerry talks national security today in Waterloo, IA, talking about the two wars — the war in Iraq and the war on terror — that America is fighting, and accusing President Bush of confusing the two.

A key to American national security, Kerry will argue, is to bring other countries into the securing and rebuilding of Iraq, and "to give other countries a real say and a real stake — and treat them with respect."

Some excerpts:

"At every turn … before the war … in its immediate aftermath … and today … this Administration has treated potential allies with disdain. As a result, nearly 90 percent of the coalition troops — and nearly 90 percent of the coalition casualties — are American."

"We'll never know how many other countries would have been with us if this President had exercised sound judgment. But we do know that his disregard for other countries isolated America, not Iraq, from the rest of the world."

" … By treating other countries with contempt, President Bush gave them an excuse to stay on the sidelines instead of shouldering their responsibilities."

" … I believe we can succeed in Iraq and can win the war on terror. We can defeat, capture and kill the terrorists."

The Wall Street Journal 's ed board isn't buying John Kerry's argument about President Bush's investment in developing "bunker-busting nuclear weapons," and outlines why. As for us, we just love the info from "a source in a position to know."

The Los Angeles Times' Matea Gold's ears perked up when she heard John Kerry tell a local Pennsylvania television station that "'it's possible that former President Clinton may be here, working' in the campaign's final days." But no official word on when, where, or if (pending doctor's approval and all) Clinton will deliver his brotherly love. LINK

The Kerry campaign is slated to introduce a "positive" ad in Arkansas featuring Gen. Wesley Clark and former transportation secretary Rodney Slater, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Laura Kellams reports. But the state party won't deliver many more details. LINK

The New York Times ' Pam Belluck reports that in an article by The Catholic News Service, an unnamed Vatican official is quoted as saying that Kerry's position on abortion is not heresy. LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence writes, "Black voters could indeed make the difference in must-win, closely divided states such as Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin. But Kerry has been slow to excite them." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's ed board takes a closer look at Teresa Heinz Kerry's taxes, complaining that for all her husband's talk about raising taxes on the wealthy, she wouldn't be much affected, given that the bulk of her income isn't from wages.

Roger Altman makes the case for Kerry's (and more broadly, Democrats') economic ideas on the Wall Street Journal 's op-ed page.

The Raleigh News & Observer 's Christensen and Gardner report that Edwards plans to visit North Carolina one more time before the election, though no specific plans are set yet. LINK

Tonight, don't miss Ted Koppel doing a battleground swing through Ohio and Pennsylvania with John Edwards, with a look at a day in the life of the Democratic vice presidential nominee on "Nightline."

Sinclair Broadcast Group:

Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Tuesday that it was backing off of its plan to carry a film attacking John F. Kerry's Vietnam War record the Washington Post 's Frank Ahrens and Howard Kurtz report. Sinclair now plans to air only portions of the movie in an hour-long special scheduled for Friday. LINK

"The company now says that it never intended to air 'Stolen Honor' in its entirety, although Sinclair commentator and vice president Mark Hyman had told The Washington Post that the movie would air unless the Massachusetts senator agreed to an interview, in which case only portions might run."

"Facing advertiser defections, a viewer boycott and a plummeting stock price, as well as strong opposition from Democrats, Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. scrapped its plan to air a film that attacks the 1970s-era antiwar activities of Senator John F. Kerry, and will instead run a special produced by its news division incorporating parts of the movie," writes Elizabeth Jensen of the Los Angeles Times. Note the scheduled airing on three stations in both Ohio and Florida. LINK

USA Today 's Mark Memmott writes about Sinclair Broadcasting's change of plans. LINK

The New York Times ' Jim Rutenberg and Kate Zernike review "Stolen Honor." LINK

"The film is rife with out-of-context and incomplete quotations from Mr. Kerry and other antiwar veterans. Several historians said many accusations in it were not provable or stretched far beyond reality."

From the outside:

The New York Times ' Michael Moss and Ford Fessenden take a closer look at 501c3 and the 527s that are "pumping at least $350 million into get-out-the-vote campaigns that are rewriting the tactics of elections." LINK

Heard of BIPAC? National Voice? PFAW? You will, if you live in the battleground states.

"Billionaire currency trader George Soros" has given loads of cash to America Votes in his "quest to unseat President Bush" reports the Washington Times . The group's practices are being closely scrutinized in several battleground states. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

We begin with the election eve report of our favorite non-partisan election reform information project — The Election Reform Information Project. LINK

Doug Chapin is quoted and interviewed these days more than Gloria Allred during trials involving femmes fatales.

And for good reason: the guy's got well-deserved street cred, knows all the major players, and is a voice of reason in the storm of conflicting charges.

Here's how the Wall Street Journal characterizes the report's finding:

"Just two weeks before Election Day, a watchdog group is warning that the 2004 election could be marred by problems brought on by the very federal reforms intended to fix the troubles that marred 2000's political contest."

"A report released today by the nonpartisan group Electionline.org says most voters will still cast votes on the same equipment they used four years ago. And the report's writers warn that differences in how various states count provisional ballots — mandated after 2000 for voters who think they're registered but aren't on the rolls

— could lead to a slew of lawsuits."

"'Let's say Bush wins by 2,000 votes in Colorado and there are 5,000 provisional ballots,' says Dan Seligson, the report's editor. 'We can expect every one of those provisional ballots to be under intense scrutiny.'"

"Seventeen states and the District of Columbia say they'll count votes cast by people in the wrong precinct — but 27 states, including battlegrounds Iowa, Michigan and West Virginia, won't. (Five states are exempt from HAVA provisional-voting rules because they offer election-day registration; in North Dakota, which doesn't have registration, voters will cast provisional ballots only if a court orders polling places to remain open longer than normal hours.)"

The Miami Herald localizes the report: LINK

Say this about America: we are one litigious society — and never more than in the case of this presidential election.

The Washington Post 's Jo Becker looks at the "unprecedented number of lawsuits challenging basic election rules" that have already been filed in preparation for Nov. 2, as teeming masses of lawyers for both the Bush and Kerry campaigns are being assembled, trained, and deployed to move the election from the voters to the courts if necessary. If you haven't been knee-deep in these plans, this is a good story to catch you up. LINK

Al Hunt took a good look at the strategic lawyer buildup in his latest Campaign Journal as well.

The state of Florida will investigate whether the connections between precincts and voter databases need fixin' before Nov. 2. LINK

There are finally more early voting sites in Duval County: LINK

Wexler v. Hood continued yesterday as a lawyer and a supervisor of elections sparred about voter intent. LINK

"Authorities in at least three Florida counties are investigating more than 4,000 suspicious voter-registration forms submitted on behalf of college students, some of whom say they already had registered elsewhere or that their party affiliation was changed to Republican without permission." LINK

Are 500 pieces of voter registration in Alachua County faulty? LINK

The Washington Post 's Michael Shear Notes that Virginia's Democratic Party on Tuesday. started training 600 volunteer lawyers to monitor voting. LINK

"A federal judge in Michigan, spurning arguments raised by the Justice Department, ruled Tuesday that the state must count provisional ballots cast by voters who turned up at the wrong precinct but were in the right city or township," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at the influx of absentee ballots expected from overseas this year. LINK

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Roddy reports that Sproul & Associates' "ostensibly nonpartisan voter registration drive in Western Pennsylvania has triggered accusations that workers were cheated out of wages and given instructions to avoid adding anyone to the voter rolls who might support the Democratic presidential nominee." LINK

Reports of fraudulent registrations are not widespread in New Mexico, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican before going on to highlight one incident of suspected forgery. LINK

Ooops! Denver election officials have discovered about 13,000 absentee ballots were never mailed. The mistake was attributed to a misunderstanding with a California vendor. The missing ballots will be mailed by Thursday. LINK

Observers in Oregon are keeping a close eye on early votes for any irregularities, Harry Esteve of the Oregonian reports. LINK

The state of Iowa is bracing for what could be its first election related lawsuit, the Des Moines Register reports. The Iowa's ACLU, League of Women Voters, and National Voting Rights institutes say there are "several deficiencies in Iowa election procedures that threaten to unlawfully disenfranchise thousands of Iowa voters." LINK

Washington state faces ballot woes by inaccurately describing an education initiative, Susan Gilmore of the Seattle Times reports. LINK

In Nevada Democrats are winning an early ground war for voter turnout, Erin Neff of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. LINK

Suzanne Struglinski of the Las Vegas Sun reports on the use of electronic voting machines in Nevada that leave a paper trail. "Nevada will be very important to the 2004 election," said Doug Chapin, executive director of Electionline.org. "It's the first real laboratory, with apologies to the Supreme Court, of democracy." LINK

The first lady of Arkansas gets involved in the issue of voter identification- while working at a polling place. Austin Gelder and Charlie Frago of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette cover the story. LINK

Does it all hinge on two million undecided voters? LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting: watchdog:

Thanks to all of you who responded within moments of our posting information about our Election Day casting and counting Watchdog project.

Not helpful were tips that began with "Why aren't you covering the HUGE fraud that ONLY (insert party here) is perpetrating across the country."

Also: as much as we'd love to help, we cannot assist your fourth grade daughter with her homework assignment.

We can't answer every question (though we will try, if we can), but we'll read every e-mail and follow up as we can.

You don't have to be voting in a tight presidential battleground to participate — we cover the entire country.

Submit your casting and counting questions, comments and concerns to politicalunit@abcnews.com, and be sure to include the word "Watchdog" in the subject heading.

A few items: Several readers who've requested absentee ballots have not received them yet. Our simple advice: call, call, call until you get a person on the phone. Many election offices are inundated with requests and there's a real backlog.

ABC News Vote 2004: Florida:

Just how important is this observation by Orlando Sentinel columnist Myriam Marquez:

"I've already received three bilingual fliers from either the Florida GOP or the Viva Bush campaign touting the president's leadership on the war on terror or lauding Bush for standing 'with parents, teachers and students' on education reforms. Only one anti-Bush bilingual ad has reached my mailbox, from America Coming Together, but that "independent" group by law can't plug Democrat John Kerry. With less than two weeks to go before the election I have yet to get a Kerry campaign flier." LINK

"The GOP is focusing on non-affiliated voters like myself while the Democratic Party seems to think that newly registered Hispanic voters will vote Democratic because that's what national polls are showing. That's a big leap of partisan faith."

"Puerto Ricans, particularly those from the Northeast, may lean Democratic but a large chunk of newly registered voters — more than one in five — is not affiliated with either party."

New Mason-Dixon numbers give Bush a slim lead in the state. LINK

The poll details that Bush continues to lead in North Florida (60%-34%), Central Florida (52%-41%) and in the Gulf Coast Region (51%-42%), but Kerry has a big lead in Southeast Florida (59%-34%). LINK

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn writes that "Kerry was strongest in the southeast part of the state, where he led 59-34 percent, an improvement of 2 points over the poll in early October. Bush was strongest in north Florida, where he led 60-34, a 2-point decline from the early October poll. LINK

It's true: the Bush counties were smacked most heavily by storms. LINK

Click through all the local Bush coverage here: LINK

Leo DiCaprio hit Tampa for Kerry: LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Pennsylvania:

The AP's Nedra Pickler reports former President Clinton's impending visit to the City of Brotherly Love on behalf of the Kerry-Edwards ticket. LINK

You can't ask for a better lead in a local paper the day after an event — the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader's Marcy writes "Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Senator John Kerry may hail from Massachusetts, but he looked right at home Tuesday during a raucous campaign event at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts." LINK

The protesting outside that event was not big, but one anti-abortion demonstration caught the attention of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. "Two trucks painted with a graphic anti-abortion, anti-Kerry message. Plastered on the side of the trailers were enormous pictures of bloody fetuses." LINK

Scranton Times Tribune headline: "Kerry supporters can agree on one thing: It's time for a change." The reporter talked to voters in the coffee shop near the Kirby Center where both President Bush and Senator Kerry have visited recently. After all, "On a cold, rainy afternoon, there are few places more bipartisan than a coffee shop." LINK

The Scranton Times Tribune also reports that in the "region's largest senior citizen population," Senator Kerry went to town on the president for his handling of Social Security. LINK

The First Lady was in the swing county of Delaware, one of those targeted Philadelphia suburbs, yesterday talking about Stem Cell research and the Philadelphia Inquirer writes up the stop. LINK

The Philadelphia Daily News reports of Kerry-Specter signs in Philadelphia that were the work of national Republican consultant Roger Stone. LINK

Iraq is a key issue to voters in Pennsylvania, and Senatorial candidates Senator Arlen Specter and Rep. Joe Hoeffel have stark contrasts to each other on the subject, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Budoff reports. LINK

Senator Rick Santorum was up in Wilkes-Barre yesterday (yes, same place as Senator Kerry) calling for an extended deadline for military ballots now that Ralph Nader has been removed from the Pennsylvania ballot. LINK

The Radnor Studio 21 TV station in Wayne County (northeast corner of the Keystone State) aired Stolen Honor to its approximately 8,000 viewers on Oct. 4 and 5 on a program called Radnor Review, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer — and it could happen again before Election Day. LINK

Are high school students in the Philadelphia area more interested in this election that others, and will that make them vote? LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Ohio:

Peter Jennings spends a little more time in the Mother Of All Battlegrounds tonight "World News Tonight," which comes to you from Cleveland.

Superpollster Mark Blumenthal deftly limns the latest (and conflicting??) Ohio polls. Hint: look at the Bush re-elect number. LINK

The ABC News Ohio poll shows that in Ohio, the economy trumps Iraq, terrorism, and health care in the minds of voters — and it helps Kerry. The horserace in Ohio is 50 percent for Kerry, 47 percent for Bush among likely voters — within the margin of error. Thirty-three percent of those surveyed say the economy is the most important issue, and 54 percent of likely voters say most Ohioans are worse off financially than they were when President Bush took office. LINK

"The economic concerns make sense: Unemployment in Ohio (in the latest data, from August) is 6.3 percent, up from 4.2 percent in August 2000, when Bush beat Al Gore in the state by 166,735 votes. In 2000 Ohio's unemployment rate was almost identical to the national average, 4.1 percent; now Ohio's rate is nearly a point worse than unemployment nationally," reports ABC News' Cheryl Arnedt.

The amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage also underlines a major divide in the Ohio electorate: 48 percent of Ohioans favor the amendment, and 45 percent oppose it. Four percent say it's the most important issue on the ballot, which could pull some voters to the polls.

The Columbus Dispatch gives some play to the ABC News poll showing the ballot measure in a close contest, and Notes how the measure is dividing ranks within the Ohio Republican Party. LINK

"The clergy — representing congregations of Disciples of Christ, Episcopalians, Jews, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Unitarian Universalists, United Church of Christ, United Methodists and others — joined a growing list of opposition to Issue I," reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. LINK

The Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial page urges Secretary of State Blackwell to drop his appeal in the provisional ballot lawsuit. LINK

"In a bizarre story unfolding in northern Ohio, a crack-hoarding lowlife was busted for passing off the fictitious voter registrations," writes the New York Post 's Ian Bishop. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: New Mexico:

The Washington Post 's Evelyn Nieves looks at the fight in New Mexico over Hispanic voters, with Republicans getting in early on the air offensive and Democrats following with the ground war. Nieves Notes the difference in heritage between Hispanics in New Mexico vs. recent immigrants, both in circumstance and self-identification. LINK

"Both parties believe that Democrats will win a majority of the Hispanic vote. But both sides also believe that if Republicans win 40 percent of the Hispanic vote — 5 percent more than the 35 percent Bush garnered in 2000 — the president will win the state and, hence, the country."

ABC News Vote 2004: Nevada:

The Wall Street Journal 's George Anders takes a look at a culture clash of a slightly different kind than we're used to hearing about — a ballot measure in Churchill County, NV, to ban houses of prostitution, which he Notes no Nevada county has done since 1978.

ABC News Vote 2004: Colorado:

A must-read with excellent bullety pointyness: the Rocky Mountain News looks at the Bush and Kerry strategies to win Colorado. Over the last week Tad Devine for Kerry, Matthew Dowd and Karl Rove for Bush — "detailed their plans" to win the state in a series of interviews with the paper. For Bush it's about an "army of volunteers." Both campaigns believe a big turnout means a win for their campaign. LINK

The Rocky Mountain News looks at the recent infusion of ballot initiative money. "Advocates for Amendment 36, Make Your Vote for President Count, reported $306,000 in donations, spending most of it for commercials. The amendment would split Colorado's nine electoral votes based on the popular vote. The opposition group, Coloradans Against a Really Stupid Idea, had not filed yet, but reported almost $500,000 in contributions from major donors during the two weeks." LINK

Kevin Simpson Denver Post Notes the gloomy local economy and how voters will weigh economics and politics. LINK

In an interview Tuesday, Drew T. Durham — director of the Help America Vote Act in the Secretary of State's office in Colorado — denied making racist comments when he worked in the office of the Texas attorney general. He told Arthur Kane of the Denver Post, "It's not in my personality or is it a personal habit to use racist slurs," after 1984 allegations in a Texas newspaper resurfaced. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Minnesota:

Both presidential candidates are headed to Minnesota this week. President Bush today heads to Republican Olmstead County, home of Rochester, and Senator Kerry visits Democrat-safe Minneapolis on Thursday. LINK

The AP reports "Minnesota lost 2,200 jobs in September while its unemployment rate dropped slightly, and state officials said high fuel prices during the winter months could dampen hiring." LINK

"The biggest job losses were in education and health services, 3,600; business and professional services, 800, and government, 700. However, the state actually gained 1,000 manufacturing jobs in September and the manufacturing sector has gained 6,200 jobs this year."

The Pioneer Press ledes with Senator Edwards' visit to the Iron Range last night where he "vowed to defend the "rural way of life,'' including the rights of hunters and snowmobilers who are being feverishly courted by the other side." LINK

The Star Tribune reports that Minnesota health officials asked health care workers yesterday to not get their flu shots for those "people 65 and older, the chronically ill, children six months to 23 months, anyone up to age 18 who takes aspirin regularly, pregnant women and parents of an infant younger than 6 months or who regularly provides care for infants younger than six months." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Iowa:

Once again, Senator Kerry and President Bush stop within miles of each other. Is it time for an old-West style showdown? Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register reports. LINK

Nader-Camejo:

In a 6-1 ruling, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court "without comment" upheld a lower court ruling Tuesday that removed Ralph Nader's name from the presidential ballot in Pennsylvania. Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the Nader camp would "definitely" ask the U.S. Supreme Court, as the campaign did in Florida. LINK and LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that it is "still uncertain is whether the U.S. Department of Justice can force the state to send corrected absentee ballots to overseas voters, then extend the period during which those ballots can be tabulated." LINK

It is uncertain if the SCOTUS will consider and decide Nader's Pennsylvania situation before the Nov. 2. NC04 has begun a national "write-in campaign" in Pennsylvania and other states. LINK

Fourteen days out from the election, the author of "Unsafe at Any Speed" has a message to "Truckers and the Motoring Public." LINK

Like the man keeps saying, Nader will campaign in battleground and safe states for the final stretch. LINK

A survey of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, found Black voters are in step with the electorate at large when it comes to Ralph Nader. The think tank's poll found Nader has two percent support in the community.

Can Michael Moore and Ralph Nader ever re-kindle their friendship — or has it passed a point of no return? LINK

Get ready all you UP for Victory organizers in Wisconsin! Ralph Nader is coming to town. LINK

"Oh look, it's white women for Bush — fat, happy white people for Bush," Eric Bethman a white 39-year-old unemployed Ralph Nader supporter told the St. Petersburg Times after Bush's appearance Tuesday. LINK

The politics of the flu:

"With polls showing that Florida is once again too close to call, President Bush on Tuesday assured the state's flu-wary retirees that "we have millions of vaccines doses on hand for the most vulnerable Americans" as his administration said that 2.6 million more doses would be available by January," writes the New York Times ' Sanger and Gardiner. LINK

The New York Daily News ledes the flu is giving George W. Bush a headache. LINK

Everybody head to the Hill for your flu shots! The Washington Post 's Chuck Babington and David Brown report that they're abundant and free for members of Congress and their employees — even if they're not among the at-risk populations. Do Note that "The policy applies to thousands of legislative staffers, police officers, construction workers, restaurant employees, journalists and others who work in the Capitol complex." Think we'll be hearing about this on the trail today? LINK

Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times also reports that the Hill is the place to work during flu season. LINK

Tomorrow night, "Nightline" looks at the politics of the flu vaccine — how'd we get here, and how scared should you be?

The economy:

Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan yesterday minimized worries that the bubble in the housing market is a problem, and said that while household debt is a significant worry, people should be able to handle it, the Wall Street Journal 's Greg Ip reports.

The number of Americans who think the economy is getting worse is at its highest level in seven months, according to the new ABC News/Money magazine poll. Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they think the economy is getting worse — up from 38 percent last month, and 36 percent in July, reports ABC News' Cheryl Arnedt.

The poll is based on Americans' views of the national economy, their personal finances and the buying climate. "This week, 37 percent rate the economy positively, three points below the long-term average in weekly polls since late 1985; 41 percent call it a good time to buy things, two points above average; and 56 percent say their own finances are in good shape, one point from its average."

The politics of Social Security:

"Social Security benefits are scheduled to rise 2.7% next year, but for the lowest income recipients, the increase will be offset by higher Medicare payments," reports the Wall Street Journal 's Michael Schroeder. The increase is an average of $25 per check, Schroeder Notes, and the timing of the announcement is coincidental — announced annually on the day the Labor Department releases its consumer price index.

The Washington Post 's Nell Henderson also has a look. LINK

The politics of national security:

"With House-Senate negotiators scheduled today to start resolving major differences in two bills to restructure the nation's intelligence community, the White House has criticized key portions of each plan and left some lawmakers wondering how they can meet a self-imposed deadline of finishing the work before the Nov. 2 election," report the Washington Post 's Charles Babington and Walter Pincus. LINK

USA Today 's John Diamond reports, "The White House urged congressional negotiators Tuesday to agree quickly on overhauling U.S. spy agencies so that President Bush can sign the bill into law 'as soon as possible.'" LINK

Lawmakers are urging the CIA to deliver a report of an internal review of "the performance of agency personnel before the attacks" of Sept. 11. And some Democrats are wondering if the report is being held until after the election, reports Greg Miller of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

"Politically sensitive immigration provisions and opposition from the Pentagon are threatening to derail a high-priority bill to consolidate authority over the nation's intelligence system, House and Senate negotiators said Tuesday," writes the Los Angeles Times' Curtius. LINK

The Washington Post 's ed board thinks that the House version of intel reform bill "contains provisions that are irrelevant to intelligence reform and terrible policy to boot. Senate conferees and President Bush should insist that they be removed from any final bill." LINK

Christopher Cooper and Greg Jaffe of the Wall Street Journal report that the U.S. Army has fallen 30 percent short of its 7,274 recruiting goal during the first month of its new recruiting year.

The politics of Iraq:

"Without any change in policy, there is every reason to expect that a second Bush term would produce more scandals like Abu Ghraib," writes the Washington Post 's ed board. "That's why we welcome Mr. Kerry's pledge to resume full U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

Knight Ridder's Steve Thomma surveys the scene, concluding that "Republicans have an edge in races that will decide which party controls the Senate." LINK

The Chicago Sun-Times' Scott Fornek reports that Obama has a new TV spot that only subtly says what he's running for. LINK

Senate candidate Pete Coors talks business and Supreme Court with cambers of commerce in the metro Denver area Tuesday night. LINK

The Hill reports Bush is "key" to the North Carolina Senate race. LINK

The Schwarzenegger era:

"There has been a lot of speculation that Schwarzenegger, who does not personally connect with Bush and disagrees with him on a host of issues, won't campaign for him. But he is expected to show up in Ohio just before election day," reports Robert Salladay of the Los Angeles Times in his look at the Governor's breaks from his party. LINK

Politics:

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly clarifies: current campaign finance rules remain in effect. LINK

There are 16 measures on the California ballot and the Los Angeles Times has some poll numbers for you. LINK

Gains in the cost of education are "outpacing" increases in student aid, reports the Washington Times . LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—8:00 am: Darryl Waltrip, Jeff Hammonds appear at a BC04 Rally at the Toledo Speedway, Toledo, OH

—8:00 am: Mark Martin, Jack Roush, Benny Parsons and Eddie Wood stump for President Bush at Nichol's Restaurant, Zanesville, OH

—9:00 am: Mark Martin, Jack Roush, Benny Parson and Eddie Wood appear at BC04 rally at Zanesville Victory Center, Zanesville, OH

—10:00 am: Sen. Kent Conrad holds a news conference to discuss the "growth in foreign-held U.S. debt" at the Capitol, Washington, DC

—10:00 am: The National Press Club hosts a "Newsmaker" Political Roundtable, with panelists pollster Peter Hart; GOP strategist
Frank Donatelli, former political director for former President Reagan; Howard Wolfson, Democratic National Committee consultant; and Neil Newhouse, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, Washington, DC

—10:00 am: 9/11 family members hold a press conference to urge President Bush to call upon congressional leaders to get a bill to him before Election Day at the Capitol, Washington, DC

—10:05 am: Sen. John Edwards holds a roundtable with Ohio workers on jobs at the Canton Memorial Civic Center, Canton, OH

—10:30 am: Sen. Edwards meets with voters at the Canton Memorial Civic Center, Canton, OH

—11:00 am: Sen. John Kerry speaks at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo, IA

—11:00 am: Vice President Cheney and Mrs. Cheney participate in a roundtable discussion at the Big Boy Restaurant, Clio, MI

—11:00 am: Sen. Evan Bayh holds a news conference on the Flu Protection Act at the Capitol, Washington, DC

—11:05 am: President Bush makes remarks at a Victory 2004 Rally at the North Iowa Fairgrounds, Mason City, IA

—11:30 am: Jenna and Laura Bush speak at a 'NASCAR for Bush' event at the Millennium Hotel, Cincinnati, OH

—12:00 pm: Mark Martin, Jack Roush, Benny Parsons and Eddie Wood attend a BC04 rally at Breon Confair Ford, Jersey Shore, PA

—12:45 pm: Former First Lady Barbara Bush headlines a RNC Victory 2004 Rally with U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris at the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, Sarasota, FL

—1:00 pm: Sen. Edwards holds a "Fresh start for America" rally at Quaker Stadium, New Philadelphia, OH

—1:15 pm: Mark Martin, Jack Roush, Benny Parsons and Eddie Wood visit Fairfield Ford Dealership in Montoursville, PA

—1:20 pm: President Bush participates in a "Focus on the Economy with President Bush" Event at the Rochester Aviation Hangar, Rochester, MN

—1:35 pm: Vice President Cheney and Mrs. Cheney participate in a Victory 2004 rally at the Grand Traverse Civic Center, Traverse City, MI

—1:35 pm: The Bush twins speak at a Miami University 'Students for Bush' Rally, Oxford, OH

—3:20 pm: Sen. Edwards holds a conversation with steelworkers and their families at the United Steelworkers Local 1190, Steubenville, OH

—3:45 pm: Mark Martin, Jack Roush, Benny Parsons and Eddie Wood visit Barber Ford Dealership, Hazelton, PA

—4:05 pm: President Bush participates in a "Focus Event with President Bush" at J&D Manufacturing, Eau Claire, WI

—5:00 pm: Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Interior headlines a Victory 2004 roundtable at the Town Club of Eugene, Eugene, OR

—5:30 pm: Mark Martin, Jack Roush, Benny Parsons and Eddie Wood visit Tom Hesser Ford, Scranton, PA

—6:00 pm: Sen. Kerry holds a "Fresh Start for America" rally at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

—6:30 pm: The National Press Club hosts a discussion on independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader's difficulties to get on the ballot in many states and his impact on the outcome of the November election, Washington, DC

—9:00 pm: The sixth season of The West Wing kicks off on NBC

—9:30 pm: Sen. Edwards holds a "Fresh start for America" rally at Loren Walker Arena, West Burlington, IA