The Note: Literally in Denial




Morning Show Wrap

Evening Newscasts Wrap

12 days until Election Day


If we were backward looking, we could lead with Mrs. Heinz Kerry; Karen Hughes; Pat Robertson; lame Red Sox jokes/metaphors; or just how tired Mike McCurry looks.

If we wanted to be more forward looking and we were obsessed with textbook photo ops, we could lead with John Kerry packing into one news cycle both a hunting trip and a Dana Reeve event.

But at this point, we don't really do much of anything beyond pulling out our abacuses (or this boffo Electoral College calculator: LINK) and muse about various options.

Despite the efforts made on both sides — or, maybe, because of them — the general drift right now seems to be towards Red states staying Red and Blue states staying Blue.

We still believe that either candidate could win a tight or easy win this year, but if President Bush takes what seem now to be the two most likely Blue-to-Red pickups (Wisconsin and New Mexico), and Kerry takes his two (New Hampshire and Ohio), the Electoral College would be tied at 269-269, leading to a Bush victory in the House of Representatives.

Or perhaps the president will squeak out a victory in Maine's 2nd congressional district and all that pomp and circumstance on the floor of the House can be avoided.

Or perhaps the mischievous people of Colorado will vote to allocate their electoral votes in a unique and proportional way, and the SCOTUS can flex its co-equal status again.

President Bush heads to Pennsylvania for the 40th time today, holding a bus tour through the Keystone state to pitch his plan to curb limit malpractice awards while portraying Senator Kerry's health care plan as "government-run." He speaks in Downingtown at 1:45 pm ET and holds a rally in Hershey Park at 4:15 pm ET.

And yesterday evening the White House added a third publicized event, a meeting with the Archbishop of Philadelphia, at 3:00 pm ET. The Catholic vote in this race — very big, we don't have to tell you, Note readers.

In Portland, OH this morning, Senator Kerry goes geese hunting — to show "who he is" and give a sense of Kerry "the guy," in the words spinster Mike McCurry.

Rep. Ted Strickland, local Ducks Unlimited board member Bob Bellino, and retiring Buckeye State park manager Neal Brady join the Massachusetts Senator, who will be toting a Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag 12-gauge pump action, Woodlands Camo finish shotgun to hunt duck and geese, reports ABC News' Ed O'Keefe.

If you can't get your hands on both Allison Dobson's campaign memo about the hunt and on Charles Hurt's pre-hunt pool report — consider yourself totally out of a it and a big loser.

After the hunt Kerry makes a 1:30 pm ET "closing argument" speech in Columbus, introduced (and endorsed) by Christopher Reeve's widow Dana Reeve. Kerry's speech will criticize the president's decision to limit federally funded stem cell research to existing lines, and promise to emphasize science in a Kerry Administration. Kerry then heads to Minneapolis to hold a "Fresh Start for America" rally in the Metrodome's parking lot at 7:45 pm ET.

Vice President Cheney is also in Ohio this afternoon with an eye on sportsmen, holding a rally at the Tam-O-Shanter Sports Complex in Sylvania at 1:00 pm ET. Cheney then heads to Ashwaubenon, WI, for a rally at the National Railroad Museum at 4:15 pm ET.

Meanwhile, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the woman who played a big role in the most recent news cycle (thanks to her own mouth and the relentless efforts of the well-oiled and confident Bush campaign, which on principle thinks adult children are off limits but spouses are not), holds a conversation on health care at the Yardley Community Centre in Yardley, PA at 2:30 pm ET. It is unknown whether she will make herself available for questions.

Senator Edwards, following a six-event tour (!) through Ohio yesterday, heads to Iowa for a bus tour the day after both Bush and Kerry were in the Hawkeye State. Edwards holds a "Fresh Start for America" community gathering in Muscatine at 10:50 am ET and rallies Iowa City at 6:30 pm ET.

First Lady Laura Bush embarks on her first and only solo bus tour of the 2004 campaign, stopping in Lebanon, Hopkinton, and Nashua, NH at 12:00 pm ET, 1:45 pm ET, and 5:00 pm ET, respectively. We can't wait for Mrs. Bush's first "unscheduled" stops …

And Elizabeth Edwards attends town hall meetings in Kenosha, WI and Erie, PA at 11:15 pm ET and 4:45 pm ET respectively.

"World News Tonight" with Peter Jennings comes to you from Pittsburgh today, looking at the tactics and momentum in one of the Big Three battlegrounds.

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

CORRECTION: In Wednesday's Note, we accidentally referred to Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times as "Bill" Rutenberg. We did not mean any offense by it. The Note went to high school with a guy named Bill Rutenberg, and, as The Note's phys. ed. teacher sagely predicted, he never amounted to anything. The same cannot be said for our friend Mr. Jim Rutenberg, who offers the country and democracy a great service that should be accurately credited.

ABC News Vote 2004: the polls:

Voters are concerned about the flu vaccine shortage and the draft, writes ABC News' Polling Director Gary Langer is his analysis of the latest ABC tracking poll. While the horserace remains at 51 percent for Bush and 46 percent Kerry in the poll of likely voters taken Sunday to Tuesday, 61 percent say they are concerned about the flu vaccine shortage. On the draft, 36 percent believe Bush would impose the draft, compared to 28 percent for Kerry. LINK

Knight Ridder's Steve Thomma reports, "President Bush leads in all of the battleground states he carried in 2000, but he faces a tightening contest to repeat his wins in Ohio and New Hampshire, according to a new Knight Ridder-MSNBC poll released Wednesday." LINK

In the New York Times , Andrew Kohut of Pew writes "The round of national surveys taken after the third presidential debate indicates that the polls are not going to give us a clear picture of who will win the election until the final days of the campaign, if then. This is not because polling no longer works — it's because voter opinion is highly unstable." LINK

Scott Martelle of the Los Angeles Times summons as much excitement as he can to deliver his paper's latest California poll results in the presidential election. LINK

"Driven by widespread rejection of Bush administration policies, California voters have solidified their support for Democratic challenger John F. Kerry and stand poised to deliver him California's 55 electoral votes on election day . . ."

A West Virginia Poll has Bush leading Kerry 47 percent to 45 percent, with 2 percent favoring Nader and 5 percent still undecided. LINK

Voter fatigue is setting in with less than 288 hours away from election day. "Almost two-thirds of the nation is weary of the presidential campaign, according to a Scripps Howard News Service survey released yesterday," reports the Washington Times . LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry: the daily stuff:

The Washington Post 's Dana Milbank and Lois Romano chronicle the shots on Iraq that "echoed through the cornfields of north-central Iowa" (nice little bit of poetry in that lede) between President Bush and Senator Kerry on Wednesday, as each man accused the other of not understanding the real issues of the war and not being fit to be Commander in Chief. LINK

Matea Gold and Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times provide a smattering of tastes from the Iowa campaign trail yesterday. LINK

"In Iowa, where both campaigned Wednesday morning, Kerry portrayed Bush as a stubborn and isolated president who botched his responsibilities as commander in chief."

More: "Bush invoked Abu Musab Zarqawi, the militant believed to be behind much of the Iraqi insurgency, to argue that Kerry could not be trusted to keep America safe."

Glen Johnson and Rick Klein of the Boston Globe file from Iowa on the presidential candidates' sparring over terrorism — but they don't forget to remind us all of the very real, and very sentimental, importance of the Hawkeye State. LINK

USA Today 's Kasindorf and Nichols make the two candidates sound like Aykroyd and Curtain on Point/Counterpoint in Iowa yesterday. (LINK). LINK

Isn't it a little bit late for the Kerry campaign to be reading sentences like these?

"His aides said Mr. Kerry delivered the speech because he must prove himself as an acceptable wartime leader before he can win over undecided voters on domestic issues like health care and embryonic stem-cell research." LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence looks at the fear mongering tactics by both campaigns and cites the threat of terrorism as the number one issue. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry:

The Wall Street Journal 's Jake Schlesinger and Shailagh Murray take a good look at the fact that it's not only big national issues like Iraq and the war on terror that voters are focusing on, but also local and regional issues that could affect votes in specific states and areas of the country — for example, milk price supports, which could make a difference in Wisconsin, or Yucca Mountain, which concerns Nevada voters.

"Other questions motivate a bloc of voters spread across multiple swing states, such as the same-sex marriage issue for Christian evangelicals, and the Second Amendment for hunters. Those hot-button topics tend to favor Republicans, but Democrats have found one they think works to their advantage this year: highlighting allegations of voting-rights violations against African-Americans, in hopes of spurring larger turnout among the largely Democratic voters."

"Hispanics are disproportionately exposed to environmental health threats, according to a report released Wednesday by an environmental group," reports the Associated Press. We wonder if this will come up during John Kerry's Western swing. LINK

USA Today 's Judy Keen and Jill Lawrence report that "both presidential campaigns are about to get a last-minute infusion of star power," as Clinton hits the road on behalf of Kerry and Schwarzenegger for Bush. LINK

The Washington Times draws a parallel between Schwarzenegger and Clinton. LINK

The New York Times ' Rick Lyman looks at how U.S. soldiers in Iraq view the election. LINK

Thomas Friedman thinks "we still don't know which man used the debates to overcome his biggest liability." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's David Wessel writes that Bush and Kerry didn't sufficiently answer the jobs question during the debates.

The New York Times ' ed board argues in favor of raising taxes (headline: "Why Taxes Have To Go Up"), Noting each candidate's tax plan is "inadequate to support its candidate's vision of government." LINK

We can see the Bush ad now: "Kerry's friends at the New York Times are urging him to raise YOUR taxes …"

Al Hunt in the Wall Street Journal blames Bush for increasing partisan tensions and ends his column with an historical, unflattering look at the president's top adviser.

"For financial professionals, the Nov. 2 election presents a quandary: Although the Bush White House has been good for their pocketbooks, some worry that the administration's policies will hurt the economy and markets over the long term and ravage their clients' nest eggs," writes Tom Petruno in his Los Angeles Times look at how the presidential place is playing on Wall Street. LINK

Here's a sneak peak at what's coming your way in Sunday's New York Times Magazine:

James Traub Notes if Kerry is elected president, "he will face an obstacle just down the street that could prove as formidable as Iraq: the United State House of Representatives."

"No one insists more loudly than conservative Republicans that in the aftermath of 9/11 Americans should put aside partisanship and petty self-interest in order to stand together against a common enemy," writes Traub. "It turns out, however, that the spirit of '94 eclipses the spirit of 9/11."

Tomorrow night on "Nightline," Robert Krulwich wears out a little shoe leather — real and virtual — looking at how grassroots campaigning meets high technology, and John Donvan examines the mad mad world of polling!

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry: money and politics:

"This year's presidential and congressional campaigns will cost a record $3.9 billion, 30% more than the $3 billion spent four years ago, according to the Center for Responsive Politics," the Wall Street Journal 's Nicholas Zamiska writes, Noting that $2.5 billion came from individual donations to candidates and interest groups — up $1 billion since 2000.

The Los Angeles Times also looks at the billion-dollar campaign. LINK

"President Bush's campaign and the Republican National Committee had roughly $108 million in the bank collectively as they entered October, enough to maintain a blizzard of campaign advertisements and an army of workers through the campaign's final days, finance reports show," the New York Times ' Glen Justice reports. LINK

"Senator John Kerry's campaign and the Democratic National Committee that supports him had roughly $79 million on hand on Sept. 30, according to party and campaign officials. "

Remember as you read this next story: money in politics: not necessarily a bad thing.

"This year's presidential and congressional campaigns will cost a record $3.9 billion, 30% more than the $3 billion spent four years ago, according to the Center for Responsive Politics," per an article in today's Wall Street Journal .

As George Will is fond of pointing out, $4 billion ain't that much if it ensures the people's voice is heard and power is transitioned, orderly. And it reflects an underlying desire of millions of ordinary Americans to participate.

Incidentally: going into October, the DNC had $41 million on hand, while the Republicans had in excess of $70 million. Bush's GELAC had about $9 million on hand; Kerry's had about $5.3 million.

"Forget about selling beer during the World Series broadcasts — they're going to be selling Presidents," CUNY political analyst Doug Muzzio quoteth to the New York Daily News. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney re-elect: Club 700:

The New York Times ' David Kirkpatrick reports "the evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson has set off a partisan fight by telling a television interviewer that President Bush serenely assured him just before the invasion of Iraq, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."" LINK

Scott McClellan told reporters yesterday, "Of course, the president never made such a comment."

McClellan says Bush and Robertson did meet. But Bush, according to McClellan, never made a comment about there not being casualties in Iraq.

The Washington Post 's Alan Cooperman writes that while the Kerry campaign jumped all over the remarks, the BC04 camp denied the president ever said such a thing. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Wallsten and Chen Note that "Robertson's comments quickly became an issue in the presidential campaign and put the White House in the awkward position of denying comments from one of Bush's most prominent supporters." LINK

"Bush strategist Karl Rove told reporters that he was in the room for the Feb. 10, 2003, meeting, and that Robertson was incorrect in his recollection. 'I was right there,' Rove said."

The article on Robertson's fall out with the POTUS got prominent placement in the New York Daily News. LINK

Maureen Dowd takes Robertson's comments and writes "W.'s willful blindness comes from mistakenly assuming that his desires are God's, as if he knows where God stands on everything from democracy in Iraq to capital-gains tax cuts." LINK

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

Knight Ridder's Hutcheson and Douglas report, "President Bush will end his four-year term having fulfilled about 46 percent of the promises he made during the 2000 presidential campaign, according to an analysis by Knight Ridder." LINK

Any reporter who has traveled with the president can retell verbatim the story of his dinner with Prime Minister Koizumi (where's the Kobe beef??) and how Bush ties that to the "transformational power of liberty."

The New York Times ' muscular David Sanger Notes that this is President Bush's way of "infusing the storyline of his presidency with a sense of mission." LINK

"It is deliberately far more Reagan than Bush 41, a sparkling symbol of 'the vision thing' that Mr. Bush's father lacked, with disastrous electoral results, a dozen years ago. And while the president's riff rarely shows up on the evening news, it is the uplifting moment in his daily message. It is artfully crafted to get his audiences to look beyond the daily headlines of beheadings and suicide bombers, of an insurgency that has defied American military might, and to focus Americans' attention on the fact that Afghans have just gone to the polls and that Iraqis are trying to do the same."

One man's courage of conviction is another man's stubbornness, writes the Wall Street Journal 's Jackie Calmes in a look at President Bush's resolute style that according to polls, both appeals to and concerns voters. LINK

"In February strategy sessions, as it became clear Mr. Kerry would be the Democratic nominee, Bush advisers, knowing that presidential elections historically are a referendum on the incumbent, decided their strongest card was to promote the president with the slogan: 'A steady leader in times of change.' That conclusion led to the decision to attack Mr. Kerry as the opposite — a flip-flopper — instead of going with the predictable strategy of lambasting the senator as another liberal from Massachusetts. The contrast between a decisive candidate and one labeled a flip-flopper had another benefit for the Bush team. It neutralized the president's negatives among voters who were beginning to fear he was too hard-headed — stubborn to a fault."

Here's a story that will make Phil Singer downright giddy! Cabinet Secretaries out on the campaign trail. LINK

President Bush talks about the "complicated mess" that is the tax code but the Boston Globe 's Rick Klein reports that "Bush's own policies have made the tax code more complicated than ever." LINK

AP's Steve LeBlanc reports that the Bush-Cheney campaign is sponsoring live radio traffic reports in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. "An announcer reads 'this traffic report is paid for by Bush-Cheney '04' and then launches into the traffic update." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

Knight Ridder's James Kuhnhenn reports, "In his 20 years in the Senate, Kerry has accumulated a voting record that puts him almost smack in the middle of his Democratic Senate colleagues, according to an authoritative analysis of congressional votes by professors Keith T. Poole of the University of Houston and Howard Rosenthal of Princeton." LINK

Bob Novak writes about the "loosely connected national network" of Catholics opposing Kerry. LINK

Al Hunt writes in his Campaign Journal that while the Kerry campaign is thrilled that the Big Dog is coming out to run (to be clear, we mean no disrespect to President Clinton; we've just been waiting to write that sentence for a long time), there's been some back-and-forth over where he'd campaign for John Kerry. Hunt calls his impending Philadelphia stop "puzzling."

The Washington Post 's Paul Farhi and John Harris offer more details. LINK

New York Daily News Headline: "Bill puts his heart into the final push for Dems." LINK

Where will Bill Clinton campaign after Philadelphia? Put your money, if you're a betting kind of Note reader, on South Florida . . . .

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that in an interview with an Ohio University journalism student Kerry "backed off his recent assertion that there was a 'great potential' that President Bush would reinstate the draft." LINK

"'What I said was it's possible because I don't know what he's going to do,' Kerry said in an interview published in Monday's Ohio University Post."

Remember those pre-convention police picket lines before the Democratic National Convention? Well, maybe Senator Kerry's refusal to cross them paid off. The Boston Globe reports "Boston's police patrolmen's union yesterday voted overwhelmingly to endorse John F. Kerry for president." LINK

The Washington Post 's Ann Gerhart looks at the KE04 efforts by seniors to get out the vote in Florida. LINK

We're not sure if the campaign has polled to make sure it is indeed still American's favorite pastime, but …

"Aides said Kerry stood up the entire time the Yankees were at bat in the ninth inning, his eyes glued to the screen. When the victorious Red Sox stormed the field, he told his staff, 'Now, I can sleep,'" reports Matea Gold of the Los Angeles Times. LINK

Is he still so nah-h-h-ce? After sticking to a optimism and positive populist rhetoric, John Edwards has shown himself to be plenty comfortable with "bare-knuckled rhetoric on the campaign trail these days," reports the Washington Post 's John Wagner. LINK

Rep. Barney Frank has begun airing ads to raise his profile in Massachusetts in preparation for a potential run for what could possibly be a vacated Massachusetts Senate seat should John Kerry win the presidency next Tuesday. LINK

Because the Bay State is not a battleground one, residents from Senator Kerry's home state have headed to other states to help get out the vote. LINK


"It is not something that occurs often in a political campaign, but Teresa Heinz Kerry offered an apology on Wednesday for saying Laura Bush had never had "a real job," writes the New York Times ' Kit Seelye. LINK

Read the last paragraph to find out, as others have, that Mrs. Bush was apparently less bothered by all this than Karen Hughes and Nicolle Devenish were.

Teresa Heinz Kerry's remarks and apology concerning Laura Bush's past employment is described by the Los Angeles Times' Rosenblatt as "a small campaign sideshow." LINK

"Kerry aides said they were a bit unnerved when they read Heinz Kerry's remarks," reports Pat Healy of the Boston Globe . LINK

The Washington Post 's Hanna Rosin Notes "if there is one taboo in campaign mud fights, it's girl-on-girl slaps." LINK

Deb Orin's headline writers have been waiting a while to use this: "Heinz in a Pickle." LINK

"Anyone who thinks that serving as first lady isn't a real job isn't ready for the job themselves," a Bush aide told the Washington Times on anonymity. "Does that put Mrs. Heinz Kerry in her place?" LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting:

"Bowing to pressure from both political parties, the Pentagon says it will post on its Web site a federal write-in ballot that civilian and military voters alike can use overseas if their regular ballots fail to arrive in time," reports the New York Times ' Michael Moss. LINK

Good news for overseas voters, but this might create more headaches for elections officials at home.

"President Bush's campaign charged yesterday that fraudulent voting engineered by pro-Democratic groups could throw the election to John F. Kerry — a charge Democrats immediately attacked as a Republican smoke screen to justify the intimidation of minority voters on Election Day," report the Washington Post 's Jo Becker and Tom Edsall. Note: there is never a time when the use of "skullduggery" in a story is a bad thing. LINK

And call Lou Dobbs — part of this issue is outsourcing, according to elections officials! "To a large degree, election officials said, the bad registrations can be attributed to the parties' decision to outsource voter registration operations to private companies and nonprofit groups that pay temporary employees for every new voter they sign up. In essence, they said, the problem is not fraud for partisan gain but greed."

There are some allegations from former employees of Sproul and Associates adjuncts about voter registration destruction and fraud … and now there are allegations from a former (allegedly disgruntled) ACORN employee about the same.

Both entities have repeatedly denied wrongdoing to us, but very senior Democrats and Republicans admit that they're embarrassed by these allegations (the Republicans more so than Democrats, since they are directly affiliated with one of the groups in question). LINK

"Voters are responsible for proving who they are and knowing where they are supposed to vote. There will be charges that both rulings permit "intimidation," which in today's liberal lexicon is a synonym for linking rights to responsibilities," writes George Will. LINK

Brian C. Mooney of the Boston Globe looks at a potential X factor: Election Day registrants. "These are voters the campaigns for the most part do not even know exist, let alone how they will vote." LINK

The AP reports "Sagging performance and mounting legal costs in its electronic voting segment kept third-quarter earnings nearly flat at Diebold Inc., the company said Wednesday." LINK

The man who will replace Theresa LePore as supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County requested an absentee ballot a while ago but hasn't gotten it yet. LINK

Note to Democrats: do NOT underestimate how many Republican lawyers and volunteers and activists will be out in force on Election Day …

ABC News Vote 2004: casting and counting: watchdog:

Several questions we get asked a lot, so here's our brief answers:

1. Yes, it is illegal to vote twice. Hopefully, your election administrator will discover attempts to vote twice, but no, there is not a national database of voters.

2. No, your state does not have to have a single, statewide voter database this election year. Most will have them by 2006, and a few have them today.

3. Yes, that weird-looking Michigan absentee ballot with misaligned arrows has been dealt with; voters have been contacted and sent new ones.

4. No, we don't know for sure what Ohio's provisional ballot situation will be. We'll let you know.

5. We're not sure whether the resolution to this election will be postponed. Believe it or not, both candidates have a political imperative to get to the business of a transition (to a second term or to a first) as quickly and cleanly and legitimately as possible.

6. Broward County voters wonder: where is my absentee ballot? The Supervisor of Elections says they're sending them out as fast as they can, but they were inundated with requests. We say: it's getting late in the game, folks … LINK

If you haven't gotten your absentee ballot by next Monday (and you requested one a while ago), let us know:

Thanks again to all those who've sent in thoughtful questions.

Please keep them coming. We'll respond individually, if we know the answer or can help immediately. Send your e-mails to

Be sure to include "Watchdog" in the subject line.

ABC News Vote 2004: Florida:

John Kerry and George Bush are in a statistical dead heat in the Sunshine State, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll of likely voters. Kerry has all but erased the president's 7-point edge in the last Q-poll on Oct. 7 (that survey had Bush at 51 percent and Kerry at 44 percent.). Today's poll puts George Bush at 48 percent, John Kerry at 47 percent, and Ralph Nader at 1 percent.

". . . for the first time more Kerry supporters say their vote means they are voting for the Senator, and not just against President Bush," said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Also of Note, the Senate race between Mel Martinez and Betty Castor is also in a dead heat with each candidate pulling 47 percent of those polled.

Adam Smith makes a good point in today's St. Pete Times: John Kerry doesn't need Florida's 27 votes to win the election, but President Bush almost certainly does. (Do the math: if he loses 27 votes in Florida and wins, say, Wisconsin from Kerry, he still needs two more Blue states to get re-elected.) LINK

Geographic correction in today's New York Times : "An article on Tuesday about early balloting in Florida attributed distinctions erroneously to Duvall County, where the elections office has been under fire for opening only one early-voting site. It is neither Florida's largest county, as some copies said, nor its most populous. Collier is the largest and Miami-Dade the most populous."

Voter registration along the I-4 corridor blossomed by nearly 200,000 since 2000 — almost equally split between Democrats and Republicans, according to an Orlando Sentinel analysis. LINK

Your best, one-stop source for Florida political news: LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Pennsylvania:

Peter Jennings heads to the Keystone State today and reports from Pittsburgh, where a certain congressional race is illustrating the power of incumbency.

Former President Clinton's headed to Philadelphia on Monday and the candidates have been there non-stop this week.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports, "Seventeen hospitals in Southeastern Pennsylvania and half of New Jersey hospitals do not have their supply of flu vaccine, according to hospital association figures." LINK

The Philadelphia Daily News reports that the Philadelphia City Commission "yesterday refused to hear requests [from the Bush-Cheney campaign and other Republicans] to relocate 63 polling places in predominantly minority neighborhoods, saying the requests had been filed after the deadline on Friday." LINK

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, "Fifty priests and several hundred sisters and laity from Western Pennsylvania have signed an ad in the Pittsburgh Catholic, saying that voting decisions cannot be reduced to the single issue of abortion." LINK

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Republicans are making a dent in Allegheny County voter registration numbers. "After this year's ballyhooed voter-registration blitz, Democrats now outnumber Republicans 2.12-to-1, down from 2.16-to-1 a year ago." LINK

Democratic Senate candidate Joe Hoeffel is attacking his opponent for voting with President Bush 89 percent of the time. LINK

But, the Philadelphia Daily News reports, "Snarlin' Arlen" Specter is attacking back and hard while "running an aggressive, even nasty campaign for a fifth six-year term." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Ohio:

Is Ken Blackwell starting to become a political liability in Ohio for the president?

"A federal judge ripped Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell yesterday for failing to comply with a court order regarding provisional ballots and for 'failure to do his duty,'" reports the Columbus Dispatch's Niquette. LINK

However, Judge Carr did side with Blackwell on voter ID guidelines. LINK

Actor Ed Norton did a little politicking yesterday in the Buckeye State. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Iowa:

The Los Angeles Times continues its look at the battlegrounds with today's look at the Hawkeye State. LINK

"Democrat Al Gore's victory in 2000 revealed changes in the state's political complexion. Gore won by a mere 4,144-vote margin, or two votes per precinct, as Republican canvassers like to say."

"The key to the shift: Nearly two-thirds of the counties won by President Clinton in 1996 went Republican in 2000; most were in rural areas."

Tom Beaumont and Lynn Campbell of the Des Moines Register report, "With the same hard-hitting sense of urgency, Bush and Kerry sought to weaken each other's standing as wartime leaders and domestic stewards." LINK

Campbell was with Bush and Beaumont was with Kerry. LINK and LINK

Vanessa Miller of the Iowa Press Citizen reports that Iowa counties have registered record numbers of voters, Noting that in 2000 Iowa's margin of victory was just over 4,000 votes. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Wisconsin:

The Bush campaign trotted out the 48,000-member Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation endorsement yesterday while the candidate was in the Badger State.

And the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports this: The Kerry campaign announced Wednesday it was starting a new TV ad in several Wisconsin media markets this week that accuses Bush of having "a secret plan to terminate the MILC program" and for fighting "for special deals for Halliburton, but (he) won't fight for Wisconsin dairy farmers." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Minnesota:

Kerry heads to Minnesota today and Cheney is there tomorrow. LINK

Under the headline, "Bush rallies core supporters in Rochester," the Star Tribune looks at how the president appealed to his base in the Republican stronghold of Rochester yesterday. "Bush's and Kerry's latest Minnesota activity suggests that the candidates are shifting from chasing undecided voters to turning out their core constituencies in battleground Minnesota." LINK

Trust us: Both sides are going for both types of voters all the way until the end.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press ledes: "A laid-off factory worker, a first-time home buyer, a dairy farmer and a computer entrepreneur joined President Bush Wednesday to illustrate the successes of his tax and economic policies during a brief campaign stop in a hard-fought race to win Minnesota." LINK

The Minneapolis Star Tribune's Jean Hopfensperger looks at what families in Minnesota really want to hear from their presidential choices. LINK

The closely watched race for the 6th congressional district seat between Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy and Democratic challenger Patty Wetterling is still heating up. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: New Mexico:

It's Domenici vs. Richardson here. The Albuquerque Journal's Michael Coleman gets the top two partisans in the state to provide a must-read political geography lesson on the Land of Enchantment. LINK

If the president plans on visiting Albuquerque, NM again this campaign season, he should probably think about a quick visit with Charles Davis. LINK

"The state's revenue outlook, mainly because of high energy prices, has improved significantly for the rest of the current budget year, and lawmakers will find a sizable pot of money available to them in the 2005 session of the Legislature to assemble a blueprint for financing education and government operations," reports the Associated Press. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Nevada:

A Las Vegas Review Journal poll has Bush leading Kerry 52% to 42%. LINK

A Republican staffer accused of destroying Democrat's voter registration forms in Nevada is suing his accuser for slander, reports Sito Negron of the Las Vegas Sun. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Colorado:

The Denver Post reports a look at the updated voter registration number shows Republicans might be losing their grip on the area south of Denver, Arapahoe and Douglas counties. LINK

Gwen Florio and Burt Hubbard of the Rocky Mountain News report "So much cash is flowing into Colorado's legislative races that voters could be in danger of tripping over moneybags." LINK

Chris Frates of the Denver Post reports the anti Amendment 36 effort — supporting an initiative that would split Colorado's nine electoral votes proportionally — has raised almost $2 million dollars. Both sides of the issue have taken out-of-state cash. The No on 36 campaign goes on the air today with a clever South Parkesque television ad. The pro-36 campaign is airing commercials as well. LINK

The Denver Post profiles Bob Beauprez: dairy farmer, banker and incumbent to the 7th congressional district. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Oregon:

Following the Democrats lead, the Oregon State Republican party will begin door to door ballot collections throughout the state. LINK

The Oregonian's Betsy Hammond gets heavy on education and the policy differences between the candidates. LINK


Patrick Kerkstra of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports Ralph Nader's unresolved ballot status has held up military ballots sent overseas. "More than the military, states and local jurisdictions are to blame for not getting their ballots to overseas soldiers. Late primary elections and legal challenges — many of them involving Ralph Nader's bid to get on ballots — have delayed printing and mailing absentee ballots in many jurisdictions." LINK

Nader campaigns in Florida today, appearing at a rally at the University of South Florida — St. Petersburg. LINK

Maria Recio of Knight Ridder Newspapers profiles the "unlikely trio with no name recognition, not much money and no hope of winning" presidential candidates Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party, David Cobb of the Green Party and Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party, who are on the ballot in most of the country LINK

A group of Superior-area Nader 2000 supporters will announce today their support for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. LINK

The politics of the flu:

The Washington Post 's Christopher Lee and Eric Weiss report that "President Bush questioned yesterday whether members and employees of Congress should receive flu shots if they do not meet federal health guidelines designed to cope with a nationwide vaccine shortage." Note that Vice President Cheney has had flu shot; Phil Singer certainly has taken notice. LINK

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

The politics of national security:

"The Bush administration said publicly Wednesday it does not endorse a plan by three European allies to offer Iran incentives to suspend its enrichment of uranium, a key step in producing nuclear weapons," reports the AP. LINK

"Iran has made steady progress toward producing nuclear fuel and could make significant quantities of enriched uranium in less than a year, according to new estimates by diplomats, scientists and intelligence officials," reports the Los Angeles Times. LINK

More: "Despite persistent suspicions, however, a report due next month by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency is not expected to provide proof that Tehran has a weapons program, diplomats said."

The politics of intelligence:

One contrasting image the Bush camp would no doubt like to put up against the Kerry ad featuring 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser is the president signing the intelligence reform bill implementing many of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Mary Curtius of the Los Angeles Times has the details on a congressional compromise afoot. LINK

"House Republicans, who had been criticized for weeks as obstacles to a bill consolidating authority over the nation's intelligence services, offered a compromise Wednesday that they said could get the bill finished before the Nov. 2 elections."

"The opening round of House-Senate negotiations meant to craft a bill restructuring the nation's intelligence community ended in discord yesterday as lawmakers disagreed on whether tougher immigration rules and a new civil liberties board should be part of the package," reports the Washington Post 's Chuck Babington. LINK

The economy:

"The U.S. retail real-estate market continued to improve in the third quarter, with rents rising and vacancies falling for the second straight quarter, according to a new survey, " the Wall Street Journal 's Ryan Chittum reports. Bets on whether this ends up somewhere on the trail in a mention of the ownership society?

Jim Hoagland writes "the whining about oil supplies and a weak dollar that undermined Carter, or the drumbeat of complaints about budget deficits that plagued Bush 41, seems containable this November." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

The Argus Leader's Jon Walker reports that Thune is criticizing Daschle for receiving the D.C. homestead tax break. LINK

The Lakeland Ledger's Lloyd Dunkelberger reports that Democratic Senate candidate Betty Castor argued Wednesday that she and her Republican opponent, former HUD Secretary Mel Martinez, should pull their negative ads off TV. Then he Notes that "the usually unflappable Castor angrily ripped Martinez before she voted in her Tampa precinct Wednesday morning." LINK

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Republican Party left Alan Keyes off of a recent mailing promoting the GOP ticket. LINK

The Washington Post 's Peter Slevin takes a look at how strange — and close, and mean — the Kentucky Senate race has become. LINK

"Senator Jim Bunning, a hard thrower during his Hall of Fame baseball career, fired at his Democratic opponent Wednesday, accusing him of spreading "disgusting" rumors that the incumbent is mentally incompetent," reports the AP's Bruce Schreiner. LINK

The AP reports that Tom Coburn "declined to comment" Wednesday on the comments by Speaker Hastert that Coburn "'probably'" wouldn't win the Oklahoma Senate race. LINK

The AP's Rachel D'Oro reports that Senator Murkowski "is the Republican most in danger of losing her seat." LINK

Roll Call 's Chris Cillizza reports that the "most expensive race from July 1 to Sept. 30" was North Carolina, where "upwards of $12 million was spent" by Burr and Bowles. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the House:

The Washington Post 's David Finkel takes an in-depth look at the race in Connecticut's 2nd congressional district between Republican incumbent Rep. Rob Simmons and his Democratic challenger, Jim Sullivan, where the war in Iraq has taken center stage. LINK

Sinclair Broadcast Group:

"Sinclair Broadcast, whose stock price has been battered over its plans to broadcast a documentary critical of Senator John Kerry, gained back some ground on Wall Street yesterday after it appeared to reduce how much of the film it would show," reports the New York Times ' Bill Carter. LINK


The Washington Post 's Evelyn Nieves takes a very interesting look at the Oglala Lakota Sioux in South Dakota, Noting that despite candidates' — and even Presidents' — visits, "skepticism of campaign pledges runs deep in Indian country, given the government's history of broken promises." LINK

Chief White House usher Gary Walters got a jump-start on the holiday season when he chose a tree farm in Olympia, Washington for the White House and Camp David Christmas trees. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—6:45 am: Sen. John Kerry goes geese hunting, Poland, OH

—9:00 am: AEI-Brookings hosts a discussion on "How Would George W. Bush Govern a Second Term?" Washington, DC

—9:40 am: Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle casts his vote early rather than voting on Election Day at the Madison City Clerk's office, Madison, WI

—10:00 am: The American Muslim Task Force Political Action Committee holds a news conference to announce its decision about endorsement of a presidential

candidate at the National Press Club, Washington, DC

—10:30 am: Political and agricultural analyst and reporter for the National Journal Jerry Hagstrom hosts a briefing about the rural vote at the Foreign Press Center, Washington, DC

—10:50 am: Sen. John Edwards holds a "Fresh Start for America" community gathering at the Muscatine High School Gymnasium, Muscatine, IA

—11:15 am: Elizabeth Edwards attends a town hall meeting at UAW Local 72 Hall, Kenosha, WI

—12:00 pm: Laura Bush speaks at a rally at the Lebanon Opera House, Lebanon, NH

—12:30 pm: The Democracy Media Project and others screen the film, "Votergate," and host a panel discussion on what Americans can do to protect their voting rights at the National Press Club, Washington, DC

—1:00 pm: Vice President Cheney participates in a Victory 2004 rally at the Sylvania Tam-O-Shanter Sports Complex, Sylvania, OH

—1:15 pm: Sen. Elizabeth Dole holds a front porch chat on behalf of President Bush at the Fritz residence, Ft. Meyers, FL

—1:30 pm: Sen. Kerry speaks about restoring America's leadership in science and innovation at the Columbus Athenaeum, Columbus, OH

—1:45 pm: President Bush speaks about medical liability reform and health care at the United Sports Training Center, Downingtown, PA

—1:45 pm: Laura Bush speaks at a W Stands for Women rally at the Hopkinton Town Hall, Hopkinton, NH

—2:00 pm: Sen. Dole holds a media availability following her front porch chat, Ft. Meyers, FL

—2:30 pm: Teresa Heinz Kerry holds a conversation on health care at the Yardley Community Centre, Yardley, PA

—3:00 pm: President Bush meets with the Archbishop of Philadelphia at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Downingtown, PA

—5:00 pm: Laura Bush speaks at a rally at the Nashua Airport, Nashua, NH

—4:15 pm: President Bush speaks at Victory 2004 Rally at Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey, PA

—4:15 pm: Vice President Cheney participates in a Victory 2004 Rally at the National Railroad Museum, Ashwaubenon, WI

—4:45 pm: Elizabeth Edwards holds a town hall meeting at the UE Local 506 Union Hall, Erie, PA

—6:30 pm: Sen. Edwards holds a "Fresh start for America" rally at Hubbard Park, Iowa City, IA

—7:45 pm: Sen. Kerry holds a "Fresh start for America" rally at the Metrodome Parking Lot, Minneapolis, MN