The new CBS Poll shows 47% for Bush, 45% for Kerry out of likely voters. 78% of voters say this election is more important than past elections. 92% say they are paying very close attention to this election.
CBS' John Roberts says Bush made his first campaign appearance of the year in NJ. While polls show he is waging an uphill battle there, the Bush campaign hopes his "get tough on terror" message will help. The Kerry campaign criticized Bush's for using 9/11 as an election ploy. The new CBS polls show that 46% believe that national security is the most important issue, followed by the economy at 37%. Of the 46% who believe that national security is the number one issue, 63% support President Bush. The poll shows that voters are losing confidence in Kerry to fight the war on terror. Roberts says, "as long as Bush can hang onto his double-digit lead in on this issue, he will do well two weeks from now."
ABC's Jeffrey Kofman notes that today Al Gore urged people to vote early in a robo call. He says there is a lingering sense that the thousands of votes cast in 2000 were not counted. So far this year, the key computer system failed and voting was delayed by two hours in some locations. Democrats don't trust Republican Secretary of State Glenda Hood, so part of the Democratic strategy in Florida will include training hundreds of lawyers. Democrats have already filed numerous lawsuits.
In a very negative package, NBC's Kerry Sanders covered first-day voting problems in Florida. Sanders described that "huge turnout" "caught election officials off-guard," saying "it was not a good start today. The polls opened early. But they stopped almost immediately." In Jacksonville, Sanders continued, "officials opened only one polling place." It "wasn't supposed to be like this." After Sanders closed saying election officials say the problems have been fixed, Brokaw quipped, "we'll wait and see."
ABC's Dean Reynolds reports that Kerry took direct aim at Bush's leadership on Iraq and healthcare. Kerry called Bush arrogant, and said the truth was beginning to come out. Kerry jumped on privatization of Social Security as the January surprise. Today, President Bush dismissed Kerry's scare tactics.
ABC's Terry Moran says Bush in New Jersey today sought to refocus debate on the war on terror. Bush accused Kerry of having a policy of weakness, continuing the attack on airwaves with a new ad asking voters if they could take a risk. For more than 30 years, Republicans have enjoyed an advantage on national security. The President is hoping to take advantage of that.
NBC's Brokaw introduced "Nightly News" saying that if the current rhetoric keeps up, the "political landscape will be scorched earth by election." Kelly O'Donnell's package on Kerry led the broadcast. She said that Kerry "pivot[ed] back to Iraq" after planning to discuss health care. She highlighted Kerry's mention of Gen. Ricardo Sanchez's memo as well as his criticism of the President's social security plans.
NBC's David Gregory reported that, "invoking the horrors of 9/11," President Bush "unleashed a retooled attack" on Kerry's foreign policy, calling it a "Sept. 10 attitude" and one of "protest and defeatism." Gregory included Bush's accusation that Kerry was trying to "scare people going into the polls" and reported that the President plans "to get even more negative" before the election.