The Note: A Lifetime in Politics

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One week from today, Gang of 500 members are going to have to decide how to fill the Longest Day of Waiting.

Not everyone likes to spend Election Day in exactly the same way, but here is a rough guide to Zen happiness:

November 2, 2004:

6:45 am — start to read the Times , the Post , and the Journal and realize that the stories are useless, soon-to-be-OBE.

7:00 am — watch Good Morning America and realize that ABC News is the place to be all day.

7:45 am — — receive call from daughter at grad school who tells you she is waiting in line to vote for the very first time in her life … and the line is really long!

8:46 am — consider calling friends at the networks to get early exit poll results, but recall that they don't get the first data until the early afternoon

8:47 am — call friends at the networks to get early exit poll results, thinking maybe they have some.

8:50 am — call Al Hunt and hear about anecdotal turnout from "key" precincts in Florida, Ohio, and New Hampshire and decide you know who is going to win.

9:00 — go to the voting booth yourself; feel the buzz in the air; try to read the impassive faces of those in line around you; nervously worry you'll vote for the wrong guy by mistake — because it really is confusing in that booth; vote; sigh in relief.

9:20 am — check to see if it is snowing in eastern New Mexico.

9:30 am — check Noted Now for the latest information on casting and counting controversies. LINK

9:30 am — read The Note obsessively and closely for hints about what Brooke Brower thinks will happen.

11:30 am — place your guess for what time the concession speech starts into the office pool.

Noon — lunch at the Palm (in DC or NY); check BlackBerry obsessively for exit polls; act nonchalant.

1:25 — try to figure out how to get on the conference call where Jack Oliver briefs Rangers, Pioneers, and Regents. (Note: not necessary if you are in fact a Ranger, Pioneer, or Regent.)

2:00 pm — wildly overreact to a picture of long lines at polling stations in Cuyahoga County as definitive proof that turnout is going to be unprecedented.

2:15 pm — get scattered exit poll results from friendly lobbyist; call network journalist and offer to trade; be told "those are OUR numbers, I don't need to trade."

3:30 pm — see some exit poll results on the Drudge Report; don't even stop for a minute to doubt if they are accurate or not.

3:45 pm — become engrossed in the every-two-years debate on Slate about whether leaking the exit poll results is salutary for democracy.

4:44 pm — receive call from son in college who tells you he overslept, forgot to vote, and none of his friends are going to bother now.

5:15 pm — ask yourself if Terry Nelson or Michael Whouley is really capable of ordering a diesel fuel truck to be overturned on a key road in a key state to block traffic.

5:16 pm — stop wondering.

5:20 pm — scroll through 800 BlackBerry messages, all from people who are offering up the exact same numbers you already have.

6:00 pm — watch Fox and MSNBC anchors lean really hard into giving up the horserace results in key states by pretending to simply talk about cross tabs ("It's going to be a looooong, painful night in Ohio for John Kerry … ").

7:00 pm — tune-in to ABC News' election night coverage.

7:01 pm — wonder if you should have ordered in pizza, chips and beer to watch the evening's events; fix yourself a strong martini instead.

7:43 pm — suddenly start to feel very jittery — fix another martini.

8:00 pm — wonder if you should have gone to the Reagan building/Boston after all.

8:00 pm onward — wait.

The most recent ABC News tracking poll shows that a larger number of voters cite the economy as their most important issue (24%) than cite terrorism (20%) — and that President Bush is wildly popular among those who cite terrorism while Senator Kerry is favored two to one on those focused on the economy, Iraq, health care, or education.

Today the candidates try to make inroads among their opponents' strongest supporters.

President Bush will focus on the economy and "protecting America's families' budgets," while Senator John Kerry will accuse Bush of having "failed to address gaps in our homeland security, putting America at risk" and being "divorced from reality in Iraq."

Kerry and his running mate are also expected to criticize Vice President Cheney characterization that Iraq has been a "remarkable success story," and continue harping on the story about 380 tons of missing explosives from Iraq.

Meanwhile, in Washington, time runs out on Congress to agree on intelligence reform that would reach the president before the election. A final bill could be passed this week by a joint House-Senate conference, but would be delayed for final Congressional approval (and signing) until after the election. The 9/11 Family Steering Committee hold an 11:00 am press conference to criticize Congress over the bill.

And happy birthday, Patriot Act; its third anniversary is celebrated today in a John Ashcroft Wall Street Journal op-ed.

President Bush is in the Midwest all day: He rallies Onalaska, WI at 9:25 am, holds a "Focus on the Economy" event in Richland Center, WI at 12:40 pm, and rallies Cuba City, WI and Dubuque, IA at 3:55 and 5:25, respectively.

Senator Kerry will try to complete his longest day of the general election campaign to date, beginning with a 9:00 am homeland security speech in Green Bay, WI. He then heads out West, likely for the final time, to rally Las Vegas at 5:00 pm and Albuquerque at 9:45 pm — before heading back to the Midwest to sleep and rally Sioux City, IA.

Vice President Cheney is in Florida all day, holding rallies in West Palm Beach, Lake City, and Pensacola at 10:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 3:15 pm, respectively.

Former President Clinton, following an evening Miami rally, speaks to the B'nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton at 12:30 pm.

Senator John Edwards brings a covey of celebrities with him to a 10:30 am Minneapolis event: Ashton Kutcher, Scott Wolf and his wife Kelley Limp, musician Max Weinberg, and Kerry's stepsons Chris and Andre Heinz. Edwards then heads to Pennsylvania, holding a town hall in Reading at 3:25 pm and a rally in Wilkes Barre at 6:45 pm. He overnights in Clearwater, FLA.

Elsewhere, Zell Miller is in New Hampshire; Teresa Heinz Kerry and Rep. Rob Portman is in Ohio; and Elizabeth Edwards is in Minnesota and Michigan.

And in Denver, a U.S. District Court hears a voter lawsuit challenging the state amendment that would split the state's electorate votes proportionally based on the popular vote.

ABC News Vote 2004: rebutted October surprise?:

There is a strong and not always unwarranted suspicion on the right that the press likes to end-load the pre-election news cycle with lots of hard-hitting, negative stories … so with that, we bring you the latest "surprise" stories that have the potential to develop nationally.

Yesterday's "surprise" — the New York Times story on the missing explosives, " … gave Kerry an opening on national security" and leads some to say that Monday was "the second day in a row that Bush appeared on the defensive on the issue his advisers believe will lead to Kerry's defeat: keeping the United States safe," reports the Washington Post 's VandeHei and Allen. LINK

An NBC News report last night suggested that those explosives went missing before April 10, 2003 — before U.S. troops ever got to the site in Iraq, leading to an avalanche of push-back from the Bush campaign last night. If the 101st Airborne Division was indeed there one day after liberation and they could not find any of the high grade explosives, that does cast doubt on the suggestion that the Bush Administration's alleged failure to plan for post-war eventualities was to blame.

(Timing is a critical issue here: the Times story yesterday include this paragraph: "Earlier this month, in a letter to the I.A.E.A. in Vienna, a senior official from Iraq's Ministry of Science and Technology wrote that the stockpile disappeared after early April 2003 because of '"the theft and looting of the governmental installations due to lack of security."'" (emphasis ours).

The NBC story does not exonerate the president, but it does add context that rebuts, at least to some extent, the most hyperbolic charges that we heard yesterday.

Perhaps the Bush Administration can be faulted for not pre-securing the site, and there is ample evidence that they were warned about it and the dangerous explosives. But that's a different and less meaty charge than what the story sounded like across America — that they knew about the site and failed to secure it after the war.

And unless one knows for sure the timing of the removal, one can't say for sure either way how seriously this should be treated substantively or politically.

There is no hard evidence yet that the missing Al Qaqaa explosives are being used to kill U.S. troops or that the troops are less safe because of what the administration did or didn't do to secure this material.

For their part, the Kerry campaign defended the Times story by suggesting the Bush Administration is distorting the words of journalists.

We're not sure how this plays out, but the point is: one news cycle of the eight left was partially dominated by this story. There is still time to set the record straight.

The reporter who co-wrote the original story, David Sanger, today writes of the political heat his words stirred up:

"In several sessions with reporters, the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, alternately insisted that Mr. Bush 'wants to make sure that we get to the bottom of this' and tried to distance the president from knowledge of the issue, saying Mr. Bush was informed of the disappearance only within the last 10 days. White House officials said they could not explain why warnings from the international agency in May 2003 about the stockpile's vulnerability to looting never resulted in action. At one point, Mr. McClellan pointed out that 'there were a number of priorities at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom.'" LINK

"Asked about accusations from the Kerry campaign that the White House had kept the disappearance secret until The Times and CBS broke the story on Monday morning, Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director, said the White House had decided 'to get all the facts and find out exactly what happened in this case, and then whether there are other cases.'"

"Mr. Bartlett went on to say, 'So doing it piecemeal — I don't think that would have been the responsible thing.' He said that so far, no other large-scale cases of looting of explosives had been found."

"Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, also contended that The Times had chosen to run the article at the end of the campaign, though he argued that the explosives probably disappeared about 18 months ago. The Times article said it was based on a letter reporting the missing explosives dated two weeks ago, on Oct. 10, sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the Iraqi interim government. The Times and CBS confirmed the facts in the letter in an interview with the Iraqi minister of science and technology, Rashad M. Omar."

"On Monday evening, Nicolle Devenish, the spokeswoman for the Bush campaign, noted a section of the Times report indicating that American troops, on the way to Baghdad in April 2003, stopped at the Al Qaqaa complex and saw no evidence of high explosives. Noting that the cache may have been looted before the American invasion, she said Mr. Kerry had exaggerated the administration's responsibility."

"'John Kerry presumes to know something that he could not know: when the material disappeared," Ms. Devenish said. "Since he does not know whether it was gone before the war began, he can't prove it was there to be secured.'"

In his story on the 380 tons of explosives, USA Today 's Dave Moniz writes that "The disappearance of the high explosives is the latest and perhaps most striking evidence of Saddam Hussein's immense prewar stockpile of conventional weapons and the failure by the U.S. military and its allies to secure those weapons during the rush to topple Saddam's regime and in the chaotic aftermath of that initial campaign." LINK

White House Chief of Staff Andy Card was campaigning for the president in Albuquerque, NM and dismissed the "reports of missing explosives in Iraq an 'old story … '" LINK

The potential disappearance of explosives stockpiles in Iraq makes front page news in the Philadelphia Inquirer LINK and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: October surprises du jour:

1. "An academic researcher has found 11 passages in Senator Kerry's published writings that appear to have been taken from other works without attribution, though experts disagree about whether the copying should be considered plagiarism," the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein reports. LINK

("Old, bogus charges," a top Democrat working for the campaign told ABC News this morning.)

2. "Pentagon officials are considering increasing the current U.S. force by delaying the departures of some U.S. troops now in Iraq and accelerating the deployment of others scheduled to go there next year," reports USA Today Tom Squitieri.

3. The Washington Post 's Weisman and Ricks report that the administration early next year plans to ask for approximately $70 billion in emergency funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing the total cost for both wars to $225 billion. LINK

You decide which of those three you think SHOULD get traction, and which one(s) will …

The politics of Rehnquist:

The likes of Gary Bauer and Ralph Neas would like to see the Supreme Court at the front and center of the presidential campaign. Here's the Los Angeles Times' Savage. LINK

It is impossible to know how, if it all, this one plays out.

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry: where things stand:

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times does his very best not to lead with the horserace numbers of the paper's new national poll — as compelling as they are.

"President Bush and Senator John F. Kerry, in a race dividing Americans far more along lines of cultural values than economic interests, remain locked in a dead heat one week before election day, a Times poll has found." LINK

Here are the numbers: "Among likely voters, Bush and Kerry each draw 48%, with Nader attracting 1% and with 3% undecided."

It seems as if everyone is holding their breath these days and Brownstein explains why:

"These results underscore the enormous pressure on both candidates in the waning days of a contest that appears as if it could be tipped by almost anything — a misstatement on the campaign trail, favorable or unfavorable news for either side or the two parties' competing efforts to turn out the vote."

More Brownstein: "Bush's message, which stresses his national security record and his commitment to conservative cultural values, is helping him gain ground among lower middle-income and less-educated voters ambivalent about his economic record. Conversely, the message is costing him with more affluent and better-educated families that have historically supported Republicans."

"Strikingly, Bush leads Kerry in the poll among lower- and middle-income white voters, but trails his rival among whites earning at least $100,000 per year."

Marriage status, frequency of church attendance, and gun ownership are just a few of the social issues, Brownstein sees driving voter preference. "Consistently in the poll, cultural indicators prove more powerful predictors of candidate support than economic status," he writes.

" … By 47% to 40%, likely voters think Bush is more likely than Kerry to develop a plan for "achieving success in Iraq."

And Brownstein's penultimate, must-read graph:

"That finding, like others in the survey, suggests that in the campaign's final days, many voters are still balancing doubts about Kerry with discontent about Bush."

USA Today 's Nichols and Page report on the new Gallup poll showing Bush up 51% to 46% nationally and 51% to 43% in Florida among likely voters — and Teresa Heinz Kerry's unfavorable rating up to 40%. Kerry is "running better in other battleground states," "fueling speculation" that Bush could "win the popular vote but lose the Electoral College this year." LINK

Peter Canellos of the Boston Globe explains just how volatile everyone is getting over this election — and much of it over misconceptions. "Through a bad combination of unusually strong political passions and unusually divergent interpretations of facts, this campaign is wreaking havoc in America's bars and living rooms, barbershops and offices." LINK

"The caustic back-and-forth came as the two men raced across the country to the handful of states that remain tossups in the Nov. 2 election. As the campaign days dwindle, both sides are playing a fast-paced chess game to get the 270 electoral votes needed to win," write the Los Angeles Times' Barabak and Finnegan of the ratcheted up rhetoric in the final days. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush v. Kerry:

The Chicago Tribune's Jeff Zeleny writes, "Both candidates have been trading unrelenting attacks for months, but Bush has turned up the volume on his critique, belittling Kerry as ill-suited to protect the nation. Kerry continues to offer sharp criticism, but his remarks are now infused with a positive vision as he strives to show what his Democratic administration would look like." LINK

USA Today 's Keen and Lawrence might be running out of different ways to write the same lead that manifests itself each day. Terror, incompetence, weak, harsh, etc. LINK

USA Today 's Mark Memmott deconstructs television appearance decision making in the final week. LINK

Susan Page calls new voters the "X-factor." LINK

Deb Orin calls the World Series the "X-factor," writing, "Some analysts say Republicans are more likely than Democrats to watch the games (except in Boston) and less likely to talk to phone pollsters on weekend game days." LINK

USA Today 's editorial board thinks scared and motivated is ok. LINK

The New York Post 's front page is a letter from a military dad saying "Kerry makes me weak in the ankles — and now it's personal, not business." LINK

The Boston Herald's Noelle Straub reports that Karl Rove "taunted" Kerry "for having to roll Bill Clinton 'off the operating table' onto the campaign trail in order to boost his shaky Democratic base." LINK

The New York Times ' Jim Dwyer on Al Gore's return to where he ended the 2000 race — Broward county, FL — and his calling the administration a "catastrophically failed presidency." LINK

Repeat it like a mantra going into next Tuesday, because both sides have been: turnout, turnout, turnout. Al Hunt looks at what polls can tell us about it. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Charles Forelle on the "elite cadre of political amateurs unleashing the tools of statistics and mathematics on an extraordinarily close presidential race." LINK

E.J. Dionne sees an intensity gap between Kerry and Bush supporters. LINK

The great Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher sends along his latest endorsement tally: LINK

The liberal 527s in Hawaii? LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Nick Anderson looks at how each campaign has remained largely consistent with its paid media approach since March 3. LINK

"President Bush, a fleeting presence in many of his own commercials, wants them to fear terrorists, big government and the Democratic challenger."

"Senator John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, star and narrator of many of his own spots, wants to reassure them that he has a better plan than Bush for Iraq, healthcare, jobs and just about everything."

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush vs. Kerry: legal wars:

The Washington Post 's Farhi and Becker write that the Ohio election is becoming "confused — and potentially chaotic." LINK

"Republicans have already filed 35,000 challenges to voters' eligibility and are preparing to send recruits into 8,000 polling places next Tuesday to challenge other voters they suspect are not eligible, particularly hundreds of thousands of the newly registered. Democrats are alarmed at the effort, saying it could tie up voting and keep many away from the polls."

"Ohio's voter-registration rolls contain more than 120,000 duplicate names, and an untold number of ineligible voters, such as people who have moved out of the state. A review of the rolls by the Columbus Dispatch even found a murder victim and two suspected terrorists among the eligible."

"Democrats fear that polling places will be inadequately staffed and equipped to handle the crush of voters on Election Day. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) said Monday she is concerned that many new voters will not get proper notification from county election boards about where to vote. That is a critical issue in light of a federal appeals court ruling Saturday that voters with provisional ballots — backup ballots for voters whose names do not appear on the rolls — must cast them in their own precinct for the votes to count."

The Los Angeles Times does an excellent job of pulling a lot of string together from key battleground states to provide an overview of the concerns of partisans on both sides that "their opponents are bent on stealing the election." LINK

The New York Times ' David Kirkpatrick reports that Republicans are blaming Democrats for a series of burglaries and other lesser crimes as an attempt to "intimidate voters" and "potentially storing ammunition for future arguments about the fairness of the election." Kirkpatrick also Notes the letter Gov. Marc Racicot sent to AFL-CIO president John Sweeney suggesting that the damages are protests gone wrong. LINK

Former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who represented George Bush before the Supreme Court in 2000, outlines the potentials for trouble next Tuesday on the New York Times op-ed page, and writes "the best chance for the American electorate is to avoid a postelection repeat of 2000 is to re-elect George W. Bush decisively — or to defeat him overwhelmingly. I, of course, recommend the former." LINK

And David Boies, who represented Gore, offers up a look at the knowns and unknowns, looking at the machinery of voting, and that optical-character recognition machines should be used universally and that their extra cost "is a small price to pay for making democracy more effective at home." LINK

The Washington Post 's editorial board thinks "there is a critical difference between making a maximum effort to ensure a fair and honest playing field and challenging results that have been ascertained." LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: ballotwatch:

Iowa's voter registration board split 2-2 on whether to change the rules to accept incompletely filled out voter registration forms.

So no new rule was issued. BUT — the Secretary of State's office tells ABC News that the attorney's general's opinion (which prompted the rule-making session) still has the force of law, in his opinion, so he has advised county auditors to accept ballots without the citizenship checkbox checked. So we are back where we started.

Iowa's Speaker of the House, Christopher Rants, hinted to ABC News late in the afternoon that the GOP would consider filing suit if auditors accepted these registrations. One point: most auditors have already contacted the voters in question and given them a chance to redo their forms. Two: we are dealing, at most, with about 400 voter forms.

Still in Iowa — a group of citizens represented by a Republican law firm filed suit late this afternoon in Polk County, Iowa's fifth judicial district over the provisional ballot rules. Sec. of State Culver is listed as the defendant, along with the state auditor, state attorney general and the Polk County special precinct commission, which counts provisional ballots. Culver has said that auditors should count valid provisionals cast in the right county. The voters say he's violating his authority.

In Michigan provisional news, the 6th circuit court of appeals, which stayed a lower court's decision allowing provisionals to be cast anywhere in a county, has set a deadline for noon TODAY for written arguments.

In Florida, a federal judge in Miami threw out Rep. Robert Wexler's lawsuit asking that paper trails be attached to touch screen ballots. Wexler will appeal.

We are waiting for a decision on Florida's version of the registration check box case … . which we think will be handed down today.

In Ohio, we watch for any sign of a resolution to the tens of thousands of disputed voter registrations.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer provides an update on the 17,000 challenges underway in Cuyahoga County. LINK

Add another election related lawsuit to the Ohio docket. This time a coalition of groups sued the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for failing to properly register some 10,000 new voters. LINK

"The Ohio Republican Party is threatening to sue county elections boards that reject GOP voter challenges because they were not properly filed, even as Democrats are saying all the challenges should be dismissed," reports Mark Niquette of the Columbus Dispatch. LINK

Here's a good overview of the state of play in Florida right now. LINK

So far, poll watching "monitors" have been quiet in Florida. LINK

Glenda Hood lost a round in an appeals court yesterday, but it won't matter on November 2. LINK

Reports the St. Petersburg Times: "A New Jersey political operative who has faced repeated accusations of election fraud recently went to work for the John Kerry presidential campaign in Pinellas County. Craig Callaway, who is also a part-time city council president in Atlantic City, was asked to leave the Kerry-Edwards campaign late last week, the campaign said." LINK

Please send your tips, comments and questions on any ballot matters to politicalunit@abcnews.com

ABC News Vote 2004: Bush-Cheney '04:

Schwarzenegger on stumping for President Bush: "'Now I can squeeze in a quick trip because I have my own plane,' he said. 'So there is a way of doing it. But I'm not going to hop around from state to state because the people did not elect me to do that,'" the Governor tells Peter Nicholas of the Los Angeles Times. Looks like that Ohio pop later this week will be all the Bush campaign will get from the former movie star. LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Hitt and Schlesinger look how the president is being hit by a "wave of bad news" the week before the election, Noting the campaign's strategy to focus on the war on terror and that "the big question is whether events outside White House control will push down Mr. Bush's popularity to the danger point." This is not a campaign that's easy to knock off message, no matter how hard the Kerry campaign uses the news of day to try. LINK

The New York Times ' Elisabeth Bumiller looks at President Bush's rejection of part of Republican platform, as he told ABC News' Charlie Gibson that "I don't think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that's what a state chooses to do so." LINK

The New York Times ' Laurie Goodstein turns in a must-read on the role of faith in President Bush's private life and public policy, Noting that while he attends a somewhat liberal church in Washington, has prayed with Jews and Sikhs, and has said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, "When it comes to policy . . . his opponents and supporters agree that he has done more than any president in recent history to advance the agenda of Christian social conservatives." LINK

The Wall Street Journal 's Alan Murray writes that American business leaders haven't exactly been beating a path to the front of the line to talk up President Bush. "It is one of the great ironies of Election 2004. Mr. Bush's opponents attack him daily for being the tool of big business. But big business is hardly heard." LINK

The National Security Adviser defended the WOT in Broward County Florida last night. LINK

The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn argues that alarm bells should have gone off at the FDA and that it's fair to hold Bush at least partially responsible for the flu vaccine shortage. LINK

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

In Wilmington, Ohio on Monday, Vice President Cheney called Iraq a "remarkable success story to date when you look at what has been accomplished overall" and said he thinks "the president deserves credit for it."

On a regular basis, Cheney speaks about the Iraq war in very positive terms but this particular phrase was new for the Vice President. Look for Senator John Edwards to seize on these comments on Tuesday to argue that Bush and Cheney are out of touch with the situation on the ground in Iraq.

Cheney also the majority of his remarks at a town hall meeting at Moorhead, MN yesterday to security issues, ABC News' Karen Travers reports.

Highlighting Kerry's "pre-9/11" mindset, Cheney said that President Bush is the right choice on November 2. "He's got a strategy for victory. He will secure it. John Kerry doesn't."

ABC News Vote 2004: Kerry-Edwards '04:

"On the stage in Love Park, Clinton and Kerry stood arm and arm, basking in the cheers and waving to the crowd," reports Stephan Friedman of the New York Post . LINK

Awww.

The New York Post 's ed board says Clinton is closer to Bush than he is to Kerry on the decision to go into Iraq. LINK

USA Today 's Jill Lawrence reports that President Clinton could campaign in Ohio and Colorado in addition to Nevada, New Mexico, and Arkansas "if his health permits." LINK

The Washington Post 's Williams and Harris write that the Kerry campaign's "willingness to use Clinton illustrates how, at least among target blocs of voters, the personal scandals of his term — which made his own vice president conclude that Clinton was a political burden — have receded since 2000, while memories of the robust 1990s economy still echo." LINK

The New York Times ' Jodi Wilgoren calls Clinton's appearance "a scene Democrats have been desperate for in the waning weeks of this fiercely fought campaign," and Notes CNN's cutaway when Kerry took the stage. Rove's response: "They had to roll Clinton out of the hospital room and onto the campaign trail to help Senator Kerry with his core constituencies that are so weak.'' Do not miss the quote from the telephone technician who took time off work in the middle of the day to attend the rally. LINK

The Miami Herald 's Clark, Brecher, and Mooney Piedra write up Clinton's Miami appearance, complete with bongo drums. LINK

"In the homestretch of his presidential campaign, Mr. Kerry has pivoted from raising questions about Mr. Bush's character to trying to add up for voters, in attention-taxing arithmetic, the effects of the president's policies — and say just how bad four more years of Mr. Bush would be for them,"

In this last week, John Kerry's campaign is all about the numbers — specifically, the tally of what Kerry deems the failures of the Bush Administration and the real and opportunity of what another Bush term would be like for voters, writes David Halbfinger of the New York Times . LINK

The Boston Globe 's Yvonne Abraham and Patrick Healy report "Kerry advisers were ecstatic with Clinton's performance — and more than a little relieved, after they saw him on 'Good Morning America' yesterday and thought he seemed thin and weak." LINK

He may not call them Rangers, but John Kerry takes care of his top political donors too. The Los Angeles Times takes a look. LINK

It's a must read on the West Side of both coasts.

ABC News Vote 2004: Florida:

For all your Clinton coverage: LINK

More early voting numbers from the I-4 corridor. LINK

And absentee voting numbers from the rest of the state. LINK

Gas prices in Florida have hit $2 a gallon. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Ohio:

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has decided not to repeat its endorsement of George W. Bush from 2000, but instead will sit out this election despite the fact that a "marjoity of the editorial board favored Kerry … " LINK

"'It's going to be a terrible eight days,' she said. 'I plan to have a nervous breakdown,'" said presidential mother and former First Lady Barbara Bush on the stump in Ohio. LINK

"Opponents of a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage debuted TV commercials Monday that call the proposal extreme and warn that its passage could be particularly harmful to senior citizens," reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Pennsylvania:

There's no doubt the Kerry-Edwards campaign owns the Philadelphia news media this morning.

The front page of the Philadelphia Daily News is a smiling, waving, happy picture of Kerry and Clinton with a red banner reading "Why Philly Matters." Along the bottom of the page? A blue banner reading "Keystone Poll: 5-point Kerry Lead." LINK

William Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News follows with a story explaining why, "When you think of the reasons Billy and Philly are perfect together, you won't be able to imagine Clinton going anywhere else." LINK

It's almost as if KE04 PA's Mark Nevins wrote this line in Jill Porter's Philadelphia Daily News write up: "But if Bill Clinton was good at energizing the thousands of troops at the rally, John Kerry was — incredibly — better." LINK

The Philadelphia Inquirer describes Bill Clinton's welcome as one fit for a rock star. LINK

President Bush gets some coverage in Philly as well, for calling Senator Kerry "consistently and dangerously wrong" on issues of national security. LINK

The Tribune-Review reminds everyone that Bush and Cheney are both coming back to the Keystone State this week and where. LINK

A new Keystone Poll is out today and the Philadelphia Daily News leads its analysis with "Fear seems to be working for President Bush in Pennsylvania — but not quite well enough." Kerry is leading Bush 51 percent to 46 percent among likely Pennsylvania voters. LINK

Republican sweetheart Senator Elizabeth Dole rallied the party faithful in Luzerne County last night. LINK

James O'Toole serves up a must-read for anyone interested in Pennsylvania politics — his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report explains the absolute vitality of winning the Philadelphia suburbs. LINK

Gov. Ed Rendell promises all military and overseas ballots received by Friday's deadline will be counted. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Iowa:

Thomas Beaumont of the Des Moines Register on Senator Kerry's promise to host a summit at ISU on the economy and healthcare in small-town America within 100 days of his inauguration. President Clinton held a similar summit there in 1995. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: New Hampshire:

Thomas Oliphant tries to explain why New Hampshire may be shifting. "New Hampshire is on the verge of slipping away from Bush — and his people are slightly less optimistic than Kerry's — the reason is that moderate voters in the state's suburban southern tier and along the seacoast, especially women, have begun to slip away." LINK

We wonder what kind of effect Laura Bush's e-mail with slightly less than 100% accurate directions to certain polling locations will have on turnout in the Granite State.

"A teaching guide encouraging Roman Catholics to vote in the Nov. 2 elections and outlining the church's position on social and moral issues will be distributed in all parishes this weekend," reports the Manchester Union Leader. LINK

The Union Leader also has a photograph of Kerry holding up eight fingers to signal the number of days left in the campaign. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: New Mexico:

Cultural issues such as same sex marriage and abortion are not driving voters to one presidential candidate or another in New Mexico, reports Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican. LINK

Public safety and legal contingency plans are all in place in New Mexico just in case something goes awry on November 2. LINK

The Associated Press profiles one undecided voter in New Mexico who is not at all pleased with the situation in Iraq, but fears John Kerry thinks higher taxes and more government spending is the answer to the country's ills. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Colorado:

With former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani at his side, President Bush made a campaign appearance in Greely Colorado Monday — two weeks after an appearances at the glorious Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Colorado Springs. LINK

The Rocky Mountain News Notes Bush focused his remarks on the war on terror and aggressively attacked Senator John Kerry "as the wrong man to lead America in dangerous times." LINK

Senate candidate Pete Coors has been getting the "rock star" treatment, reports the Rocky Mountain News. LINK

Colorado may all hinge on the religious vote. "If the evangelicals vote, Bush will win. If they don't, Kerry might," says Ted Haggard, a Colorado Springs pastor and head of the National Evangelical Association. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Nevada:

Susan Voyles of the Reno Gazette-Journal reports that early voting has hit a record high in Nevada. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: Minnesota:

The Pioneer Press reports "The rolls of Minnesota's registered voters have grown by about 100,000 people this year and by about 174,000 people since the last presidential election four years ago, according to new voter-eligibility totals released Monday." LINK

The Pioneer Press explores the "Swing State Blues" — brought on by the costs of being targeted as a must-visit state in a presidential election. LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: the Senate:

Attention Matt Vogel: The Boston Globe reports that Rep. Ed Markey bought as much as $300,000 worth of advertising on Boston media in preparation for campaigning for what could be an open Senate seat in the Bay State. LINK

The final debate between Betty Castor and Mel Martinez was a "very civil discussion" — compared the mud-flinging that has characterized the campaign. LINK

Nader-Camejo:

Independent candidate Ralph Nader will take stage today in Oshkosh and Green Bay, Wisconsin today before heading to Northfield, Minnesota. LINK

The consumer advocate's "derailed" Pennsylvania campaign has shifted to a write-in strategy, reports the AP. LINK

Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania — led by Senator Rick Santorum — say a lawsuit by Ralph Nader to get his name on the ballot could keep military ballots from being counted on Election Day. LINK

TODAY'S SCHEDULE (all times ET):

—9:00 am: Sen. John Kerry holds an event (homeland security speech) at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, WI

—10:30 am: Diana Kerry, actress Kirsten Dunst, Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, National Chair of the Democratic National Committee Women's Vote Center

Ann Lewis, and Brigadier General (Ret.) Pat Foote speak in the Winter Park Public Library on behalf of Sen. Kerry, Winter Park, FL

—9:25 am: President Bush holds a rally at the Onalaska Omni Center, Onalaska, WI

—9:30 am: Rep. Rob Portman campaigns on behalf of President Bush, Cincinnati, OH

—10:00 am: Vice President Cheney holds a rally at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, FL

—10:00 am: The Election Assistance Commission receives presentations from other federal agencies regarding Election Day procedures and reviews state preparations, Washington, DC

— 10:15 am - Bill Bradley holds a press conference while campaigning for John Kerry in Concord, NH

—10:30 am: Sen. John Edwards attends a community gathering with, Ashton Kutcher, Scott Wolf and his wife Kelley Limp, musician Max Weinberg, Chris Heinz, and Andre Heinz at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN

—10:30 am: Cook Political Report Managing Editor Jennifer Duffy holds a briefing at the Foreign Press Center for foreign media on U.S. Senate races, Washington, DC

—10:30 am: Diana Kerry, actress Kirsten Dunst, Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, National Chair of the Democratic National Committee Women's Vote Center Ann Lewis, and Brigadier General (Ret.) Pat Foote speak in the Winter Park Public Library on behalf of Sen. Kerry, Winter Park, FL

—11:00 am: Ralph Nader speaks at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, WI

—11:00 am: Elizabeth Edwards holds a town hall discussion at North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City, IA

—11:00 am: The 9/11 Family Steering Committee holds a press conference to discuss the likelihood the intelligence reform bill will not be passed before Election Day, Washington, DC

—11:30 am: Teresa Heinz Kerry holds a conversation about health care at St. Joseph's Community Center, Lorain, OH

—12:00 pm: Author George Marlin, Catholic University Prof. John Kenneth White, and others discuss the Catholic vote, Washington, DC

—12:00 pm: The Cato Institute holds a policy forum on "What's Wrong with the Voters?" Washington, DC

—12:30 pm: Vice President Cheney holds a rally at the Columbia County Fairgrounds, Lake City, FL

—12:30 pm: Former President Bill Clinton speaks to the B'nai Torah Congregation, Boca Raton, FL

—12:40 pm: President Bush holds a "Focus on the Economy with President Bush" at the Richland Center High School, Richland Center, WI

—1:45 pm: Sen. Zell Miller holds a rally on behalf of President Bush at Promises to Keep, Derry, NH

—2:00 pm: Ralph Nader speaks at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, WI

—2:35 pm: Elizabeth Edwards holds a town hall discussion at Minnesota State University, Mankato, MN

—3:15 pm: Vice President Cheney holds a rally at Pensacola Junior College, Pensacola, FL

—3:25 pm: Sen. Edwards attends a community gathering at the Sovereign Center, Reading, PA

—3:30 pm: Teresa Heinz Kerry and Rep. Dennis Kucinich speak with community leaders at Czech Karlin Hall, Cleveland, OH

—3:55 pm: President Bush speaks at a rally at the Cuba City High School, Cuba City, WI

—5:00 pm: Sen. Kerry holds a rally at Jaycee Park, Las Vegas, NV

—5:25 pm: President Bush holds a rally at the Grand River Center, Dubuque, IA

—6:00 pm: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and actress Meg Ryan discuss their opposition to President Bush's environmental policies at the Tampa Theater, Tampa, FL

—6:30 pm: Former Reps. Mickey Edwards and David Skaggs discuss the election at a panel discussion at the Capitol sponsored by the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Washington, DC

—6:30 pm: Don King and national black leaders speak on behalf of President Bush at Lumi Ly's Mission of Haiti, Miami, FL

—6:45 pm: Sen. Edwards holds a Fresh Start for America rally at the Marts Center, Wilkes Barre, PA

—6:45 pm: Elizabeth Edwards holds a town hall discussion at Central High School, Flint, MI

—7:30 pm: Sen. Frank Lautenberg discusses the Jewish vote on behalf of Sen. Kerry at the Boca Pointe Country Club, Boca Pointe, FL

—8:00 pm: Ralph Nader speaks at St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

—8:45 pm: President Bush returns to the White House

—9:00 pm: President Bush appears on "Hannity & Colmes"

—9:45 pm: Sen. Kerry holds a rally at the Civic Plaza, Albuquerque, NM

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