"TODAY" FOCUS GROUPS BUSH AND KERRY ADS:
NBC's "Today" convened a focus group of movable voters from key battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.
They were shown Bush's "Wolves" ad and Kerry's "Middle Class Squeeze" ad and they were asked to respond to them through dial meters and a Q&A session that followed. Brooks Jackson of FactCheck.org was then brought in to assess whether the ads were accurate or not.
On the "Wolves" ad, NBC's Matt Lauer said: "By the end, even those supporting Bush were not buying the ad." Jackson called it "a deceptive ad." He said first of all, it refers to the first World Trade Center attack in the 1990s, not the attack of 2001. In addition, Jackson said the cut in intelligence funding that Kerry was supporting amounted to less than four percent. "I think most people would call it a trim."
On the Middle Class Squeeze ad, Lauer said "undecided voters moved towards John Kerry then neutral. Bush supporters responded positively to the message of a new direction." Jackson said the tax break for companies that move jobs overseas has been in place for a long time. Jackson also said getting rid of it would not change much. As for the drug importation issue, Jackson said the Canadian drug supply is so small that it "wouldn't take the US long to clean off the shelves in Canada."
The fact checks had the effect of cooling voter movement on both sides.
CHAMBLISS v. BIDEN ON CNN & NBC:
Biden on CNN: "We went in here to stop weapons of mass destruction and we probably proliferated more conventional weapons than any time in history."
Chambliss on "Today": "The fact of the matter Katie is on April 10, 2003 the weapons were not there. That has already been confirmed by your network as well as by Fox News." NBC's Couric did not take issue with Chambliss' characterization of the NBC report.
Biden said the central issue is that Central Command asked for 380,000 troops and Rumsfeld said "we only need 40,000." Chambliss said: "This president has said from day one: Whatever the commander needs – we are going to provide it."
CARLSON v. BEGALA ON ABC:
On ABC, Tucker Carlson came close to criticizing the President over the explosives story and said the story could be damaging for the President. "I think it does resonate," Carlson said when asked whether undecided voters could be swayed by it. "I think this is exactly the kind of story that is non-ideological that goes to the heart of how the Bush Adminsitration is prosecuting the war. This is exactly the kind of story that can move those voters."
Paul Begala said the Bush Administration had not reacted to the story well "They are kicking this story… The reason they're kicking the story because, as they say back in Texas, a hit dog barks."
CHRIS MATTHEWS ON "TODAY":
NBC's Chris Matthews said that "if everything had worked out swimmingly" in Iraq we would not be having this debate over missing explosives now. Matthews said: "I think history will say the key issue in this campaign was Bush's decision to take us to war in Iraq. We are running a campaign for commander in chief not economic manager." Matthews said Kerry is working to get the votes of people who supported the war on principle initially but who do not like how it is has been managed. Matthews said that Tucker Eskew and Tad Devine said on Hardball last night that 40 states have already decided who they are going to vote for on Nov. 2. Matthews said that if he were someone in one of those states, he would want to disrupt the campaigns' plans. He said "clearly Arkansas is in play because Clinton is going down there." He called West Virginia Zell Miller country. He said it is very culturally conservative but it is always troubled economically. Hawaii was also mentioned as a state that might be up in the air.
THE ISSUES ON GMA: HOMELAND SECURITY:
ABC's Claire Shipman sat with an undecided family and looked at the two candidates' stances on homeland security.
ABC's David Muir covered voters "rattled by the rhetoric" suffering from pre-election anxiety disorder.
CBS' Melissa Murphy looked at the Nader van tour.
ABC's Kate Snow: Looked at the high-profile surrogates that have been on the campaign trail. She also featured an RNC flyer which tars Kerry as the candidate of Hollywood values and uses the images of Michael Moore and Jane Fonda. Clip of a Media Fund radio ad on homeland security. After recounting the exhausting travel schedules that Bush and Kerry are keeping, Snow said the President has one big advantage. He has a bed on his plane.
CBS' Bill Plante: "The President and the people around him are uncomfortable. They know they do not have this election in the bag."
CBS' Jim Acosta: "Those missing explosives have turned up. Not in Iraq. But in the Senator's new ad." Acosta says it will be "star power and fire power" for both candidates until the end as Kerry links up with Bruce Springsteen and Bush links up with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reported that Kerry will discuss the economy this morning but will continue to criticize the President over the 380 tons of missing explosives to "make that the issue everybody's talking about when they vote."
NBC's Norah O'Donnell described the Bush campaign as trying to "change the subject away from those missing explosives in Iraq" and said the President's message yesterday was "quickly overshadowed" by the explosives story.
NBC's James Hattori had a piece on Howard Stern confronting FCC Chair Michael Powell.