The Note: This Gun's for Hire

"That conclusion would be a surprise for frantically nervous Republicans and cautiously upbeat Democrats entering the campaign's final days. In fact, nobody, including Zogby and all the other polltakers, can be sure who will win this election. Yet, it is clear that President Bush's strategists have succeeded in solidifying his base to a degree that makes it much harder to defeat him next Tuesday."

As Tom Kean would say: Novak and Zogby, perfect together. (Note to Bob: Hey, did you Notice who Jude endorsed?)

Citing whom they'd prefer to pick SCOTUS judges, likely voters pick Bush 49 to 42, the Washington Post 's Richard Morin reports. LINK

The New York Times ' Elisabeth Bumiller and Jodi Wilgoren write that the Bush and Kerry back-and-forth over the missing explosives yesterday on the trail "reflected concern in the Bush campaign that the issue could be hurting the president only six days before what is expected to be an extraordinarily close election," with the president accusing the Senator of denigrating the troops and Kerry hammering the issue for a third straight day — though backing away from the Notion that the explosives had already been used to attack U.S. troops. LINK

Editor and Publisher's Greg Mitchell sends along two great links:

Breaking down the endorsements by newspaper chain, which ones are very pro-Kerry (e.g. Knight Ridder) and which pro-Bush: LINK

Another thing they've been tracking exclusively, how electoral maps change at seven major sites every day, with Bush picking up gains today and leading, on average, 198-184 or something like that: LINK

ABC News Vote 2004: rebutted October surprise re-rebutted? Or not?:

On NBC's "Today," former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was asked by Matt Lauer about the missing explosives in Iraq and said:

"The president was cautious. The president was prudent … the actual responsibility was on the troops there. Did they search carefully?"

Giuliani then moved back to saying: "The president was not willing to put blame on the troops."

So: no blame, but surely responsibility.

Said Joe Lockhart in a statement: ""This is just the latest example of the excuse presidency where the buck stops any place but the Oval Office."

From ABC News' Martha Radadtz: "Iraqi officials may be overstating the amount of explosives reported to have disappeared from a weapons depot, documents obtained by ABC News show. The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control." LINK

"But International Atomic Energy Agency documents obtained by ABC News and first reported on 'World News Tonight with Peter Jennings' indicate the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported."

The Washington Times is reporting that "Russian special forces moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation," according to an interview with John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security. Shaw goes on to say that the Russians "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad. LINK

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