The Note: Surprise Party

CelebWatch: Ashton Kutcher is in Iowa, Leo DiCaprio in New Hampshire, Al Franken and Julia Stiles in Pennsylvania (a MoveOn rally) and, in Ohio, Paul Newman. Jake Gyllenhall, Allison Munn, and Chris and Andrew Heinz; and Howard Dean, Viggo Mortensen, and 311 all campaign on Kerry's behalf (the Dean event is also sponsored by MoveOn).

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry appear on "Sabado Gigante" back-to-back tonight at 10:00 pm ET, and when they do, they will be seen by what "the longest-running variety show in the world" (per Guinness) claims is 100 million viewers in 42 countries — or, more relevantly, by the 2.5 million Latinos who watched the show last week. LINK

Tomorrow morning, This Week with George Stephanopoulos hosts guests Ed Gillespie, Terry McAulliffe, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

And stay with ABC News for Good Morning America Saturday and Sunday, World News Tonight Sunday, ABC News Now, Noted Now and your faithful daily Notes -- all weekend!

The politics of Osama bin Laden:

As Mark Z. Barabak of the Los Angeles Times points out, at a minimum, "Most analysts thought it would aid Bush, at the least, by changing the subject from stolen Iraqi weapons, doctored campaign ads and other developments that had thrown the president on the defensive for the last few days." LINK

Three key grafs:

"For all the anticipation of a last-minute campaign surprise — most of it focused on another terrorist attack — both sides appeared flummoxed at first when Bin Laden intruded on an otherwise routine, if intense, campaign day."

"Like so much else in this bitterly fought campaign, partisans split over its probable impact."

"Republicans, some openly gleeful, saw the Bin Laden tape as helping Bush and hurting Kerry. Democrats, less assuredly, suggested the opposite."

Remember, President Bush's poll numbers have risen when the terror level has been raised. The question remains as to whether or not this tape will have the same effect. All eyes on tracking …

And we wonder if the newsweeklies are polling …

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank takes an absolutely spot-on look at the political implications of the bin Laden message, writing that "Republicans argued -- and some Democrats privately agreed -- that the videotape would revive Americans' fears of terrorism, an issue on which Bush is strongest," and offers a glimpse inside the campaigns as they grappled with a plan after the tape aired -- and the spin began. LINK

"Some Democrats held out hope that the reappearance of bin Laden would remind Americans that Bush still had not caught the arch villain, and lend legitimacy to Kerry's argument that Bush allowed the United States to get distracted in Iraq. But Republicans argued -- and some Democrats privately agreed -- that the videotape would revive Americans' fears of terrorism, an issue on which Bush is strongest."

"Few expected bin Laden's October Surprise to have a major impact on voters' choices. . . . But in an election as close as this one is, even minor influences can have some impact. That concern was evident in the reaction to the tape's broadcast yesterday -- first an unusual silence, then hurried meetings and, finally, cautious statements."

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