The Note: Registered, Likely, and Peaking Early

WASHINGTON, Sep. 19

"There's a little bump [for the President] every time terrorism is trotted out," author Frank Rich said this morning. Rich was reacting to word from the First Ladies of American political journalism (Jill Lawrence and Susan Page of the Nation's Newspaper) that President Bush is at "44% in a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. . . his highest rating in a year."

Rich's new book, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold" LINK might be #2 on Amazon and might be highly critical of the Bush Administration for "using" national security for political purposes, but it looks like the paperback edition of "The Greatest" just might need an updated chapter taking into account the results of the 2006 midterms.

And we say that before the President astrides Turtle Bay like a colossus today, giving his UNGA speech to semi-roadblocked coverage at 11:30 am ET this morning.

This will an important, substantive speech, but also a political one (a characterization with which Tony Snow would surely agree), and on that point, it is wise to remember that the aggressive political messages of one's opponent must be rebutted in the same news cycle to avoid losing ground. And yet The Note would bet the cost of three egg creams and a handful of pretzel rods that the media won't be filled with too many Democratic responses to what the President has to say today.

Ask yourself (and Rahm and Chuck) this: is the President's approval rating on Election Day more likely to be closer to 48% or 34%?

And, just as important, ask yourself: what percentage of voters in November will be Republicans or independent-leaning Republicans? No one can know the answer to that just yet, but remember to read every poll result through that perpetual prism.

ABC News' Senior White House correspondent Martha Raddatz reports that a senior White House official "said much of the speech offers the same themes that the President has been pushing the last few weeks about the global war on terrorism and the fight against extremism. And what he says about Iraq will also be much the same -- with emphasis on it now being the central front in that war."

More Raddatz: "This official keeps stressing that the President will talk past the leaders in the room (especially the Iranian president) and make the case for 'freedom' directly to the people of the region. This is not a "rise up" speech -- but an attempt to sell the people on the joys of democracy."

This morning before his speech, President Bush meets with President Jacques Chirac of France and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

After his speech later in the day he will participate in a roundtable discussion on democracy, and then speak with the President Jalal Talabani of Iraq at 3:30 pm ET. In yet another sign he loves doing TV interviews this political season, Mr. Bush chats with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The interview airs at 4PM in 7PM on CNN.

Massachusetts and Washington state both hold primary elections today. The main action today is in the Bay State gubernatorial contest where a competitive could yield an African-American, Deval Patrick, as the Democrats' nominee.

The polls in Massachusetts opened at 7:00 am ET and close at 8:00 pm ET.

For Massachusetts results: LINK

For Washington results: LINK

Vice President Cheney meets with the National Association of Automobile Dealers at 9:00 am ET.

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