Osama Surprise?

Is there time left for an October Surprise?

Senior government officials tell ABC's Pierre Thomas that the intelligence community is anticipating a message from Osama Bin Laden before -- or just after -- Tuesday's election.

At this point, there is no hard evidence that a message is coming. But a number of intelligence analysts are expecting a message because they think it is critical for al Qaeda's top leader to be seen, or heard from, if only for P.R. purposes.

Those analysts believe that if bin Laden is not heard from, he runs the risk of being considered irrelevant or impotent. Read more here: LINK

If Bin Laden is heard from before Tuesday, it would be the second post-9/11 presidential election in which he has reared his head.

In 2004, bin Laden released a message in the days just before the election.

Following his defeat, John Kerry said the tape's release effectively erased any hope he had of victory against Bush.

"It was that Osama tape -- it scared them [the American people]," Kerry told Geraldo Rivera.

During an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" in January of 2005, Kerry elaborated.

"I believe that 9/11 was the central deciding issue in this race," said Kerry. "And the tape -- we were rising in the polls up until the last day when the tape appeared. We flat-lined the day the tape appeared and went down on Monday."

While Kerry thinks the tape did him in, ABC News polling director Gary Langer says that exit poll data do not support his view.

Among voters who called the tape "very important" in their vote, Kerry won, 53-47 percent. Among those who called it either very or somewhat important, the vote was 50-50. It was among those who called it unimportant that Bush won, by 56-43 percent.

The Kicker: "It's like the captain of the Titanic holding a seminar on how to navigate the Atlantic shipping lanes." --Former Bush adviser and ABC News consultant Matt Dowd to US News & World Report on the president's plans to convene a meeting of world leaders on the financial crisis next month.

On the campaign front. . .

JOHN McCAIN
-- 10:00 am ET: Holds Rally in Hanoverton, OH.
-- 11:45 am ET: Holds Rally in Steubenville, OH.
-- 1:30 pm ET: Holds Rally in New Philadelphia, OH.
-- 5:50 pm ET: Holds Rally with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Columbus, OH.

SARAH PALIN
-- 9:00 am ET: Holds Rally in Latrobe, PA.
-- 4:00 pm ET: Holds Rally in York, PA.

BARACK OBAMA
-- 12:25 am ET: Holds Rally in Des Moines, IA.
-- 9:20 pm ET: Holds Rally in Highland, IN.

JOE BIDEN
-- 10:30 am ET: Holds Rally in Newark, DE.
-- 2:30 pm ET: Holds Rally in Kettering, OH.
-- 6:15 pm ET: Holds Rally in Lima, OH.
-- 10:10 pm ET: Holds Event in Evansville, IN.

At the White House. . .

PRESIDENT BUSH
-- No Public Events.

POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: Obama Infomercial a Virtuoso Performance LINK

ABC News' Mark Mooney: Sarah Palin 'Not Going to Let Women Down' LINK

ABC News' Dennis Powell, Tahman Bradley and Theresa Cook: Voters to Decide Hot-Button Ballot Issues LINK

ABC News' Sam Donaldson: L.A. Times Should Protect Source on Obama Video LINK

ABC News' Ariane de Vogue: Can the System Handle Huge Voter Turnout? LINK

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos: Freaky Friday Redux? LINK

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: Biden Cites Slumping GDP and Soaring Exxon in Assailing 'Upside-Down' GOP Tax Plan LINK

ABC News' Bret Hovell: Showless Joe? McCain's Everyman Plumber Misses Morning Event LINK

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