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Washington Wrap

Dotty Lynch, Beth Lester, Allison Davis and Allen Alter from the CBS News Political and Campaign '04 Units have the latest from Washington and from the trail.


Monday's Headlines

*New Polls Show Race Tied

*Advertisements Heat up the Airwaves

*Kerry Turns from Iraq to Stem Cells but still in Town Halls

*Bush: Tax Relief is on the Way

*Cheney, Like Bush, Prepares at Home

*Quote of the Day

New Polls Show Race Tied: Four new national polls show Senator Kerry getting a bounce from last Thursday night's debate.

CNN/USA Today/Gallup
Bush-Cheney 49
Kerry-Edwards 49
Nader-Camejo 1
Undecided (not reported)
Poll conducted from October 1 through 3 among 1,012 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus four percent.

Newsweek
Bush-Cheney 47
Kerry-Edwards 45
Nader-Camejo 2
Undecided (not reported)
Poll conducted from September 30 through October 2 among 1,013 registered voters, margin of error plus or minus four percent.

Los Angeles Times
Bush-Cheney 47
Kerry-Edwards 49
Nader-Camejo (not reported)
Undecided 4
Poll conducted from September 30 through October among 725 voters who watched the debate, margin of error plus or minus four percent.

Zogby
Bush-Cheney 46
Kerry-Edwards 45
Nader-Camejo (not reported)
Undecided 8
Poll conducted October 1 through 3 among 1036 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Two state polls were also released over the weekend. An Ohio poll, taken almost entirely before the debate, shows President Bush is ahead by his largest margin. On the other side, a New Jersey poll taken post-debate, shows that state moving back into the "safe" camp for Kerry.

Ohio
Columbus Dispatch
Bush-Cheney 51
Kerry-Edwards 44
Nader-Camejo (not reported)
Undecided (not reported)
Poll conducted from September 22 through October 1 among 2,859 registered voters, margin of error plus or minus 2 percent.

New Jersey
Bergen Record/Research 2000
Bush-Cheney 44
Kerry-Edwards 50
Nader-Camejo 2
Undecided 6
Poll conducted on October 1 among 502 likely voters, margin of error 4 percent.

Campaign Ads Heat Up Television: The Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards campaigns released new advertisements Monday. Senator Kerry's new ad is exclusively about his position on stem cell research. The 30-second ad titled, "Stem Cell" will be rotated into the campaign's new 8 million dollar ad buy. The release of this new ad, which includes Kerry saying, "At stake our millions of lives," comes on a day when the senator is accompanied on the trail by actor Michael J. Fox. Kerry is speaking about this very topic Monday morning before a town hall in Hampton, New Hampshire.

The new Bush ad titled, "Thinking Mom", aims at hitting Kerry and Congress on tax hikes. The ad shows a mother in her car running errands while she hears on the radio that, "John Kerry and the liberals in Congress have voted to raise gas taxes 10 times." The mother thinks to herself, "10 times… gas prices are high enough already."

These two new advertisements are part of a new wave of domestic agenda ads released by both campaigns over the weekend. The Kerry campaign released three new ads on Saturday. The new ads, including "Stem Cell", will rotate in the following 15 states: Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado, West Virginia. Kerry's new ads released Saturday are titled, "Powerful", "Ingenuity", and "George Bush lost the debate, Now he's lying about it". They are a move towards the campaign's focus on their domestic agenda leading up to the last two presidential debates. "Ingenuity" specifically shows John Kerry on camera speaking about his plan to create new jobs. This 8 million dollar advertising buy is the Kerry campaign's way of showing that they are trying to go toe-to-toe with President Bush's financial war chest.

The ad released by the Bush-Cheney team on Saturday continued to hit Kerry on the war on terrorism. "Global Test", scheduled to rotate in select local markets and national cable outlets Monday, references the first presidential debate. The narrator, in reference to Senator Kerry, says, "He said he'd attack terrorist who threaten America, but at the debate, John Kerry said American must pass a 'global test' before we protect ourselves… so we must seek permission from foreign governments before protecting America?"

Kerry Turns from Iraq to Stem Cells but still in Town Halls: CBS News' Steve Chaggaris reports:

Trail Byte: John Kerry held a town hall meeting Monday morning in New Hampshire with actor Michael J. Fox, focused on science and stem cell research.
While that's a headline in itself, the underlying storyline this week is that Kerry's handlers are putting him in position to publicly prepare for Friday's second presidential debate.

This town hall meeting marks Kerry's second in as many days and he still has at least one more before the debate, which itself will be in a town hall format. Kerry will spend a couple of days in Colorado privately prepping for the face-off with the president. But nothing can substitute for the experience of the public town hall forums (the campaign insists his questioners are not pre-screened like at some Bush-Cheney town halls).

Kerry, who has held over 125 town hall meetings since announcing his candidacy in September 2003, is clearly comfortable in the open format. He does, however, have one major weakness: he answers tend to ramble, and he regularly digresses into lengthy, drawn-out responses, up to ten minutes long.

But on Sunday in Austintown, Ohio, Kerry took 40 minutes of questions from the crowd and in what seemed to be a concerted effort to limit his wordiness, kept all but one of his answers to under three minutes.

Aides have been concentrating on making Kerry more aware of his windiness and prepping him for the strict time limit on debate answers.

In fact, one campaign official mentioned that the flap prior to the first debate in which the Kerry campaign complained about the timing lights being too visible was mainly a "ruse" to get the Bush folks thinking Kerry was having a problem giving concise answers.

During that debate, it turned out Kerry was successful in not going overtime with his answers leading him to joke to a crowd this weekend, "I know you're here to cheer because you discovered John Kerry can complete a sentence in fifteen words or less."

After the Portsmouth rally on Monday Kerry goes to Philadelphia and meets with clergy and then overnights in Coralville, Iowa.

Bush: Tax Relief is on the Way: CBS News' Mark Knoller reports:

Knoller Nugget: A bill signing for legislation extending popular middle-class tax cuts? Could there be an election coming?

At a ceremony in Iowa Monday, President Bush signs into law the politically named "Working Families Tax Relief Act." The bill extends for five years key elements of the 2001 tax cut bill including the $1000 per child tax credit; relief for the so-called marriage penalty; and the expanded ten percent income tax bracket.

The president calls the bill "good news for America's Families." In his Saturday radio address, he trumpeted the measure, saying, "Because we acted, 94 million Americans will have a lower tax bill again next year, including 70 million women and 38 million families with children."

The measure was passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate, though neither John Kerry nor John Edwards were present for the vote on September 23.

A spokesman says Kerry supports extending the middle-class tax cuts, though he criticized the inclusion of some other tax breaks in the bill. Further, the Kerry campaign charges that Mr. Bush "wants more tax breaks for the wealthy, while Kerry wants to cut taxes for working families."

You won't be surprised to learn that Mr. Bush sees it differently.

In that radio address Saturday, he portrayed Kerry as an opponent of tax cuts. "When I proposed tax relief for working families in 2001 and 2003, Senator Kerry and other Democratic leaders voted against it," said the president. "In fact, Senator Kerry has voted consistently against marriage penalty relief, against increasing the child tax credit, and against expanding the ten percent bracket. Now, Senator Kerry and the Democrat leaders are proposing a lot of new federal spending, and the only way to pay for all their promises is to raise taxes on working families."

The bill Mr. Bush is signing also extends 23 other tax breaks, and grants one more year's protection to some taxpayers from the Alternative Minimum Tax. In all, the bill's price tag is nearly $146 billion dollars over ten years. None of it offset by tax hikes or reductions in federal spending.

That has House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer calling the bill "fiscal child abuse," as it will add to the federal deficits in the coming years.

By signing the bill in Iowa, Mr. Bush is paying tribute to the state's senior US Senator, Charles Grassley. He's chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and shepherded the bill through to passage.

In addition, Iowa is a battleground state that Mr. Bush lost in 2000 by just over 3/10ths of one percent of the vote. Recent polls show Candidates Bush and Kerry in something of a dead heat for the state's seven electoral votes.

Members of the White House Press Corps were stranded in Akron, Ohio. There was a problem with the starter on one of two engines of the Primaris 757 that serves as the press plane.

So after a day in Ohio covering the president's campaign bus trip through Columbus, Mansfield and Cuyahoga Falls, members of the press were stuck for about six hours waiting for another aircraft to be flown in.

Instead of arriving at Andrews Air Force Base in the early evening as scheduled, it was after one in the morning. No one considered spending the night in Akron, in sharp contrast to the decision a few weeks earlier to stay in Las Vegas, when an FAA communications outage grounded the press plane.

There are no casinos in Akron.

Edwards Heads Toward Cleveland: CBS news' Bonney Kapp reports that John Edwards leaves upstate New York on Monday afternoon and heads to Cleveland. He has no public events on Monday but will hit the campaign trail Tuesday with a town hall meeting in Parma, Ohio before his debate with Vice President Cheney Tuesday evening. Following the debate, Edwards holds a late night rally in Cleveland. Here's her report on his preparation for the big debate:

Trail Byte: John Edwards often tells voters he doesn't "want to over-promise" how quickly a Kerry administration could turn around perceived problems with Iraq and the economy. At a town hall meeting in Huber Heights, Ohio, Friday, he also made it clear he doesn't want to over-promise on his debate performance.

When asked if he would do as well as his running mate did during the first presidential debate by a woman in the town hall, Edwards responded, "Let me say this, first of all John set a very high standard last night...and thank goodness he did." He added, "Dick Cheney's a very experienced debater...but what we saw [Thursday] night is the truth and the facts are on our side."

Friday evening Edwards headed to the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York to brush up on those facts and prepare for Tuesday night's debate. Washington power attorneys Bob Barnett and Andy Pincus played Dick Cheney and moderator Gwen Ifill respectively during the one or two full length run-throughs over the long weekend dubbed "Debate Camp" by Edwards' staffers.

The room where the rehearsals were held is off-limits to the traveling press corps (which has been relegated to the hotel's veranda overlooking Lake Chautauqua), but spokesman Mark Kornblau described it as very similar to the set-up at the actual debate site at Case Western University in Ohio, complete with cameras.

In addition to Edwards' staffers who joined the senator in his preparations, senior Kerry advisor Bob Shrum and former Al Gore advisor Ron Klain, both of whom were involved in Kerry's preps, were camped out in Chautauqua. Mrs. Edwards had also been in the mix because the senator "trusts implicitly" her advice, per Kornblau.

While Edwards has never participated in a one-on-one debate as a candidate for office, many pundits believe his skills as a successful trial lawyer will come into play. Spokesman Kornblau was sure to differentiate a debate and a trial, and reiterated Cheney's vast experience as a debater, interrupted only by his time as Halliburton's CEO. The Edwards camp says Cheney's ties with Halliburton will be fair game in the debate as it's "a part of their record in office" and a "symbol of this administration's choosing powerful interests over the people."

The campaign did organize a weekend photo-op to keep the candidate's face in the news. The press corps was told to assemble at 8:15 AM Sunday to get footage of the Edwards family (sans daughter Cate) walking together on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution. But the morning walk was pushed back to an afternoon stop at a nearby farmer's market because the senator didn't get back from debate preps until after midnight the night before

When we finally saw him, a relaxed-looking Edwards was wearing jeans and a Kerry/Edwards "Debate Camp" fleece, the standard attire of many staffers over the weekend. Senator and Mrs. Edwards (the children returned to Washington, DC for a friend's birthday party) walked through Haff Acre Farms, picked out a large pumpkin and purchased two pies for the press, which was much more interested in shouting out questions on the debate preps.

Edwards revealed they were "working hard" and that "it's going fine." He seemed unfazed by the latest poll numbers showing a Kerry bounce. "Polls go up and down, but I felt very good about John Kerry's performance Thursday night," Edwards told reporters before scurrying off to greet the dozen or so voters gathered in the parking lot.

Cheney, Like Bush, Prepares at Home: Vice President Cheney spent the weekend at his home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he prepared for his upcoming debate with Ohio Representative Rob Portman playing John Edwards.

According to the New York Times, Cheney's former communications director Mary Matalin, and Bush advisers, including Matthew Dowd, have been involved in the preparation. He is staying in Wyoming on Monday, getting in some fly fishing and goes to Cleveland on Tuesday.

Quote of the Day: "A Republican from Rhode Island is a gift from the gods and is not to be looked at askance." --Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, on Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who says he will not vote for President Bush this year. (New York Times)

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