* New National Guard Records
* Bush Goes to Florida
* Kerry Hits Hard on Iraq
* Cheney Grabs the Headlines
* Edwards Upstaged
* Vatican Delivers Kerry Some Good News
* Log Cabins Say No to Bush
Guard Records Raise Questions: Although the White House has maintained for months that it has released all of the records relating to President Bush's National Guard service, new documents show that is not the case.
On Tuesday night, the White House released a series of flight records detailing Bush's service. The discovery of the new documents came after "defense officials said they found two dozen new records detailing his training and flight logs after The Associated Press filed a lawsuit and submitted new requests under the public records law," reports the Associated Press. The White House says the oversight was inadvertent.
But, as the AP notes, "The newly released records do not include any from five categories of documents Bush's commanders had been required to keep in response to the gaps in Bush's training in 1972 and 1973. For example, National Guard commanders were required to perform an investigation whenever any pilot skipped a medical exam and forward the results up the Air Force chain of command. No such documents have surfaced."
The records also fail to address other issues discovered by news organizations in recent days. Wednesday night on CBS News' 60 Minutes, Dan Rather will talk exclusively to former Texas House Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, a Democrat. Barnes will discuss the role he says he played in getting Bush into the Texas Air National Guard -- and why he now regrets it.
Bush has steadfastly maintained that he received no special treatment while in the Guard. In addition to the Barnes revelations, however, as the Boston Globe reports, there is an alternate paper trail. According to the Globe, "The documents Bush signed only add to evidence that the future president -- then the son of Houston's congressman -- received favorable treatment when he joined the Guard after graduating from Yale in 1968."
Following this paper trail, the Globe also reports that, although Bush has always maintained he fulfilled his duty, the new records show that "Bush fell well short of meeting his military obligation... Twice during his Guard service -- first when he joined in May 1968, and again before he transferred out of his unit in mid-1973 to attend Harvard Business School -- Bush signed documents pledging to meet training commitments or face a punitive call-up to active duty. He didn't meet the commitments, or face the punishment, the records show."
And there is yet another flare in the Guard controversy, a new group called Texans for Truth is releasing an ad Wednesday morning that attacks Bush on his Guard service. The ad stars Robert Mintz, a member of the Alabama Air National Guard, who says he never saw Bush while serving in the same unit in 1972. Bush's attendance in Alabama is the source of some dispute. Texans for Truth is a 527 organization, "founded last month by Glenn Smith, a longtime Texas Democratic operative who ran gubernatorial campaigns for Ann Richards in 1990 and Tony Sanchez in 2002," reports the Los Angeles Times.
According to the Times, "One source familiar with the group's plan said it raised more than $100,000 on Tuesday to air the ad after sending an e-mail solicitation to members of MoveOn.org, a liberal online advocacy group that has been among Bush's staunchest opponents, and DriveDemocracy.org, a spin-off group in Texas."
Bush Goes to Florida: CBS News has learned that President Bush met with former Secretary of State Jim Baker, who is heading his debate team (which includes Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Bob Zoellick and Allan Hubbard).
The Bush-Cheney campaign refused to confirm a story in theWashington Post saying that Bush wanted to participate in only the two debates on domestic and foreign policy and skip the town hall debate. Bush-Cheney communications director Nicolle Devenish told CBS News that since Jim Baker met with the president for the first time on Wednesday reports "regarding our debate strategy are premature." Devenish also said that they don't plan to negotiate their debate strategy in the press.
For more on President Bush's busy days here's CBS News Mark Knoller's report:
Knoller Nugget With Congress back in session - though not for long - President Bush wants to be seen pressing for quick passage of those recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that require legislative action.
He met at the White House Wednesday morning with the congressional leadership and key members of the intelligence committees. Mr. Bush has said he would work with Congress to establish the post and powers of a National Intelligence Director - to oversee all 15 of the Government's intelligence agencies.
Mid-morning, the President leaves on another trip to Florida to survey damage inflicted in recent days by Hurricane Frances. He'll also visit the National Hurricane Center in Miami to thank the staff there for their hard work during this hurricane season. He'll also be briefed on the threat posed by Hurricane Ivan.
The trip is billed as official, though clearly it has political implications as Mr. Bush makes his 27th visit to the state that decided the 2000 presidential election and is indispensable to his re-election bid. His brother Jeb, of course, is the state's governor.
Mr. Bush is urging Congress to act quickly on a request for $2 billion in additional disaster relief for Florida and other states hit by Hurricanes Frances and Charley. The president says he may ask for further assistance.
U.S. Death Toll In Iraq
The president was campaigning in Missouri Tuesday when it was learned the number of American defense personnel killed in Iraq had reached 1000. While Mr, Bush didn't mention the tragic milestone, spokesman Scott McClellan was quick to say "we remember, we honor and we mourn the loss of the fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Figure in the American personnel killed in Afghanistan and he says it brings the combined death toll with Iraq to 1,200. McClellan said the new peak in the toll would not alter the President's determination to complete the U.S. mission in Iraq by seeing democracy take root there.
In fact, President Bush offered that assurance to a questioner at his "Ask President Bush" event earlier in the day in Sedalia, Missouri.
Speaking of his meetings with the families of American troops killed in Iraq, he said: "My promise to them is that we will complete the mission so that their child or their husband or wife has not died in vain."
New Shots At John Kerry
On his day-long bus trip around Missouri on Tuesday, the President took some new swipes at his challenger. He expanded his charge that Kerry has flip-flopped for and against the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq - focusing on Kerry's latest charge that it was the "wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Mr. Bush accused Kerry of taking his lead from another democrat.
"It's that of his one-time rival Howard Dean," said Mr. Bush. "He even used the same words Howard Dean did - back when he supposedly disagreed with him."
The President also attacked Kerry for voting against liability reform legislation.
"For 20 years, he's been one of the trial lawyers' most reliable allies in the senate," said Mr. Bush. He went on to say of Kerry that "his fellow lawyers have responded with millions of dollars in campaign donations."
But What About 2008?
At that same "Ask President Bush" event yesterday, a supporter asked if there was any chance Vice President Cheney would run for the White House in 2008?
"Pardon me?" said the President.
"Any chance that he will run in '08?" repeated the questioner.
"Oh, no, listen, we've got to get through '04," said Mr. Bush.
He said he has no idea about 2008, though Cheney says repeatedly that this is his last campaign.
Kerry Hits Hard on Iraq: John Kerry delivered a major speech on Iraq in Cincinnati on Wednesday and his campaign appears to be heeding advice given by former President Clinton to link the costs of the war in Iraq with problems at home CBS News' Steve Chaggaris reports:
Trail Byte: As the U.S. military death toll climbs above 1,000 in Iraq, John Kerry is turning up the heat on President Bush as he visits the Cincinnati site where Bush called Iraq a threat to the U.S. almost two years ago.
"George W. Bush's wrong choices have led America in the wrong direction in Iraq and left America without the resources we need here at home," Kerry said in Wednesday's prepared remarks.
"I would not have made the wrong choices that are forcing us to pay nearly the entire cost of this war - more than $200 billion that we're not investing in education, health care, and job creation here at home."
His campaign also unveiled a new TV ad Wednesday on the $200 billion and rising cost of the Iraq war repeating, "George Bush's wrong choices have weakened us here at home."
This focus on Iraq marks the third day of Kerry's newly aggressive campaign theme, "W stands for wrong."
On Tuesday at a Greensboro, North Carolina town hall meeting, Kerry harped on his charge that seemingly everything the president is doing is "wrong" as well as implying that the administration isn't being totally forthcoming with Americans.
"The truth, the truth, the truth," Kerry said, in a tone that not only has become more aggressive but serious as well. "Facts don't have a Democratic label or a Republican label. Facts are facts."
When one questioner asked "what the heck is going on" with Medicare, Kerry replied simply. "W. It's W."
Things did lighten up a bit when one overly-smitten female audience member screamed, "I think you're hot!"
And while the 60-year-old Kerry loved the attention, telling the woman, "At my age, that sounds good," his daughter Vanessa was obviously embarrassed as she put her head in her hands.
"That's not the way she thinks about her father," Kerry confessed.
Cheney Grabs the Headlines: VP Cheney who has been a second banana for months is starting to draw some attention. CBS News' Josh Gross reports:
Trail Byte: In three separate speeches in two days, Vice President Cheney introduced three new attacks against John Kerry into his usually stable stump speech. However, it was the re-wording of a longtime standard that drew most of the attention on Tuesday.
At a town hall meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, Mr. Cheney was drawing a comparison between the war on terrorism and the situation facing the United States after WWII and before the Cold War.
"We're now at that point where we're making that kind of decision for the next 30 or 40 years, and it's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice," he stated.
"Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again. That we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war. I think that would be a terrible mistake for us."
The idea that the nation must act before being attacked is, of course, not a new wrinkle in the vice president's speech. He has used the argument often in the last few weeks of the campaign, including in his speech at the Republican Convention.
However, in the speech in Des Moines, it was the implication that America may face another terrorist attack if the voters don't make the "right choice" on Election Day that raised eyebrows.
While the vice president and his staff were flying from Iowa to New Hampshire for another speech, the Kerry/Edwards ticket was quick to criticize the vice president's suggesting that it voters on Nov. 2 "...make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again."
Edwards labeled it as "scare tactics" and "un-American."
Once back on the ground, the Cheney campaign rushed to the defense of the statement.
"Whoever is elected in November faces the prospect of another terrorist attack," responded Anne Womack, a Cheney campaign spokesperson. "The question is whether or not the right policies are in place to best protect our country."
Lost in all of this election year bickering was perhaps more election year bickering that went unnoticed. After Kerry's senatorial voting record on Defense Department weapons systems was criticized during the Republican Convention, Democrats pointed out that many of the things Kerry had voted against were later canceled by Cheney when he served as the Pentagon head.
In Des Moines, Cheney came to his own defense. "Because, in fact, when he was voting against those systems back in the '80s, I was voting for them when I was a member of the House of Representatives."
"And by the time I had become Secretary of Defense, the cold war had ended. The Soviet threat had gone away and we needed a new force and new kinds of capabilities," Cheney finished.
The vice president returned to Washington Tuesday night from New Hampshire for a respite from the campaign trail. He's back in action Thursday and Friday with a trip to Ohio and bus tour through Wisconsin.
Edwards Upstaged: On Wednesday John Edwards campaigns in Clarksburg, WV and Bangor, Maine. But on Tuesday in Kalamazoo a tough talking mineworker upstaged his sunny smile. CBS News Bonney Kapp reports:
Trail Byte: John Edwards dropped by Theo & Stacy's Restaurant before leaving Kalamazoo to buy a "to go" breakfast and shake hands with patrons. It was more a photo-op than a scheme to win one vote at a time on Tuesday morning.
The candidate smiled broadly and greeted breakfast goers with his trademark, "Nice to see you." After he left a bi-partisan table of senior citizens who meet monthly at the diner for breakfast, Edwards sparked debate between lifelong friends.
"He seemed very personable, but I'm sure he wasn't as glad to see me as he said he was," noted Pat, a Kalamazoo resident and Bush supporter.
Her friend and Democratic supporter, Betty, scolded, "You've got to think positive."
"But he said it to everybody," Pat retorted.
"Well, he is glad to see everybody. I could tell," Betty said confidently and the two ladies shared a laugh, agreeing to disagree.
Later that afternoon, several thousand Ohioans came to hear Edwards speak at his Chillicothe rally, but it was the warm up act that stole the show. In his 7 ½ minute animated introduction, Cecil Roberts, the president of the United Mine Workers of America, had the crowd roaring.
"Whenever John Kerry was dodging bullets in Vietnam, George Bush was dodging the draft in the United States," Roberts said angrily. Then listing several in the Bush administration, he said "They're all hawks on this war. They're hawks for your kids, but not their kids. I spent a year in Vietnam. I never laid eyes on one of them-they're not hawks, brothers and sisters, they're chicken hawks."
Roberts blasted the president's record on healthcare and jobs, and even provided comic relief. "You've heard about the low carb diet, well I got a no carb diet for you. C-A-R-B. No Cheney! No Ashcroft! No Rumsfeld! No Bush!" he said as the crowd chanted along. "And I recommend very little (Condeleeza) Rice to go with it," he added.
Edwards took the stage and neither embraced nor distanced himself from Roberts' comments. "It's great to be with a man who spent his life fighting for working people," he said of the union president before delivering his stump speech.
The senator then headed off to Bloomington, Illinois, where he delivered a 15-minute version of his stump speech to about 200 donors at a half million dollar fundraiser.
Vatican Gives Voters Green Light for Kerry: According to a U.S. Catholic official, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's arbiter of doctrinal orthodoxy, has given Roman Catholic voters leeway under certain circumstances to vote for politicians who support abortion rights, reports the Washington Post.
Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, said Ratzinger's statement means, "a Catholic can never vote for a candidate precisely because the candidate supports abortion. However, there could be circumstances where a voter, bearing in mind the primacy of the life issue, supports the candidate for other serious reasons," she said. "Each Catholic is called to consider these issues from a faith perspective and to weigh the candidates' positions very carefully before voting."
The Post reports: "In other years, Ratzinger's intricately worded statement and U.S. bishops' efforts to parse it might have escaped general notice. But in this year's super-heated political climate, they could make a difference to some voters in the tight race between Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a Catholic who favors abortion rights, and President Bush, a conservative Protestant who has signed legislation aimed at restricting abortions."
Log Cabins Say No to Bush: For the first time in the group's history, the Log Cabin Republicans who advocate gay rights have decided not to endorse the Republican nominee for President. The group's board voted 22 to 2 not to endorse the President's re-election and to withhold their endorsement for the 2004 presidential election.
"Certain moments in history require that a belief in fairness and equality not be sacrificed in the name of partisan politics; this is one of those moments," Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Patrick Guerriero said. "There is a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and that fight is bigger than one platform, one convention, or even one President," he continued.
Instead, the group will shift its resources to defeating what it deems the radical right and to Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate and House, said Log Cabin Board Chairman William Brownson of Ohio.
Quote of the Day: "I've got mustard on that, thank you." --President Bush, asked if he wanted Heinz Ketchup for his hamburger. (AP)