CBSN

Washington Wrap

white house washington, dc
AP
Dotty Lynch, Beth Lester, Lauren Glasser and Allen Alter from the CBS News Political and Campaign Units have the latest.

Thursday's Headlines

* Shrinking the Battlefield

* Bush On Guard

* Another Clinton Alum

* Edwards v Cheney: Round Two

Mapping an Ad Strategy: After expanding the battleground states to 21 states at one point, new ad buys from the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee show a more nuanced strategy for the beginning of fall.

In late August, the Kerry campaign announced a $50 million buy in 20 states:
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. The lone loser in that? Virginia.

Moving into September, however, the actual money on the table for the Kerry campaign is buying time in only ten states: Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, the Associated Press reports.

Kerry campaign spokesperson Deborah DeShong tells CBS News that the focus on ten states does not mean Kerry is conceding the rest. "This is a rolling buy, it will be phased in. We've said all along it would be a rolling buy," she said. The Kerry campaign insists it will go up in other states, with senior advisor Tad Devine telling the AP "the campaign had several million dollars in advertising time reserved for Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas." When those buys will be made remains to be seen.

With Kerry committing to ten states, the Democratic National Committee is going up in 13 states, CBS News has learned: Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. For those who are bored of cross-checking, that is the Kerry buy of 10, minus New Mexico and plus Maine, Minnesota, Nevada and Washington.

Stay tuned to see whether advertising will actually come to a television near you.

Bush On Guard: With virtually every national newspaper carrying CBS News' 60 Minutes report questioning President Bush's National Guard service on its front page, the White House continues to hang tough but would like nothing more than, as the other side says, to move on. On Thursday, the Democratic National Committee is trying linger a while and has scheduled a press conference with Sen. Tom (Dick Cheney is a Coward) Harkin and Rep. Charlie (Bring Back the Draft) Rangel to "call on President George W. Bush to answer specific questions."

CBS News' Mark Knoller reports on the White House reaction and his trip on Thursday to a 2004 battleground state.

Knoller Nugget: The White House is standing by its assertion that President Bush fully completed his military obligations while in the Texas Air National Guard. But documents obtained and broadcast Wednesday night by the CBS News' 60 Minutes raise new questions.

Papers from the files of the late Col. Jerry Killian - one of Mr Bush's commanders in the guard - clearly show that Killian did not think Mr. Bush completed his duty. He suspended then-Lt. Bush from flight duty for failing to submit to a required physical.

Killian, who died 20 years ago, also complained of pressure from higher-ups to give then Lt. Bush good evaluations.

In an interview for 60 Minutes, White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said "it's impossible for anybody to read the mind of a dead man. Jerry Killian writes memos to himself in this file."

As for the failure to take the physical, Bartlett said "President Bush didn't take the flight exam because he was going to a unit that didn't fly his plane."

"Everybody knows President Bush didn't take his flight exam," said Bartlett. "After flying for 400 -- more than 500 hours in the cockpit, President Bush after his fourth year in service, asked for permission to go in a non-flying capacity to Alabama. There was no reason for President Bush to take a flight exam if he wasn't going to be flying."

The bottom line argument from Bartlett is this: "President Bush would not have received the honorable discharge that he was granted when he returned from Alabama if he had not met his requirements."

Mr. Bush campaigns Thursday in Pennsylvania - a state he lost four years ago but has been targeting aggressively in pursuit of its 21 electoral votes. This is his 36th visit to Pennsylvania state since taking office - the 13th this year.

Kerry Gets Another Clinton Alum: CBS News has learned that yet another former Clinton press secretary, Mike McCurry, will join the Kerry team. McCurry will be added to the already A-list group of debate negotiators: Vernon Jordan, Jim Johnson, Bob Barnett, and Democratic Governors Jennifer Granholm and Janet Napolitano.

The Bush campaign, which has its own power list of negotiators lead by former Secretary of State Jim Baker, said Wednesday that it does not want to negotiate debates in public. The New York Daly News quoted a Bush campaign strategist as saying, "he'll be fine with two [debates] as long as the talks are resolved quickly and don't give the press a chance to hammer him for being chicken." Bush-Cheney may find it harder to fly under the radar with the press friendly McCurry joining the other side.

Kerry himself continues to try to climb out of his August hole (a CBS News poll released on Thursday shows him seven points down) and tries once again to move the discussion onto domestic issues. On Thursday, Kerry holds a roundtable discussion on health care issues in Des Moines, Iowa, his seventh visit to the Hawkeye State since he won the caucuses in January. He then addresses the National Baptist Convention in New Orleans before spending the night in St. Louis. CBS News' Steve Chaggaris is with him.

Trail Byte: John Kerry regularly takes a shot the Bush-Cheney folks over their use of loyalty oaths and screened questions in an effort to mute dissenters at their events. On Wednesday, however, Kerry's supporters may have taken the muting to another level.

Within the first two minutes of Kerry's Cincinnati speech lambasting Bush's handling of the Iraq war, an anti-Kerry heckler jumped to his feet and started shouting at the Democrat, criticizing Kerry's anti-war efforts after his Vietnam service.

Almost immediately, Mike Russell, a local Republican activist, was wrestled to the ground, placed in a headlock, and then forced out of the Cincinnati Museum Center.

As Russell complained about a sore neck and was being tended to by medics outside, Kerry was telling the audience he has "nothing but the greatest respect for people's right to have their opinions and to express them here in the United States of America."

He became a bit less gracious as he continued saying, "It's a terrific tactic of the Bush team, they love to disrupt, they love to interrupt. They don't want America to hear the truth, but we will talk the truth."

Kerry then reflected back on his days as an anti-war protestor - the same days Russell was shouting at Kerry about.

"I honestly respect the differences of opinion and the emotions that people feel. ... I once stood up and spoke about what I thought our government was doing was wrong and so many of our generation believed deeply in that right."

Edwards vs. Cheney: Round Two: Even though Vice President Cheney was in his corner on Wednesday with no public events scheduled, challenger John Edwards continued jabbing. The VP's press secretary stood in for Cheney instead. CBS News' Bonney Kapp reports:

Trail Byte: John Edwards rang the bell in what is now round two of a Edwards-Cheney match that began when the vice president told Iowa voters a "wrong choice" on election day would increase "the danger that we'll get hit again" by terrorists.

Anne Womack, a Cheney spokesperson later clarified. "Whoever is elected in November faces the prospect of another terrorist attack; the question is whether or not the right policies are in place to best protect our country,"
Womack said.

The Democrats, however, heard a different tone. Translating his Republican counterpart's statement at a West Virginia town hall meeting on Wednesday, Edwards said, "If you don't vote for them, Bush and Cheney, and they lose, and then when or if another terrorist attack occurs, it's the responsibility of the American people that it happened."

"This statement by the vice president is intended not only to divide us, in addition to that it's dishonorable and it's undignified," Edwards continued, clearly unsatisfied with Womack's explanation.

Though President Bush still has not responded directly to Edwards' challenge to call for an end to the controversial Swift Boat ads a few weeks ago, the candidate for vice president made his second appeal to Mr. Bush himself on the Cheney statement.

"The president of the United States should renounce this statement," he said. "This is a test for the president and we will see whether this president meets that test over the coming days."

So far, the only response to Edwards' request was from White House spokesman Scott McClellan. "There are differences in how the two candidates approach the war on terror," he told reporters. "That's what the vice president was talking about in his remarks."

Edwards reiterated his challenge to the president at his rally at the University of Maine on Wednesday evening, alongside author and Kerry/Edwards supporter Stephen King, who declared the Bush administration, "the most dangerous and unpleasant bunch that we've had since the Nixon years."

Never one to miss an opportunity for a good pun, Edwards' spokesman Mark Kornblau noted, "If we make the wrong choice on November 2nd, you know what else we'll get? Four more years of 'Misery,'" referring to King's best-selling book.

Quote of the Day: "Only an idiot wouldn't like this." --Teresa Heinz Kerry on people who oppose her husband's health care plan. (AP)