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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

* How Close Can It Get?

* Conservative Television

* Bush Goes West

* Cheney's Finally Utters the Other "F" Word:

* Kerry's in the Southwest

* Seems Like Edwards is Everywhere

* Quote of the Day

How Close Can It Get? With 22 days left, the polls are a political junkie's dream. President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are running neck and neck, with the polls see-sawing up and down, almost universally within the margin of error.

  • Reuters/Zogby
      Bush-Cheney 44
      Kerry-Edwards 47
      Nader-Camejo 1.7
      Undecided 6

      Conducted from October 8 through 10 among 1,214 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 2.9 percentsize>

  • Time
      Bush-Cheney 45
      Kerry-Edwards 45
      Nader-Camejo 3
      Undecided 3

      Conducted from October 6 through 7 among 886 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 4 percent.size>

  • ABC News/Washington Post
      Bush-Cheney 51
      Kerry-Edwards 46
      Nader-Camejo 1
      Undecided (not reported)

      Conducted October 6 through 9 among 1,438 likely voters, margin or error plus or minus 3 percent.size>

  • George Washington University- Battleground Poll
      Bush-Cheney 49
      Kerry-Edwards 46
      Nader-Camejo (not reported)
      Undecided 5

      Conducted October 3 through 7 among 1,000 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 3 percent. size>

  • Ipsos
      --Likely Voters

      Bush-Cheney 44
      Kerry-Edwards 50
      Nader-Camejo 2
      Undecided (not reported)

      Conducted from October 4 through 6 among 944 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 3 percent.size>

      --Registered Voters

      Bush-Cheney 47
      Kerry-Edwards 47
      Nader-Camejo (not reported)
      Undecided (not reported)

      Conducted from October 4 through 6 among 1,273 registered voters, margin of error plus or minus 2.5 percent.size>

  • Pennsylvania ONLY — West Chester University
      Bush-Cheney 41
      Kerry-Edwards 47
      Nader-Camejo (not reported)
      Undecided 12

      Conducted October 1 through 4 among 585 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 4 percent. size>

    Conservative TV: The Sinclair Broadcasting Group, a publicly traded company which owns 62 stations in 39 markets, will ask their stations to pre-empt regular programming and air an anti-Kerry movie called "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal." According to The New York Times, Sinclair's stations include affiliates stations in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and Pennsylvania. The Times quotes Sinclair vice president for corporate relations, Mark Hyman as saying, "Clearly John Kerry has made his Vietnam service the foundation of his presidential run; this is an issue that is certainly topical."

    According to the documentary's website,, the production of "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal" includes interviews with "17 Vietnam POWs whose time in prison amounted to 109 years and three months."

    The Los Angeles Times was first to write about this movie and Sinclair's intentions to broadcast it so close to Election Day. The Los Angeles Times reports that regular programming will be preempted "for one hour between Oct. 21 and Oct. 24, depending on the city." The LA Times continues to say that the airing of "'Stolen Honor' will be followed by a panel discussion, which Kerry will be asked to join."

    The Democratic National Committee plans to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Sinclair Broadcasting Group. DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe and DNC Legal Counsel Joe Sandler will hold a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon.

    Bush Goes West: And so does CBS News' Mark Knoller:

    Knoller Nugget: After a down day at his Texas ranch, the president is back on the campaign trail Monday with events in New Mexico and Colorado.

    The day off gave Mr. Bush a chance re-energize after a grueling week that included 10 political events during trips to eight states.

    The week ahead has him doing at least 10 events in five states, and that doesn't count Friday or Saturday, for which the president's schedule has not yet been announced.

    But this week includes the third and final presidential debate, to be held Wednesday night at Arizona State University in Tempe. No matter the outcome, both candidates will have just under three weeks left until Election Day in which to counter any adverse impressions left by the debate.

    First thing Monday, the president addresses a rally in the town of Hobbs, N.M., in the southeast corner of the state and on the border with Texas. New Mexico is a state he lost in 2000 by the smallest numerical margin of the election: just 366 votes.

    And with five electoral votes at stake, greater than the number that decided the election four years ago, the Bush campaign hopes to capture the state with the help of an aggressive grass roots operation to get out the vote.

    Monday's visit marks Mr. Bush's tenth visit to New Mexico since taking office and the fifth this year.

    Later in the day, it'll be his ninth visit to Colorado. Mr. Bush will attend a Denver fund-raiser for GOP Senate Candidate Pete Coors (of the beer family) and then do a Republican rally at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison.

    The president won Colorado in 2000 by nine percent of the vote and needs to keep its nine electoral votes in his win column. But the state ballot contains a proposition that Colorado's electoral votes be distributed proportionately instead of winner-take-all. If that had been in effect four years ago, Al Gore would have been elected.

    The Bush campaign is ridiculing something Kerry said in yesterday's New York Times Magazine profile. Kerry is quoted as saying: "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." Further, he seemed to liken the problem of terrorism to prostitution and illegal gambling.

    That was all the Bush campaign had to hear. It quickly produced a new TV ad designed to make Kerry look foolish. Here's part of the announcer's text: "Terrorism? A nuisance? How can Kerry protect us when he doesn't understand the threat?" Kerry campaign spokesman Phil Singer was out with a rapid response saying: "Once again, the Bush campaign is insulting the basic intelligence of the public by resorting to tired and desperate tactics to cling to power."

    And the Kerry campaign is out with a new ad of its own blasting the president for "failed leadership" and declaring "it's time for a new direction." Three more weeks, and all we'll have on TV will be ads for deodorant and toothpaste.

    Many can't wait.

    Cheney's Finally Utters the Other "F" Word: Vice President Cheney attends a rally with wife Lynne in Medford, NJ Monday and then heads to Cincinnati for a rally in Batavia, Ohio. CBS News' Josh Gross reports that Cheney finally used the term that his crowds want to hear:

    Trail Byte: It's a phrase that is chanted at nearly every rally Cheney attends but until this weekend, it was one he had never uttered himself: "flip-flop." Granted, it was done parroting an excited crowd member, but one can be sure if the vice president is going to say it, he's going to back it up.

    For weeks at rallies and town hall meetings, Cheney has counted off examples of issues he believes casts Kerry as being confused, hesitant or too liberal, much to the delight of the normally friendly crowds. Since the Republican convention, these instances have always been echoed by chants of "flip-flop" from the audience.

    At a Florida rally for former Bush Cabinet Secretary and Senate Candidate Mel Martinez on Saturday, things were no different. Cheney began with a backhanded compliment directed at his opponent and their debate last week.

    "I don't want to criticize my opponent because Sen. Edwards had an awfully difficult job," he said. "It's hard to defend John Kerry's positions when nobody is quite sure what they are."

    A few moments later, the vice president seemed almost excited in wanting to return to his favorite subject: Kerry's perceived indecision on Iraq.

    Referring to Kerry's declarations on Iraq during the previous night's presidential debate, Cheney said, "The statements are designed to hide the fact he still can't figure out where he stands. Coming over this morning, I reviewed the debate transcript of last night's debate and it's fascinating."

    He continued, "On page five, it says, 'Well let me tell you straight up,' - this is Sen. Kerry speaking, - 'I've never changed my mind about Iraq. I do believe that Saddam Hussein is a threat. I always believe he was a threat.'"

    "On page 12, two questions later, 'The president has been preoccupied by Iraq where there wasn't a threat.'"

    The vice president seemed almost too thrilled by this discovery to articulate a response.

    "That's unbelievable. It's uh, it's yeah. It's mind-boggling," he stuttered. In the course of one debate, 'Is Iraq a threat or is Iraq not a threat?' He's got both positions say within a few minutes there last night."

    He quickly regained his focus, "The fact of the matter is, this nation cannot afford a president who sends mixed singles to our troops, to our friends and to our enemies. The Iraqis people need to know that America will always keep its promises. The terrorists need to know that we will not cut and run. And our men and women in uniform need to know we will honor there service and sacrifice by completing the mission."

    Look for the vice president to continue with this example as the days until the election wind down. What may be more "mind-boggling" is not that Kerry actually said what he did, but that he has given the vice president such good material for the final three weeks.

    Kerry's in the Southwest: Kerry is making his way to Wednesday's debate in Arizona stopping in the battleground state of New Mexico. CBS News' Steve Chaggaris reports;

    Trail Byte: Kerry begins the week in the same state as Mr. Bush - New Mexico - where the Massachusetts senator originally was expected to lay low for debate preps but has added a policy speech to his schedule.

    His trip to the Land of Enchantment comes a day after the senator, together with Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, visited a Baptist church in Miami, trying to fire up African-American voters.

    Perhaps concerned about apathy and an African-American electorate that may not be totally sold on Kerry, he tried to reassure them by adopting one of Mr. Bush's campaign slogans from 2000, telling the crowd, "I'm a uniter, not a divider."

    And while Kerry delivered a religion-inspired version of his stump speech, his surrogates were the ones who fired the most heated rhetoric against Bush-Cheney.

    Former Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Florida, said Kerry is "fighting against liars and demons."

    "Get ready Mr. Bush ... on November 2, we're going to get up and go to the polls for the big payback," Sharpton declared, referencing the famous James Brown song, "The Payback."

    And former college quarterback Jackson used a football metaphor to criticize Kerry's opponents saying, "It's hard to be a one-eyed quarterback ... If you have one eye, you can't see the rest of the field... You can't protect yourself from the blindside ... That's why Cheney couldn't see Edwards: he has one eye."

    After Kerry speaks about his energy proposals on Monday in Santa Fe, he'll spend the next two days hunkered down to prepare for Wednesday's final debate with Mr. Bush.

    Despite reports that he was upset with his own performance on Friday, Kerry joked about Mr. Bush's demeanor. "I was worried. At one point I thought the president was going to attack Charlie Gibson," Kerry joked at an Elyria, Ohio rally.

    Seems Like John Edwards is Everywhere: John Edwards did the "Full Ginsberg" on Sunday when he appeared on all five Sunday morning talk shows. (The name comes from the publicity seeking Bill Ginsberg, who was the lawyer for Monica Lewinsky.) On Monday Edwards holds a town hall in Newton, Iowa, before heading to Kansas City, Mo. for a rally and fundraiser. He will overnight in Denver. CBS News' Bonney Kapp is on the trail with the Edwards campaign:

    Trail Byte: "Flip-flop" is a dirty word to most Democrats since Republicans have used the word to define Kerry's record and message as inconsistent. In the past, Edwards has attempted to defend his running mate by claiming he has a "clear message," but on Friday, Edwards uttered the word Democrats have grown to hate.

    "For them to suggest that John Kerry flip-flops — you got to be kidding me," he said in a town hall meeting in Scranton, Pa. "These guys are the biggest flip-floppers on the face of the planet," he added while accusing the Bush administration of changing positions on a list of issues such as the Patient's Bill of Rights, the creation of a Sept. 11 commission, and No Child Left Behind. "I mean, it goes on and on and on," he said.

    At a Detroit rally after the second presidential debate, Edwards once again stuck up for his running mate-but didn't utter the "f" word. "The reason that George Bush appeared so defensive and so angry last night, compared to man who laid out a clear, positive vision for where America needs to go, is they can't defend their record."

    But its Kerry's perceived flip-flops that the press and the pundits have seized on in the course of the campaign. Making the Sunday morning talk show rounds, Edwards was asked by each of the five network program hosts about his running mate's apparent inconsistent views on Iraq.

    "I think Saddam Hussein was a very serious threat. I stand by that, and that's why we stand behind our vote on the resolution," he told NBC's Tim Russert. "But I don't know how many times I can say the same thing: We did not authorize this president to make the mess that he's made."

    Network news anchors aren't the only ones with tough questions. Seven-year-old Emily Weiss from Pierce Elementary School's "Kidwitness News," a Birmingham, Mich. cable program, conducted her own hard-hitting interview with the senator.

    "Do you want to be president one day?" Emily asked, pushing the microphone to the senator for his response.

    Smiling, Edwards answered, "Oh that's the hardest question. I want John Kerry to be president right now and I want to be vice president right now."

    Quote of the Day: "We're not all non-motivated pot-heads." -- NORML chapter president, Erin Spitzer, on registering students to vote at Montana State (Bozeman Daily Chronicle).

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