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Washington Wrap

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

Tuesday's Headlines

* Bush Trying to Keep Red States Red
* Cheney Passes Up the Sticky Bun but Will He Go for the Brat
* Kerry Spending a Little Extra Time in a Barely Blue State
* Edwards in Colorado Too
* Democratic Senate Candidates Go To the Right
* Bishops Get Political
* Debate Viewership Down and Up

Bush Trying to Keep Red States Red: Looking at the electoral map, CBS News' Mark Knoller reports:

Knoller Nugget: Making his way to the site of Wednesday night's third and final debate with John Kerry, President Bush holds campaign events on Tuesday in Colorado and Arizona. Both states were in his win column four years ago and he's trying to insure they remain there three weeks from now on Election Day.

Mr. Bush addresses a Republican Victory '04 rally in Colorado Springs and then heads south to a GOP fund-raiser in Paradise Valley, AZ. After that, there's nothing on his public schedule until Wednesday night's face-to-face verbal clash with his democratic challenger. And the President would have us believe he's looking forward to it.

"We had a great debate Friday night," he told rallies on Monday. He seems fired up for the next encounter, in the belief that it highlights the differences between him and Kerry "on issues ranging from jobs to taxes to health care to the war on terror." The last debate is to focus exclusively on domestic issues and CBS News' Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer serves as the moderator.

Mr. Bush used his speeches Monday to ridicule Kerry for this comment in Sunday's New York Times Magazine: "We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." At rallies in New Mexico and Colorado, Mr. Bush lashed out saying: "Now, just this weekend, Senator Kerry talked of reducing terrorism to -- quote -- "nuisance" -- end quote -- and compared it to prostitution and illegal gambling. See, I couldn't disagree more. Our goal is not to reduce terror to some acceptable level of nuisance. Our goal is to defeat terror by staying on the offensive, destroying terrorists, and spreading freedom and liberty around the world."

The Kerry campaign fired back, spokesman Phil Singer saying the attack is "insulting the basic intelligence of the public by resorting to tired and desperate tactics to cling to power." Further, Singer calls it "a dishonest and disingenuous way to campaign ... and another pathetic attempt to play the politics of fear." It goes without saying the rhetoric will get even more high-voltage as the election draws closer.

Also on Monday, in the scenic splendor of Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheater, President Bush was introduced at a rally by retired Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who commanded the invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam. He offered a passionate defense of Mr. Bush's leadership in the war. "I have seen this President, this commander in chief, when the nights were long and the mornings were early and the decisions to be made were hard. And you know what I saw? I saw character, I saw courage and I saw consistency." He urged voters to keep Mr. Bush as commander-in-chief.

It didn't take much to fire up the crowd at the Red Rocks rally, but some Denver Broncos cheerleaders didn't hurt. They came out wearing tight jeans and t-shirts emblazoned with the words "Victory in the Rockies." And forming a human slingshot, they propelled some of the t-shirts into the audience. Another special moment in presidential politics.

Cheney Passes Up the Sticky Bun But Will He Go for the Brat?: Vice President Cheney had coffee (but no sticky buns) with community leaders in Davenport, Iowa on Tuesday morning. Afterwards, he participates in a town hall meeting in Milwaukee and finishes his day at a rally in Rochester, Minnesota. CBS News' Josh Gross reports:

Trail Byte: Three weeks out from Election Day, Vice President Cheney has no more need for niceties. The crowds haven't gathered to hear cute stories or political anecdotes. They want to hear good things about President Bush and bad things about Senator Kerry. On Monday, the Vice President was happy to oblige.

At a rally in Medford NJ, Cheney ticked the differences off like a metronome. "On vital matters of national security, Senator Kerry offers a record of weakness and a strategy of retreat. President Bush offers a record of steady purpose and resolute action, and a strategy for victory."
Concerning social issues, "Senator Kerry is a tax-and-spend liberal. President Bush is a compassionate conservative." Political philosophies? "Senator Kerry is a tax-and-spend liberal. President Bush is a compassionate conservative." What about the American people? "John Kerry seems to think that all the wisdom is found in Washington, DC. George Bush trusts the wisdom of the American people."

But the address wasn't just negative speech and implied political insults because the Vice President had something specific on his mind. The quickly infamous "nuisance" article in the New York Times that drew the President's attention on Monday was also the focus of Cheney's address. He read from the article, "Quote: 'We have to get back to the place,' he said, where terrorism is 'a nuisance,' sort of like, and these are his comparisons, sort of like 'gambling' and 'prostitution.'"

"This is naive and dangerous, as was Senator Kerry's reluctance earlier this year to call the war on terror an actual war," he continued for the crowd. "He preferred to think of it, he said, as primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation. This is all part of a pre-9/11 mind set, and it is a view we cannot go back to."

By Tuesday morning, the Vice President, having had more time to reflect, posed rhetorical questions to a breakfast roundtable in Davenport, Iowa. "I asked myself, well, when was terrorism only a nuisance? Was it in 1983 when terrorists hit our embassy that spring in Beirut and killed several Americans? Or in the fall of '83 in Beirut when they killed 241 Marines with a suicide bomber and a truck bomb. Or maybe it was 1988 in December when they took down Pan Am 103 over Scotland?" He continued by describing several other high profile terrorist attacks against US interests. "How do you look back on that track record and say there was ever a time in the last twenty years when we didn't have to be concerned about terror, when we didn't pay a price for it."

Once again, the core of the Vice President's argument against the election of Kerry is the Senator's own words. 'Nuisance' will join the ranks of 'I voted for the 87billion before I voted against it', 'global test', and 'sensitive war on terrorism' in the Cheney' Hall of Fame of Anti-Kerry Phrases.

Kerry Spending a Little Extra Time in a Barely Blue State: John Kerry spent an extra night in New Mexico preparing for the third debate. The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts Rep Barney Frank has been helping Kerry prepare for the domestic policy forum. "Frank said he can help Kerry pare down his responses because as a member of the minority party in the House, he is used to Republicans limiting the speaking time for Democrats. 'House members learn to talk in 2- to 3-minute sound bites,'" he told the Globe. "You get to understand: Don't make too many points, and try to be substantive." CBS News' Steve Chaggaris reports from Camp Kerry:

Trail Byte: The Kerry campaign made a schedule change late Monday night, opting to keep the senator in Santa Fe on Tuesday night in lieu of traveling to Arizona to be in place for the debate. Instead, he'll head to Tempe on Wednesday morning.

The extra night in the Land of Enchantment not only gives the senator more time to prep for his final showdown with the President but allows him to watch the first game of the American League Championship Series featuring his beloved Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees.

Barring any unexpected outings, Kerry is scheduled to spend Tuesday out of the public eye, prepping with his debate team that includes attorney Greg Craig playing the role of President Bush. Kerry was up late on Monday with that team as he was spotted leaving a prep session at his Santa Fe hotel at 10:15 PM Mountain Time.

Earlier in the day, Kerry delivered a speech sharply critical of the President's energy policy and offered his ideas to make the U.S. "energy independent." In direct response to a Bush-Cheney ad running in New Mexico that accuse Kerry of supporting increases in the gasoline tax, he shot back saying that gas prices are at a record high under Bush. "To borrow a saying, when it comes to George Bush's record on gas prices, he can run but he can't hide," said Kerry. "Facts, as President Ronald Reagan reminded us, are stubborn things, Mr. President."

At the top of his remarks, he paid tribute to his friend Christopher Reeve, who died on Sunday. Kerry revealed that Reeve had contacted him after Friday night's debate, where Kerry used Reeve's paralysis as an example of what stem cell research could eventually cure. "I was really blown away because on Saturday, after the debate, I picked up my cell phone and had a wonderful, long message from Chris, who called me to thank me for talking about the possibilities of a cure," Kerry said, almost choking up.

"And the excitement in his voice - this was just before he went into the hospital - the excitement in his voice - I had no idea he was going in 'cause he didn't tell me that - the excitement in his voice was just really palpable. And he was so thrilled about where the discussion of stem cell research had come to."

Edwards in Colorado, Too: Senator Edwards shares the state of Colorado with the President on Tuesday. The campaign says it is forcing the Republicans to spend time and resources in the typically red state because "we're doing better there than we should be," reports CBS News' Bonney Kapp after talking to one Edwards staffer.

Edwards then flies to California (a state Democrats expect to carry) to appear on "The Tonight Show." While it's likely there'll be some laughs on the Burbank set, the campaign expects the appearance to be on the serious side. More from Kapp on the trail with Edwards:

Trail Byte: "I got to tell you, the rest of you are impressive, but that's the best question I've had at one of these town hall meetings," John Edwards responded to the seventh question at his Newton, Iowa event on Monday. It wasn't a concern about healthcare or social security that elicited such a response but a little girl's request for a hug. Edwards obliged, making it one of the best, most straightforward answers given by the candidate at a town hall event.

Buried in his stump speech, the senator addressed the politically hot topic of stem cell research and acknowledged the death of actor-turned-advocate, Christopher Reeve. "If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to get up out of that wheelchair and walk again," he said.

At his second event in the second battleground state of the day, Edwards was introduced by the newest Kerry/Edwards advisor, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. He brought up the issues of experience at the Kansas City, MO event. "While he's been blessed with this youthful vitality and appearance, he's eight years older than John Kennedy was," Jackson noted. "It's not about his age, but about his character, his values, the dues he has paid. So we embrace his leadership because he represents morning time in America," the reverend continued.

After a sufficient pumping up from the reverend, Edwards took the stage at the Missouri rally and addressed the energized crowd of several thousand supporters. "As we go into this debate on Wednesday, we've already seen over the last 24 to 48 hours that they're so afraid of what John Kerry has shown in these two debates. They've shown he's strong, decisive, that he's ready to be commander- in-chief, and therefore they're engaged in these false attacks in the politics of fear and telling the American people something they know is not true because they've seen John Kerry in the last two debates," Edwards said referring to a new Republican attack ad, "World View."

He continued, "I just want to say something, George Bush is the man who let Osama bin Laden get away at Tora Bora. George Bush is the man who said we may not be able to win this war on terrorism. George Bush is the man who created this mess in Iraq, and come November the American people are going to choose a new president, a new commander-in-chief; someone who can lead us out of this mess."

Edwards then headed across the state line into the Republican stronghold known as Kansas, his second venture to the traditionally red state, for a $350,000 fundraiser. With three weeks till Election Day, the campaign expects even more events in Republican districts, reaching out to Independents and Republicans in a final effort to convert voters.

Democratic Senate Candidates Go To the Right: The Democrats have an uphill battle to regain control of the U.S. Senate and, if they succeed, it will be because some of their candidates tend to be more conservative, the Los Angeles Times reports.

There are 34 Senate races this election. Of those 34 seats, 19 are currently Democratic-held seats while 15 are Republican-held. Eight of the 34 races are open seats vacated by retiring Senators; they are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Five of those seats are currently held by the Democrats and are all in the south, an area tough for any Democrat. As the L.A. Times reports, "Some of the Democratic candidates have sought to distance themselves from the party's presidential nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts."

The Times quotes Andrew Taylor, a political scientist at North Carolina State University as saying, "The main reason you're hearing Democratic candidates talk like Republicans is that most of the highly competitive Senate races this year are taking place on GOP turf." Alaska, a state that has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1974, has a tight race featuring Senator Lisa Murkoswski (R), who was appointed by her father, Governor Murkowski in 2002, against former Governor Tony Knowles. Knowles, along with Democratic candidates Representative Brad Carson in Oklahoma and Christopher John in Louisiana, support the drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refugee, an issue that Senator Kerry "has helped lead Senate filibusters to block the drilling."

Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee tells CBS News, "The fact is, we have strong, independent and accomplished candidates running on their own records and ideas while our Republican opponents can't go to the bathroom without checking with Karl Rove first."

Bishops Get Political: Although Evangelical Christians have been in on the act for years, and Renaissance Rome was the site of much church-state intrigue, the Catholic Church has been less active in American politics in recent years. All that, however, is changing this year, reports the New York Times.

"Galvanized by battles against same-sex marriage and stem cell research and alarmed at the prospect of a President Kerry - who is Catholic but supports abortion rights - these bishops and like-minded Catholic groups are blanketing churches with guides identifying abortion, gay marriage and the stem cell debate as among a handful of "non-negotiable issues," reports the Times.

Hoping to fuel that fire, the Bush-Cheney campaign has been actively courting Catholics: "For four years, the party has held weekly conference calls with a representative of the White House for prominent Catholic conservatives." In addition, the campaign has organized 50,000 volunteers and the Republican National Committee has an "undisclosed number" of field staff who make $2,500 a month for their work. All told, the Republican efforts are at attempt to break what has been Democrats' traditional hold on Catholic voters on the issues of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual marriage.

The Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee, not surprisingly, are not buying that argument. Both teams have religious outreach coordinators and are hoping that Catholic voters will look to two other issues, aversion to war and the death penalty, when they make their decisions. Kerry opposes the death penalty, unlike President Bush.

Regardless of who guesses right before Election Day, Catholics make up almost one-quarter of the electorate and will end up having a say on November 2.

Debate Viewership Down and Up: Friday night's second Presidential debate was watched by 46.7 million views, according to Neilson figures reported by the AP. This is down from the 62.5 million who watched the first debate. However, it was an increase over the 37.6 million who watched the second Gore-Bush debate in 2000.

Nielsen Media Research data released Wednesday also show that the debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards on Oct. 5 drew in 43.6 million viewers, a figure equivalent to the viewership of the first presidential debate in 2000. The last vice-presidential showdown that received such high ratings was the three-way debate back in 1992 between Al Gore, Dan Quayle and James B. Stockdale.

Quote of the Day: "You know, Josh Burkeen is our rep down here in the southeast area...He was telling me lesbianism is so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they'll only let one girl go to the bathroom. Now think about it. Think about that issue. How is it that that's happened to us?" Tom Coburn, the Republican Senate candidate in Oklahoma, at a town meeting Aug. 31 in Hugo. (Washington Post)

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