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.
* Insta-Polls: And the Results Are?
* Bush Debates, then Hits the Trail
* VP and Family
* Kerry Post-Debate
* Edwards in Iowa
* Nevada Registrations
Insta-Polls:The presidential debates are over, and the results of polls of people who watched are in.
CBS News polled 211 undecided voters and found that 39 percent think Sen. John Kerry won, to 25 percent favoring President Bush and 36 percent deeming the debate a tie. And the poll also had good news for Kerry among women, a demographic he has struggled with of late. CBS News's Polling Unit found that, "During the debate, women frequently registered more positive reactions to Kerry, and the final poll results also indicate that. Men and women uncommitted voters each saw a different winner in tonight's debate. Half of women named Kerry the winner while men divided evenly – Mr. Bush 32 percent, Kerry 29 percent."
Another insta-poll done by CNN/USA Today/Gallup also showed good numbers for Kerry. When asked "Regardless of which candidate you happen to support, who do you think did the better job in the debate?" the registered voters chose Kerry by 52 percent to Mr. Bush's 39.
The closest of all the results was in ABC News' poll. "Among registered voters who watched the debate, 42 percent called Kerry the winner, 41 percent said Bush won and 14 percent called it a tie. That's similar to the outcome of the second debate, while Kerry won the first among viewers by a nine-point margin."
Looks like both presidential campaigns have some numbers to be happy about.
Bush Debates, then Hits the Trail: The president campaigns Thursday in Nevada and Oregon, reports CBS News' Mark Knoller.
Like Kerry, Mr. Bush will be in Las Vegas. Unlike Kerry, the president won't address the AARP meeting there; First Lady Laura Bush has been given that assignment. Mr. Bush will instead rally with republican governors. He later does rallies in Reno, Nev. and then in Central Point, Ore.
Knoller Nugget: It was clear by their answers to the very first question that both candidates came to Wednesday night's debate with the intention of drawing rhetorical blood. We heard some of the harshest verbal attacks of the campaign.
The sharpest slam from the president was his effort to label Kerry a big "tax and spend" liberal without using those words. He told Kerry: "You know there's a mainstream in American politics and you sit right on the far left bank. As a matter of fact your record is such, that Ted Kennedy, your colleague, is the conservative senator from Massachusetts."
The president also came armed to ridicule Kerry's plan to provide health care coverage to America's uninsured. "I want to remind people listening tonight that a plan is not a litany of complaints. And a plan is not to lay out programs that you can't pay for." Mr. Bush said Kerry's plan to let everybody buy into the same health care plan that senators and congressmen get would cost the government $7,700 per family. And that, said the president, would cost the nation $5 trillion over 10 years. "It's an empty promise. It's called bait and switch."
But the president fell into a verbal trap when accused by Kerry of having once said he doesn't really think much about Osama bin Laden. "Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations." Within minutes, the Kerry campaign was out with documentation that in a 2002 exchange with reporters, Mr. Bush had said of bin-Laden: "I truly am not that concerned about him." Mr. Bush made the statement in arguing that the war on terrorism doesn't succeed or fail on whether bin Laden is captured or killed.
Of course, the shoe was on the other foot when Mr. Bush caught Kerry in an undeniable misstatement. Kerry was answering a question about affirmative action and denounced Mr. Bush for never having met with leaders of the NAACP or the Congressional Black Caucus. Mr. Bush said Kerry got it wrong. "Well, first of all, it is just not true that I haven't met with the Black Congressional Caucus. I met with the Black Congressional Caucus at the White House."
The president was correct. He met with caucus members on February 25, 2004. The group demanded and received a meeting to voice their concerns that Mr. Bush was not intervening to prop up the Haitian government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
At one point in the debate, the president responded to a question about the political polarization of the nation. He said his "biggest disappointment in Washington is how partisan the town is." He said, "Washington is a tough town ...with a lot of entrenched special interests." Last night, the same could be said of Tempe, Ariz. the debate host city.
The Vice President's Family: It was a long day for the vice president and his family on Wednesday and it seemed to get more tense and concentrated as the day progressed. What began with a pleasant bus tour through autumn-tinted Pennsylvania with his family ended with sharp words from Lynne Cheney in the defense of their daughter, CBS News' Josh Gross reports.
Mrs. Cheney's words came late into the evening, after a debate watching party outside of Pittsburgh. Vice President Dick Cheney first thanked a crowd of volunteers and stressed the importance of their work. Like the debate, his pre-debate speech focused mostly on domestic issues.
Returning to the stage post-debate, the Veep complimented the president's performance, calling it "superb job." But it was Lynne who caused the greatest stir when she criticized Kerry's reference to Mary Cheney, the vice president's gay daughter.
"The only thing I can conclude is that this is not a good man, not a good man. And of course, I'm speaking as a mom, a pretty indignant mom," she said with a hint of venom in her voice. "This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick."
The day had begun hours earlier, somewhat behind schedule, on the bus. Minutes after the group of motorcade vehicles got started, a white tail deer ran across the highway, causing two state troopers on motorcycles to swerve and crash off the road. Turns out injuries were minor and the bus ride began again. Aside from a few raindrops at an outdoor rally, the day proceeded very smoothly, as Cheney made sure not to say or do anything that would upstage the president's debate.
The vice president was joined on this trip by his wife, daughter Liz and granddaughters Elizabeth and Grace. The first stop of their red, white and blue adorned bus was the Crossroad Dinor restaurant in Edinboro for an extended day of meeting voters in western Pennsylvania.
Both the vice president and his wife shook hands and signed photographs for the nearly 30 patrons gathered for coffee and breakfast. His cheeks reddened briefly as a woman called out, "You're much better looking in person." Although the event was not on the 'official' schedule, the media and many locals seemed to know the stop was coming.
However, everyone, including Cheney's staff, was surprised when the buses pulled over again in front of an elementary school within blocks of a scheduled town hall stop. Students had gathered to wave at the motorcade, but the vice president could not resist the chance to say hello. The kids squealed loudly and he beamed widely as he shook their little hands.
Then it was off to the event in Meadville where the vice president was again joined onstage by his wife. Although he spoke mostly on foreign policy and the war on terror, the evening debate was also on his mind. "Now, there's going to be a debate tonight in Arizona. The president is ready. He's loaded for bear," he said using a hunting analogy. "I'm sure he'll do a great job, just like he did last Friday night."
Afterwards, the motorcade headed toward the Joseph P. King Farm and Market so the Cheney family could participate in some fall traditions. The vice president hoisted his granddaughters up to his chest so they could get a better view of the animals in a barn. "A goat ate my shirt!" one yelled happily to a Secret Service agent nearby.
The group then headed to campaign rally at Penn Colony which, when not holding political events, doubles as a Renaissance Fair. The crowd went nuts as the vice president hammered his Democratic opponents, even as a light rain began to fall.
Kerry Post-Debate: Kerry kicked-off the final stretch to election day at a post-debate rally in Tempe, where his wife Teresa Heinz-Kerry seemed more pumped about his performance than he did. CBS News' Steve Chaggaris reports:
"I asked my husband to get this third debate. And he did," said Heinz-Kerry to the crowd of thousands gathered at the Tempe Park Beach. "And I asked, 'If you would get the triple crown,' then we would ask you to give us a grand slam on Nov. 2," she continued, mixing her sports metaphors.
Kerry, however, neglected to brag about his performance as he did after the first two debates, perhaps in an attempt to exert a bit of modesty. At the beginning of his remarks, he wondered aloud where his daughter Vanessa was. It turns out she stayed behind at the debate site to do interviews. "She's trying to convince them that I won," he quipped slyly.
On Thursday, Kerry is in Las Vegas to speak to the AARP before he jets to Des Moines for a rally there. Over the next several days, the campaign will focus on seven battleground states: Nevada, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida with a goal of hitting three to four media markets per day. Not only will Kerry be dropping in to most of those states but he will also spend a bit more time on bus tours through Wisconsin on Friday and Ohio on Saturday.
The schedule for the final ten days still remains fluid, aides say, depending on where they think they need to focus their energy. Campaign officials continue to insist they're focused on the 15 battleground states where they're running TV ads, but given the fact there's only 19 days left, there's a pretty good chance that he won't actually visit all 15.
What is certain, however, is that after two weeks of a stop-and-start campaign schedule due to debate preparations, for the final stretch "there will be very little waste of time" and a schedule with "more intensity," spokesman David Wade says.
Edwards in Iowa: Vice-presidential candidate John Edwards will hold two town hall meetings Thursday in Iowa: the first in Sioux City, where the senator will board a Kerry/Edwards bus and drive to Council Bluffs for the second event.
The campaign will then arrive in state number 36, Nebraska. But Edwards won't try and win any voters in the Republican stronghold: He will just use Omaha's airport to hop a plane to Des Moines, where he will speak at a fundraiser before Edwards and Kerry reunite in a rally to begin the final push. CBS News' Bonney Kapp reports:
Edwards stuck to the same speech at all three of his Oregon events preceding Wednesday night's presidential debate. At his town hall meeting and two rallies across the battleground state, Edwards predicted victory for his running mate and picked up on a comment made by Bush Treasury Secretary John Snow, who indicated that the inherited surplus and the jobs lost over the last four years were "myths."
"I wonder if the five million Americans who've lost their healthcare coverage in the last four years, I wonder if that's a myth. I wonder if the fact that Oregon has the second highest unemployment rate in the country—I wonder if that's a myth," the senator wondered rhetorically at his town hall in Medford. "Here's the truth, come November the 2nd, we're going to send George Bush out of town, and that will not be a myth," he concluded to rousing applause.
Anticipating the Bush/Cheney campaign's debate spin to include the phrase "mixed messages," Edwards defended Kerry's stance on Iraq and told voters at a Eugene rally on the campus of the University of Oregon, "It may sound like a mixed message to [George Bush and Dick Cheney] because it's the truth, and it may seem that way to them, but the American people deserve the truth."
Following an impassioned rally in downtown Portland, Edwards headed to the Hilton hotel to watch the final debate, reemerging minutes after its conclusion to appear on CBS News and Nightline. As Edwards waited for the questions, lights and camera pointed at him, he noted it would be a "long night." Indeed, the candidate flew to Sioux City, Iowa, and arrived at his hotel just before 2am.
Spokesman Mark Kornblau foresees more of the same to come, "very long days, a quicker pace, and more stops" in the final push to the election. He also anticipates the Republicans will "revert back to their old playbook of throwing every nasty, false, and personal attack out against John Kerry and engage in character assassination. We're ready."
Nevada Registrations: The Associated Press is reporting Thursday that an Arizona based consulting firm is denying allegations that a group it had hired to register voters in Nevada deliberately tore up forms where Democrats had registered to vote.
The local CBS station, KLAS-TV, quotes a former employee of the Arizona based group, Voters Outreach of America, Eric Russell speaking about a supervisor as saying, "We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us." The article on KLAS' website quotes the chair of the Nevada Republican Committee, Earlene Forsythe, as saying, "The Republican National Party would never intentionally hire any staff people to come into the state to intentionally do voter fraud."
KLAS also reports that the "FBI is now being called in to look at allegation that the same company, Voter Outreach of America forged nearly 200 registrations."
In a letter to the Republican National Chairman Wednesday, Ed Gillespie, Democratic National Committee Chairman, Terry McAuliffe wrote, "We are deeply concerned these reports of Republican National Committee funded felonious activities in these states could serve to discourage all voters from voting because of concerns of problems with their ballot." And in a paper statement issued by the RNC, Chairman Ed Gillespie said, "The Democratic Party's longstanding refusal to clean up their own house and investigate fraud accusations made against them and their allies leaves Democrats entirely lacking credibility. The RNC will continue to employ a zero tolerance policy against voter fraud. The Democrat Party would do well by the American people to finally join with us in stamping out all efforts to disenfranchise voters."
Quote of the Day: "Fully 47 percent of debate monitors who plan to vote for the president in November scored Schieffer the best monitor of the four-debate series," MediaChannel.org, who assembled a panel of volunteers to monitor each of the four debates. Jim Lehrer was picked by Kerry supporters but Schieffer came in a close second.