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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.

Friday's Headlines
*Poll Watch
*Does the Word Battleground Ring a Bell?
*On the Trail with Bush, Kerry, Cheney and Edwards
*Unprecedented Debate Watching
*Quote of the Day

Poll Watch: Insert "How Close Is It" Cliché Here: Polls abound and they all point in one direction: close.

National Polls
Washington Post
Bush-Cheney 48
Kerry-Edwards 48
Nader-Camejo 1
Undecided 2
Poll conducted from October 11 through 13 among 1,202 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 3 percent.

Bush-Cheney 48
Kerry-Edwards 44
Nader-Camejo 1.1
Undecided 6
Poll conducted from October 12 to October 14 among 1220 likely voters, margin of error plus or minus 2.9 percent

State Polls
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Bush-Cheney 46.2
Kerry-Edwards 44.6
Nader-Camejo 5
Undecided 5.5
Poll conducted from October 10 through October 11 among 503 likely voters, margin or error 4.5 percent.

Chicago Tribune
Bush-Cheney 47
Kerry-Edwards 45
Nader-Camejo 1
Undecided 7
Poll conducted from October 8 through 11 among 500 likely voters, margin of error 4.4 percent.

Chicago Tribune
Bush-Cheney 43
Kerry-Edwards 45
Nader-Camejo 2
Undecided 10
Poll conducted from October 8 through 11 among 500 likely voters, margin of error 4.4 percent.

Chicago Tribune
Bush-Cheney 45
Kerry-Edwards 49
Nader-Camejo not asked
Undecided 6
Poll conducted from October 8 through 11 among 500 likely voters, margin of error 4.4 percent.

Chicago Tribune
Bush-Cheney 43
Kerry-Edwards 47
Nader-Camejo 2
Undecided 8
Poll conducted from October 8 through 11 among 500 likely voters, margin of error 4.4 percent.

Does the Word Battleground Ring a Bell? All four candidates are in the Midwest battleground Friday. President Bush is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Oshkosh, Wisconsin. John Kerry is in Sheboygan and Appleton, Wisconsin and Dayton, Ohio. Dick Cheney is in Berrien Springs, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan and John Edwards in Mentor, Ohio.

Here are the reports from our reporters with each campaign:

Following President Bush, CBS News' Mark Knoller: In the hope of giving himself an electoral vote buffer, the President on Friday targets two states he lost in 2000: Iowa and Wisconsin.

At a rally in Cedar Rapids, he'll urge his most ardent supporters to get out the vote on November 2. He lost Iowa four years ago by just over 3/10ths of one percent. That was the fourth narrowest margin of the 2000 election.

It was even closer in Wisconsin, which he lost by 2/10ths of a percent. Mr. Bush is to address a rally in Oshkosh. He then winds up the day in his own bed at the White House. It's his first time back there since last Thursday.

On the morning after Wednesday night's third and final debate, the President's relief was palpable. No more debates!

"The debate phase of the campaign is over," he declared in a rare visit to the press cabin on Air Force One Thursday morning. "And now, it's a sprint to the finish."

It could be seen as a tacit admission that he felt bested by John Kerry in the debates, though Mr. Bush wouldn't say so publicly. "The voters will decide that," he said. "You know, that's the great thing about a campaign. All the speculation ends on election day."

Asked to describe his best moment in the debate, Mr. Bush wouldn't bite. "You know, the pundits and the spinners ... they'll all have their opinion, but there's only one opinion that matters, and that's the opinion of the American people on November the second."

The race is tight, and Mr. Bush faces the very real possibility that like his dad, he'll be denied a second term. But he says "my spirits are high" and "I'm enthusiastic about my chances." He went on to say, "I feel great about where we are. There's lot of enthusiasm for my candidacy..."

That enthusiasm was apparent at three rallies Thursday in Nevada and Oregon. At each of them, Mr. Bush appeared before wildly cheering crowds, and he clearly felt fired up.

And though the last debate was over, he tried to score points after the final bell had rung. "I'm proud of my record. My opponent seemed to want to avoid talking about his. My record is one of lowering taxes, reforming education, providing prescription drug coverage to seniors, improving homeland protections, and waging an aggressive war against the ideologues of hate.
The Senator's record is 20 years of out-of-the-mainstream votes, without many significant reforms or results."

The president portrayed Kerry in this way on the economy, taxes, health care, education, social security and the war on terror. This is Mr. Bush's strategy in that "sprint to the finish line."

The President is not inclined to dabble in introspection, though he had a little fun at the expense of himself and his parents. At each of Thursday's three rallies, he said the American people have gotten to know who and what he is. "They know my blunt way of speaking. I get that from mom. They know I sometimes mangle the English language. I get that from dad. Americans also know I tell you exactly what I'm going to do, and I keep my word."

From the Kerry Campaign, CBS News' Steve Chaggaris reports: John Kerry continues his final push to Election Day in Wisconsin, where he'll take a bus tour Friday through the state focusing on jobs and the economy.

"George Bush has had four years to do something - anything - to create an economy where hard working Americans can live out their dreams. But instead of seizing the moment, he squandered the opportunity. The problem is, this President just doesn't understand what's happened to our economy," Kerry said at his first stop in Milwaukee, according to prepared remarks.

Later in Sheboygan, he's expected to receive the endorsements of Julie Foudy and Abby Wambach of the U.S. Women's Soccer Team before ending the day in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Over the weekend, Kerry will embark on another bus tour through Ohio and then fly to Florida where he'll spend Sunday and Monday.

On Thursday, Kerry began the day in Las Vegas where he spoke to the AARP and unveiled some new zingers.

"The President just doesn't seem to get it. He can spin until he's dizzy, but at the end of the day, who - who - who does he think the American people are going to believe? George Bush or their own eyes?" Kerry said about Bush's economic record.

He also started a new line of attack, using the trash talk boxer Muhammad Ali once taunted George Forman with as he beat him silly: "C'mon George, is that all you've got?"

"Mr. President, after four years of falling wages, losing jobs, losing health care, is that all you've got Mr. President?" said Kerry at his evening rally in Des Moines, Iowa.

Meantime, Kerry responded - in print only - to the criticism he received from the Cheneys after bringing up their lesbian daughter, Mary, in Wednesday night's debate in response to a question about same-sex marriage.

Lynne Cheney said post-debate, "The only thing I could conclude is this is not a good man. This is not a good man.

Kerry responded, "I love my daughters. They love their daughter. I was trying to say something positive about the way strong families deal with this issue."

With the Cheney Campaign, CBS News' Josh Gross: The Vice President's lesbian daughter was again the center of attention in the campaign for the presidency. Every few weeks, her sexual orientation is brought up by one of the candidates, usually in reference to President Bush's proposal for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Reaction to Senator Kerry's mentioning of Mary Cheney during the debate on Wednesday was extensively reported. Similarly, Lynne Cheney's statement immediately after the debate has also been quoted and broadcast in most of the large media outlets.

"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 told a crowd of Bush/Cheney supporters and volunteers on Wednesday night. "This is not a good man. What a cheap and tawdry political trick."

On Thursday, the Vice President incorporated the subject into his stump. "You saw a man who will say and do anything to get elected. And I am not speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father, but as a citizen," he told two separate crowds in Florida.

The comments were intended to draw sympathy for what some people view as a low blow thrown by Kerry. However, looking at the rest of the comments by the Vice President reveals that there was no other mention of the incident.

The entire quote reads, "You saw a man who will say and do anything to get elected. And I am not speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father, but a as a citizen. I have watched over this election as John Kerry has turned his back on the troops he voted to send into combat - because he thought it was to his political advantage to do so. Senator Kerry, remember, voted in favor of using force against Saddam Hussein, but then during the Democratic primary when it came time to vote for funds that would provide our fighting men and women with body armor, ammunition, spare parts, Senator Kerry voted no."

Cheney continues for several more minutes listing ways he feels Kerry does not have what it takes to be commander-in-chief.

Remove the wording about being a father and it becomes difficult to see that the Vice President was referring to what had been said about his daughter. In fact, at the first event in Fort Meyers when Cheney spoke the line for the first time, the immediate response from the audience was to chant "flip-flop," their go-to reaction whenever Kerry's voting record is mentioned. It took a while for the audience to register the reference.

The Vice President did not say Mary's name or mention that she is gay. It is up to the audience to infer the meaning of the comments.

Most politicians in today's environment of sound bites and spin rooms are very specific about what they say and do. The Vice President is no different. Both public events on Thursday were rallies, meaning Cheney took no questions from the audience or media and the comments were prepared beforehand by the Vice President and his staff.

The remarks about his daughter were not prompted by anything but the Vice President's desire to bring up the topic himself.

With the Edwards campaign, CBS News' Bonney Kapp: Senator Edwards heads back to Ohio, "ground zero" in the election as he says, to hold a town hall Friday with women and families on education. He will then make his first trip to Maryland as candidate for VP to attend a community gathering outside of Baltimore before speaking at a fundraiser in Annapolis. The senator will overnight in his Georgetown home and head out again Saturday to Florida-the other "ground zero" in the upcoming election.

John Edwards returned to Iowa Thursday for the fourth time since John Kerry picked him as his running mate, storming the state's western region in a bus emblazoned "Kerry/Edwards: Fighting For Us." Beginning the day in Sioux City, Edwards spoke to voters at a town hall meeting, referencing Wednesday's debate. "I don't know about you, but I thought that John Kerry won that debate by a country mile last night," he said to a concurring crowd.

While Democrats have declared themselves the victor in all three of the presidential debates, Edwards pointed to the town hall-style debate in St. Louis last week for the most interesting moment and "a critical question for our future."

Edwards recounted how President Bush asked the moderator at one point, "My time up yet?" With a grin, the senator told the cheering Iowa crowd: "Well, come November 2nd, the American people are going to answer his question for him and they're going to tell him his time is up and it's time for President John Kerry to move into the White House."

In an unscheduled stop between Sioux City and a second town hall meeting in Council Bluffs, Edwards popped into Oehler Brothers Restaurant in Onawa to greet patrons. He bought an Eskimo Pie (the town is "home" of the ice cream treat) and then taped an interview for MSNBC's "Hardball" in the restaurant's parking lot.

Not surprisingly, host Chris Matthews questioned Edwards on the day's political hot topic: the Vice President's lesbian daughter, whom Senator Kerry referenced in the debate, angering Lynne Cheney. In an interview with ABC Radio, Elizabeth Edwards suggested the Cheneys were sensitive to the remark because they were ashamed of her sexuality, prompting Matthews to ask the senator if he concurred with his wife.

"I have no way of knowing how they feel about it," Edwards responded after downplaying the issue. "I don't think this should become some political football going back and forth," he said.

The senator briefly ventured into the solidly red state of Nebraska, not to campaign but to catch a flight from Omaha's airport. He did get a chance, however, to talk to Nebraskans at his Council Bluffs town hall just over the border. After the majority of questioners identified themselves as Corn Huskers, Edwards said, "I know we're in Iowa. I also want to say a thank you to all the folks from Nebraska back there."

Edwards' day culminated at a joint nighttime rally in Des Moines, where he introduced his running mate to a crowd of 10,000 enthusiastic supporters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Noting Kerry's debate performances, Edwards pulled out a political favorite, the sports analogy. "George Bush knows a little something about baseball, right? Well he's been up to the plate three times, he swung three times, and he's at three strikes, and he is out come November 2nd."

Unprecedented Debate Watching: The final presidential debate in Tempe, Arizona Wednesday night drew more than 51 million viewers. Even with competition from two different baseball play off games, more people watched Wednesday's debate than any debate in the 1996 and 2000 elections, the New York Times reports. The New York Times articles quotes Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University, as saying, "If nothing else, it really kind of yanked the American populace, the citizens of the country, to attention on this stuff: even if you weren't watching the debates, you were hearing about them, and the high drama gave these things a buzz they haven't had since at least '92."

The Wall Street Journal reports that "the debates this year are the most significant ones since the 1980 Jimmy Carter-Ronald Reagan encounter." The article quotes David Gergen, a veteran of both Republican and Democratic administrations as saying, "These debates have had a transformative effect on this race."

According to Nielsen Media Research the first debate on September 30th drew 62.5 million viewers; the second debate, a town hall style format on Friday, October 8th drew 46.7 million viewers and the third debate on Wednesday had 51.2 million viewers. And the Vice Presidential debate between Senator Edwards and Vice President Dick Cheney drew 43.6 million viewers.

Quote of the Day: "We prevailed the last time this court issued a stupid decision," --Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese on a Pennsylvania judge's ruling denying Nader on a line ballot because of petitions including the names "Fred Flintstone" and "Mickey Mouse." The judge said Nader's signature gathering process "was the most deceitful and fraudulent exercise ever perpetrated upon this court." (AP)

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