Watch CBSN Live

Washington Wrap

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

Tuesday's Headlines

*Poll Watch

*Edwards to Visit New Jersey

*Kerry Prepares

*Bush Fine Tunes

*The Cheneys Go Back to the Midwest

*Advertisements Heat Up

Poll Watch: Good for Bush: Two new national polls continue the good news theme for Bush. Perhaps the bounce is real?

National Polls
Bush-Cheney 52
Kerry-Edwards 44
Nader-Camejo 3
Undecided 1
Poll conducted among 758 likely voters from September 24 through 26, margin of error plus or minus 4 percent.

ABC News/Washington Post
Bush-Cheney 51
Kerry-Edwards 45
Nader-Camejo 1
Undecided 2
Poll conducted among 1,204 randomly selected adults from September 23 through 26, including 969 self-identified registered voters, margin of error plus or minus 3 percent.

In the states, there is a very mixed bag.

North Carolina
News & Observer/WRAL-TV/WUNC
Bush-Cheney 50
Kerry-Edwards 44
(Nader not polled)
Poll conducted September 20 through 22, margin of error plus or minus 4 percent

Lake Snell Perry (a Democratic polling firm)
Bush-Cheney 46
Kerry-Edwards 46
Nader-Camejo 1
Undecided 6
Margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percent

Strategic Vision (a Republican polling firm)
Bush-Cheney 52
Kerry-Edwards 43
Nader-Camejo (not polled)
Undecided 5
Poll conducted among 801 likely voters from September 24 through 26, margin of error plus or minus 3 percent.

New Jersey
Strategic Vision (a Republican polling firm)
Bush-Cheney 44
Kerry-Edwards 45
Nader-Camejo (not polled)
Undecided 11
Poll conducted among 801 likely voters from September 24 through 26, margin of error plus or minus 3 percent.

New Hampshire
Lake Snell Perry (a Democratic polling firm)
Bush-Cheney 47
Kerry-Edwards 47
Nader-Camejo 2
Undecided 4
Margin of error plus or minus 5 percent.

Edwards to New Battleground: New Jersey: With polls showing the thought-to-be-blue state of New Jersey turning surprisingly close, Sen. John Edwards makes his first trip to the Garden State. After a town hall meeting in Pittsburgh with 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser, Edwards has a rally in Newark and an evening fundraiser in East Brunswick, N.J.

CBS News' Bonney Kapp reports that Edwards has the town hall meeting format down cold:

Trail Byte: On Monday, Edwards held about his 100th town hall-style meeting in New Hampshire. This according to the candidate himself, who returned for the second time since becoming John Kerry's running mate to the state he visited often during the primaries.

Audience members grilled the would-be vice president in a town hall meeting that lasted more than an hour, proving to be a politically adept crowd used to dealing with national candidates.

Fran Gordon, 84, of Manchester was one who made clear that Edwards knew her opinion. After Edwards' guest speaker, Kristen Breitweiser, made an eloquent and emotional endorsement of the Democratic ticket, Gordon threw in her two cents. Taking the microphone, Gordon, who heard John F. Kennedy speak at the same outdoor park more than 40 years ago, gave Edwards some friendly advice.

Unaware of Breitweiser's claims that the current administration stonewalled the creation of a 9/11 commission, Gordon decided there were others like her. "It seems to me that if that young woman would do a national commercial just say, no really, really," she said as the crowd roared, Edwards laughed, and Breitweiser shook her head.

"It would only have to be a 30-second commercial, it wouldn't be so expensive," she continued and when Gordon finally relinquished the microphone, the audience cheered. One woman screamed "hire that woman!" as another ran up to the candidate with a dollar bill to subsidize (unclear if the unaccepted money was for Fran Gordon's salary or the yet-to-be filmed ad).

"Nothing like getting media advice at a town hall meeting. Not a bad idea, though, not a bad idea," Edwards said before moving on.

He assured another Granite State free thinker "I will do that," when urged to use his political talents to the fullest extent possible as Kerry's partner.

Edwards was forced to skip his Monday afternoon $500,000 Rhode Island fundraiser because of a dispute between the mayor and the local fire fighters union in Providence that planned to picket the event. Edwards would not cross the picket line. But the senator made up for it by raking in $1.25 million for the Democrats at two fundraisers in New York.

Donors gathered at the first evening event forked over $750,000 to hear actress Glenn Close gush, "I think he has integrity, intelligence and charm," and that Edwards is an "amazing force of nature."

After saying the war on Iraq was a "distraction" to other, more looming threats, Edwards promised to New Yorkers "who were so many, so many of the victims and victims' families right here in your city...when John Kerry is President of the United States, we will find these terrorists cells wherever they are and crush them, before they come to America, before they do harm to the America people."

Kerry Prepares: The Kerry campaign likes to say that "John does best when he is down." As more and more national polls show President Bush with leads outside the margin of error, the stakes are high for this Thursday's debate. But on Monday Senator Kerry took a break from prepping with his aides to do a little campaigning. CBS News' Steve Chaggaris is with the Kerry campaign:

Trail Byte: The plan for John Kerry is to spend most of Tuesday prepping for Thursday's presidential debate, in his suite at a resort in the rolling hills of Spring Green, Wisconsin. But he wound up turning what was originally meant to be quiet Monday into an aggressive campaign day.

In addition to launching new TV ads in Wisconsin and in Ohio, where President Bush campaigned Monday, Kerry held a 90-minute town hall meeting at a local middle school and he didn't hold back his criticisms of the president.

"Can we change horses in midstream?" said Kerry, referring to the question about whether the country should change leaders during a time of war. "When your horse is headed down for the waterfalls or when your horse is drowning, it's a good time to change horses in midstream."

Kerry, however, was not the lone political voice in southwest Wisconsin Monday. Within an hour of the end of Kerry's event, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke on behalf of Bush-Cheney just miles away in Dodgeville at the Land's End plant (and he sat down for local TV interviews) ensuring a rebuttal to Kerry's attacks in the local news.

Perhaps knowing the Bush folks would be getting their side of the story on in Wisconsin, Kerry offered up his own sound bite in an attempt to counter Bush's visit to Ohio.

"The president's going to Ohio today. I'll bet you, I'll just bet you folks he's not going to mention today that under his watch he's lost 237,000 jobs in Ohio. I don't think you're going to hear that today. You're going to hear all this talk, 'oh we've turned the corner, we're doing better blah, blah, you know, blah and blah and blah.'"

Bush Fine Tunes: CBS News' Mark Knoller reports from Texas:

Knoller Nugget: After a day campaigning in Ohio, the state at the very top of the Bush campaign's must-win list, the President is back Tuesday at his Texas ranch. A top aide says Mr. Bush will use the day to "fine tune" his strategy for Thursday's first debate against John Kerry.

At both of his campaign rallies Monday, Mr. Bush got in a few pre-debate jabs at his rival. "It's been a little tough to prepare, 'cause he keeps changing positions on the war on terror."

In a preview of his debate line of attack, Mr. Bush portrayed Kerry as a serial flip-flopper on the issue of Iraq. "He voted for the use of force in Iraq - and then didn't vote to fund the troops. He complained that we're not spending enough money to help in reconstruction in Iraq, And now he says we're spending too much. He said it was the right decision to go into Iraq, and now he calls it the wrong war."

It was the set-up for Mr. Bush's punch line of the day at Kerry's expense: "He probably could spend 90 minutes debating himself."

The president intends to make the case that Kerry doesn't measure up to the leadership requirements of the presidency. "You cannot lead when people don't know where you stand," Mr. Bush told his rallies. "In order to make sure America's safer, the President must speak and mean what he says."

Tuesday's debate prep session at his ranch will be "very informal," says White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett. There'll be no more mock debates. Senator Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who played Sen. Kerry in those sessions, left the ranch after Sunday morning's session.

Bartlett says Gregg was in the president's face, just as the White House expects Kerry to be. "He spent every moment attacking the President," said Bartlett of Gregg. "That's what we expect," he said, Kerry will throw "the kitchen sink at us."

Exercising the power of the incumbency, President Bush asked Monday night for another $7.l billion in disaster relief in response to Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. The amount is in addition to $3.1 billion Mr. Bush requested two weeks ago, and $2 billion approved by Congress and signed into law on September 8. The funding is intended for disaster relief programs in nine states hard hit by the storms. Four of the nine are battleground states crucial to the president's re-election drive.

President Bush triggered a new attack from the Democratic National Committee when he said in that Fox News/Bill O'Reilly interview that he still has no regrets about his "Top Gun" style landing aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln in spring of last year.

That's where he addressed the nation and declared an end to "major combat operations" in Iraq under a banner emblazoned with the words "Mission Accomplished."

Since then, the U.S. death toll in Iraq has soared to over 1,000. A Democratic Party spokesman says Mr. Bush has yet to level with the American people that his message from the Lincoln was a mistake. Mr. Bush stands by what he said.

And as the president ended his rally Monday at Voice of America Park in West Chester, Ohio, loudspeakers blared the song "Mighty Wings" from the movie "Top Gun."

The Cheneys Go Back to the Midwest: After a day off the campaign trail, VP and Lynne Cheney do a town hall meeting in Dubuque, Iowa; a rally in Eau Claire, Wisc.; and then spend the night in Minneapolis.

Ad Wars Heat Up: The Bush-Cheney campaign released its second television advertisement in two days, Tuesday. The new ad titled, "Peace and Security" will rotate on national cable and local market outlets starting Tuesday afternoon. The ad criticizes John Kerry and "congressional liberals" for trying to cut $6 billion from the defense budget after the first World Trade Center attack, an amendment that was rejected, 20-75 in 1994.

Progress for America Voter Fund, a Republican leaning 527 group, released a hard-hitting terrorism ad Friday. The ad, titled, "Finish It", uses images of terrorists, Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta. The images appear as a scare tactic about those who want to harm Americans while saying that Senator Kerry has, "a 30-year record of supporting cuts in defense and intelligence" and will be unable to protect us from terrorists.

In response, the Democratic National Committee released its own foreign policy related ad Monday afternoon. They utilize sound from March of 2002 where President Bush, in reference to Osama bin Laden, says, "I don't know where he is... I truly am not that concerned about him." This DNC ad will air in Iowa and Wisconsin.

The ads from the groups just keep on coming. The Media Fund, a Democratic leaning 527 group, is starting a new advertising campaign in Ohio Tuesday. The first in a series of ads focuses on the number of jobs lost in Ohio under President Bush. Video of a seemingly undecided blue collar worker, asks, "What is Kerry going to do that is different?" By the end, there are job-loss numbere on the screen and the worker is lamenting, "Halliburton."

The Kerry campaign is expected to release a new ad Wednesday using President Bush's now infamous "Mission Accomplished" trip on the aircraft carrier. And another Democratic leaning group whose 527 status is pending, Real Voices, has a press conference Tuesday to showcase their new advertisements which include the sad stories of various military families in the Michael Moore tradition.

Quote of the Day: "Richard, sometimes you amaze me. You actually voted for those provisions before you voted against them." --former White House Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, using the classic anti-Kerry attack line against Republcian Rep. Richard Burr in Monday night's debate.