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Widow of Christopher Reeve Backs Kerry; President Bush Returns to Pennsylvania; Hunting for Votes; Legal Challenges; Television Ad Wars

Aired October 21, 2004 - 15:00   ET


DANA REEVE, WIFE OF CHRISTOPHER REEVE: I'm here today because John Kerry, like Christopher Reeve, believes in keeping our hope alive.

ANNOUNCER: Invoking the memory of Christopher Reeve. His widow joins John Kerry on the campaign trail.

Bush's home away from home. The president returns to Pennsylvania, hoping to give a booster shot to his campaign there.

GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I believe, with your help, we're going to win the state of Pennsylvania.

ANNOUNCER: Ready, aim, fire, the new pictures and potshots in the battle for gun owner votes.

Who will be a winner on Election Day? It could be all those legal eagles watching for ballot mistakes, or worse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't even try it.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us.

Just 11 days after Christopher Reeves's death, his widow, Dana, says she's honoring her husband by standing with John Kerry and supporting his presidential campaign. It was an emotional appeal in the election-year debate over stem cell research.

CNN's Frank Buckley is covering Senator Kerry's campaign day in Ohio.

Hi, Frank.


And Dana Reeve making the point that it was her idea to appear here with Senator Kerry, not the Kerry campaign's idea. But, certainly, the campaign very excited and happy to welcome her here, giving the senator an opportunity once again to talk about stem cell research and to appeal to swing voters and also to female voters on this issue that has become a centerpiece issue in the campaign for the Kerry team.

This was Mrs. Reeve's first public appear since the sudden death of actor Chris Reeve just a week ago. Senator Kerry and Christopher Reeve were friends and they shared the belief that stem cell research and funding should be increase.


REEVE: Chris' heart was as big on the ring on his finger, which I now am wearing his ring around my neck. It's an enormous ring, you can see.


REEVE: And his heart was full of hope and he imagined living in a world where politics would never get in the way of hope.


REEVE: So I'm here today to honor my husband, And I proudly introduce our friend and declare my vote for the next president of the United States, John Kerry.


BUCKLEY: Senator Kerry has been critical of President Bush for limiting the number of stem cell lines that are available for federal funding for research, Senator Kerry saying that he would increase federal funding for stem cell research and expand the number of lines available for research.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hope is what gave us that polio vaccine and other great breakthroughs in medicine. It's wrong to tell scientists that they can't cross the frontiers of new knowledge. It's wrong morally and it's wrong economically.

And when I'm president, we will change this policy and we will lead the world in stem cell research.


BUCKLEY: Now, the Bush campaign has pointed out that President Bush is the first president ever to actually permit federal funding to go to stem cell research.

Meanwhile, Judy, here in the state of Ohio, the battle over these voters in the Buckeye State raging. We're told that, next week, starting on Saturday, every day of the week, either Senator Kerry or John Edwards will be here on the ground in Ohio, Teresa Heinz Kerry coming here on Tuesday. And to give you a sense of the ground game, we're told that, in the year 2000, there were 35 full-time paid staffers on the ground here. This year, 174 full-time paid staffers on the ground in Ohio. In 2000, there were only 10 field offices. This year, there are 66 -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And that's just Ohio. Next time we talk to you, maybe we'll hear about Florida. OK, Frank Buckley, thank you very much.

Well, President Bush also drove home his campaign message of the day with help from friends, a team of white-coated, stethoscope- wearing medical personnel.

Our senior White House correspondent, John King, is with the president in Pennsylvania.

Hi, John.


Some days, you see a politician play to his strengths. Mr. Bush does that quite frequently, playing up his leadership in the war on terrorism. Today, though, the president trying to address perhaps his biggest weakness when it comes to domestic issues. Senator Kerry enjoys a huge advantage on the health care issue. Mr. Bush tried to narrow that gap today in the Philadelphia suburbs in eastern Pennsylvania, an area critical if he is to win this state come November the 2nd, the president giving a detailed speech on his health care agenda today, saying that he prefers to have the marketplace help increase accessibility and affordability of health care insurance.

Senator Kerry, the president says, prefers a government approach. as part of his speech, the president talked about health savings accounts, tax-free accounts where consumers could keep money, save it tax free, use it for health care expenses. The president also promoted his plan to allow small businesses to all pool together. Mr. Bush said that, too, would reduce health care costs, make it more accessible to people working in small businesses.

But, on those two issues and others, the president said Senator Kerry disagrees.


BUSH: I view a health savings account and or an association health plan as commonsense ideas. It makes sense. Yet, my opponent is against both of them. He doesn't agree. And there's a reason why. Senator Kerry's idea of reform always involves bigger and more intrusive government.


KING: Now, if the president doesn't win Pennsylvania, it will not be for a lack of trying. He has been here now 40 times since his election as president nearly four years ago. Aides say he will likely return, certain to return, in the last 10, 12 days of the campaign. Mr. Bush, in addition to his health care message here today, has a big rally out in Hershey later this afternoon, also spending some time at a private meeting with the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philadelphia area. White House officials saying that meeting, they hope, will drive up support for the president and turn out among conservative Catholic voters, many of them Democrats in this state that they say could be critical to President Bush.

And right now, Judy, the Republicans concede their tracking polls show them down two, maybe three point here in Pennsylvania. But they think it is still within reach here. Hard to win Pennsylvania, but still within reach. They say that is one of the reasons that Senator Kerry is bringing former President Clinton to the Philadelphia area early next week. The Republicans say that is proof to them that the Democrats are a bit nervous -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: It does smell that way. All right, John King, thank you very much, traveling with President Bush.

In our daily check of the presidential polls, two new surveys suggest the Bush-Kerry race couldn't be closer. The Marist poll of likely voters nationwide shows the president up by one point, while a Pew national poll of likely voters shows Bush and Kerry dead even. But when we average those polls together with surveys released over the past week, the big picture remains the same, with Bush leading Kerry 49 to 45 percent. That is where the poll of polls has stood for several days now, after Kerry appeared to get a debate bounce and then lose it.

Joining us now from Columbus Ohio, Kerry campaign senior adviser Mike McCurry.

Mike McCurry, what did happen to that bounce that John Kerry got out of the debates?


And I think it probably it came mostly after the first debate, where Senator Kerry really surprised people with how steady and confident and good his leadership was. But, look, this is going to be a very closely fought campaign. All those polls add up to, one way or another, pretty much a dead heat. And we know that. That's why we're working very hard to talk about why America has to face this choice.

It's either four more years of the same kind of wrong choices we had from the president or a new direction and a fresh start with Senator Kerry. And we think that message is doing quite well.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about what the candidates are doing on the trail today. Senator Kerry up bright and early in camouflage jacket out hunting for geese in Ohio. Vice President Cheney is already out there today saying this is a photo opportunity. He said at every turn John Kerry has voted against the rights of gun owners.

MCCURRY: You know, it seems like every day is Halloween for Dick Cheney. He just wants to scare people and doesn't want anybody to have any fun.

You know, the senator was out with some guys he enjoyed being with this morning. And they had a nice time hunting. Actually, it's a way for people to see something about John Kerry that they might not know. He likes to hunt and he likes to be out and be outdoors. I mean, look, any day on the campaign trail that you get out of stuffy hotel rooms and get outside, you know, is no problem at all.

And as you can see from the pictures, he was having a very good time and enjoying himself.


MCCURRY: Dick Cheney should get out and do -- Dick Cheney is a good hunter, by the way, I think I read somewhere. He ought to get out and do some hunting and enjoy life a little more.

WOODRUFF: Well, you and I both know at this stage of the campaign nothing happens by accident. That was all about, at least partly about pictures. Last night, we saw John Kerry watching his beloved Red Sox on television.

You know, your campaign is saying it is going after swing voters. Is this also an attempt to go after men voters? In our last poll, the president is 14 points ahead of John Kerry among men.

MCCURRY: It was mostly about watching an exciting baseball game. And you know how much Senator Kerry likes the Red Sox.

But, you know, we're at that stage in this campaign, for all the substantive arguments we're making about the need for a new direction for the economy, what we need to do with health care, the stem cell research issue, which the senator spoke to today, we're also helping people really get a sense of the human being behind some of the policy proposals.

That's very important for those people deciding now. They may not know that John Kerry likes to hunt. They may not know that he likes to watch baseball. Those are the kinds of things that, as people come to that point where they make their decision, it's important to give them some of that biographical information that they hang on to.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about the flu shot back-and-forth. John Kerry said in the debate that -- he went after the administration for not doing more about the availability of flu vaccine. Now your campaign is pointing out that Vice President Cheney got a flu shot after the president said people didn't need to.

But it turns out, the White House says, Mr. Cheney needed that shot. His doctor recommended that he get it. Was that a mistake on the part of your campaign to make that point?

MCCURRY: Look, if he for health reasons or because of some precarious nature in his health needed that, that's fine. I'll leave that to his own physicians to speak to that need. We were making a larger point about that issue being a metaphor for what's wrong with our health care system. The president incorrectly points the blame elsewhere. Why do we have rising costs? Why is there not the kind of affordable health care that Americans need? And Senator Kerry has a very strong, good health plan, based on expanding the employer provided system, not a government plan, but expanding the kind of insurance that we get on the job.

And that, you know, in a way, the shortcomings in our health care system are so manifest when you see something like this real crisis or debacle we had on flu vaccines.

WOODRUFF: Mike McCurry, Bill Clinton only going to make one stop for John Kerry?

MCCURRY: I'll bet that he'll want to make more and it will probably be up to the doctors, with an assist from Senator Clinton, decide how many stops he gets to make. But you know him. He wants to be out there.

I think he has got some other ideas and we have some other ideas of places where he could an be helpful and ways that he could be helpful. And we are going to work that out consistent with wanting to make sure that we do what's in his best interests as he recuperates.

WOODRUFF: And we know he is going to be with Senator Kerry in Philadelphia on Monday. In fact, we are going to be there as well in that city. Mike McCurry, with the Kerry campaign, thanks very much. We appreciate it.


WOODRUFF: Thank you.

Well, you can bet that the Bush camp is itching to respond to Mike McCurry and the Kerry camp on these and other questions. Up next, I'll get the other side from Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot.

Also ahead, we're following the ad money in these closing days of the race and the strategy behind the spending.

Plus, imagine a traffic jam sponsored by a presidential campaign. Well, it's not exactly that in some battleground states, but it's close.

With 12 days until the election, only 12, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: Just 12 days until America vote.

A few minutes ago, Mike McCurry, a senior adviser to Senator John Kerry, gave us his take on the race.

Joining us now with his perspective, Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot.

Marc Racicot, thanks very much for joining us.

I was just handed an Associated Press story. The latest AP/Ipsos national survey of likely voters has John Kerry ahead by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent. You couple this with the Pew poll having them dead even, the Marist poll today of likely voters having -- has President Bush one point ahead. Same question I think I have asked you before. After almost four years in office, why isn't George Bush pulling ahead?

MARC RACICOT, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Well, I would probably give you a similar response.

The fact of the matter is, these are difficult issues. The margins are small and people have strong feelings and we're living in perilous and difficult moments, where the exhibition of courage and conviction and a steady hand sometimes, obviously, I think, you won't find universal agreement with.

But we have believed this would be very close from the beginning, as you mentioned with Mike McCurry earlier, Judy. And we believe it will go like that all the way down to the wire. I think the average of these polls, as you mentioned before, is probably still about where we think it is. And that is the president up about three points.

WOODRUFF: The widow of Christopher Reeve, as you know, Dana Reeve, came out today introducing John Kerry, endorsing John Kerry, talking about her late husband's and her support for embryonic stem cell research.

At one point today, she said Chris imagined living in a world where politics would never get in the way of hope.

How would you answer her?

RACICOT: Well, I would say that she views the situation precisely as the president does.

The president studied this issue very, very carefully. And he is the first president ever to fund embryonic stem cell research, and not just embryonic stem cell research, but other stem cell research as well, to the tune of about $200 million. Clearly, when Senator Kerry alleges there is a ban on stem cell research, he knows that he's being purposefully knowingly misleading, that there's not.

WOODRUFF: But there are sharp limits under the president's plan.

RACICOT: Judy, you look have to take a look at -- the fact of the matter is that there was no federal funding under President Clinton. This president took a look at the issue and said, you know, there are stem cells available in national laboratories.

We have the ability to fund that from a governmental perspective, but there's also a life ethic that is involved here, a very serious question here about the destruction of human life. And we're going to balance this question and proceed with those stem cells and those lines that presently exist. Look, my mother suffers from Alzheimer's and dementia as well. It's been in my family for generations. And I look at this issue very carefully.

And I have extraordinary hope that we will develop new solutions, as does the president, for all of these devastating diseases that inflict people around the country or afflict people around the country. But the fact of the matter is, I think the president very thoughtfully and very sensitively addressed this issue. And I think, at the end of the day, the sentiments of Mrs. Reeve would also reflect the sentiments of the president.

WOODRUFF: Let me also ask you, Marc Racicot, about the comments in the last few days by Pat Robertson, the television evangelist, who said in an interview here on CNN the other night that the president told him when he warned him about needing to alert the American people to casualties in Iraq, the president told him, in so many words, he was confident there would be no casualties.

Your campaign has come back and said that conversation, the president never said that, but now we find out that Pat Robertson said something very similar to this in early 2003, that he had spoken to the president about his concerns. He said in an interview earlier this summer, I learned today, on MSNBC he said the same thing he said this week, that the president told him he's not worried about casualties in Iraq.

Where does the truth lie in all of this?

RACICOT: Well, I think the fact that he received an initial misimpression or misinterpreted what might have been said, obviously, he can replicate that same misimpression or misinterpretation a number of times thereafter, not having known that he was wrong. There were other people there who have spoken to the issue, not just the president and Mr. Robertson, or Reverend Robertson.

They made it very plain, as did the president, that that comment was not made. So I think that's the end of the story. And when you think about it, Judy, how logical would that be, knowing that we were going to war, that the commander in chief would somehow reflect that kind of a statement? So, the bottom line is, the circumstances don't reflect that and the president and other people who were there actually witnessing and listening to the conversation say the same thing.

WOODRUFF: James Zogby, very quickly, head of the American Arab Institute, endorsing John Kerry today, saying this administration, John Ashcroft, the attorney general, has done great damage, he said, to fundamental constitutional rights. And, especially, he said, Arab Americans and American Muslims have paid dearly.

What do you say to the Arab American community?

RACICOT: Well, I think that we can certainly understand why they have a heightened sense of vigilance about the Patriot Act. But the fact of the matter is, if they took a look at it, a very close look, and I have been -- I have talked to Jim Zogby and I have talked to so many of my fellow citizens who are Arab American about the Patriot Act. And I believe there is a heightened sense of sensitivity there.

But, at the end of the day, what the Patriot Act does is allows for law enforcement to do precisely the same things as we have done for years at the state and federal level with organized crime and drug rings. In addition to that, there have been no reported instances -- I know that there have been a call for any kind of abuse that may come as a result of either misadventure or mistake as a result of the Patriot Act to be reported.

And, yet, there is no indication that there is some kind of seminal difficulty with the act. So, I think one can understand it, but I would encourage them to stand back and look at it very carefully, realize its history and its application, look at how it's being applied today. And I believe, when you do that objectively, you will conclude that it is entirely appropriate and exactly the right response and in keeping with our history.

WOODRUFF: Marc Racicot, we thank you very much.

RACICOT: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: It's good to see you.

INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: To win the White House, of course, you've got to win some crucial battlegrounds. Up next, we'll look at the latest polls from some showdown states.

Plus, John Kerry goes hunting for votes, but the National Rifle Association goes after the Democratic nominee. We'll spotlight today's shoot-out.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Coming up in about 90 minutes, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, Britain has agreed to move some of its troops in southeast Iraq closer to Baghdad, so more U.S. troops can go to Falluja and other trouble spots. We'll have details.

There are new developments in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal. U.S. Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick has been busted to private, given a dishonorable discharge, and sentenced to eight years in prison. And Fidel Castro recovering from a broken knee and a broken arm after falling during a public appearance. Is age finally catching up with the 78-year-old Cuban leader? We'll go live to Havana.

Those stories, plus Dan Bartlett and Joe Lockhart later, coming up on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS."


WOODRUFF: Pennsylvania is becoming George Bush's home away from home. The president pays visit number 40 to the Keystone State since taking office.

John Kerry is back in Ohio. The senator teams up with Christopher Reeve's widow to tout his plans to increase stem cell research.

Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington.

John Kerry spent two hours this morning in an Ohio cornfield. When he returned carrying a shotgun and clad and camouflage, he said his outing, hunting geese, has been a success. His campaign, no doubt, is hoping that today's hunting trip pays more dividends on Election Day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many did you get?

KERRY: Everybody got one.

WOODRUFF (voice-over): It was John Kerry versus a goose, and Kerry won. But he was really aiming for the votes of gun owners in Ohio and other showdown states.

It's probably no coincidence that on the same day in Ohio the National Rifle Association was criticizing Kerry. And so was Vice President Cheney, accusing the senator of posing as a sportsman while opposing gun owner's rights.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My personal opinion is that his new camo jacket is an October disguise, an effort he's making to hide the fact that he votes against gun owner rights at every turn.

WOODRUFF: The NRA also unleashed new TV ads in 15 battleground states, including Ohio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Kerry wants you to think he supports the second amendment. But the cold, hard facts don't lie.

WOODRUFF: The NRA has endorsed George Bush. And the latest Gallup poll shows Bush holds a nearly 20-point lead over Kerry among gun owners. But Kerry isn't willing to write off that group of voters, as Al Gore essentially did in 2000. KERRY: I've been a hunter since I was a kid, 12, 13 years old. And I respect the second amendment.

WOODRUFF: If voters don't hear his words, Kerry may hope they at least see this picture, complete with 12-gauge shotgun and camouflage jacket. As for the goose Kerry bag, he claims he was too lazy to carry it.

KERRY: I was too lazy.


WOODRUFF (on camera): That was this morning.

Well, all eyes, it seems, are on the showdown states. And we have new poll results from some of the tightest races, starting with five new Mason-Dixon polls in states that George W. Bush won four years ago.

In Nevada, President Bush leading John Kerry by 10 points, 52 percent to 42 percent. Not far away in Colorado, Bush has a six-point lead over Kerry, 49 percent to 43 percent. In Ohio, the race gets even closer, with Bush coming in at 46 percent, Kerry 45 percent.

In West Virginia, Bush has a five-point lead, 49 percent to 44 percent. And in New Hampshire, Bush is leading now 48 percent to 45 percent. A reversal in that state.

In Michigan, a state Bush lost in 2000, the president has a four- point lead according to a Detroit news poll. Bush is at 47 percent, Kerry 43 percent.

In Wisconsin, another state Bush lost four years ago, our own CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup survey finds Bush leading Kerry by eight points among registered voters and six points among likely voters.

And finally, in Florida, the race has tightened, apparently. A new Quinnipiac University poll giving Bush 48 percent, Kerry 47 percent. Just two weeks ago it was Bush 51 to Kerry 44.

Those tight poll numbers, of course, could translate into a razor-thin victory margin for either Bush or Kerry. But some say that election reforms since the last White House race may complicate the counting of votes. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin takes a look at preparations for legal challenges after the polls close.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): Tania Clay didn't have to remind these volunteers in Houston about what happened in Florida.


TOOBIN: But she knew it would serve as a call to arms. CLAY: We all know about a lot of the problems that were encountered by elderly voters by the hanging chads.

TOOBIN: A call to avoid another election from being decided in another controversial Florida-like recount.

The call has been answered in classrooms and church halls from Texas to New York, from Washington to points west. Thousands of volunteers are taking classes on every election right that could become an election wrong.

JONAH GOLDMAN, LAWYERS COMM. FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: Until you press that "register my vote" button you can call a poll worker over and have them cancel that ballot.

TOOBIN: And preparing to head off to battleground states like Florida yet again, ready for the legal war that begins November 2.

DOUG CHAPIN, ELECTIONLINE.ORG: You hear talk of so-called SWAT teams of state based lawyers who will be available to go to courtrooms.

TOOBIN: Many of the volunteers are lawyers schooled in the latest local election laws. Others are poll watchers or people who say they're helping other people vote.

They come from groups like People for the American Way, Americans Coming Together and Election Protection. Some were formed by Democratic Party sympathizers after the 2000 vote recount.

DENNIS ARCHER, PAST PRESIDENT, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION: Here's my message to those Republican operatives, the few that there are, who have heretofore dealt in voter intimidation. Don't even try it.

TOOBIN: The Republicans refuse to answer that charge, but lawyers from both parties will face off in places like Florida, where in many places those troublesome butterfly ballots have been replaced by controversial electronic voting machines.

In Ohio more than 70 percent of voters will still be voting on punch card ballots. And both parties have attorneys in every county of Pennsylvania, where election officials say, old-fashioned voting machines and an overload of voter registrations could cause problems.

GOLDMAN: Across the country there will be about 25,000 volunteers participating in the program including over 5,000 legal volunteers.

TOOBIN: The volunteer effort is also fueled by the belief that November 2 will not be the end of election 2004. Consider that this is the first election in which every state must let people vote with provisional or paper ballots if their names can't be found on local voting rolls.

But the rules on who can use them and how they're counted vary from state to state. MILES RAPOPORT, NON-PARTISAN VOTER ADVOCATES: This is the worst possible nightmare. You can imagine a situation where that happens and the margin of victory is exceeded by the number of professional ballots that it will be weeks trying to figure out who won in that state because the lawyers will fight over every provisional ballot as if it were a recount.

TOOBIN: Democrat Henry Berger has trained more than 700 New York lawyers, all headed for battleground states.

HENRY BERGER, NY COUNCIL, KERRY 2004: I think when the voters wake up on November 3 they're going to read newspapers that say that either Bush or Kerry could win the election, that there are three or four states that have not yet been decided and that challenges will continue for several days until all the ballots get counted.


WOODRUFF: That was CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Well, we are down to the final chances for Bush, Kerry and their supporters to make their case on the television airwaves. Our advertising consultant, Evan Tracey, of TNS Media Intelligence is with me now. His firm tracks advertising in the nation's top 100 media markets.

Evan, thanks for being with us again.


WOODRUFF: Where are we? We're less than two weeks from this election. How much are the candidates spending? What are you seeing overall?

TRACEY: Well, overall, it's record spending for all political ad spending. We crossed the billion-dollar mark, half of that is in the presidential race.

If you look at Bush and Kerry over the last 30 days, their spending is about equal. Bush has about a $1 million edge. It's in the 14 -- same 14 states they were in a couple of weeks ago. So we haven't seen any expanding and contracting as far as the field goes.

The big difference right now is the DNC is outspending the RNC. The RNC just went on late in the week. Their average daily spending is now up to about $500,000 a day, so that number is going to climb.

WOODRUFF: All right. Now, Evan, we are seeing the candidates sort of narrow, trim down the number of states that they're really spending time in. How does that translate in terms of advertising?

TRACEY: Well, right now, we like to look at the average daily spending in these states. And what we're seeing right now is, again, there is no drop in spending in any of these 14 states, but we're starting to see noticeable ticks up in states. Like, for example, the Bush states that are ticking up right now are states like Colorado, states like Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, West Virginia. The Kerry states that are ticking up right now are Colorado, Iowa, which we've seen actually Kerry spending almost go up by about 50 percent in the last couple days, so there seems to be a lot of Kerry money going into Iowa. And then also states like Minnesota and Wisconsin.

WOODRUFF: But we can assume they're all spending -- I mean, they're all spending money in all of these showdown states.

TRACEY: Right. There's no drop in any of these states. We're just starting to see the average daily numbers increase in those states.

WOODRUFF: What are they trying to accomplish with these ad buys?

TRACEY: Well, what we're seeing down the stretch is a lot like we've seen all year long, in that you have really two different stat strategies. One is with the creative.

Bush strategy is what is good for Tampa is good for Toledo. He's got a national message out there.

The Kerry strategy, he's got a lot of new ads coming up every day now that talk to specific voters and specific states. In other words, you know, I'm in Ohio, here in Wisconsin. So, you know, Kerry is making an effort to really connect on a state-by-state level. Bush is staying very national, and his cable buys are targeted really at programs you can only characterize as programs that would target his base.

WOODRUFF: Let me last ask you about these outside groups, 527s, whatever you want to call them. What are they spending and how does that fit into the strategy?

TRACEY: Well, what we've learned is it doesn't take a lot to have an impact on this race. And I think everybody right now that wants to get involved for Bush or for Kerry are going and breaking the piggy banks to cut spots.

We've had a number of big groups, like the MoveOns and the Media Funds and Progress for America. But we've got over 30 groups right now that have buys under $500,000. About 45 total groups are spending under $500,000 on behalf of both Bush and Kerry.

Just in the last three days we've had 19 new ads that we've captured, and these are all from groups, not from candidates. So the groups are really getting into the act right now. And when you add up these small groups, they really make a difference as far as spending. And, of course, it's in the battleground states.

WOODRUFF: With 11 days to go, we can assume we're going to see more of it. OK.

TRACEY: Yes, a lot more and some sharp elbows. WOODRUFF: We're already seeing that.


WOODRUFF: Evan Tracey, TNS Media Intelligence. We'll talk to you again next week.

TRACEY: Great to be here. Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

And now checking the headlines in "Campaign News Daily," the Bush campaign has purchased ad time on a medium sure to reach a captive audience. The Bush team is sponsoring traffic reports on drive-time radio in six showdown states, including Florida and Ohio, as well in the Boston media market that covers New Hampshire.

The Kerry campaign is accusing the Bush administration of saying one thing and then doing another when it comes to flu shots. The Kerry team issued a press release highlighting the fact that Vice President Cheney received a flu shot, along with Treasury Secretary John Snow and Senate Leader Bill Frist at a time when vaccines are in short supply. A spokeswoman says Vice President Cheney, who has a history of heart disease, received the flu shot on the advice of his doctor.

A new Harvard poll gauges how college students view this presidential race. The nationwide Harvard Survey finds John Kerry leading the president among students, 52 percent to 39 percent. Ralph Nader receiving one percent.

From the college campus to the electoral college, a new Gallup poll finds that most Americans are prepared to get rid of the electoral college. More than 60 percent of Americans who were surveyed say they would support a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college to ensure that the candidate with the most votes wins the White House.

Well, we've got a treat for you. Bob Novak is back. He's going to share his "Reporter's Notebook" with us a little later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Also ahead, a look at the challenges facing Americans who live overseas and who want to vote in the presidential election.


WOODRUFF: The Pentagon says that it will post a federal write-in ballot on its Web site for overseas voters who request but fail to receive the proper paperwork by mail. In 2000, a wide array of overseas voting problems were reported, and Pentagon officials say both political parties favor this move. But many Americans who live outside the country still say it is difficult for them to be assured that their votes will count.

Jim Bittermann reports from Paris. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alexandra Hughes is an opera singer who divides her time between Pairs and New York. In 2000, when she tried to register for an absentee ballot, an election official told her there was no point since her vote wouldn't be counted anyway.

So this election near, the performer is taking what might seem a fairly dramatic step. She is flying home just to vote.

ALEXANDRA HUGHES, OPERA SINGER: Unfortunately, I don't trust the system. So I want to go back to protect the right that we have as Americans to vote.

BITTERMANN: While few Americans overseas may follow Hughes' lead on Election Day, they certainly share both her skepticism and her tenaciousness, essential given the kind of challenges overseas voters face. Take the case of the Ohio voter who discovered the address of his election board is incorrectly listed on the official federal Web site.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got my registration form, my request for an absentee ballot back, unopened, with a mark saying that the forwarding time had expired, that they couldn't forward this.

BITTERMANN: Take the case of the Pennsylvania voter whose ballot has candidate Ralph Nader's name on it while a fellow Pennsylvanian's does not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Official permission to print the ballots hadn't been given yet, and yet mine was printed and sent.

BITTERMANN: Take the case of the Colorado voter whose election supervisor was trying to mail her ballot to Thailand with a local stamp.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I said, "Well, how much postage did you put on that?" "Oh, 60 cents, just like we put on all the ballots."

BITTERMANN: Take the case of the California voter who was instructed to fill in a sample ballot, mail it in an envelope, which could identify her, and have faith that it would accurately be transferred to a punch card.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A country as great and as big and as great as America shouldn't be having these banana republic problems.

BITTERMANN (on camera): There are reports of thousands of other problems overseas, ranging from a Texas voter who was sent a torn ballot and told to vote it anyway, to two dozen Ohio voters who were sent ballots with John Kerry's name crossed off. In most cases, the problems can be resolved before Election Day, but if it's a close outcome, there are batteries of lawyers standing by on both sides ready to examine every case, looking for ways to influence the final result. JOE SMALLHOOVER, DEMOCRATS ABROAD: Well, I think the potential for lawsuits is relatively high if the results of this election are anywhere near close.

MARK WALLACE, BUSH-CHENEY 2004: I think you will see that the Republican side will absolutely be for the rule of law, but actually, absolutely make certain that those who can lawfully vote will cast a vote and that every vote is counted.

BITTERMANN (voice-over): In the end, while few of the four million Americans abroad will be taking the kind of drastic action opera singer Alexandra Hughes is to exercise her right to vote, many are having to be equally determined.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.


WOODRUFF: Some of those stories hard to believe.

Well, the White House isn't the only prize up for grabs come Election Day. So is Congress. Can the Democrats win back the Senate? Bob Novak joins us with his latest projection when we return.


WOODRUFF: A hail and hearty Bob Novak joins us from the "CROSSFIRE" set at George Washington University with some inside buzz.

Bob, we're so glad to have you back. After breaking your hip, you're looking terrific.


WOODRUFF: We're glad to have you here.

All right. Let's dig right down into it. You've got an updated Evans-Novak projection on the Senate. What are you seeing?

NOVAK: My colleague, Tim Carney, and I find that if the election were held today, the Democrats would pick up three seats. They would defeat Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and pick up the open seats in Illinois and Colorado, Ken Salazar beating Pete Coors in Colorado.

However, the Republicans, if the elections were held today, would sweep the board in the South, picking up Democratic seats in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisiana and -- what am I forgetting one of them? Well, there's five of them anyway.

That's five -- that's a gain of five southern seats, Judy. And that is a net gain of two seats for the Republicans, making it a 53-47 Senate. We have, if the election were held today, former Congressman Coburn, Tom Coburn in Oklahoma, barely winning, and we have Senator Tom Daschle hanging on as the Senate Democratic leader in South Dakota.

WOODRUFF: Boy, those are all some -- all close -- or several of those are really, really close races.


WOODRUFF: All right. What about the 9/11 reform bill, reforming the intelligence community? What are you seeing there?

NOVAK: The internal clock of the Congress, Judy, means that they have to finish this by Tuesday of next week in order to get a bill passed in time for the -- before the election. Now, the problem is the Republicans really fear that if they don't pass this they're going to get some of these families of 9/11 victims who were kind of hostile to President Bush saying he couldn't even pass a bill to reform this in the closing days of a very close presidential race.

So Republicans would like this bill to pass. And their biggest Democratic ally in trying to get an agreement in the -- between the House and the Senate in these closing days is Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's turn to some conservation groups. You've been taking a close look at what they're doing in the election. And what do you see?

NOVAK: Teresa Heinz Kerry, the Democratic candidate's wife, has given $10 million of her own money to conservation groups. And now they're paying her back in the last days of the campaign.

The League of Conservation Voters is putting on $3 million worth of anti-Bush ads in Florida. And the National Wildlife Federation has just published a report critical of the president on mercury. So she gives the money to these tax exempt groups and they respond in the closing days of the election.

WOODRUFF: And last, very quickly, where are the lobbyists these days?

NOVAK: Go to K Street, Judy, where the lobbyists are supposed to be. And you won't find them because they're out on the stump.

Democrats and Republicans called by Kerry and Bush to help them out are all over the country. Most of them seem to be in Ohio. But if you're a lobbyist in Washington right now in your office, you don't count for much. So you better not show up for work or you just say, "Gee, I'm not an important person."

WOODRUFF: At least tell somebody that you're out of town, even if you're not.


WOODRUFF: OK. Bob Novak. And again, we're so glad to see you back.

NOVAK: Thank you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Thank you. What are voters looking for in a presidential candidate? That story when INSIDE POLITICS continues.

Plus, the flap over top administration officials on the campaign trail. Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan will chew on that one.

And later, it could be the next best thing for John Kerry besides a victory of his own.


WOODRUFF: As the markets get set to close on Wall Street, I'm joined by Lou Dobbs in New York for another installment of "The Dobbs Report."

Hi there, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hi there, Judy. And thank you.

The cost of this year's election is well above anything that we've ever seen before in this country. According to estimates from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, this presidential and congressional election the campaigns will spend $3.9 billion on these elections, up 30 percent from just four years ago. And most of that money, $2.5 billion is coming from individual donations.

The McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law bans soft money contributions but raised the limits for individuals and left a loophole for those independent and some would say now infamous 527 groups. The presidential race alone will cost a record $1.2 billion.

With all of that money it turned to a mix performance on Wall Street. Tech stocks jumping. The Dow Jones Industrials held in check by disappointing earnings news. And as the final trades are now being counted the Dow Jones Industrials down 25 points. The Nasdaq Composite up one point. And Caterpillar one of the biggest losers today. Its shares down $3 a share. The company reported third quarter earnings more than doubled but investors focused on Caterpillar's rising operating costs.

Merck shares edging lower after the drugmaker said its profits fell 29 percent, hurt by the recall of the arthritis drug Vioxx of course.

Shares of Google up $8 due to reports that its first quarterly earnings since going public in August is expected any minute now.

This is a story that hits close to home for many of us at CNN here in New York and for workers everywhere who complain about cold temperatures in their working areas. There is new evidence that chilly temperatures in fact lower worker productivity. A Cornell University study shows when you raise the thermostat from 68 to 77 degrees, typing mistakes drop by 44 percent, output increases by 150 percent. The study also found performance declines when it is too hot or too noisy. Coming up tonight here on CNN at 6:00 Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" broken borders. A new study from Harvard's Kennedy School confirms what we have been reporting for some time. A rising number of Americans are now concerned about the impact of illegal immigration in this country. In fact, the Harvard study finds almost 70 percent of Americans are concerned and they want to see the federal government get tougher on illegal aliens. A major reason for the concern is terrorism.


MARK KRIKORIAN, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Illegal immigration creates an environment of lawlessness and anarchy that makes it impossible to effectively screen, whether at the border or at airports or what have you, effectively screen who is coming into the country.


DOBBS: Also tonight on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" controversy in Iowa over the use of the phrase, the expression, "illegal alien." Judy, as you know, I am one of those who uses that expression definitively. I'll be talking with a minority activist who says the race for Congress in that state is creating unreasonable fears about immigration issues.

And new information surfaces on the Oil for Food scandal plaguing the United Nations. Tonight we'll be taking a closer look at the $67 billion program that Secretary-General Kofi Annan admits has damaged the U.N.'s credibility and reputation.

And democracy at risk. Millions of absentee ballots pouring in from all over the country and the world in this election. We'll investigate how those votes are being counted and how those counts will be protected. Judy Woodruff, back to you.

WOODRUFF: Lou, I'm interested in that temperature in the workplace report. I've been telling my colleagues for years it is too cold here. To get to, more seriously to your story. You started out that this election, all these election this year are going to cost almost $4 billion. Does that suggest we need to look at campaign reform again?

DOBBS: I don't think there's much question about it. Both of these parties, Republicans and Democrats, are so beholden to corporate America for so much of their financing that it is easy to state categorically and unequivocally that the middle class in this country, working men and women, are the most underrepresented and sometimes unrepresented group in Washington, D.C. The fact is that there is just simply too much financial firepower behind both parties and that is why many people complain that on the issues such as immigration, trade policy and a host of other issues, there isn't -- as this expression goes -- a dime's worth of difference between these two parties on very very important issues for the American people.

WOODRUFF: All right. Lou Dobbs weighing in. We'll see you tomorrow. Thank you very much. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: Machismo politics?

KERRY: I will fight a smarter, more effective, tougher war on terror.

BUSH: We show uncertainty or weakness in this decade the world will drift toward tragedy. It's not going happen on my watch.

ANNOUNCER: Does the tough talk work with voters?

Now live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back. A day after their latest long distance duel over Iraq, George Bush and John Kerry are addressing different kinds of life and death issues: stem cell research and health care. In Ohio Senator Kerry accused the president of turning his back on science by failing to support greater funding for embryonic stem cell research. At Kerry's side, Dana Reeve, the widow of actor turned stem cell research advocate Christopher Reeve.

In Pennsylvania Bush charged that Kerry would move America down the road toward federal control of health care. He, again, called for medical liability reform as a way to limit soaring health care costs.

As much as Bush and Kerry argue over issues, you might conclude that substance will be the deciding factor in the presidential race. That's not the full story. Here now our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): The voters agree according to polls John Kerry won all three debates. The debates got Kerry back into the game. In September, George W. Bush was building up a lead and now the race is neck and neck. The debate cemented Kerry's advantage which is one word, issues.

KERRY: This really underscores the problem with the American health care system. It is not working for the American family. It has gotten worse under President Bush.

SCHNEIDER Polls show growing numbers of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. They think the economy is getting worse, that President Bush has a poor record on jobs. Look at voters who say their choice is driven by the issues. Strongly for Kerry. Now look at voters who say their choice is driven by the candidates's personal qualities such as leadership and vision. They're strongly for Bush. Bush is running on one personal quality above all, strength.

BUSH: If America shows uncertainty or weakness in this decade, the world will drift toward tragedy. This will not happen on my watch.

SCHNEIDER: Bush uses the word "liberal" as a code word for weakness. Liberals used to be called soft on communism and soft on crime. Now they're called soft on terrorism.

BUSH: Senator Kerry talked of reducing terrorism to, quote, "nuisance."

SCHNEIDER: Kerry has gone to great lengths to proclaim his toughness.

KERRY: I will fight a smarter, more effective, tougher war on terror. We'll hunt down and capture and kill the terrorists no matter where they are.

SCHNEIDER: But the Bush campaign has kept up a relentless assault on Kerry as weak and vacillating, going back to super Tuesday eight months ago.

BUSH: In fact Senator Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue.

SCHNEIDER: Throughout the campaign Bush held the advantage as a strong and decisive leader. Four years ago in the race between Bush and Al Gore, voters said issues outweighed personal qualities. This year personal qualities have the edge. But it is close.


(on camera): It's a close race not just between Kerry and Bush but also between issues and personal qualities. Which candidate prevails depends on which reason for voting prevails.

WOODRUFF: And Bill, for many voters it seems they may go back and forth. One week they may think it is the issue that matters but then they may look at these candidates and think no, it is personal qualities.

SCHNEIDER: And that's exactly why the polls are close and so confusing. Because a lot of voters really are moving back and forth depending on what they consider more important day by day.

WOODRUFF: So there's more indecision than all of us ever expected. Bill Schneider. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. A number of Bush allies still are taking aim at Teresa Heinz Kerry for questioning whether first lady Laura Bush ever held, quote, "a real job." Mrs. Bush says that she was not offended. Heinz Kerry says she's sorry for forgetting that Laura Bush had worked as a teacher and a librarian.

In New Hampshire today Mrs. Bush said no apology was needed.


LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: It doesn't matter. It didn't hurt my feelings. It was perfectly all right. She apologized. But she didn't even really need to apologize. I know how tough it is. And I actually know it was a trick question.


WOODRUFF: Teresa Heinz Kerry is getting a vivid preview of the media microscope on first ladies that can magnify every blunt remark or slip of the tongue. It reminds our Bruce Morton of the unusual role that presidential wives play in political history.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Odd title, odd job. And different women have gone at it in different ways. Hillary Clinton for instance always wanted to be a player.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had tea but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.

MORTON: As first lady she headed a task force which put together the Clintons' spectacularly unsuccessful health care plan. Leaving the White House still wanting to be a player, she campaigned for and won a seat in the U.S. Senate.

Barbara Bush was more an inside family player, though sharp tongued. When Geraldine Ferraro ran against her husband for vice president in 1984, Mrs. Bush said she had a word for Ferraro she couldn't say, but it rhymed with rich.

L. BUSH: Right here in this room...

MORTON: Laura Bush -- traditional, but a hard campaigner, whose favorability ratings are higher than either her husband's or John Kerry's. Resolutely private, she nevertheless speaks out on issues, as here with Larry King talking about hate.

L. BUSH: I hear the word hate used a lot in the press. And you know, I just -- I don't think Americans are filled with hate. When I travel around the country, I don't see people who are filled with hate, who hate either my husband or somebody on the other side. I just don't see it that way.

MORTON: She's had essentially four mistake-free years.

TERESA HEINZ KERRY, WIFE OF SEN. JOHN KERRY: They want four more years of hell.

MORTON: Teresa Heinz Kerry, in contrast, stirs controversy, most recently by saying she didn't know if Laura Bush had ever held a real job. Heinz Kerry later apologized, saying she'd forgotten Bush's years as a librarian and teacher before her marriage. Critics say: Isn't parenthood a real job? Heinz Kerry, who raised three children whose father was killed in a plane crash, presumably does know this.

Part of the reason she's misunderstood on the campaign trail may be that her background is different.

HEINZ KERRY: Also I am, you know, the product of living in dictatorships. And someone who has lived in dictatorships and not been allowed to be themselves cherishes the ability to be yourself and to have feelings and to speak them when asked. And I am that person.

MORTON: Mrs. Bush said she's taken no offense to any of this. Good. Back to issues now?

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Well, there's more ahead on the wives edition of Bush versus Kerry. Does it speak to broader political issues, or is it much ado about nothing? I'll ask Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile.

And later, if the Red Sox can be winners, does the potential first fan have hope?


WOODRUFF: With me now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

Bay, I just asked if you were ready to say something about the Teresa Heinz Kerry comment about Laura Bush. Now, Teresa Heinz Kerry has come back and apologized, saying she didn't remember that Mrs. Bush worked as a librarian.

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: But that just goes right to the point. She didn't remember she was teacher. She didn't remember if she was a librarian. But she certainly knew she was mother, and she certainly knew she was the first lady of the United States. Those are real jobs, Teresa. I'm sorry.

She (INAUDIBLE) she didn't have real jobs. What do you think being a mother is? As a mother, I found that enormously offensive. The hardest job we have and the single most important one is to be a mother. And those homemakers out there, also enormous sacrifice, enormous work to make cerain that those homes are happy and good and a healthy place. And she gives them no credit whatsoever.


BUCHANAN: Stretch?

BRAZILE: I mean, Teresa is also a mother, a proud mother. And she apologized because she didn't want to offend Mrs. Bush who she respects. In fact, Mr. Bush said today she didn't have to apologize. This is a nonissue. The fact is -- and Mrs. Bush made it abundantly clear -- you know, it was probably one of those trick questions...

BUCHANAN: Trick questions?

BRAZILE: ... that Teresa didn't -- you know, didn't catch on to right away. But the truth is is that Teresa Heinz not only respects Laura Bush, but she respects all working women, those that stay at home and those who are out there getting less pay than men for doing the same work. See, I did a plug for equal pay.

BUCHANAN: There's no question -- that question was certainly not something you want. What Donna should have written the apology and not have them. They didn't even understand who they offended when they said that.

They were not only offensive to Mrs. Bush -- and she's an extraordinarily gracious, first-class lady, and of course she said not to worry, everything is fine. One would expect her to do that.

But the question was no trick question. Let's go review the question. Do you know what the question was? How would you be different as a first lady than Mrs. Bush has been as a first lady. That's pretty clean cut. And what she's said is she's had real jobs and Mrs. Bush hasn't. So much for motherhood in this country.


WOODRUFF: Donna...

BRAZILE: Well, I have no problems with a hardened feminist, especially one who stands up for working women across the board. And that's what Teresa Heinz Kerry will do as first lady.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you all about a poll -- Gallup poll numbers that we just released last night. We asked Kerry voters: Would you be upset if bush won? Fifty-seven percent of them said they'd be very upset, 25 percent somewhat. We asked Bush voters: Would you be upset if Kerry won? Fifty percent very upset, somewhat upset.

What does this say about what's going on in this election?

BUCHANAN: You know, I think that there will be some difficult days ahead betting on who wins. I think the other side is going to have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that the other side won.

WOODRUFF: You don't think the country's going to pull together?

BUCHANAN: Well, I think that we as a nation usually do that. But I feel that is Bush wins, there's a lot of Democrats out there that just have enormous anamosity toward him, and they're going ot be extraordinarily upset. And I think it's going to be very, very difficult.

I mean, you have the DNC saying even if there's no trouble in your precincts and in the voting, just say there is. I mean, what kind of statement is that? Just let's start problems, let's start a controversy, let's make it look like they shouldn't have won.

BRAZILE: You have the Republicans saying there's going to be chaos at the polls, even though we know that most of the chaos prior to Election Day is being caused by Republican operatives who are trying to get people off the ballot.

Look, Judy, I think that whoever wins will have to reach out to the other side pretty quickly, especially given the polarization that has taken place in this country since September 11. I mean, if Kerry wins -- and I believe he will win -- Kerry will have to reach out to John McCain quickly and say, "John, I didn't put you on the ticket, but I need your help right away."

And likewise, if Bush wins, I think he better find a Democrat that he likes and have popcorn with again so that he can try to bring this country together.

WOODRUFF: Well, let me pick up on what you all are saying -- and Donna, I mean, and Bay, what you just said. Can the American people count on the fact that their votes are going to be counted accurately in this election?

BUCHANAN: Well, you know, that's something you always worry about. And -- but there's no reason why they're not going to be counted accurately in this election any more than any other election. The people are trying to move forward. The counties are becoming a little more sophisticated in their methods.

But unless you have an actual paper ballot where everybody can go back and check it -- which no one is suggesting we...

WOODRUFF: And in some places we don't.

BUCHANAN: ... except some hardcore conservatives out there very much would like to see us move back and have been talking about this for years.

But if we're not moving in that direction, the more we move toward electronic voting, the more that it can be altered in some way without anybody even being able to check it.

BRAZILE: There's no question that Democrats would like to see this election go to the winner this time and not the other way around, as what happened four years ago. The Democrats are working very hard and, in some cases, look, we try to work with Republicans to ensure that no vote is purged at the last minute, no voter is denied is denied an opportunity to vote.

And voters are equipped with information that they need to go in and to have their vote cast and counted.

I hope this election is decided by midnight. We may not know for a couple of hours afterwards because I think there are so many absentee ballots, so many overseas ballots that are being printed, who heard of getting ballots faxed?

BUCHANAN: There's no question the best thing is that this is not that close an election where people really think it would have been swayed by a few votes here there and that are in question.

WOODRUFF: Very quick. The report over the last few days that the president's national security adviser, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, out there making speeches, coincidentally in showdown states, battleground states.

BRAZILE: My turn to go first this time.

WOODRUFF: All right, Donna. Treasury Secretary John snow out there, 22 different states.

BRAZILE: It's all right for certain secretaries to go out there and campaign. In 2000 we utilized a lot of those secretaries to go out there. But national security adviser? Who is minding the store? That's unheard of for the national security adviser to be out there. It is inappropriate. I believe Dr. Rice should be there doing her job. We are having a difficult war on terror. That's what she should be focused on.

BUCHANAN: She has been out 68 times in the last four years. She's the public face of our national security. She has been doing this for four years. She is an excellent -- she's a black woman who is enormously inspirational to these young people across this country. She should be exactly there. And what is more, she's an American who wants to see George Bush win.

WOODRUFF: We have got to leave it there. Bay, Donna, thank you both.

BRAZILE: You're picking up the tab.

WOODRUFF: We'll talk to you again next week. OK. We heard it all.

Both campaigns are investing a lot of time and money in Ohio and the race there remains a virtual dead heat. Tonight our Paula Zahn will conduct a town hall meeting with voters. She'll join us for a preview after the break.


WOODRUFF: As you just heard, CNN's Paula Zahn will be moderating a town hall meeting in the all-important electoral vote state of Ohio tonight. She joins us now from the town of South Charleston for a preview.

Hi, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: A beautiful town, I might add. Hi, Judy, thanks for having me this afternoon. It is almost impossible to over-emphasize the importance of this battleground state. The race has been very close here. And tonight we will reveal the latest presidential poll of Ohio voters.

And since Super Tuesday George Bush has visited the state a dozen times. And today John Kerry made his 18th campaign visit. Twenty electoral votes are at stake so as they say it is worth the trip.

And tonight we're going to have voters in our town hall meeting who will have the opportunity to question two heavy hitters representing the campaigns: General Wesley Clark from the Kerry camp and former New York City police chief Bernard Kerik from the Bush re- election team. So it should be a pretty lively session.

Both of these men, Judy, as you know, are very facile (ph) on their feet.

WOODRUFF: Any idea at this stage, Paula, what these voters are interested in, what they're going to be asking?

ZAHN: We're going to have a representation of undecided voters, about half of our audience will be made up of that. And then those evenly split between the Kerry and Bush campaign. All we can tell you is what we have to go on from a poll from the University of Cincinnati which shows that Ohio voters are most concerned about the economy. Many industrial jobs have disappeared in the last four years. So they'll be interested in both candidates' plans to stimulate job growth.

But they are also very concerned about foreign policy, the war in Iraq, health care and to a lesser degree, homeland security. But as you know, with these forums, you never quite know what to expect from smart audience members. And that's why it is so fun to do these because there's a spontaneity that doesn't always exist on television shows.

You're right. You never know. And they have all been interesting. And we're going to be watching tonight. Paula, thanks very much.

ZAHN: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: At 8:00 Eastern, "PAULA ZAHN NOW" in Ohio.

Question: Is the so-called curse finally broken? Up next, Boston celebrates its victory over the New York Yankees setting up a potential World Series showdown with political overtones.


WOODRUFF: As you surely know by now, the Boston Red Sox finally brought down their nemesis, the New York Yankees last night. The Sox are headed to the first World Series since 1986 after rallying from a three games to zero deficit in a best-of-seven series.

It's a comeback that Red Sox fan John Kerry would no doubt love to emulate. He watched the game from his hotel room in Ohio last night. You know, if the Houston Astros win the National League championship tonight, the World Series will feature a high profile match up between, you guessed it, Texas and Massachusetts. That has a familiar ring to it.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS for this Thursday. I'm Judy Woodruff, thank you for joining us. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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