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Presidential Ad War Intensifies; John Kerry Steps Up Appeal to Women Voters; Democrats Face Difficult Odds in Senate Control Race

Aired October 22, 2004 - 15:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Dances with wolves. A new Bush ad uses threatening images to attack John Kerry on terror.

NARRATOR: Weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm.

ANNOUNCER: What do women want? John Kerry steps up his appeal to female voters with a little help from a friend.

CAROLINE KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG, KERRY SUPPORTER: There's a huge difference between President Bush and John Kerry on the issues that matter to women.

ANNOUNCER: Caroline Kennedy talks to Judy about Kerry and the women's vote.

Second daughter. Liz Cheney provides the Bush camp's take on gender politics and the presidential race.

GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With just 11 days left in this campaign, who's counting?

ANNOUNCER: Sure, it's late in the game, but what better time to score a "Political Play of the Week"?


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

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us in these closing days of the presidential race.

The Bush camp says the challenge is to lay out bright lines and bold differences between the president and Senator Kerry. Bush is giving his version of those differences today in three showdown states and on the airwaves with a new ad that the Kerry camp describes as desperate.

We begin our coverage with White House correspondent Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With 11 days to go, the president retooled his stump speech with a direct appeal to voters.

BUSH: You've had a chance to see both of us in action, to measure our consistency, our resolve, our values, and our ability to lead.

BASH: (AUDIO GAP) just new easier-to-digest personalized themes, five of them, the fight against terrorism now your security, tax cuts now your family budget.

BUSH: When it comes to your budget, you have a clear choice. He'll raise your taxes to fund bigger government. I'm going to keep your taxes low.

BASH: Health care and education become quality of life. Retirement covers Social Security. And he says he's for your values; Kerry's too liberal. Along with the new speech, a new ominous ad.

NARRATOR: In an increasingly dangerous world...

BASH: Using a pack of wolves to represent threats Americans face, the ad hits Kerry for proposing intelligence cuts 10 years ago that never went into effect. The senior Bush aide said the ad was cut five months ago, but held for a final punch, because focus groups called it so effective.

The Kerry camp shot back, Mr. Bush is trying to scare voters.

BUSH: I'm back in the great city of Canton because I'm here asking for the vote.

BASH: Meanwhile, the president returned to Ohio after a nearly three-week absence, which concerned Ohio Republicans, who've been calling the campaign asking where he's been, especially since Senator Kerry's visited five times since Mr. Bush's last visit, and polls in the Buckeye State are neck and neck. Some even give the senator a slight lead.


(on camera): And Bush senior adviser Karl Rove says the president will have seven more stops here in the next 11 days, and his biggest challenge, of course, is still job loss, Judy. Ohio gained 5,500 jobs last month, but Kerry aides point out that at the current rate it could take 10 years to recover the 200,000-plus jobs lost in the state on Mr. Bush's watch -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Dana Bash, thank you very much, traveling with the president.

Well, now we turn to the Kerry campaign with more on its response to that wolves ad you just saw and its appeal to women voters.

CNN's Kelly Wallace is traveling with Senator Kerry.

Hi, Kelly.


Well, no surprise the Kerry campaign reacting very quickly to that ad. As you said, calling it a desperate move by the Bush administration to try and take attention away from the president's -- quote -- "failed record." That being said, this campaign very much trying to stay on its own message of the day, and that was appealing to women voters. The Kerry strategy all along in these final days has been trying to win over undecided voters, and many of those undecided voters happen to be women.


(voice-over): In Milwaukee trying to win over women voters with a little Kennedy star power, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, daughter of President John F. Kennedy.

SCHLOSSBERG: My mother always told me that if it were not for Wisconsin, President Kennedy never would have made it to the White House.


SCHLOSSBERG: And I know that you are going to do the exact same thing for John Kerry.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm so honored to be here.

WALLACE: Senator Kerry focusing on the issues affecting working women, promising to fight for equal pay and a hike in the minimum wage, accusing the Bush White House of being out of touch.

KERRY: The women I meet, they don't expect the government to do their jobs for them. But they do want leaders who are on their side as they try to do their jobs.

WALLACE: It is no accident Caroline Kennedy today, yesterday, alongside Dana Reeve, wife of the late actor Christopher Reeve, a day earlier, with one of the most vocal of the September 11 widows who now appears in one of his television ads.

KRISTEN BREITWEISER, 9/11 WIDOW: I want to look in my daughter's eyes and know that she is safe.

WALLACE: According to an average of polls released in the last 48 hours, Senator Kerry has a lead of just seven points over President Bush with women voters, a danger sign for the senator, since Democrats traditionally do better with women. In 2000, Al Gore had an 11-point advantage with women voters, according to exit polls. George W. Bush had the exact same advantage with men.

Team Kerry-Edwards trying now to make inroads, especially with married suburban women concerned about security. The campaign is fighting back hard against the latest Bush/Cheney ad featuring a den of wolves, implying Senator Kerry would not take the terror threat seriously enough. SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They have stooped so low now that they're using a pack of wolves running around a forest trying to scare you and trying to scare the American people.


WALLACE (on camera): Senator Kerry now on his way to Nevada and Colorado. The campaign starting to switch gears a bit, moving into the rally mode, more and more rallies each and every day, trying to get out the vote, and, Judy, getting some help from the former President Bill Clinton.

We already knew that Bill Clinton would be in Philadelphia with Senator Kerry on Monday. Well, now CNN is learning that the former president will also campaign in Florida and in New Mexico for Senator Kerry. But they won't be together in those states -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Well, we know that the Kerry campaign is happy about that.

All right, Kelly Wallace, thank you very much, traveling with the senator today. Thank you.

Well, let's take a closer look at the women's vote in this election.

Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has been looking at the latest polls.

Bill, there are some national polls showing John Kerry closing in on George Bush. Is this because of women voters?


There are three national polls that have come out in the last few days that show either a very close race or Senator Kerry, while still very close, slightly ahead. The Pew poll, the Associated Press poll done by Ipsos, and the Marist poll all show a very close race. All show Kerry making gains since before the debates.

And those gains have come predominantly from women. The Pew poll, he's picked up six points among women. The Associated Press poll, seven points. The Marist poll, four points. And in all three of those polls, Kerry now enjoys a double-digit lead among women, comparable to the lead that Al Gore had in 2000. Why is that happening? Well, another poll, the Annenberg Institute poll, shows that Kerry's gains in the very recent days have been principally because of economic and domestic issues, minimum wage, stem-cell research, prescription drugs import.

Those are issues that are very important for women. And I should mention, one of the big differences between 2000 and 2004 is, there really were no international issues that dominated the agenda in 2000. And to the extent that Kerry can get voters, particularly women, to focus on domestic and economic issues, he may do as well as Gore today among women in 2000.

WOODRUFF: And, so, Bill, looking at what the Republicans are doing to counter this, this new wolves ad talking -- saying -- suggesting Kerry wouldn't be strong against a terror threat, is that designed to be effective with women?

SCHNEIDER: That is exactly what it's designed to do. They're appealing to the so-called security mom factor, where Bush has scored points in the past few months with women voters, because, of course, there is a big difference between 2000 and 2004. And that is, the United States was attacked on September 11.

And President Bush and the Republicans are running strongly on concern over terrorism. And that's an issue that does have a lot of meaning among women.

WOODRUFF: OK, Bill Schneider, thank you very much.

The Kennedy family is working to crank out votes for John Kerry, as you heard a moment ago. Up next, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy talks about why she's decided to give up her usual position out of the public eye for this campaign.

Plus, another point of view from the Bush camp's Liz Cheney.

And, later, media analyst Howard Kurtz puts the new Bush ad and its powerful images in context.

With just 11 days until the election, this is INSIDE POLITICS, the place for campaign news.


WOODRUFF: The newest polls show John Kerry has the advantage among women voters. But, at this point, by a somewhat smaller margin than Al Gore in 2000.

In a speech in Milwaukee today, Kerry focused on issues his campaign believes are important to women. Just a short time ago, I spoke with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who introduced Kerry in Milwaukee. And I started by asking for someone who typically cherishes her privacy, why is she out on the campaign trail?


SCHLOSSBERG: Well, I think this election is just too important for anybody to sit out. And it reminds a lot of people of 1960. It's just that close. And I think the choice is just as clear. So I am happy to be out here.

I worked for John Kerry the first time when I was 15, so it's really fun to be doing anything I can right now.

WOODRUFF: Practically every speech that George Bush gives, he tries to get a laugh by saying that John Kerry is even more liberal than your uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy. What do you say? What do you think about that? And what do you say to voters who hear this argument that John Kerry's too liberal?

SCHLOSSBERG: Well, the person who's laughing the hardest is my Uncle Teddy. So -- but I think, really, people, you know, there's a lot of words thrown around in politics today.

But I think people really think about the issues that matter to them. And everybody has their own issue. And I think, today, we were really focusing on women and families. And I think there's a huge difference between President Bush and John Kerry on the issues that matter to women. And so I think that, you know, those things don't really mean much, those labels. But I think people really need to take this seriously and vote.

There's a lot going on out here.

WOODRUFF: There is a lot going on. And we appreciate your being able to hear.

You know, speaking of women, John Kerry is talking today about wanting to raise the minimum wage, but there is a women's group supporting George Bush that says, to do that, they'd have to increase the cost of hiring, cut down on the number of jobs and that, frankly, women would be hurt the most by that, especially women looking for part-time jobs, their first job. How do you answer that argument?

SCHLOSSBERG: I think that we've heard that before every time we try to raise the minimum wage.

And the idea that a woman who's trying to support a family is making less than $7 an hour in this country, I just don't understand how anybody could be against raising the minimum wage. I don't think that those have been the consequences in the past. We've lost jobs the way it is right now under this president. No new jobs have been created for the first time in 75 years. So I don't really -- I don't agree with that.

WOODRUFF: One other thing, and I hope you can hear me now. The Bush campaign is starting a television ad today showing a pack of wolves in a dark forest. And their message is that John Kerry has voted to weaken America, weaken it against the people who would do this country harm.

What do you say to those voters who look and wonder whether John Kerry is going to keep this country safe or not, especially women?

SCHLOSSBERG: Well, I think John Kerry, you know, inspired me to work for him first because of his courage and his leadership. And I think that that -- he's built a career on that. And I think his judgment, I think he would keep America safe. He would work with alliances.

That was one of the things people admired most about my father's administration, was that he did create a safer America and worked so hard for peace by working with others and with the U.N. And I think John Kerry is in that tradition. And I think that's what we need right now. WOODRUFF: But, right now, you've got a Bush adviser saying this ad is so powerful that they decided -- so effective with voters, they decided to run it in the last days of the campaign. What does that say to you about how they see John Kerry being vulnerable on this question?

SCHLOSSBERG: I haven't seen the ad. And I can't believe anybody would really make up their mind based on an ad showing a bunch of animals running around.

But I think these issues are too serious. And people really saw in the debates who John Kerry is. And I think they're going to make up their minds based on that. And I think he's going to win.

WOODRUFF: One last thing, Caroline. There's been a lot of discussion in the campaign about the role of the wives and the role of women. What do the women around John Kerry say about him in this campaign?

SCHLOSSBERG: Well, I think he's obviously a tremendously loving father and husband. And I think that his daughters are a tremendous credit to him.

But I think it's always hard being in families, and I think that everybody in public life really wants to support and do everything they can for the person who's running. And people really should understand how hard it is sometimes when you feel your family attacked or whatever. So I think all these people deserve a lot of credit.


WOODRUFF: Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. She talked to me just a few minutes ago. We apologize about the noise. Obviously, the crowd decided to get loud when the interview got under way.

Well, another take on women voters and what they're looking for in a candidate when we're joined by the vice president's daughter Liz Cheney.

That's coming up after the break.


WOODRUFF: A few minutes ago, we showed you my interview with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, a Kerry supporter who says her candidate is stronger on issues important to women.

For the Bush campaign perspective, we're joined now by Liz Cheney, the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Good to see you. Thank you very much for being with me.


WOODRUFF: Liz Cheney, the latest polls that we've looked at show John Kerry ahead by something like seven points among women. What does this say about President Bush, who women have had a chance to see in office for the last four years?

CHENEY: Well, I think we've actually seen a number of polls that show the gender gap completely closed.

And the fact that Senator Kerry is spending so much of his time on issues that are important to women I think is surprising for Democrats at this late date in the race. In order for him to win, he would need to be showing a much larger gap in support among women than he's showing. And we think, this time around, both on the economy and on security issues, women really have taken the measure of George Bush, and they feel much more confident that, you know, he means what he says.

They know what they're getting when they vote for George Bush, and, frankly, they're not so sure about Senator Kerry.

WOODRUFF: Well, our Bill Schneider did a look at some of these polls. And his analysis is that Kerry is doing a little better among women than he was a few days ago, he said because of economic and domestic issues, the minimum wage, stem cell and so forth. How do you see it?

CHENEY: Well, I disagree.

I think if you look at economic issues, first of all, you know, women have benefited across the board from things like the president's tax cuts, allowing women to keep more of what they earn. Senator Kerry has voted against marriage penalty relief. He voted against the child tax credit. George Bush has kept his commitments on issues like education, putting in place No Child Left Behind, which Senator Kerry voted for, but now seems to be against.

So I think on issues like the economy, on jobs, women see that this president has got proven results to show. And, on national security, you know, there's just no question. I am a mom myself. Women I meet all over this country, at the end of the day, the most important thing to them is that their president keep their kids safe. And I think, on those issues, George Bush has really done a much better job both in keeping the country safe and in talking with credibility, frankly, about what he would do in the next four years than Senators Kerry and Edwards have.

WOODRUFF: Well, on this question of safety, you know there's a lot of focus today on this new Bush/Cheney campaign ad showing a pack of wolves in a dark woods, a forest, suggesting or saying that John Kerry has voted to weaken America and suggesting that the country wouldn't be safe. Is that going a little bit over the line in terms of what is reality? Do you really believe John Kerry would make the country less safe?

CHENEY: I don't think it's over the line at all.

I think, if you look at Senator Kerry's record, for 20 years in the United States, he came down on the wrong side of every important national security issue. The first time he ran for office, his platform was that no American troops should ever be committed unless they were under the charge of the United Nations.

He has been very clear about saying he wants to take us back to the way that we dealt with terror in the 1990s, dealing with it as a law enforcement and intelligence matter. And what we saw was, that didn't work throughout the 1990s. I think Senator Kerry's policies would weaken this country. It would weaken our response to terror. And I think there's no question but that weakness encourages attack. We need to have a strong, steadfast, courageous leader who will do whatever it takes to keep us safe.

And, in this race, there's no question but that that's George W. Bush.

WOODRUFF: Well, back on the economic question, Senator Kerry is pointing out today, he says, nearly 2.5 million women have fallen into poverty over the last four years. You know, are these numbers that you can really argue with?

CHENEY: Well, I don't know that that is an accurate number, actually.

And I also would say, No. 1, our tax cuts have allowed more women to keep more of what they earn. No. 2, you know, George Bush has said that he is in favor of an increase in the minimum wage if it can be done in a way that doesn't hurt small businesses. And, at the end of the day, nobody wants to work for the minimum wage.

I mean, I think it's great that John Kerry thinks women ought to earn the minimum wage. I think they ought to earn more than that. And I think most women think they ought to earn more than that. We want to make sure that women have every opportunity to get the kind of training, the kind of education they need to truly succeed in this country. So, whether it's on economic issues or security issues, you know, Senator Kerry is reaching out and saying things that don't match his record.

And one thing you know for sure about women is that we have a great sensitivity to sort of phoniness. We know when somebody's being straight with us and when they aren't. And I think that's why you're seeing so many women now come over to the Bush/Cheney ticket in this election.

WOODRUFF: Liz Cheney, a passionate advocate for her father, the vice president, and for George Bush, we thank you very much. Good to see you.

CHENEY: Thanks, Judy. Great to be with you.

WOODRUFF: Take care. Thank you.

CHENEY: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Well, some famous faces are hitting the campaign trail this weekend. Coming up, we'll tell you who's stumping and where they're going.

Plus, the battle for the showdown states. We'll take a look at the latest polls in some must-win states for President Bush and Senator Kerry.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Coming up in about 90 minutes, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, a new Pentagon report says more Iraqis have joined the insurgency. And a lot of the funding for the insurgency is coming through Syria and Saudi Arabia.

A newly-surfaced videotape shows Margaret Hassan, the CARE International official who was kidnapped in Iraq. She begs the British prime minister, Tony Blair, to take steps she says will save her life.

And the Boston Police Department is accepting responsibility for the death of a Red Sox fan. But the mayor says something has to be done about disorderly conduct during sports celebrations.

All those stories, much more coming up later on "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS," 5:00 p.m. Eastern.


WOODRUFF: President Bush goes for the trifecta today. He campaigns in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida, and once again says that John Kerry isn't up to fighting the war on terror. The senator strikes back, and also outlines his plan to help working women as he hits the trail in Wisconsin before heading farther West.

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

George W. Bush and John Kerry have full schedules between now and Election Day, for the most part. And they're also calling on some well-known names to campaign on their behalf. For more, I'm joined by CNN's political editor John Mercurio.

All right. John, only 11 days to go. How are these candidates spending their time?

JOHN MERCURIO, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Two words, Judy: big guns. They're both going to be bringing them out. Between now and Election Day we're going to be seeing a lot of famous people, big names, celebrities, elected officials, what have you. It's just sort of -- it's just sort of that time of year.

I mean, for the past couple of weeks we've been talking about the -- how the campaign has reached a crunch time. Well it's actually in the crunch time right now. And so I think both campaigns, it's just 11 days left, 11 more news cycles for both of these candidates to try to reach these undecided voters and to try to motivate their own bases.

And the best way to do that, of course, is to generate excitement, to build large crowds. And, of course, the best way to do that is with famous people. So that's what they're going to be doing.

WOODRUFF: So who does that mean? What does that mean for John Kerry?

MERCURIO: Well, for John Kerry, next week he's going to be starting -- the focus for him this weekend, of course, is in Florida. Al Gore is going to be campaigning down in Florida with him. We've reported that. And Hillary Clinton is also going to be holding rallies, both of them, I think in south Florida. Get out the vote rallies across the state.

WOODRUFF: So a connection for Gore.

MERCURIO: Right, a special connection for Gore. I mean, he's not exactly a crowd builder. He's not exactly the most inspiring speaker.

He endorsed Howard Dean in the primary, and he hasn't been very active in the Kerry campaign. But I think, as you said, I mean, nobody better reminds Florida voters, Florida Democrats, about 2000 than Al Gore. And that's one of the big motivators for them.

You know, two other names I think we should mention, two pop icons who are going to be out for Kerry this weekend, Cher and Rosie O'Donnell, both doing efforts for him in south Florida. But the big event is going to be on Monday in Philadelphia, obviously. Bill Clinton making a comeback, making a return to the campaign trail after six weeks of recuperating from heart surgery.

The big effort here, of course, is turnout. Turnout in 2000 for Al Gore in the Philadelphia area, which was -- turnout 2000 was what put him over the top in Pennsylvania. They're going to be doing that again for Kerry. Clinton also campaigning throughout the rest of the week in New Mexico and in Florida.

WOODRUFF: All right, as Kelly Wallace was telling us a few minutes ago. John, what about George Bush? How does he counter all the star power?

MERCURIO: Well, the big name that we're hearing next week obviously is Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is going to be making his first and his last major campaign event for George Bush.

WOODRUFF: Only one?

MERCURIO: He's only doing one from what we're hearing. Obviously, he spoke at the Republican Convention in New York.

He's going to be speaking in Ohio, which is a state he calls his second home. He owns real estate there. He campaigned for Bush's father in 1998 -- 1988 and 1992 in the state, so he's going to be there. George Bush also making Ohio his second home. He's promised over the next 11 days to campaign in all of Ohio's 12 media markets. In fact, the campaign says that there will be someone, a Bush surrogate of some sort in Ohio, almost every day for the next 11 days. Whether that's Liddy Dole, Bob Dole, Bill Frist, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, they're all going to be there.

WOODRUFF: I see Zell Miller down there.

MERCURIO: Zell Miller will also be there, exactly.

WOODRUFF: OK. John Mercurio, our political editor. You're a very busy guy these days.

MERCURIO: So are you.

WOODRUFF: That's right. We're all looking forward to November 2. Thank you very much.

MERCURIO: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: All right. We have a special blue state poll edition of our "Campaign News Daily" right now.

The Mason-Dixon Polling Group has released seven new surveys in states that Al Gore won in 2000. President Bush leads in three states, Senator Kerry in three states. One state dead even.

Among the findings, Bush has a six-point lead over Kerry in Iowa, 49 percent to 43. And the president leads by five points in New Mexico, 49 to 44 percent.

Bush has a smaller edge in Minnesota, where he has a two-point advantage, 47 to 45 percent. It's also very close in Oregon, where Kerry has a one-point edge, 47 to 46 percent.

The Mason-Dixon Survey gives Kerry a one-point lead. Also in Michigan, 47 percent to 46 percent. And Kerry has a one-point edge in Pennsylvania as well, where the race stands at 46 percent to 45 percent.

Finally, in Wisconsin, it's a dead heat, Bush 45 percent, Kerry 45 percent. And one new poll from a red state, in this case the coveted 20 electoral votes in Ohio, the latest CNN-"USA Today"-Gallup poll giving John Kerry a six-point lead among registered voters. It's a tighter race among likely voters, however, with a Kerry lead by just a single point.

Well, from campaign rallies to speeches on health care and the war on terror, and even a trip to the woods to hunt geese, those are just a few of the most recent highlights in the race for the White House and part of our look back at "The Week That Was."


BUSH: Senator Kerry was recently asked how September the 11th had changed him. He replied, "It didn't change me much at all." And this unchanged world view becomes obvious when he calls the war against terror primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation, rather than what I believe.

KERRY: I will fight...

BUSH: A war which requires...

KERRY: ... a smarter, more effective tougher war on terror. We will hunt down and capture and kill the terrorists no matter where they are. But we will conduct the critical diplomacy that this administration has failed to do.

BUSH: I believe health care ought to be in a common sense approach.

KERRY: It's wrong to tell scientists that they can't cross the frontiers of new knowledge.

BUSH: We ought to be worried about a health care system that moves people from private care to federally-controlled health care.

KERRY: We will change this policy, and we will lead the world in stem-cell research.

RICHARD CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I understand he bought a new camouflage jacket for the occasion. My -- my personal opinion is that his new camo jacket is an October surprise.

EDWARDS: The vice president, Dick Cheney, came to Ohio yesterday to say that all of you should be worried about the possibility of a nuclear bomb being used in a major city in the country. Did you see that? Listen, this is the height of hypocrisy.

BUSH: My opponent's record is 20 years of out-of-the-mainstream votes. Instead of articulating a vision or positive agenda for the future, the senator's relying on a litany of complaints and old-style scare tactics.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Both candidates are now using fear tactics. And my fear, honest to god, my fear is that one of them will get elected.

KERRY: There's already been an October surprise. The Red Sox are still alive.


WOODRUFF: That's a look back at the political week that was.

Well, concerns about voting rights and voter fraud. Up next, a new poll on how African-Americans view the voting process and an update on what Florida is doing to prevent fraud on Election Day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: There's a new poll that finds a majority of African- Americans are not confident, they say, that their votes will be counted in the presidential race. "The Wall Street Journal"-NBC News survey finds 52 percent of blacks say that it is very or somewhat likely that they will be disenfranchised, compared to 20 percent of whites. At the same time, some 44 percent of Republicans say they are concerned about voter fraud, while 28 percent of Democrats voice similar concerns.

Meantime, Florida officials are receiving so many complaints about potential fraud that they have set up a statewide taskforce to investigate them. Most of the complaints reportedly involve forms turned in by groups that hire people to register new voters.

We've just received some updated statistics released by Florida's secretary of state. They show that there are more than 1.4 million more voters registered in Florida this year than there were in 2000, bringing the total number of registered voters to about 10.3 million in that state.

Well, it all adds up to the possibility, the possibility of even more legal wrangling on November 2 and beyond. And to talk about the potential problems, the state of the campaign in general, we're joined again by a trio of our regular contributors: Liz Marlantes, of the "Christian Science Monitor"; Peter Beinart, of "The New Republic"; and Jonah Goldberg, of "The National Review Online."

Jonah, to you first. Let's talk about first the state of the race. The polls are showing it's pretty close to dead even. What is your sense? Where is this race?

JONAH GOLDBERG, "NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE": Well, I think you're right, the polls are so close. Most of my colleagues, they're sort of like those monkeys in cocaine trial studies, trying to refresh the numbers just one more time on their Web browsers.

I think, though, at the end of the day, most conservatives I know, most Republicans I know, feel pretty good, vis-a-vis two weeks ago that Bush is looking better. I think the fact, one of the more encouraging signs is that Bush is started to poll much better than expected among African-Americans. Which I don't think means he's going to do very well among African-Americans, but I think it shows a fundamental lack of support for Kerry among the most important part of his base. And I think that's probably good news.

WOODRUFF: Liz, what is your reporting telling you?

LIZ MARLANTES, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR": Well, the Kerry campaign has been -- has been telling reporters today again very hard that they want reporters to look at the polls in battleground states. That this is an electoral college election, obviously not a national popular vote election. And so don't look at the national polls, look at the polls in battleground states, where he is doing better, by and large.

Many polls have him actually up in battleground states. And so obviously it is really close.

I would say just, based on sort of gut instinct, there's a feeling that Kerry might actually be closing a little bit right now. It's unclear. Obviously, there's just very small shifts in both directions that we've seen.

But there was a new AP poll out today that showed the national race tied. And there's just a feeling that in some ways Kerry's the one who wants more time right now. That Bush -- Bush would like the election to happen today, and Kerry could actually benefit if he can pull it out, get a little more time, that he might actually be able to pull ahead.

WOODRUFF: Peter, what's your sense of it?

PETER BEINART, "THE NEW REPUBLIC": I basically agree with that. I think if you step back from the day-to-day polls, you look at the fact that historically undecided voters tend to go to the -- to the challenger, not to the incumbent, you look at the fact that there's been larger registration advantages in Democratic areas, particularly in the Midwestern battleground states than in Republican areas, and you look at the enormous level of Democratic enthusiasm, which I think is palpable, you see that Al Gore outperformed the polls in 2000. And the fact that George W. Bush has had trouble getting over that 50 percent approval rating threshold, which is often a critical test for an incumbent, I think that says it's still John Kerry's race to win if he closes strong.

MARLANTES: There is strong Republican enthusiasm, also. One of the things to note.

There's been early voting in several states already. And in Nevada, for example, which is a state that is a battleground state, where Kerry is visiting today, Republicans actually seem to be doing slightly better than their registration levels in the early voting, at least, than Democrats.

GOLDBERG: And Bush in some latest is doing surprisingly well in Michigan and in Iowa. Again, it's all within the margin of error, and a lot of these things have just become so infuriating trying to talk about trends.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about the concerns about whether something could go wrong on Election Day, either voter fraud or miscounting. I mean, you've got Republicans saying they're worried about voter fraud. You've got Democrats saying they're worried votes aren't going to be counted. Where are we in all this?

GOLDBERG: Well, I actually think the Democrats are conducting a fairly outrageous campaign, where you have (INAUDIBLE) holders from their election taskforce saying that, no matter what, if all the votes were properly counted Kerry would automatically win. He said that categorically.

You have them saying that there are these instances of suppression, then when you question them about it, it turns out they don't actually have any evidence about it. John Kerry goes around -- and there's been so little truth-squading on this -- saying time and time again that never again will one million African-Americans be disenfranchised.

One million African-Americans weren't disenfranchised, unless you want to go back to Jim Crow or slavery. But he's talking about 2000, and there's just no evidence of that being so. And I think it's a fairly outrageous and cynical campaign they're running.


BEINART: Well, "disenfranchised" would not be the word I would use. But we do know that, for instance, in Duval County, in northern Florida last year, over 50 percent of the ballots that were -- that were not, that were disqualified for some reason or another were from African-Americans.

Now, you can say what -- you can have a debate of what the reason is, but I think the larger point is this: we knew we had a huge problem in this country in 2000. We have not fixed it.

We should have in every county in America by now electronic voting machines that you can get a paper slip, go out, and you know that you voted for the person you said you voted for. We haven't done it. We've basically fallen -- Congress has fallen down on this job. And with a huge increase of new voters, who may overwhelm the polls, particularly in urban areas, we're setting ourselves up for a very, very messy Election Day.

WOODRUFF: So Liz, does that make it inevitable, that we're going to have problems?

MARLANTES: I mean, no. We don't know exactly what we're dealing with yet. That's the one thing to keep in mind.

There have been allegations on both sides, and there are investigations on both sides, but nothing has come to a conclusion yet that has shown widespread examples. A lot of it has been anecdotal.

Like one example of a dead man being registered in Ohio type of thing. Very small, very anecdotal in terms of what they've actually found so far. Though, again, there are investigations.

So it's not clear that there will necessarily be huge problems. The point to note is that there are huge numbers of new registrations. And that is something that, even if it's unintentional, there might be messiness associated with that.

WOODRUFF: New -- so if there are a lot of new registrations, I'm hearing Democrats think that's great for them. I mean, is that necessarily the case?

GOLDBERG: Yes, although -- but -- and I haven't looked at the data recently, but the last time I checked this, that -- the relationship between new registrations and new voters is much softer than a lot of people seem to think. And I do think there -- I think it's right that you should guess that new registrations would help Democrats, especially because Bush as the incumbent and all of that. But I think people underestimate the level of Republican enthusiasm out there, as well.

WOODRUFF: Very quick answer.

BEINART: Well, we know that in the Midwestern states, in particular, there have been more registration in Democratic areas. And I think if the Democratic groups are good enough to get these guys registered, they're probably good enough to get a lot of them to the polls.

The question is, can the polling places handle the surge of new voters who may not be on the rolls, who may not be familiar with this process? We have a responsibility, a bipartisan responsibility, it seems to me, to be able to get them to be able to vote fairly.

WOODRUFF: A whole lot of unanswered questions. We have to leave it there.

Peter Beinart, Liz Marlantes, Jonah Goldberg, great to see all three of you. Thanks very much. Talk to you again before the election.

Well, some U.S. Senate races are tighter than many experts had predicted. Up next, our Bruce Morton tracks the races that could determine if Republicans hold onto their slim majority in the Senate.


WOODRUFF: The small Republican majority in the Senate could be overturned if Democrats manage to score a few upset victories on Election Day. Our Bruce Morton reports, however, that while their chances have improved in some states, the Democrats face difficult odds in their effort to regain control of the Senate.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The U.S. Senate, 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats, and one Independent who votes with the Democrats. Can they gain enough seats to take control? They'll gain at least one in Illinois.

ALAN KEYES (R), ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE: You don't want to let black Americans know that you all have hyped up a candidate who actually supports a holocaust against the black community.

MORTON: Republican Alan Keyes, twice a failed Senate candidate in Maryland, where he lives, now running in Illinois, and 50 points behind there. His Democratic opponent, Barack Obama, is calmer.

BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm running against bad policy. But I'm running for a broader vision of the country.

MORTON: They'll win that one. Elsewhere, the Democrats have strong candidates in Republican states where the GOP candidates have said some odd things.

Colorado, where Republican Pete Coors of the brewery family came out for lowering the drinking age. Tom Coburn in Oklahoma, denouncing lesbianism in the schools and so on.

STUART ROTHENBERG, "ROTHENBERG POLITICAL REPORT": And Jim Bunting (ph) in Kentucky putting his foot in his mouth every other week. And the question is whether the fundamental partisanship of these states, these Republican states, outweigh the mistakes that the Republicans are making.

MORTON: Then there's Alaska, where Republican Lisa Murkowski must overcome voter resentment because her father, now governor, appointed her to succeed him in the Senate. But the best race may be South Dakota, solidly pro-Bush, but a battleground between Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle and challenger John Thune, who lost the 2002 Senate race by just 524 votes. They've debated.

JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA SENATE CANDIDATE: We need a new model. We need change down there. And, you know, Tom's been in office for 26 years. Shannon County is still the poorest county per capita in America.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D), SOUTH DAKOTA: You know, my father once said that it's so easy to knock a barn down. It's a lot harder to build one. Sometimes, John, I think is comfortable knocking barns down. I think it's important for both of us to offer constructive ideas on how to build one.

ROTHENBERG: Daschle's charismatic, so is Thune. Daschle's articulate, so is Thune. Daschle's a terrific campaigner, so is Thune.

It's a Republican state that likes its member of the Senate, Tom Daschle, and the clout that he brings. Adds up to a very, very close race.

MORTON: Where might Republicans gain seats? In the South. Democratic incumbents retired in five southern states, and that's the GOP's strongest region.

ROTHENBERG: The south is a problem for the Democrats once again. Certainly North and South Carolina are significant problems. Georgia's probably lost. Florida is a toss-up.

MORTON: And Louisiana? It's never elected a Republican senator, but Republican David Vitter leads in all the polls. But this is a primary there. If Vitter gets a majority, he's the new senator. If he doesn't, he faces a December runoff with whichever Democrat finishes second. And control of the Senate could remain in doubt until then.

(on camera): Overall, though, the odds favor continued Republican Senate control. For the Democrats to take over, all the close races have to go their way.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Thank you, Bruce.

From Capitol Hill today, an update on the politics of flu shots. Republican House and Senate leaders announced that a shipment of the flu vaccine intended for people working on the Hill will be donated to D.C. hospitals and the District of Columbia's health department. This comes after questions were raised about lawmakers and others on the Hill getting flu shots, given the current shortage of the vaccine and the need to inoculate high-risk Americans first.

Well, top Bush and Kerry campaign officials going head-to-head in our final half-hour of INSIDE POLITICS.

Plus, dollars, cents and jobs. How might unemployment affect the race in the battleground states?

That and more when we come back.


WOODRUFF: As the financial 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, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hi, Judy. Thank you.

The Dow Jones Industrial slumping to the lowest level of the year, as oil prices closed above $55 a barrel for the first time ever. As the final trades are now being counted, the Dow Jones Industrial's down almost 112 points, at 9754.27. These, of course, are not the final numbers as they reconcile all of the trades on the day.

Technology stocks leading the losers sending the Nasdaq Composite down by 35 points. A broad base selloff today. Losing issues topping gainers by a two to one margin. Microsoft and Amazon reported strong earnings. But their stock prices slumped nonetheless. Google bucking the trend. Its shares up more than $24 after the company posted strong earnings.

Crude oil climbing 70 cents a barrel today settling at a record $55.17 a barrel. This latest rise in prices comes on deepening concern about winter heating oil supplies which are 12 percent below last year's levels heading into winter while demand is higher and rising.

Marsh & McLennan looking to settle its role that -- New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's investigation into alleged corruption in the insurance industry. Several reports saying that chairman and CEO Jeff Greenberg will be forced by the board of directors to step down. After taking on the insurance companies and the mutual fund industry and Wall Street, Spitzer has now set his sights on a new target: The music industry. Spitzer has subpoenaed a large music company, a roster of executives including EMI and Warner Music, part of an investigation into how the major labels influence which songs are played on the radio and how often. Spitzer wants to know whether the top music labels are paying fees to middle men who pitch songs to radio stations and obviously that would be against the law.

Coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" democracy at risk. Our special report. Huge armies, thousands of attorneys are standing by to contest the presidential election on every issue from provisional ballots to voter intimidation and outright fraud. This legal battle which so many of us had hoped to avoid this year has already begun in a number of the battleground states.


ELLIOT MINCBERG, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: We hope to have as many as 25,000 volunteers of which we hope 5,000 will be lawyers and law students at polls predominantly in minority areas on election day.


DOBBS: This of course happening on both the Republican and Democratic side. Also on tonight's show, more on democracy at risk. Some of the battleground states are plagued with voter integrity problems that are sure to spark some of those legal battles. We'll be telling you which states and what is involved.

Our weekly heroes report. Tonight we look a look at Eric Castro who lost a leg during the fighting in Iraq but is, in point of fact, spending his time now returning to civilian life. And I'll be joined as well by James Zogby the head of the Arab-American Institute. We'll be talking about why he has thrown his support behind Senator John Kerry. Others in the Arab-American community however supporting the president.

All of that and more, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Now back to Judy Woodruff -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Lou, let me quickly ask you about something we're watching out on the campaign these days and that is John Kerry's attempt to build up his support among women voters. The polls do show that there's a gender gap in his favor among women. What's your sense of that?

DOBBS: Two things going on, Judy. I think as you well know, one is that for the first time we're seeing a little bit of a break in the Democratic candidate among married women who are going to President Bush, primarily interested in national security issues and overall working women more interested in taxes and economic issues.

So, we have seen a little break. Senator Kerry is trying to address that issue through his statements whether it be on stem-cell research which is critically important to higher educated working women in this country.

WOODRUFF: OK, Lou. I know it's an issue we're all keeping an eye on or issues, I should say, between now and election day. Lou, thank you very much.

INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


BUSH: Just seems like yesterday I was here in Wilkes-Barre. Come to think of it, I was.

ANNOUNCER: President Bush and Senator Kerry keep stomping in the crucial showdown states. So where do the candidates go from here? Two top campaign advisers face off right here on INSIDE POLITICS.

KERRY: You now know what the October surprise is. The Red Sox are still alive and on their way to the World Series.

ANNOUNCER: But can Boston's other hometown hero pull off a November surprise?


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

WOODRUFF: Welcome back. With just 11 days to go, George Bush and John Kerry are trying to cover as much campaign ground as they can and pick up votes along the way. Kerry is reaching out to women voters as he barnstorms through Wisconsin and Nevada before spending the night in Colorado.

With John F. Kennedy's daughter at his side, Kerry accused Bush of jilting women by giving them, quote, "false assurances of good jobs and equal pay."

President Bush is unveiling a retooled stump speech in three showdown states today, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida. Bush's message essentially boils down to this. He charges that Kerry is weak on the war on terror and strong on raising taxes. The Bush camp also is going after Kerry on terror in a dramatic new campaign ad. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" take a closer look at a spot titled "Wolves."


HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": John Kerry may be out hunting geese these days but the Bush team thinks a better metaphor for this campaign is wolves. In a bit of animal symbolism the president believes these scary predators represent a threat to America in an age of terrorism. The Bush spot is reminiscent of one run by president Reagan which portrayed the Soviet threat as a bear.

NARRATOR: Some people say the bear is tame. Others say it is vicious. And dangerous. Since no one can be sure who is right, isn't it smart to be as strong as the bear? KURTZ: This is a card that most incumbents play casting doubt on a challenger's ability to serve as commander-in-chief. Bush's father used footage of the Persian Gulf War to raise questions about Bill Clinton and his draft avoidance saying in a world where we're just one unknown dictator away from the next major crisis, who do you most trust to be sitting in this chair?

LBJ raised the specter of a nuclear holocaust if Barry Goldwater was elected in a commercial so devastating it was shown only once. The Bush ad seizes on a 1994 proposal by Kerry.

NARRATOR: Even after the first terrorist attack on America, John Kerry and the liberals in Congress voted to slash America's intelligence operations by $6 billion.

KURTZ: But the Kerry reduction would have been just $1 billion a year over six years. A Kerry spokesman accusing Bush of fearmongering notes that a Republican congressman pushed even deeper intelligence cutbacks that year. His name is Porter Goss Bush's new head of the CIA. On the other hand 75 senators voted against Kerry's post-Cold War proposal a decade ago.

What the Bush campaign is looking for is a haunting image that will reinforce any doubts voters might have about John Kerry's approach to national security. The Kerry camp hopes voters will look at their man, a decorated Vietnam veteran, and conclude that the president is just crying wolf. Howard Kurtz, CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."


WOODRUFF: Now a battleground snapshot of the employment picture and its potential effect on the presidential race. New numbers out today show Michigan as a showdown state that has lost the most jobs. More than 240,000 since President Bush took office. Ohio lost nearly as many jobs and eight other battleground states saw net job losses. Florida gained the most jobs, 290,000 of any showdown state since Bush became president, Nevada, New Mexico and West Virginia are the only other battlegrounds that have gained jobs during Bush's tenure.

Time now for our daily check of the poll of polls. When we averaged together 11 national surveys that are out this past week, we find Bush with 48 percent support to 46 percent for John Kerry. Bush's lead has narrowed in recent days as new polls showing a closer race were averaged into the poll of polls. We are expecting a new crop of surveys in the coming days for a fresh poll of polls next week. Every day we'll be telling you what it is.

The closer it gets, the harder the Bush and Kerry camps are going after one another. Up next, the Bush camp's Matthew Dowd and the Kerry campaign's Tad Devine go at each other over the state of the race.

And the crowd is going wild and so is our Bill Schneider for the "Political Play of the Week."


WOODRUFF: This item just in to CNN from the Associated Press out of Minnesota. And that is former Governor Jesse Ventura letting it be known today that he is endorsing John Kerry for president. Jesse Ventura, of course, an independent. He did not endorse anyone in 2000. But today, word comes down he will endorse the Democrat.

So, 11 days until America votes. National polls still showing that this is a toss up. And when it comes to state and issues polling, both sides are saying they have reason for optimism.

Joining us now from the two campaigns: Tad Devine, senior Kerry strategist; and Matthew Dowd, senior Bush strategist.

Matthew Dowd, is this going to give you any headaches in Minnesota that Jesse Ventura is siding with the other guy?

MATTHEW DOWD, SR. BUSH STRATEGIST: Well, Jesse Ventura's an independent guy. And he decides what he wants to do on his own. And I don't think this race is about whether Jesse Ventura or somebody else, a former governor, a former elected official -- it's a choice between John Kerry and George Bush.

And the differences are fundamental, and the leadership there is so different that I don't think it matters who endorses on either side.

WOODRUFF: Tad Devine, today our analyst Ron Brownstein is quoting analysts as saying John Kerry has essentially given up on the south and he's focusing on the west, focusing on Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico. But what evidence does your campaign have that that's going to pay off?

TAD DEVINE, SR. KERRY STRATEGIST: Well, first, I consider Florida part of the south. And we certainly haven't given up there.

WOODRUFF: Well, other than Florida.

DEVINE: OK. You know, Judy, we're running a national campaign in all regions of the country. I think there are a lot of states like Colorado, which are a big surprise -- Nevada -- where we're doing very, very well. We're competing everywhere, sometimes on the ground -- obviously where we're spend time with our candidate and on television. Those are the most competitive states.

We think we've got a campaign that can win in all regions of the country, including the south. The biggest prize there that's competitive is Florida, and we think we're going to win it.

WOODRUFF: Well, let's talk about one of the states that both of you want -- well, you both want all the states -- but Ohio, Matthew Dowd, the new jobs numbers out today confirm what I guess everybody suspected, that there has been a massive loss of jobs in that state. Our latest poll shows Kerry up by a little bit in Ohio among likely voters.

What is it that President Bush has to do to turn this around?

DOWD: I think Ohio was close last time. It was only won by three points in the final analysis. The polls were close in the month of October until the very end. I think part of the jobs numbers, I think we added -- Ohio added about 6,000 jobs in the last month. So, the news is going -- more needs to be done.

This race was always going to be close in Ohio. The Kerry folks know that. We knew that. Florida was going to be close, Pennsylvania's close, Michigan close. There's eight or 10 states that are fairly, fairly close. The good news for us is more of the close states are Gore states as opposed to Bush states. But in a tight race, we knew we had to fight over Ohio.

WOODRUFF: Well, Tad Devine, that is a problem for you. The close states are Gore states, right?

DEVINE: Well, I don't think Ohio was a Gore state. And unfortunately, the votes couldn't get counted in Florida, and that was red state last time, too.

Look, Judy, Ohio -- job loss in Ohio is not a myth. Despite what Matt may think or what the secretary of the Treasury said the last time he visited Ohio, Ohio, Michigan, a lot of other states have experienced significant job loss. The statistics of this are the proof. And the reason for it is that this president's economic policies have failed the nation.

I think the people in those states and others want to go in a new direction. That's what this election is about -- the chance for a fresh start, to head in a new direction, and follow policies that will stop the outsourcing of jobs and create jobs here in America.

WOODRUFF: Matthew Dowd, John McCain said today -- or yesterday that he thinks this campaign is the ugliest, dirtiest campaign he's ever seen. Is he right about that?

DOWD: I've been through a lot of political campaigns and read a lot of books on political campaigns. I just don't agree with that. I think there are some big difference on some big issues in this campaign. Who's going to protect the American people best in the policies? Who's going to keep taxes low? Who's going to make sure healthcare is not a big government problem?

I don't think this is a dirty campaign. There's been times when ads have been aired by third parties that are probably inappropriate. But I think in the history of politics in this country, there's been times when there's been outrageous things said. I just don't think this is one of them.

WOODRUFF: Tad Devine, I want to -- I'm jumping around a lot here.


WOODRUFF: So, please forgive me. But we know that John Kerry was wearing camouflage and out shooting geese yesterday. The other campaign pretty much went after that on him. The president said he can run, but he can't hide from his real record voting against the rights of gun owners.

DEVINE: Well, listen, John Kerry is a gun owner. He's a hunter. He's someone who's hunted his whole life. He's used weapons in war, you know, as well as hunting. So, they're going to try to scare people. That's what the other side is about.

I mean, I don't know if Senator McCain is right, whether this is the worst campaign of all time. The worse one I ever saw was what the Bush people did to McCain in South Carolina four years ago, but maybe this is getting worse.

But I think people know that John Kerry supports the Second Amendment. He's made that clear. You know, the fact that he was hunting yesterday, I think, is a signal to a lot of people that the scare tactics on the other side just aren't true. Our campaign is about standing up and protecting people, he'll protect gun owners' right, and he'll also protect working women -- and that's what today's events were about.

There are big differences on issues between John Kerry and George Bush on big issues that matter to women. We want to talk about these issues. I think they'll prevail.

WOODRUFF: Well, Matthew Dowd, on the whole question of scaring people, this new ad that your campaign is running with a bunch of wolves in the forest, what are you trying to say there?

DOWD: Well, we're trying to make this -- in the end, we said this is about a choice. And the choice is who's going to best protect this country? What leader and what policies will best protect this country? And the policies of killing weapons system that have helped win the war on terror, cutting intelligence budgets -- and when you television to communicate to the public, you try to do it in an emotional way. And this does that.

And I think, in the end, the public has to ask some fundamental questions. Who is best going to protect them? Who is going to continue to keep taxes low? Who is going to make sure healthcare costs are low? And they have to answer that question. And we believe the choice is clear, and they're going to side with the president in the end. And this ad is just an example of that.

WOODRUFF: And when it comes to lower taxes, Tad Devine, the president today has signed yet another tax cut package -- $136 billion worth that's going to benefit small business people. Why isn't that going to help the president in these last few days before the election?

DEVINE: Judy, I think the president's economic record speaks for itself. I mean, listen, he can sign every tax cut he wants, but the fact is his tax cuts have done this. They shifted the burden of taxation from the wealthiest to the middle class. That's just a fact that the Congressional Budget Office has established. And if we're going to change this economy, if we're going to have one that creates jobs instead of losing them -- and good jobs, too, not the kind of jobs that this president is proud of creating. You know, average families have lost $15,000 a year in income since George Bus became president. That's because the jobs we're creating now pay, on average, $9,000 a year less than the jobs that have been lost.

So, John Kerry believes we can go into a new direction -- invest in stem-cell research, invest in energy independence -- the new technologies, which will create good paying jobs. That's the difference.

WOODRUFF: Matthew Down, a one-word answer. We're out of time.

DOWD: Tad goes on a long monologue. But fundamentally, this is a choice of the American public, who's going to protect them, who's going to keep taxes low, and who's going to keep prosperity going. And I think the answer is clear, it's George W. Bush.

DEVINE: I think they're crying wolf, Judy. That's all I can say.

WOODRUFF: If you wonder what Matthew Dowd's hat says, it's Bush- Cheney: Political Local, right?

DOWD: Yes, it is. BC '04. And any one of your viewers can join it. Just come on down to the campaign.

DEVINE: Right, that's the only union that endorses them, I think.

WOODRUFF: Oh, it's vicious. Tad Devine, Matthew Dowd, thank you both.

DEVINE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll see you next week.

A historic comeback captures the public's imagination. Apparently could it happen in politics, too? Our Bill Schneider explains when he awards the "Political Play of the Week."


WOODRUFF: A challenger from New England makes a stirring comeback. Do you think John Kerry has taken notice? Bill Schneider joins us now with more, so?

SCHNEIDER: Well, you know how everybody talks about the October surprise. If you listen to the Democrats, the October surprise happened. This week. We call it the political play of the week.


KERRY: We know what the October surprise is. The Red Sox are still live and on their way to the World Series. SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Boston fans (ph) say the Red Sox exist to break their hearts. Something like the way Democrats feel about their candidates. The Red Sox haven't won the pennant in nearly 20 years. They haven't won a World Series since 1918. You think the Democrats and Republicans are biter enemies? Try the blood feud between the Yankees and the Red Sox.

CHRIS COFFER, SPORTS TALK IN THE ZONE: So things are different this year for the Red Sox, right? That's what Red Sox fans want to think.

SCHNEIDER: Well, they were. The Sox accomplished a miracle. The first team in more than 100 years of postseason baseball to be down three games to none and then come back to win. They humbled the mighty Yankees.

MARIANO RIVERA, YANKEES' PITCHER: Not being able to win playing out of four, I mean, it's tough.

SCHNEIDER: You think that's tough? Talk to George W. Bush who the polls indicate lost three out of three debates to John Kerry. Democrats met in Boston this year, John Kerry's hometown and Republicans in New York. Well, guess where the Red Sox clinched the pennant Wednesday night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Yankee Stadium. Can you believe that?

SCHNEIDER: Kerry saw an omen.

KERRY: Last night the god of baseball (INAUDIBLE).

SCHNEIDER: Republicans saw a flip-flop.

R. CHENEY: He said his favorite Boston Red Sox player was Eddie Yost but of course Yost never played for the Red Sox.

SCHNEIDER: Politics fans saw a metaphor. The Massachusetts liberals will be going to the World Series. Boston fans were exuberant. Will they be back on the streets next month for another celebration? A world series victory? A Kerry victory? Another political play of the week?


(on camera): Now, imagine if the Houston Astros had won the National League Pennant. Boston versus Houston. The ultimate red/blue showdown. Come to think of it, Missouri voted for Bush in 2000 and it is expected to do it again this year. The metaphor lives.

WOODRUFF: So let's carry out the political scenario here. What is this going to mean for the election?

SCHNEIDER: We're going to have to wait out the World Series next week. That will just add to the suspense not just the campaign but to baseball games.

WOODRUFF: And people will vote depending on who won the series, right?

SCHNEIDER: Some will.

WOODRUFF: Bill Schneider. We like the Sox hat, Bill. Thank you very much. You have to wear the other guys, the St. Louis hat next week.

The late night comics play the presidential campaign for laughs but did Jay Leno feel like he was in the "CROSSFIRE" when our James Carville sat on the couch? Find out just ahead.


WOODRUFF: We try to tell you about all of the polls and we can share with you, we've just learned about the latest "TIME" magazine poll coming out. President Bush has a five-point lead over Senator John Kerry among likely voters. It's 51 percent to 46 percent among registered voters, an even larger lead for the president. 50 percent to 43 percent for John Kerry.

If anyone can hold his own in the quick-witted world of late night television it is CNN's own James Carville. Last night, the "CROSSFIRE" co-host joined Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show." Leno asked Carville about fellow comic Jon Stewart's widely-publicized beef with "CROSSFIRE." Carville responded with his usual Cajun-style candor. To hear what he said, though, you have to stay tuned to "CROSSFIRE." That's next.

But one other note. I'll be back on the campaign trail Monday coming to you live from the CNN Election Express site in Philadelphia. That's where Bill Clinton will be with John Kerry.

That's it for this Friday's INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. Once again, "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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