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Bush Campaign Acknowledges Doctored Photo in Ad; Election Predictions; Ohio Voter Problems An Omen?

Aired October 28, 2004 - 15:00   ET




BUSH: He has taken a lot of different positions.

KERRY: Ignored the facts.

BUSH: He is the wrong man for the wrong job.

KERRY: He shouldn't be our commander-in-chief.

ANNOUNCER: Kerry, Bush, and the campaign CROSSFIRE. The potshots are flying five days before the vote.

Confusion in Columbus. Do preelection problems in Ohio speak to broader ballot concerns nationwide?

Snowbirds for Bush. Some Jewish voters in Florida are undergoing a political conversion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a trend towards the president and stronger than I've ever seen before for a Republican.



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

As if a certain baseball team's victory wasn't enough to get John Kerry's juices flowing today, the Democrat is continuing to seize on the unfolding story of missing explosives in Iraq.

CNN's Frank Buckley reports from Madison, Wisconsin, where Kerry pressed his case to voters less than an hour ago with a little help from the boss.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, MUSICIAN: Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States, John Kerry. FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bruce Springsteen was the warm-up act for Senator John Kerry before a huge crowd that rivaled any Springsteen concert. Kerry in a good mood after his hometown baseball team won the World Series.

KERRY: About a year ago, when things weren't going so well in my campaign, somebody called a radio talk show and they said, thinking they were just cutting me right to the quick, they said John Kerry won't be president until the Red Sox win the World Series.


KERRY: Well, we're on our way. We're on our way.

BUCKLEY: But off came the hat and the gloves as Kerry hit President Bush on Iraq and the missing explosives for the fourth straight day, Kerry responding to the president, who said that the senator couldn't be commander-in-chief because he jumps to conclusions without knowing the facts.

KERRY: They're not where they're supposed to be. You were warned to guard them. You didn't guard them. They're not secure. And guess what? According to George Bush's own words, he shouldn't be our commander-in-chief, and I couldn't agree more.

BUCKLEY: The Kerry campaign also went after Bush surrogate Rudy Giuliani after he said this to NBC's Matt Lauer.

RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), FMR. MAYOR OF NEW YORK: No matter how you try to blame it on the president, the actual responsibility for really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn't they search carefully enough?

BUCKLEY: The Kerry campaign saying that was an example of a -- quote -- "excuse presidency," where the buck stops anyplace but the Oval Office.


BUCKLEY: But the Bush campaign saying that the statement about Rudy Giuliani's comments on "The Today Show," that it was a distortion of Giuliani's comments. And they say that the former New York City mayor was trying to make the point that despite Senator Kerry saying that he's criticizing President Bush, that he is in effect criticizing the troops on the ground.

Meanwhile, the battleground state tour of John Kerry continues. From here, Senator Kerry headed to Columbus, Ohio, with the Boss, with Bruce Springsteen, where Bruce Springsteen is expected to once again perform -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Frank Buckley on the trail with John Kerry, thank you very much.

Well, John Kerry isn't the only one taking off the gloves today. The president put more sting into his verbal jabs at his opponent. Our White House correspondent Dana Bash is traveling with the president.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A closing argument, a speech about leadership.

BUSH: The senator's willingness to trade principle for political convenience makes it clear that John Kerry is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time.


BASH: The president's rhetoric perhaps the harshest to date, asking what the senator's -- quote -- "lack of conviction" would mean.

BUSH: If you make things uncomfortable, if you stir up trouble, John Kerry will back off, and that's a very dangerous signal to send during this time.

BASH: Mr. Bush is also trying to defend against Kerry's relentless attacks he's responsible for missing explosives in Iraq. Kerry aides hope it's going to sway undecideds skeptical about the war. Bush aides say the senator is jumping to conclusions on unsubstantiated information.

BUSH: Senator Kerry will say anything to get elected.

BASH: The president's retaliations aimed at what his campaign calls the senator's biggest weak spot. When asked if John Kerry changes issues for political reasons, 65 percent said yes. Only 36 percent said the same of the president.

If leadership's your theme, you can't just talk down your opponents without talking up your own. For this president, that means evoking 9/11, here in unusually lofty terms.

BUSH: I've learned to expect the unexpected, because history can deliver a sudden horror from a soft autumn sky.

BASH: Team Bush is following the classic final-days playbook, create the aura of a winner, a new theme song, packed-in raucous crowds, even confetti.


BASH: But as much as the Bush campaign wants to appear confident, the president's razor-sharp rhetoric today, and it's getting even sharper, perhaps is evidence that they're not that confident, that they're perhaps a little bit nervous that Senator Kerry's attacks on the president's leadership in Iraq could stick.

To that end, Judy, President Bush has here in Ohio a guest, and that is Tommy Franks, the general who, of course, prosecuted the war in Iraq. And he introduced Mr. Bush with a very, very sharp, a very clear, direct attack on John Kerry, essentially saying that John Kerry is accusing the president of being responsible for these missing explosives, when it's not clear that he is. And he said that Senator Kerry is somebody who's willing to do that and President Bush is somebody who's going to wait until he has all the facts -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: And, Dana, again, on what the Democrats are seizing on, Rudy Giuliani's comment today that the missing explosives were the responsibility of the troops in Iraq, what is the Bush camp saying about that?

BASH: Well, I just talked to a senior aide who said that perhaps Mayor Giuliani did not use the most elegant or eloquent terms in trying to describe what they hope or they think he was trying to say, which is that it's not the president's fault, that we don't know whose fault it is because the facts simply aren't there, and that perhaps he didn't say it exactly how the Bush campaign would have had him say it had they been able to script it -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Dana Bash with the president in Ohio.

And, Dana, we want to listen in a little closer right now because the president is speaking this moment. This is Westlake, Ohio. We'll listen in.


BUSH: ... began gaining ground as an anti-war candidate.

The senator decided he had to appeal to that wing of his party. So he voted against the troops, after voting to put them at risk in the first place. The senator was all for removing Saddam Hussein when we went into Baghdad and very supportive when we captured him. After all, the polls showed that was popular at the time.


BUSH: When the going got tough, when we faced determined opposition and things were not quite so popular, the senator suddenly wasn't quite so supportive. In fact, he changed his mind entirely, deciding it was the wrong war at the wrong place and the wrong time.

The voters of Ohio must ask these questions. What does that lack of conviction say to our troops who are risking their lives in the vital cause?


BUSH: What does it say to our allies who have joined that cause? And what does this lack of conviction signal to our enemies? That if you make things uncomfortable, if you stir up trouble, John Kerry will back off. And that's a very dangerous signal in a world of grave threats.

The president must be consistent. The president must stand for something.


BUSH: Just this week, Senator Kerry showed his willingness to put politics ahead of the facts and the truth. He criticized our military's handling of explosives in Iraq, when his own advisers admitted he did not know what had happened.

His spokesman has now had to acknowledge that the explosives may have been moved before our troops ever arrived. A president needs to get all the facts before jumping to politically motivated conclusions.


BUSH: The senator's willingness to trade principle for political convenience makes it clear that John Kerry's the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time.


WOODRUFF: President Bush speaking to a crowd in Westlake, Ohio. And, of course, we've been carrying portions of John Kerry's speeches throughout the day. We are watching both the candidates and trying to pick up on what they are saying at every stop.

Well, both Bush and Kerry are driving home their 11th-hour themes in new campaign ads. A new Bush campaign spot called "No Limit" portrays Kerry as a flip-flopper who will say anything to get elected. The Kerry camp ad called "Your Hands" features Kerry summing up some of the top campaign issues and the choice for voters on November 2.

In the countdown to Election Day, there are growing concerns about Florida-like problems at polling places all over the country. Right now, the U.S. Justice Department is preparing to step in, in a big way.

Let's bring in our justice correspondent Kelli Arena.

Kelli, what are they doing?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the Justice Department is sending nearly 1,100 federal observers and monitors to 86 separate jurisdictions in 25 states, among those, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Dakota, and Florida. No surprises there.

This year's contingent is nearly three times as large as it was in 2000. In fact, it's the largest ever. Justice officials insist that they are not sending prosecutors to polling locations, saying that that could intimidate some voters.

Now, interestingly, Justice didn't lay out the reasons why they chose the jurisdictions that they did, much to the consternation of civil rights advocates, who say that they're not sure whether the government is responding to their concerns. But, generally, officials have said that they're going to locations where there were problems before or where there's good reason to expect problems this time around. Now, federal watchers will be on the lookout for things like voters being challenged improperly because of race, color, or language skills and permitting voters who are disabled the assistance that they deserve. They'll also be on the lookout for criminal activity, including vote buying or things like absentee-ballot fraud, Judy.

WOODRUFF: So, Kelli, no idea about why they've chosen -- we know there are hundreds of thousands of polling places around the country, and they're sending out 1,100 people.

ARENA: Right.

Well, it is a massive effort. And in their defense, some of the voting rights groups that we've spoken to said that they are impressed with the number of people that are heading out and with the jurisdictions chosen. But they said they really wanted more transparency from the Justice Department to say, hey, we heard you. This is why we're going. And Justice hasn't provided that yet.

WOODRUFF: So do we know exactly where they're going?

ARENA: Yes, we do. We have every single county, every single state.

WOODRUFF: OK, Kelli Arena.

ARENA: And they can add to that. They can add to that if they choose.

WOODRUFF: Between now and the Election Day.

ARENA: Between now and the Election Day, yes.


All right, Kelli Arena, our justice correspondent, thank you.

ARENA: You're welcome.

WOODRUFF: For better or worse, 2004 may be remembered as the year of early voting. An Associated Press poll found 11 percent of voters nationwide had already cast votes as of last weekend in the 32 states that offer some form of early balloting. And another 11 percent said they plan to vote before November 2.

But there have been glitches. In Florida, Broward County election officials are sending out a second batch of absentee ballots today, after the first batch apparently got lost in the mail. Election workers and the Postal Service still are trading blame for the disappearance of thousands of ballots.

In Pennsylvania, two soldiers serving abroad have filed a motion to force the state to accept absentee ballots from overseas that are received after Tuesday's election. Absentee ballots were late in going out in Pennsylvania because of wrangling over whether Ralph Nader would be on the ballot. Ohio also has voting issues before the courts. We're going to discuss those problems ahead on the program.

Well, in these closing days of the campaign, the presidential candidates going at it tooth and nail. Coming up, tough questions for Tad Devine of the Kerry camp and later for Ken Mehlman of the Bush camp.

Also ahead, the electoral map. Has either candidate gained new ground?

And later, it was the title of a book-turned-movie. Could the 2004 battleground also be dubbed the color purple?

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


WOODRUFF: A quick check now of our poll of polls. With no new movement to report in individual surveys, the average of all the latest national presidential polls looks like this: Bush 49 percent to Kerry's 47 percent. The poll of polls has held pretty steady in recent days, essentially back where it was before the presidential debates.

Well, joining us now from the Kerry campaign and their perspective on the state of the race, Tad Devine, senior strategist for the Kerry/Edwards team.

Tad Devine, in almost every single battleground state we've seen in the last few days, the polls have shifted, whether it's Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida. How -- OK, take a deep breath. No spin. How do you see John Kerry getting to 270 next Tuesday?

TAD DEVINE, SR. JOHN KERRY CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, I see John Kerry winning a clear and convincing victory next Tuesday. I see him winning in red states, I think Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, for example, in the Eastern Time Zone, great examples of that.

I see us winning out West. I think we can win Nevada, for example, and other states that the president won last time. So I see a clear path to victory. I think it's built on a couple of things, one, the fact that people in those states and many others don't feel that the president's done a good job, and, two, that John Kerry established himself as a credible alternative to the president, particularly during the debates.

WOODRUFF: Well, I hear you say -- let's just get down to Florida. The polls are showing the president ahead in Florida. What makes you so confident?

DEVINE: Well, I guess, first, we have our own research. And we follow the state very closely, and we're confident we have a small, but important lead there right now. Second, there's been a lot of polling in the state. I think the president's problem in Florida is that he never really convinced the people of that state that he deserved to win in the first place. I mean, I think his policies are out of sync with the state. I think it's a state that's with an awful lot of senior citizens and they're concerned about Social Security and Medicare. They don't like his prescription drug plan, for example.

They thought they solved that problem. In fact, they made it worse with their plan. So I think Florida and a lot of other states are coming our way. Ohio, it's job losses. A lot of reasons these states are supporting John Kerry, most of them have to do with the fact that George Bush has not done a good job as president.

WOODRUFF: How do you, though, Tad Devine, explain the problems John Kerry is having in states that we thought were going to be reliably Democratic like Michigan, Minnesota?

DEVINE: Well, I think we're in strong shape in both those states.

I mean, listen, the president's gone a good job polarizing the country. We'll give him some political credit for that, and I think he's locked in somewhere in the mid-40s in terms of vote, maybe as high as 47. And when you have that number locked in, it's hard for anyone to pull away. I don't think John Kerry is going to pull away in terms of popular vote.

But I think he will have a clear and convincing victory because the president has not done what he needed to do. He needed to do what he said he would do in 2000, which is to bring the country together, to be a uniter, not a divider. He's done the opposite. This country is more polarized and divided today than it's been in generations.

And so, I think John Kerry is offering the American people a new course, and he's also offering something the president can't do, a president who will defend the nation and fight for the middle class. That's what they want in this president.

WOODRUFF: But the president today is saying -- I mean, he said flat-out John Kerry will say anything to get elected. He was talking about this whole debate over the missing explosives in Iraq.

DEVINE: Well, you know, I think we see in the last week how desperate the president's campaign has become.

I mean, it's obviously the president who's the one in trouble. He's an incumbent president with very bad numbers. He can't get into the 50s, where he needs to be. Today, we saw his chief surrogate, Rudy Giuliani, go on national television and said it's actually the troops in Iraq who are responsible for these 380 tons of high-grade explosives that no one can find. I mean, John Kerry is not blaming the troops.

The responsibility for this lies with the president, the vice president, the civilian leadership of the Pentagon. And it's unfortunate that Mayor Giuliani would say that. I think we need to hear from the president. Does he agree with Mayor Giuliani or not?

WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about something else. Our Bill Schneider, our political analyst who you well know, yesterday did some analysis and showed how John Kerry is losing married voters. He said both men and women are preferring George Bush by 16 points, mainly because they like the president's approach to the war on terror and Iraq and they like the way the economy's going.

How could John Kerry be doing so poorly with such an important segment of the American population?

DEVINE: Well, first, the president won married voters four years ago, and I think, if you look at other demographic characteristics of married voters, you'll see that, you know, there are some reasons that the president would have an advantage with them as a group.

I mean, the president's problem is that he cannot put together a clear majority of vote, that he does not have the support of so many people from so many important segments of our society. There's a big education gap that's developing in this election. There's a huge advantage for John Kerry with younger voters and also with older voters. There's tremendous support for John Kerry with minority voters, African-American, Hispanic voters.

We have put together, I think, a winning coalition in this campaign, and it's built on two things, the disappointment that people have with George Bush's performance, particularly on the economy, on Iraq and health care, and also the feeling that John Kerry has the capacity and strength to be president, the conviction to lead this country in a new direction.

WOODRUFF: All right, an electoral vote number, Tad.

DEVINE: Well, Judy, I think we're going to get over 300 electoral votes. Now, I think it's going to be close. I think it's going to be close in a lot of states, but I think John Kerry's going to win a clear victory next Tuesday.

WOODRUFF: Tad Devine, senior adviser, sounding optimistic, thank you very much.

DEVINE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Good to see you.

And, in the next half hour, in the next hour, I should say, we're going to talk to Ken Mehlman, who is the chairman of the Bush/Cheney campaign, for his take on this election.

It is politics Texas-style taking aim at Republican Tom DeLay. That story is next on INSIDE POLITICS.

Also ahead, a closer look at the state-by-state race for the White House. Find out which ones are still a toss-up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: A pre-Election Day mailing by the Texas Democratic Party has angered House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The mailing shows photos of DeLay and Talmadge Heflin, a fellow Republican running for reelection to the Texas Statehouse. Images of bullet holes are featured, along with the words "Together, we can -- finish off Texas families."

A picture of a family at a dinner table in a sniper's gun scope is also shown with a three-point plan to take care of Texas families. A spokesman for DeLay lashed out at the mailing, saying no political cause justifies tacitly inciting violence. A Texas Democratic Party spokesman confirmed the mailing and says that the party has no regrets.

Well, if the election were held today, who would win? Coming up next, we're going to look at the latest electoral map from "The Hotline."

Plus, what are some of the potential problems we could face on Election Day? I'll ask Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan -- plus, their predictions.

And later, the bitter battle in Ohio over who is allowed to vote. We're going to go live to the Buckeye State and speak with both sides in this fight over voter registration.



WOODRUFF: George Bush brings out the heavy artillery. The president teams up with retired General Tommy Franks as he swings through Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. John Kerry brings out the Boss. The senator takes the stage with Bruce Springsteen as he campaigns in Wisconsin and Ohio.

Welcome back to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff in Washington. You can tell we're getting close to Election Day.

A story has just begun to develop here at CNN, and it has to do with a new television ad put together by the Bush-Cheney campaign. Some questions being raised about the image. One of the images in that ad, an image of many soldiers.

And for the very latest, let's go to our Jeanne Meserve here in Washington -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the ad is called "Whatever It Takes." It was put up yesterday by the Bush campaign, and by today suspicions were being raised about one of the images in that advertisement.

It's a still photograph, perhaps we can take a look at it. It shows a picture of many soldiers who appear to be listening to George W. Bush. The same image appears on the George W. Bush Web site. Suspicions were raised because, if you look at this carefully, you will see that certain soldiers or groups of soldiers appear repeatedly in the photograph, raising the suspicion that this might have been doctored.

Now, initially, Steve Schmidt of the Bush campaign said categorically that nothing had been altered whatsoever. He later revised his comments, and here's why. You see the original photograph, which featured President Bush in the corner.

Now, I did speak to Mark McKinnon, who is the media adviser for the Bush campaign. He says that this was done without authorization by an editor, that the initial instructions had been to crop that photograph. And the editor took the initiative on his own and instead decided to play a little bit with Photoshop and fill in the area where the president had appeared before.

Now, he says there was no intent to deceive here, that this doesn't alter the meaning of the photograph in any way. There were indeed soldiers listening. He says the crowd was even larger than it appears to be in the photograph.

But I asked him if he wished it had not happened. He said yes, he wishes that were indeed the case -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: So Jeanne, just to clarify, how many repetitions are there in this image? And by the way, I'm looking at the Bush-Cheney Web site here on the computer on my desk. How many repetitions are there of -- of one chunk of the picture, I guess you'd say?

MESERVE: Well, we haven't studied this too exhaustively at this point. Maybe we can put back up that photograph we had a moment ago with a group circled.

You see one group appears at least four times, another group appears at least twice. And they do appear to be in that area of the photograph where the president had been appearing.

What's a little bit puzzling, Judy, is that you have to imagine that at an event like this there were hundreds of photographs taken. Why they had to choose this particular one is something of a mystery. Mark McKinnon says they just liked this particular image, despite what was done to it.

WOODRUFF: But Mark McKinnon, again, saying this was the responsibility of a particular editor who works with him, is that right?

MESERVE: That's what he's saying. Not someone who works directly with him, but with another company that they contracted out this work to. He says it was that person's initiative at which the photograph was changed.

WOODRUFF: All right. Jeanne Meserve with the very latest on the questions being raised about this new Bush campaign ad. Jeanne, thank you very, very much.

Well, for a closer look now at the state-by-state race for the White House, I'm joined here in Washington by Chuck Todd. As you all know, he's the editor-in-chief of "The Hotline," an insider's political briefing produced every day by "The National Journal."

All right, Chuck. Let's talk first about your electoral map. What does it look like?

CHUCK TODD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "THE HOTLINE" Well, we make the mistake -- and I say this today because I'm a little nervous about it -- we use public polling. Now, we use reputable public polling, pollsters that we trust or have been known to be trustworthy over the years. But what's remarkable over the last 48 hours is our states of disputed or sort of tied states where we have had polling with two different leaders has just blown up into 10 states now worth 131 electoral votes.

So we've got this thing broken down where Bush only has 217 electoral votes, Kerry with 190, and 131 up for grabs. Now, part of this is, I think, pollsters are just -- it just sort of underscores the fact that pollsters are not understanding this electorate, they're almost afraid to predict it.

And in some ways, we're seeing a lot of tied results, which is just something you don't -- it's statistically very hard to come out with a poll where somebody percentage-wise is exactly tied, and yet we've seen it over and over again, particularly in states like Florida. But we're now seeing it in Hawaii and Arkansas. So either the battleground really is expanding, or pollsters have no idea what this electorate looks like.

WOODRUFF: Boy, these predictions just seem more dangerous than ever, don't they?

TODD: Sure. Now, look, if you believe this, then it goes to that theory that says, all right, we have 131 electoral votes in the undecided category, and if they all go one direction, then we have that quick swing at the end and, you know, people will make over- analysis of it. But it...

WOODRUFF: It might not be so close.

TODD: ... starting to wonder whether polling is as reliable.

WOODRUFF: Well, let's talk about why 10 states are in the disputed column. Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, all of them disputed. Now, we should say they're all in the eastern part of the United States.

TODD: Well, and it's all -- and literally, what's amazing is that within the last 24 hours there's been multiple polls in every one of these states that has either had it tied or had one -- or, you know, a poll with Kerry ahead and another poll from the same state conducted over the same time period with Bush ahead. So either -- there's no -- it's hard to imagine that the electorate is that fluid. And I think it's really underscoring sort of the problem pollsters are having.

You have to assume some sort of turnout, and everybody's afraid to assume a turnout. So I think in some ways it's a little CYAing by these pollsters.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let's talk about the big three that are part of the battleground, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

The conventional wisdom has been that whoever wins two of those three wins the election. But now you're thinking what?

TODD: Well, it's interesting. We were trying to figure out why Bush is in Michigan. You know, he's been there. He's added all these stops to Michigan. Part of it is that some of the Democratic interest groups like ACT have pulled out.

So maybe it's a little bit of a sneak attack. Poll numbers look a little bit better.

But when we were trying to do on the math, like what is he doing there, then we can do the math. It's very possible that if Bush sweeps the upper Midwest, he can lose Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania and still get to 276 as long as he sweeps Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico and then throws in Michigan.

WOODRUFF: But he'd have to win Michigan.

TODD: He'd have to win Michigan, and it's part of this -- but it's sort of like it feels as if the Bush campaign is looking for multiple scenarios to how to get to 270, regardless that they could lose two of the three, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or even lose all three and still have a plausible -- look, this is a plausible scenario. You can't -- none of us can sit here and say it's not implausible.

It's not like we're telling the Bush campaign they have to go win Rhode Island. You know, these are plausible scenarios. So I think it sort of cautioned everybody from drawing -- jumping to conclusions on Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

WOODRUFF: My guess is it's kind of nice for the viewers to be sitting out there watching the experts puzzled and dumbfounded.

TODD: We're going to be surprised. Is there anything wrong with that? Right. Did people poll before Christmas right? No, you want to be surprised.

WOODRUFF: All right. You better believe we're going to keep talking about all of this.

TODD: Absolutely.

WOODRUFF: Chuck Todd with "The Hotline." Thank you very much.

Again, an insider's political briefing produced daily by "The National Journal." And you can go online to for subscription information.

Well, joining me now, our regular duo, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile. She's in Boston today. We know what that town is celebrating.


WOODRUFF: And here in Washington, Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause.

I just tried to put Chuck, you know, on the spot. Let me try to put both of you on the spot.

Who's going to win this election and with how many electoral votes? Let's start out with that, Donna.

BRAZILE: Well, I think it's John Kerry. Look, Ed Gillespie continues to talk about the breeze. Well, that's John Kerry and John Edwards going by George Bush and Dick Cheney.

I predict that John Kerry -- Tad said 300 electoral votes. I think it's closer to 297 electoral votes to Mr. -- the president's 241 electoral votes.

WOODRUFF: All right.

Bay, what do you think?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I think Bush should be very -- I feel much more comfortable today than I did even three or four days ago. You know, you see -- I think there's some real movement out there.

The president's very, very strong with men, and it turns out married women are voting just like the men now. That's kind of a real asset for the president now, to have picked up what usually is a Democratic stronghold, is the women.

So he's picked a segment of that up. That's very, very positive.


BUCHANAN: And you see the polls, two now, two polls in Florida moving towards the president. Ohio is a dead heat. There's one or two polls showing the president picking up there. That appears to me to be too close to call. Pennsylvania, the president's closing a little bit.

I think it's the president's, Judy to win this thing. And how many electoral votes, just one would make me happy.

BRAZILE: Well, Bay, no offense, but married women went with George Bush in 2000. That's not news.

We have a greater percentage of single women, 16 million unmarried women, that are now eligible and ready to vote on Election Day. We have many more young women who are now registered and will be supporting John Kerry and John Edwards.

So if married women will trim back to the Republican side that they had in 2000, that won't concern us. What concerned us today is that we get out those unmarried single women and those young voters, because I believe they will be not only the X factor, but they will also give John Kerry the margin of victory in those key states.

BUCHANAN: But Donna, I'm reading some polls, and I'm sure you've got some others saying something else. But I saw some polls as recently as today that showed that his spread with women is nowhere near what Kerry's spread is, not as big as Gore's was, it's much, much closer for women in general.

And so, with us holding the men, doing real well with the married women, and actually holding our own with the other women, I think he may be in some real trouble here.

WOODRUFF: We're actually seeing some...

BRAZILE: But there's not much -- I'm sorry.

WOODRUFF: I was just going to say we're actually seeing Kerry picking up some of the men, particularly unmarried men. Bill Schneider was reporting yesterday. I want to ask you both, though, about this new development that our Jeanne Meserve reported a few minutes ago, and that is an acknowledgement by the Bush campaign that this photo they've used in their last campaign ad, what appears to be a crowd of soldiers listening to the president, that this is a doctored photo, it's a photo that was edited with repetitions of groups of soldiers in uniform.

Bay, is this a problem for the campaign?

BUCHANAN: You know, it's a slight embarrassment. It's obviously something that was done by the advertising staff. And it shouldn't have been done.

But, you know, it doesn't -- there's no lie there. It's no misrepresentation. It's probably trying to give you a feeling of the statement that's behind it. The key is what words were used, if they're accurate, and the message that's being given.


BRAZILE: Well, once again, they're overreaching. I mean, doctoring a photo at this hour of the game is just child's play. But, you know -- you know, beyond all of the bogus lies that are in these ads, I think the content as well as the picture should be called into question. They should pull the ad.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to leave it there. Thank you both.

The last time we checked it's still on the Web site. We will see if that stays as is.

Donna Brazile, Bay Buchanan, thank you both.

BUCHANAN: Sure. Good to be with you, Judy.

WOODRUFF: We'll talk to you.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: We'll talk to you on election night and beyond.

BRAZILE: Thank you.

WOODRUFF: Some voter confusion in a critical showdown state. Up next, Bush and Kerry in a fierce battle for votes in Ohio. Now the state is facing questions about its thousands of newly registered voters.


WOODRUFF: As we've been reporting, backers of both George Bush and John Kerry have worked hard to register many new voters in the battleground states, particularly Ohio. CNN's Joe Johns reports that the wave of new voters is already posing new problems for Ohio election officials.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With tens of thousands of newly registered voters challenged by Ohio Republicans before the election, the system is already showing signs of confusion. In some smaller counties, hearings to verify the residency of voters began Thursday. But in six other counties, including two of the largest, which encompass Cleveland and Columbus, challenged voters showed up for hearings only to find they'd been halted the day before by a federal judge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your right to vote has been challenged by a qualified elector.

JOHNS: The Ohio Republican Party says it filed its challenges after sending letters to newly registered voters returned as undeliverable.

MARK WEAVER, OHIO GOP ELECTION ATTORNEY: Here in Ohio we regularly send out mailers to new registrants, saying "Welcome to being a voter and please vote for our candidates." This time when we sent out those new mailers, we had thousands, tray-loads, coming back saying no such person lives here.

JOHNS: But Democrats argue undeliverable mail doesn't necessarily mean a person's registration should be thrown out, that there may be innocent reasons.

MYRON MARLIN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY SPOKESMAN: It suggests that somebody who might be serving in the military, many of these cases, have addresses here in Ohio that are just simply addresses of record but not places where they receive mail. It suggests that people might not have a mailbox but instead a post office box.

It suggests that people may have been living in a dorm room and didn't have their right dorm room number down. So lots of students have been attacked. It suggests that maybe somebody moved from one part of the county to the next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then also on the letter...

JOHNS: Case in point, Christopher Smith of Bexley. He changed addresses here in September, and somebody misspelled his new street name in the elections computer. His registration was challenged.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH, OHIO RESIDENT: I feel it's my right to vote. I want to vote. They're not going to rob me of it just because I moved.

JOHNS: This leaves local election officials scrambling and hoping to be prepared for Tuesday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coming out of the year 2000, I mean, there's a lot of confusion anyway. And I think this just goes to further add to that confusion.


JOHNS: And Judy, the Ohio attorney general has gotten into the act. He is filing an appeal, asking for a stay of the judge's most recent decision.

There is also another lawsuit now in the works. That lawsuit alleges that the people who are being hired to camp out at the polls and challenge people on Election Day will intimidate African-American voters. That lawsuit before the judge in Cincinnati this afternoon.

Back to you.

WOODRUFF: No one could have predicted it would be this contentious right down to the wire. Joe Johns, thank you very much.

Well, we have reaction from both sides on Ohio registration challenges. We're going to hear from Ohio's secretary of state, Republican Ken Blackwell, shortly. But first, we get Democratic reaction from Ralph Neas. He is the president of the group People for the American Way.

I should say the liberal group People for the American Way. That's how it's been identified.

What is your concern, Ralph Neas, with this decision by Ken Blackwell, who's the secretary of state in Ohio, to increase the number of partisan challengers at Ohio polling places?

RALPH NEAS, PEOPLE FOR THE AMERICAN WAY: Judy, People for the American Way foundation is nonpartisan. We're not Democrat or Republican. Every day I open the newspapers or look at CNN, and I'm outraged by what's happening in Florida or in Ohio. It looks like confusion and chaos, and maybe even corruption is reigning.

Why in a year where Republicans and Democrats and nonpartisans have done such a magnificent job of registering people do you want to suppress the vote? Voting is the heart and soul of our democracy. And Ken Blackwell -- and I'm sorry he can't be here to debate me -- seems to be doing everything over the last two or three months to suppress the vote, especially in the minority areas.

WOODRUFF: Well, we are going to be talking to him in just a moment. I'm going to be posing to him some of the questions that you're raising.

But essentially, as I understand it, their argument is this is necessary to prevent voter fraud. They're concerned about all these newly-registered people, wanting to make sure that every one of them is legally entitled to vote in the state of Ohio.

NEAS: Of course. We want every single registrant to be legal. But there's very little evidence of voter fraud in this country this year or over the last 20 or 30 years. And massive evidence of intimidation and suppression.

People for the American Way foundation, the NAACP put out a report just seven or eight weeks ago that shows many, many dozens of incidents, unfortunately by Republicans over the last five, 10 or 15 years. In fact, the Republicans have had to sign four consent decrees saying they won't challenge voters on the basis of race anymore.

And unfortunately, I think this is what Ken Blackwell and Jeb Bush are doing. They're going to be challenging voters primarily on the basis of race for partisan reasons. They should be encouraging first-time voters, all Republican and Democratic voters, to get in the polling booth and have a vote that counts.

WOODRUFF: How do you know they're going to be challenging people primarily on the basis of race?

NEAS: Unfortunately, that has been the history that this document corroborates very extensively. And when you look at the counties that Ken Blackwell and the Republicans in Ohio, or Jeb Bush in Florida, with Glenda Hood, are targeting, unfortunately they're targeting primarily minority counties.

You can't do that under the law. Voter suppression, when you take race into account in a major way or a minor way, is inconsistent with the law. It's immoral. It's illegal. It's unconscionable.

WOODRUFF: But if people are at the polls and they want to vote, and they're there legally, then how can they be dissuaded from voting or prevented from voting if they have a right to be there?

NEAS: Well, People for the American Way foundation and the Election Protection Coalition, we're going to have four monitors at all of these polls. We're going to have lawyers. We're going to have a 1-866-OUR-VOTE that every single voter who has a problem can call and get a lawyer immediately if this person is challenged.

We're going to have these warning signs to show these challengers, if you are challenging improperly, you can be brought in to court and charged with a crime. You can only challenge for certain reasons. But there are two reasons why Ken Blackwell is challenging, to try to get people not to vote, to suppress the vote, but it also delays everybody else in line.

So people are waiting two or three or four or five or six hours or all day. We're going to ask everybody to take a day off and counter these voter suppression tactics with what happened in the '60s. We're going to stand up to suppression and stand up to intimidation.

WOODRUFF: We're going to pose some of these questions in just a moment to Ken Blackwell, but right now I want to say thank you to Ralph Neas, who is the head of People for the American Way. Thanks very much. We appreciate you coming by.

NEAS: Well, thanks, Judy, for having me.

WOODRUFF: Thank you.

A repeat of the 2000 presidential fiasco? Ahead on INSIDE POLITICS, why some are afraid of another voting nightmare. And this time why the attention might focus, as we just said, not on Florida -- or we should say in addition to Florida, on Ohio.


WOODRUFF: We just heard from People for the American Way, its president, Ralph Neas. Now we hear another viewpoint on the voter registration challenges in Ohio.

For that we turn to Ohio's Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Ken Blackwell, you did issue a directive last night which essentially will permit more challengers, more partisan challengers at precincts, polling places around the state of Ohio. Why did you do this?

KEN BLACKWELL (R), OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE: Judy, the last segment with Ralph was absolutely shameful. This notion that I created and that I have assigned challengers is just absolutely not true.

Ohio law has allowed for challengers and witnesses for a long time to encourage transparency and to protect against voter fraud. Both parties have worked through the county boards of elections to establish challengers.

What we have done is to put a limit on the number of challengers to make sure that polling places are inviting, not intimidating. And for you or for Ralph to open the door to this suggestion that I have -- I have in fact assigned these challengers is just not only wrong, it is shameful.

WOODRUFF: Well, isn't the reality...

BLACKWELL: The reality -- no, here's the reality, Judy. The reality is that I have two responsibilities, to make voting as easy as is possible and practical. And secondly, to protect the integrity of the system against wholesale fraud.

We have been sued five times, and five times we have won our case in court because our policies and practices are fair, they are balanced. You know, that ad homonym presentation that Ralph just made was...

WOODRUFF: Well, that's why we're giving you a chance to comment.

BLACKWELL: ... just about -- it was just about...

WOODRUFF: That's why we're giving you a chance to comment right now, Mr. Blackwell.

BLACKWELL: But let me just tell you...

WOODRUFF: If I may ask a question...

BLACKWELL: Judy, let me just say this. I've been, you know, on CNN programs throughout the week. We've established that in Ohio.

In Ohio right now we made it possible for even challenged voters, even challenged voters to vote provisionally. So nobody who wants to vote, who believes that they are legally registered to vote, will be denied a ballot.

WOODRUFF: Isn't it the case, Mr. Blackwell, that the Republican Party has registered 3,600 challengers, while the Democrats in Ohio have registered about 2,000 challengers. In other words, Republicans have an advantage, which is one of the concerns?

BLACKWELL: But that can be a concern between the two parties. Judy, understand how you opened that conversation up in the last session.

You said Ken Blackwell has assigned these challengers. This is a two-decade-old law in the state of Ohio that both parties are taking advantage of. One party might be more organized than the other.

The reality is, is that we establish policy in the state of Ohio to create peaceful, inviting voting places. We have run the most successful voter education program, voter registration program, in the United States. We have set records with our Your Vote Counts program. And now what we're going to do is to make sure that people understand our precinct-based voting system so they vote in the right place and they convert their ballot to a vote.

Now, that's the way it's going to be done. This is a robust, very competitive campaign. And it is very obvious to me that both sides are positioning themselves not -- not to concede defeat until the last dog dies or the last vote is counted.

And if they want to turn it over to judges and lawyers, that's between the two competing parties. The reality is, is that I have 45,000 -- 45,000 poll workers across 88 counties. We have a highly decentralized system. But we've been training, we've been working.

And what I've said is that I'm not going to create an environment where I have bands of lawyers circling 73-year-old poll workers screaming at them. There will be decorum, there will be civility, and there will be professional patience.

Only 6 to 8 percent of those folks who will be voting on Election Day will be voting for the first time. Ninety-two, 94 percent of the Ohio voters know where to vote and know how to vote. And so we've marshaled our resources to make the first-time voting experience a very pleasant voting experience.

Now, I can tell you...

WOODRUFF: Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell...

BLACKWELL: Ralph thought I was a hero when I took Ralph Nader off of the board, off of the ballot. And now he's complaining because we've defended our system in court.

WOODRUFF: Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. We tried to give you the same amount of time that we gave Ralph Neas.

BLACKWELL: God bless you.

WOODRUFF: We thank you very much for joining us.

Well, we did hear earlier from Kerry campaign strategist Tad Devine. Coming up I'll get the other side of the presidential battle from Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman. And we'll ask him about allegations about a doctored Bush campaign ad.

And is the Jewish vote in Florida not what it used to be? More INSIDE POLITICS ahead.


WOODRUFF: It is 4:00 on the East Coast. And as the markets get set to close, I'm joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York for another installment of "The Dobbs Report." Hi, Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Judy. Well, there was another sharp drop in oil prices today. Crude oil fell more than $1.50 in New York. That's on top of a nearly $3 drop yesterday. The price per barrel settled below $51 for the first time in three weeks. That wasn't however enough to spark a rally on Wall Street. Stocks are -- very little changed after two days of strong gains. The final trades are being counted. The Dow has managed to settle positive. It's up about three points right now. The Nasdaq Composite also just slightly higher. DreamWorks Animation made a debut on Wall Street today. Co- founders Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen rang the opening bell this morning of the New York Stock Exchange. Katzenburg pledged the movie company will continue its tradition of success.


JEFFREY KATZENBERG, CEO, DREAMWORKS ANIMATION: We made a movie called "Little Mermaid" and 17, 18 years ago wondered whether we would ever do anything better than that. And then there was "Beauty and the Beast" and then "Aladdin" and "Lion King" and then "Shrek" and then "Shrek 2" and now "Shark Tale" and you know, as long as we do great work and tell great stories, the product will be successful and the company will be successful.


PILGRIM: DreamWorks Animation shares surged more than 35 percent in their initial offering price of $28 a share.

Now today marks a very important day in history of the stock market. Although not a happy one. The 75th anniversary of Black Monday. That is the day the market crashed back in 1929. It was actually a two-day debacle in which the Dow Jones Industrials plunged nearly 24 and it took 25 years including the Great Depression for stocks to completely recover.

Coming up on CNN at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," new details regarding the 380 tons of missing explosives in Iraq. Now sources at the Pentagon are claiming Russia may have been involved. A look at the long and complicated relationship between Baghdad and Moscow.

And the justice department is expected to double its efforts this election year. We take a look at the plan to send out 1,000 election monitors all over the country.

And also tonight, radio talk show host and comic Al Franken joins Lou to share his political views on the campaign -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right. Kitty, thank you very much. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: You've heard about blue states and red states but with the race for the White House so close in so many battlegrounds, is America turning purple?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will never relent in defending America whatever it takes.

ANNOUNCER: The ad wars. What is each side spending and where are they running their commercials?

JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president I'll bring a fresh start to protect our troops and our nation.

ANNOUNCER: Will one Boston victory lead to another?

KERRY: About a year ago when things weren't going so well in my campaign someone called a radio talk show and they said John Kerry won't be president until the Red Sox win the World Series. Well, we're on our way! We're on our way!



WOODRUFF: Welcome back. With just five days before the election it feels as though we have been talking about red states and blue states forever. But as our senior political analyst Bill Schneider explains, on November 2 we may find horse of a different color.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Is there a late surge? Some red states are getting bluer and some blue states are getting redder. The country seems to be turning purple. As recently as a week ago the conventional wisdom was that Arizona, Arkansas, and Nevada, all for Bush in 2000, would stick with Bush this year. And Wisconsin, a Gore state, looked like it might switch to Bush.

But hold on. Polls released in the past week show those states up for grabs. Arizona, a Bush lead of just two points. Bill Clinton is reported to have advised Kerry not to write off Arkansas. The latest Arkansas poll, Bush 48 percent, Kerry 48 percent. The latest Nevada poll shows Bush up by two. Time to hedge your bets as they say in Vegas.

What's happened to the Bush trend in Wisconsin? Kerry leading by one. Now here are five blue states that voted for Gore last time. A week ago they were looking good for Kerry. Gore carried New Jersey by 16 points. The latest poll, a dead heat. Michigan polls over the last week have been all over the place. The average, Kerry ahead by two. Minnesota hasn't voted for a Republican for president since 1972 but this week one Minnesota poll shows Bush slightly ahead and one shows Kerry ahead. The average, Kerry by two. Hawaii only votes Republican in GOP landslides like 1972 and 1984. But the latest two Hawaii polls show a close race. A dead heat in one poll. Bush ahead by one in the other poll. Aloha to the conventional wisdom.

Pennsylvania has been looking pretty good for Kerry. Three Pennsylvania polls out this week show Kerry up by three. A tie. Bush two points ahead. Go figure.

Is there any state moving red or blue? Yes. It is a big one. The three latest polls in Ohio are in rare agreement. Kerry by four in an Ohio University poll. Kerry by two according to the American Research Group. The "Los Angeles Times" poll shows Kerry leads in Ohio. (END VIDEOTAPE)

(on camera): No Republican has ever been elected president without caring Ohio. So the conventional wisdom is if Bush loses Ohio, he's out. But this year, it could be the conventional wisdom that is out -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Or it could be the pollsters. We'll see, Bill. We're keeping you no matter what.


WOODRUFF: Thanks very much.

President Bush and Senator Kerry are barnstorming through red and blue and purple states today. Bush has stops in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Along the way the president has been sharpening his attacks on Kerry and mocking his criticism of the Iraq war. For a fourth straight day, Senator Kerry is blasting Bush for not taking responsibility for missing explosives in Iraq. Kerry is stomping in Ohio and Wisconsin today before spending the night in Florida.

There is little doubt that the presidential race in Florida is close. How close depends on which poll you read as you just heard from Bill. Ticking through the latest Florida surveys, and forgive us if we're repeating, a Quinnipiac poll shows Bush leading Kerry by three points. An "L.A. Times" poll shows Bush up by eight points in Florida. And an "Insider Advantage" survey shows a Florida dead heat. When we average those surveys and other recent polls out of Florida, we get Bush with 48 percent to Kerry's 46 percent.

Jewish voters in Florida will help to decide the outcome in that showdown state. How are they likely to vote? CNN's Dana Bash traveled to Florida very recently to find out.


DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At John's Place in Boca Raton, they gathered to eat kosher pizza. Jews take pride in tradition and in politics that's voting Democrat. But for many not this year.

BERNIE KAMINETSKY: I would say that the vast majority of people in my social circle who voted for Gore in 2000 and are voting for George Bush now.

BASH: Bernie Kaminetsky was outraged after Al Gore lost the recount here four years ago. Now he's relieved.

RABBI KENNETH BRANDER: There's a trend toward the president stronger than I've ever seen before for a Republican.

BASH: Bernie's rabbi says his congregation has some 3,000 voters, significant in a state decided by 537 votes. The mayor of Miami Beach, a Democrat, says it's the president's support for Israel and fight against terrorism.

MAYOR DAVID BERMER, MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA: Jews have known that it's a global war for years. Israel has been fighting this war for decades. And this president gets it.

BASH: In Boca Republicans court Jews with direct mail and old fashioned advice. Work your neighbors.

ADAM HASNER, FLORIDA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Remind them what a strong supporter that President Bush has been for the Jewish community.

BASH: The president only got 19 percent of the Jewish vote in 2000. A recent poll shows his support has grown to 24 percent. In Florida, a slight shift matters.

Democrats are fighting back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're giving out information on why we think John Kerry is the better choice for the American Jewish community.

BASH: Jewish Democratic groups go door to door making the case John Kerry has a pro Israel record. Bill Clinton was called in to help and the senator himself came to Boca last weekend.

KERRY: I will make Israel safer than George Bush.

BASH: Sharon (ph) doesn't need convincing. At Hebrew School pickup, she says the president hasn't calmed her fears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't feel when I get on an airplane today that I'm any safer. I don't feel when I get in my car and go to the grocery store that I'm safer.

BASH: Sharon's rabbi says voting only on Israel or security is shortsighted.

RABBI DANIEL LEVIN: A responsible Jewish vote is to look at our values and to look at the whole panoply of different issues.

BRUCE MILLER: I am undecided at the moment.

BASH: Bruce Miller reached out to the rabbi. He thinks the president can make him safer than John Kerry.

B. MILLER: I feel like I've had the luxury in the other elections to look at all of the issues. I'm not sure I have that luxury right now. I have to protect these two.

BASH: His wife is voting Kerry, worried about something else.

LEE MILLER: The vacancies that are going to become available in the United States Supreme Court, and that's where my vote goes.

BASH: Back at Boca's GOP headquarters, Democrat Amy Goldin worries about the Supreme Court, too, but she's setting that aside.

AMY GOLDIN: ... and hoping that nothing drastic happens over the next four years, assuming he's reelected, that will drastically change my rights as a woman, as a citizen because I am much more fearful about terrorism. And I'm fearful for Israel's safety and survival.

BASH: These Republicans home with Democrats like Amy they can tip Florida and the election in their favor.

Dana Bash, CNN, Boca Raton, Florida.


WOODRUFF: Dana, we thank you for that. Well, we have been reporting on allegations that the Bush campaign altered a TV ad. Up next, the first response from the Bush camp on this story when I talk with campaign manager Ken Mehlman.

Plus, where is the ad money going in these final days of the campaign? We'll get the bottom line.

And later, there are other political angles to the Red Sox win besides John Kerry's obvious enthusiasm.


WOODRUFF: Guess what? We have more state presidential polls to lead the headlines in our "Campaign News Daily." George Bush has the slimmest of leads in one new poll, while John Kerry has the edge in three other surveys.

Starting in Iowa, the latest American Research Group poll gives Bush a one-point edge, 48 percent to Kerry's 47 percent. Ralph Nader is on the Iowa ballot. He's picking up one percent. In Michigan, it is John Kerry out in front. He has 47 percent, Bush 42 percent in "The Detroit News" tracking poll.

Out in the Pacific northwest, Kerry has four-point lead in Oregon, 50 percent to 46 percent according to the American Research Group. Next door in Washington State, Kerry's lead is five points. A Mason-Dixon survey giving him 50 percent and Bush receiving 45 percent.

A little earlier we spoke with the Kerry campaign's Tad Devine. And for the Republican perspective, we turn now to Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman. Ken Mehlman, thank you very much for talking with me.


WOODRUFF: Let's talk first about this ad that your campaign put out this week showing an image...

MEHLMAN: Great ad.

WOODRUFF: ... among other things -- the title of it is "Whatever It Takes." The president -- or a group of soldiers in uniform. Now your campaign acknowledging that that photo was altered. Can you explain what happened and why?

MEHLMAN: Well, Judy, sure. There was an editing error in the photo on the bottom left-hand corner. The presidential podium blocks some people, and that part of the podium was removed and some pictures of some additional soldiers were put back in were corrected in the editing error. We're going to put the ad back up.

It was a great group the president spoke to. It was a group in the 10th Mountain Division, some of our finest soldiers who defended this country and protected freedom. And we're proud of the ad, and we look forward to millions of Americans watching it. Because I think the ad very much speaks to who this president is and what his leadership is all about.

WOODRUFF: Ken Mehlman, can you verify, can you confirm that all the other ads we have seen, all of the other images in the ads that you have aired this year, have been true pictures, accurate pictures and not altered in any way?

MEHLMAN: Oh, absolutely. And as I said, Judy -- I can. And I can also tell you this is an accurate picture. This was an editing issue that has been corrected. What's interesting is to hear all the noise about this reminds me of two things.

Number on, actually, this was an incredible event. There were a lot more people at the event than appeared in the picture. What's also interesting is anybody raising an issue about these, these were the soldiers, Judy, that you may remember that John Kerry voted against when he voted against the $87 billion for our troops to have body armor and ammunition and support, what they needed to succeed in the mission, the mission he sent them on.

When he took that vote, these were men and these were the women that he voted against. So, I think this ad's a wonderful ad, and it speaks to who this president is.

WOODRUFF: But you are going to change it is what you're saying. You are going to change it.

MEHLMAN: Absolutely. We're going to put it back up without that editing issue.

WOODRUFF: All right. Let me ask you the same question I asked Tad Devine a little while ago, and that is, you know, the polls shifting back and forth in these battleground states. I want you to take a deep breath, no spin, and tell me how does George Bush get to 270 next Tuesday.

MEHLMAN: Well, I think one of the big differences, Judy, between how George Bush gets to 270 and how John Kerry gets to 270 is there's a number of ways that George Bush can do it.

One of the interesting things we're talking about is if you look at the nine or 10 states that are most competitive today, the vast majority are states that we lost and that Al Gore won last time. We're very excited about the fact that we're leading in states like Iowa and Wisconsin and in the margin of error and leading in some polls in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

We're excited about the fact that things are so close in Oregon and in Minnesota -- a state that hasn't voted Republican since 1972. We're excited about where we stand in New Mexico. All of these are states that Al Gore won last time. All of these are states that right now the president's either leading or we're in the margin of error. And we very much look forward to competing hard over the course the next couple of days.

WOODRUFF: It sounds like you're preparing to lose Ohio. Polls are showing John Kerry doing well.

MEHLMAN: Not at all. I'm confident we're going to win Ohio. We won it last time. I'm confident we're going to win it this time. We've got an incredible grassroots organization in the state. We did better than Democrats over the last four years in registering new voters in Ohio.

I'm very confident we're going to win that state. We've got a great organization. We've got a great message. And I don't think the people of Ohio are going to want to elect someone who would raise their taxes, have government control of their health care, and who voted against our troops and wants to weaken this nation.

WOODRUFF: Very quickly -- new claims for unemployment benefits are out, showing a sharper rise than expected, up 20,000 more than had been anticipated. What does this say -- a labor market under pressure? Is this a problem dogging the president right up to Election Day?

MEHLMAN: Well, Judy, I think that if you look at the economic numbers, it's pretty clear what it says. It says that for 13 months we've created nearly two million jobs. It says that unemployment today is lower than the average of the '70s, '80s, and '90s. It says that the unemployment rate is the same as it was in 1996 when Bill Clinton was reelected, but that unemployment among Hispanic and African-Americans is lower. It says that homeownership is at an all- time high.

We look forward to discussing with the American people whether we should continue on this track and take other steps to reform our system with a flatter and fairer tax system, less regulations and less lawsuits which is the president's plan, or do we want to go backwards and have the John Kerry approach. He is the first nominee since Walter Mondale who will look the American people in the eye and say, if you elect me, I'll raise your taxes. And that's one promise a politician almost always keeps.

WOODRUFF: Yes or no, George Bush 300 electoral votes?

MEHLMAN: Judy, I'm not predicting numbers. I'll predict three things for you. We're going to win. We're going to win the popular. We're going to win the electoral and you're going to know it election night. There, that's four things.

WOODRUFF: All you need is the electoral. We do know that

MEHLMAN: And we're going to win the popular, and you're going to know it -- we're going to make sure you can go to bed early on election night.

WOODRUFF: Well, that we would all like. All right. Ken Mehlman, manager of the Bush-Cheney campaign. Thank you very much again.

MEHLMAN: Thanks a lot.

WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.

MEHLMAN: Thanks.

WOODRUFF: Political ad wars are drawing to a close. Just ahead, we'll have an inside look at where the campaigns are spending their advertising money to make it count between now and Election Day.


WOODRUFF: With me now to talk about television ad spending in the final days of the White House race, our consultant, Evan Tracey, of TNS Media Intelligence. His firm tracks ad spending in the nation's top 100 media markets.

All right. Evan, let's look at both of these campaigns, both of these candidates. How much are they spending?

EVAN TRACEY, TNS MEDIA INTELLIGENCE/CMAG: Right now we look at the last 30-day period. This is really the first time since late in the summer when Kerry now has a spending advantage over Bush by about $3 million in these battleground states.

The Democratic National Committee continues to outspend the Republican National Committee but they've had a much longer buy. The Republican National Committee has really come on the air just in the last few weeks and spent about $6 million.

WOODRUFF: Where are they spending this money? Is it the battleground states that we keep talking about, the same 10 ones?

TRACEY: There is actually a little bit of expansion going on right now in the battleground states. We've lost Washington State as a state seeing advertising. I'm sure they're all very sorry to hear that out there. But we've picked up Hawaii this week.

The DNC expanded their buys into Hawaii. And also just as of today we're starting to see some new ad buys in Tennessee of all places from some outside groups and a local Tennessee state party. And there's a little state party...

WOODRUFF: Those are Democratic or Republican?

TRACEY: Democratic, yes. Democrats. And there is some Democratic activity in Alabama, as well.

WOODRUFF: So is the DNC shadowing the RNC, is that what we're seeing here?

TRACEY: One thing we've seen this last few days, which has been very interesting is the DNC, who has exclusively been, when they've been buying cable, had been buying just all news. They're now buying these exact same channels that the Bush campaign has been buying all year long.

So I think they're making a last minute appeal to Republican voters about -- with the Kerry message right now. So Bush had this cable strategy, it was very broad, talked to a lot of programs that trended male and Republican, and now we're seeing the DNC on all the same channels. It's really interesting.

WOODRUFF: Is that a sign of confidence or having too much money and not knowing where to put it?

TRACEY: Probably a little bit of both. I think this is really an effort -- Bush has spent a lot of money on cable all year long, talking to these voters on cable that tend to trend Republican and also very male. I'm sure the DNC right now is flush with money and one of the things they're trying to do is make a last minute appeal into these networks that have had so much of this targeted demographic advertising.

WOODRUFF: Well, broaden that out. I mean, from the looks of all of the money that they're spending, what does it tell you about the strategies of these campaigns?

TRACEY: Right I think what it is telling us is that again, the battlegrounds for the Bush side have stayed relatively the same. You see a little bit of movement and flexibility with the Kerry strategy. The other thing we're hearing anecdotally is there's a lot of money -- we're actually seeing the data, we're seeing a lot of money go to places like the Internet.

We've seen a lot of Internet advertising by the DNC in these battleground state papers. We're hearing about a lot of new radio buys that have been going up in these battleground states, and also about $9 million was put into just local cable in the last couple of weeks by the DNC. So they are really just trying to bracket voters from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep right now. And they're not leaving a stone unturned.

WOODRUFF: Trying to touch everybody that they can possibly count on for a vote.

TRACEY: There's a lot of money being spent.

WOODRUFF: We're going to add it up one of these days. It's going to boggle everybody's mind. Evan Tracey, TNS Media Intelligence, thank very much. We appreciate it.

TRACEY: Good to see you, thanks. WOODRUFF: INSIDE POLITICS will be right back.


WOODRUFF: As we have been telling you, John Kerry making the most of last night's World Series victory by his hometown Boston Red Sox. Kerry showed up for his morning rally in Ohio today wearing a Red Sox cap. And he was quick to embrace his favorite team.

Kerry backed the Red Sox but at least one Red Sox player is backing George Bush. Pitcher Curt Schilling told an interviewer this morning to, quote, "tell everybody to vote, and vote Bush next week." There are reports that Schilling will campaign with Bush tomorrow in New Hampshire. We wouldn't be surprised.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS, thanks for joining us. Just a few days to go. I'm Judy Woodruff, "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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