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  • America Votes

    Election news from across the Knight Ridder network and the Web

    Friday, March 19, 2004

    The issue of Iraq 

    Iraq is sure to dominate much of the 2004 campaign, not just because the anti-Bush forces (first roused by Howard Dean, who rode the issue to prominence) will seek to parlay the war into a Bush defeat, but because the equally impassioned pro-Bush forces will invoke Iraq as a testament to the President's prowess as a war leader in the age of terrorism. And, buoyed by strong poll support, President Bush's advertising team is trumpeting that theme.

    - Dick Polman, Philadelphia Inquirer

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 1:20 PM

    Cheney gets a more prominent role 

    Dick Cheney's blistering attack on John Kerry's national security credentials underscores a decision by President Bush's re-election team to give the vice president a more prominent and assertive role in the campaign.

    But the strategy also hands Democrats new ammunition, as Cheney's slumping poll numbers and questions about his business ties have cast a cloud over his campaign activities, turning him into a target.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 12:59 PM

    John Kerry: International man of mystery? 

    Coming soon to a computer near you: John Kerry as ... Austin Powers?

    A new GOP Web video pokes fun at the Democratic presidential nominee-to-be, dubbing him "the international man of mystery" for declining to identify foreign leaders he has claimed support him over President Bush.

    "Who are you? Honestly?" a voice asks.

    The Republican National Committee plans to e-mail its 60-second video to 400,000 GOP supporters.

    Meanwhile, the Kerry camp is lashing back with a cartoon-style ad accusing Bush of ballooning the deficit.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 12:26 PM

    Thursday, March 18, 2004

    But will it help retail sales? 

    The store is open. President Bush's camp has a wide variety of campaign items for sale, ranging from yard signs to car flags to baby bibs.

    If the regular Bush-Cheney '04 gear doesn't quite do it for you, there's also the zippier Viva Bush collection.

    In case you're wondering, Viva Bush items are already available on eBay and are being described as "rare" and "in mint condition."

    John Kerry is way behind in the tchotchke campaign. His site only offers a handful of items. Our favorite: the retro T-shirt.

    - Ellen Dunkel, Knight Ridder Digital

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 1:13 PM

    Keeping the world safe 

    Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad endorsed Democratic contender John Kerry in the U.S. presidential race Thursday, saying he would keep the world safer than President Bush.

    "I think Kerry would be much more willing to listen to the voices of people and of the rest of the world," Mahathir said.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 12:34 PM

    Wednesday, March 17, 2004

    Non-political parties 

    President Bush's Monday campaign visit to Ardmore, Pa.'s Main Line YMCA forced the rescheduling of two children's birthday parties that were booked at the Y for Sunday afternoon.

    Debbie Henry received a cryptic call last Wednesday from the recreation center saying her son Spencer's 6th birthday party would have to be rescheduled but not saying why.

    She later found out it was so the Y's basketball gym, where the president spoke, could be secured by the Secret Service.

    The Y hosted the rescheduled parties for free and picked up the tab for pizzas and sodas.

    - Dan Gross, Philadelphia Daily News

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:35 AM

    Tuesday, March 16, 2004

    Bush courts swing voters in Pennsylvania 

    George W. Bush made his 26th visit as president to Pennsylvania on Monday. The Keystone State is one of the handful of swing states that could decide who wins the presidential race. Analysts in both parties say that Bush, who lost Pennsylvania by 4 percentage points to former Vice President Al Gore in 2000, needs to improve his showing in the suburban Philadelphia counties, where moderate Republicans have been more receptive to Democratic candidates in recent years.

    - Thomas Fitzgerald, Philadelphia Inquirer

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:10 AM

    If not me, Kerry 

    Al Sharpton, the New York activist who flashed quick wit and rhetorical jabs on the campaign trail but failed to spark a large following, endorsed John Kerry for president but promised to continue his own urban agenda campaign.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:08 AM

    Katherine Harris hired as e-voting spokesmodel 

    Paperless electronic voting machines were chosen by Fortune magazine as the "worst new technology" of 2003 for good reason. Not only are they horribly insecure, but they make it enormously difficult to detect error or fraud (see "Diebold PR department files early entry in 2004 "Black is White" contest, Electronic voting machines able to simulate Daley-era Chicago") And yet by November of this year, almost every state in the union will be using them to count votes in the upcoming presidential election. So it's reassuring to read of the efforts of two California legislators who are calling for a ban on the use of touch-screen voting machines this fall. Citing malfunctions in e-voting machines during the recent primary, state Sens. Don Perata, D-Oakland, and Ross Johnson, R-Irvine, asked Secretary of State Kevin Shelley to decertify all touch-screen voting machines before the upcoming general election. "[The March 2 primary] was a test-flight of widespread use of these machines. I think it's fair to say the test flight crashed and burned," said Perata. "None of us wants California to be the sequel to Florida."

    - Good Morning Silicon Valley

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:01 AM

    Monday, March 15, 2004

    Both sides eye Buckeye State 

    Ohio is expected to play a major role in the coming election as a so-called swing state that both sides claim is essential to win if their candidate is to claim the presidency.

    And Sunday night, nearly eight months before the November election, John Kerry appeared at the University of Akron, signaling that Ohio is already center stage in the campaign that brought President Bush to Cleveland on March 3.

    - Jim Carney, Akron Beacon Journal

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 10:19 AM

    Bush touts home ownership 

    President Bush, hoping to move Pennsylvania to his win column in this year's election, is reaching out to voters in the state by touting record home ownership in America - a bright spot in the economy.

    In a trip to Pennsylvania, his 25th as president, Bush planned to visit with a new homeowner, tour a housing development and participate in a discussion of home ownership at a YMCA in Ardmore, about 10 miles west of Philadelphia.

    Bush has been promoting initiatives to close the gap between white and minority home ownership. While more than 75 percent of white Americans owned their own home in the fourth quarter of 2003, according to the Census Bureau, the rate among minority groups was 49 percent or less.

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 9:58 AM

    To pick John Edwards or not pick John Edwards 

    John Kerry's search for the ideal Democratic running mate has commenced behind closed doors, conducted by a handful of discreet advisers, but layers of secrecy will not deter political junkies from scavenging for clues.

    We probably won't know anything for a while, because the Kerry campaign is promising "a very private, thorough process," which means that interested Democrats are left to fill the vacuum with their own unsolicited advice. It encompasses two schools of thought:

    1. Pick John Edwards.

    2. Don't pick John Edwards.

    - Dick Polman, Philadelphia Inquirer

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:55 AM

    Support for war declines in Texas 

    Support for the war in Iraq has eroded significantly in President Bush's home state since the conflict started almost a year ago, with nearly 60 percent of Texans registering disapproval with the way things are going, according to a statewide survey.

    The latest Scripps Howard Texas Poll, conducted for the Star-Telegram and other Texas news organizations, shows that while a majority of Texans still stand behind the president in his overall handling of the war, they are increasingly uncertain about instability in Iraq and the length of the U.S. occupation.

    - Dave Montgomery, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:51 AM

    Shoveling manure out of the presidential race 

    An Internet ad from the John Kerry campaign implies that President Bush has cut off health benefits for 200,000 veterans. Bush hasn't.

    The Bush campaign accuses Kerry of proposing to raise taxes by $900 billion. Not true, either, according to, a nonpartisan Web site that debunks those recent ads, among others.

    When it comes to horse-race politics, FactCheck and other Web sites are shoveling the manure out of both stalls.

    - John Higgins

    posted by Ellen Dunkel at 8:43 AM

    This blog is compiled and edited by:

  • Ellen Dunkel, producer for Knight Ridder Digital's National Desk.
  • John Murrell, minister of information for

  •  Latest posts
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       •  In case anyone is still counting ...
       •  Are you ready to be Canadian?
       •  Disconnection in the extreme
       •  60 percent? That's not even a passing grade
       •  Too many people, not enough machines
       •  To late for a voting controversy?
       •  Canadians speak
       •  Four more years ... until 2008

    Over the course of the campaign, this blog was titled Hot Off The Trail and featured entries from Knight Ridder reporters.

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