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Trail Tales: The Real Slim Kerry

The election is 41 days away.

Poll Watch

Washington

Washington state, once considered a fiercely competitive presidential battleground, is now firmly in Democrat John Kerry's (search) column, according to a new poll commissioned by The Columbian newspaper of Vancouver, Wash.

Kerry beat President Bush (search) 51 percent to 42 percent among Washington residents. Republicans haven't carried Washington since Ronald Reagan's re-election in 1984. The Bush-Cheney ticket lost the state by 5.6 percentage points in 2000.

"This is one of Kerry's better states in the country," and Washington no longer seems to be a battleground state, said pollster Thom Riehle, president of Ipsos-Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., which conducted the poll on behalf of The Columbian.

The presidential poll reflected the views of 406 registered voters. The margin of error is 4.9 percentage points. Other recent polls have put Kerry up by between six and eight percentage points in Washington.

New Mexico

A poll commissioned by KOB-TV and The Santa Fe New Mexican found that 47 percent of 625 New Mexico's voters support Bush, 43 percent favor Kerry, two percent support Ralph Nader and one percent back minor-party candidates. Seven percent are undecided.

The random telephone survey was conducted last Wednesday and Thursday by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Incorporated of Washington, D.C. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.

Ad Watch

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are launching a new wave of attacks against Kerry, FOX News has learned.

The group, which has been largely responsible for casting doubt on the Massachusetts senator's Vietnam-era activities, made its largest media buy yet of the presidential campaign.

It has put $1.2 million behind a new ad that attacks the candidate's 1970 meeting in Paris with members of two North Vietnamese delegations. The ads will run on broadcast affiliates in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Nevada and New Mexico.

Controversy continues to swirl around documents aired by CBS News (search) purporting to show that Bush shirked his Texas Air National Guard (search) duties.

[Click here for complete story.]

Ad: 'Windsurfing'

Sponsor: Bush-Cheney Campaign

The Bush-Cheney '04 re-election campaign launched an ad Wednesday featuring Kerry windsurfing left and right. The Republican camp says the Democrat's positions on Iraq, education and health care shift "whichever way the wind blows."

"In which direction would John Kerry lead?" asks the ad, which is set to Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube Waltz."

Voiceover: In which direction would John Kerry lead? Kerry voted for the Iraq war, opposed it, supported it, and now opposes it again.

[Background of Kerry vote]

Voiceover: He bragged about voting for the $87 billion to support our troops before he voted against it.

[Background of Kerry-Edwards vote]

Voiceover: He voted for education reform and now opposes it.

[Background on vote for No Child Left Behind act]

Voiceover: He claims he's against increasing Medicare premiums, but voted five times to do so. John Kerry: whichever way the wind blows.

[Background on Kerry's history on Medicare votes]

Kerry Leads Among Young Voters, but They Don't Like Him

Younger voters think the country is heading in the wrong direction and that Bush doesn't share their priorities, but they like Bush personally and are unsure about Kerry, according to a poll of registered voters aged 18-29 conducted Sept. 8-13 by CBS News on behalf of MTV and the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement.

But Kerry has a substantial lead among young voters, according to the poll. Bush has a nine-point advantage in general, but the situation is reversed among voters under 30.

In a head-to-head contest, Kerry is leading Bush by 10 points (51-41) among young voters, and in a contest that includes Ralph Nader, Kerry is ahead by 6 (46-40-4).

Two-thirds of Kerry's supporters harbor reservations or are voting for him merely out of a greater dislike for Bush. Less than half of all respondents like Kerry personally.

The Real Slim Kerry

Public relations expert Fraser Seitel said on FOX News' "Fox and Friends" Wednesday morning that Kerry needs to show voters that he can stand solidly on issues and doesn't have some sort of multiple-personality disorder.

Kerry is tough on the stump but soft and more jovial during talk-show stints such as on "Dr. Phil," Seitel said.

"The problem is, who is he? Can the real 'Slim Kerry' please stand up," Seitel said, mocking rapper Eminem's hit song, "The Real Slim Shady."

"He's gonna be very tough to convince someone who's undecided," Seitel added. "People either hate Bush or love Bush. They know who he is. ... Kerry, he's gotta find himself."

Seitel, founding partner of public-relations firm Emerald Partners, also called CBS News anchor and managing editor Dan Rather a "dead anchor walking."

The network news division has found itself embroiled in controversy after airing a story based on possibly forged documents regarding Bush's Texas Air National Guard service.

Funny Files

At his first formal news conference since early August, Kerry said: "I have one position on Iraq. One position."

In response to a reporter's question about what he would have done differently about Iraq, Kerry said that while "Saddam Hussein deserves a special place in hell," he would have taken the more diplomatic route as commander-in-chief.

Kerry also appeared on "Live With Regis and Kelly" on Tuesday.

About the three debates he and Bush have agreed to, the Democratic senator said: "The big hang-up was George Bush wanted to get lifelines, you know, so he could call somebody."

The reference was to co-host Regis Philbin's other show, "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?," in which contestants use "lifelines" to call friends for help in answering questions.

"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno":

"President Bush spoke to the United Nations. A little later John Kerry spoke at a live press conference that was seen around the world. And then Ralph Nader spoke to some people who were having lunch next to him at the International House of Pancakes."

"At his big press conference, John Kerry introduced his four-point plan for Iraq. That was one point for each of his positions."

"Bush and Kerry have agreed to three debates. The first debate will cover the 1960s, and the second debate the early '70s, and in the third debate, if there's time, some topical issues."

"Even though President Bush is leading in the polls, they say John Kerry's greatest strength is that, when he's under pressure, he can turn things around. No kidding. Sometimes he does it in the same sentence!"

"John Kerry is also going to appear on Dr. Phil's show this week, and, not to be outdone, John Edwards is taping an episode of 'Where Are They Now?'"

"Late Night With Conan O'Brien":

"It's been reported that in his recent speeches, John Kerry has been talking about religion and God. Apparently, Kerry keeps saying, 'Oh my God, I'm going to lose!"'

"Late Late Show," guest-hosted by Drew Carey:

"In politics, the candidates keep making new demands for the debates. Hey, how about two new candidates and no debates?"

"The president opened by declaring a victory in the 'War on Rather.'"

"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart":

"We begin tonight with a simple, indisputable fact: As a young man, President George W. Bush benefited from family connections to get a place in the Texas Air National Guard, thus avoiding service in Vietnam. As you would guess, this has led to calls for the resignation of Dan Rather."

"As for the president, spokesman Scott McClellan, speaking from the meadow out past the abandoned tracks behind the White House, said CBS's retraction should only be the beginning, adding, 'And there are also quite a few serious questions that need to not be looked into fully. And that's my job.'"