Trail Tales: Polls, Gaffes and Videotape

The election is 30 days away and the race is tightening. The latest Newsweek poll puts Sen. John Kerry ahead of President George W. Bush, but within the margin of error. However, the 49-46 head-to-head matchup is a far cry from the 52-41 lead Newsweek gave Bush after the GOP convention just one month ago.

Bush supporters could find something of a silver lining after the debate. A Los Angeles Times poll said Bush's favorability rating actually went up by one point from 51 to 52 percent and his unfavorability dropped two points from 49 to 47 percent pre- and post-debate. Of course, Kerry's favorability went up to 57 percent from 52 percent before the debate and his unfavorability dropped from 46 to 41 percent pre- and post-debate.

He's for Whom?

With the election just 30 days away, the presidential candidates aren't punch drunk yet, but they ought to be. Surely, this press outlet has gotten a little stir crazy, so much to the point that it had trouble keeping track of the players last week. Chalk it up to a "527" wake-up call.

First were the usual suspects who were clear about where they stood, OK, no problem. Then came the Billionaires for Bush, but they're actually supporting Kerry. After that came Communists for Kerry; they're seemingly working, albeit in an unorthodox way, to re-elect Bush.

For a Friday report on this Web site following the first Bush-Kerry debate, a member of Communists for Kerry managed to persuade a reporter that he was indeed a Kerry supporter. His true feelings subsequently were misrepresented in a story that was published here over the weekend. regrets the error. From now on, polygraphs for everybody.

Editor's Note

On Friday, posted an item purporting to contain quotations from John Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.

Back to the Trenches — Ad Wars

With two debates and a month of campaigning to go, the candidates are pressing onward, continuing all-out attacks that can be seen on the trail as well as over the airwaves. Here are just two of the latest ads, which emerged with lightning speed after the first presidential debate.

Ad: "He's Lost, He's Desperate"

Sponsor: Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc.

Narrator: "George Bush lost the debate. Now he's lying about it. This is what you heard John Kerry really say: (John Kerry:) "The president always has the right for pre-emptive strike... I will hunt and kill the terrorists, wherever they are." Narrator: "But here's something new about George Bush - newspapers report he withheld key intelligence information from the American public so he could overstate the threat Iraq posed. Bush rushed us into war. Now we're paying the price. It's time for a fresh start."

Ad: "Global Test"

Sponsor: Bush-Cheney '04

Narrator: He said he'd attack terrorists who threaten America, but at the debate, John Kerry said America must pass a "global test" before we protect ourselves. The Kerry doctrine: A global test. So we must seek permission from foreign governments before protecting America? A global test?So America will be forced to wait while threats gather? President Bush believes decisions about protecting America should be made in the Oval Office, not foreign capitals.

Spin Cycle, Day Four

Keeping with the spin, the campaigns brought their messages to FOX News Sunday to give them one more rinse. White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett said that despite gains made by Kerry, the president still leads on issues of national security — terrorism, Iraq and leadership. He also said Kerry revealed that he would ask other countries to secure the United States' future.

"In a very telling moment where he said the new Kerry doctrine on foreign policy is that there must be a global test before we take action to protect the American people, that is a clear difference in this campaign," said Bartlett. "President Bush thinks the Bush doctrine is, is we ought to have American security interests decided by the president of the United States, not by foreign capitals."

In the same interview, senior Kerry adviser Tad Devine said the presidential race is "certainly closer, and obviously John Kerry had a great night last Thursday night, and I think it's fair to say the president did not."

Devine said Kerry made clear that he would use pre-emptive force to defend the nation if need be. He also brushed off the reduced media campaign by Kerry in battleground states and said the Kerry campaign will match any force used by Bush in the final weeks of the race. 

"We're going to go toe to toe with the president, he's not going to beat us in resources in the end, and we're going to communicate and win," Devine said.

How the Other Half Prepares

The next election face-off is set for Tuesday night in Cleveland, Ohio between Vice President Dick Cheney and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

Campaign aides say Cheney has been preparing for the debate over the past several weekends and spent this weekend at home fine-tuning his approach with daughter Liz Cheney and adviser Mary Matalin.

Edwards spent several hours in Chautauqua, N.Y. on Saturday practicing for the debate. A trial lawyer, accustomed to convincing an undecided audience, Edwards has been doing run-throughs on a mock set with cameras, a moderator and a small audience. The senator's wife, Elizabeth, along with senior staffers are helping with the preps.

FOX News' Vanessa Wallace and Corbett Riner contributed to this report.