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Trail Tales: White House Run or Marathon?

Election Day is 26 days away and political ads are hitting the airwaves en masse. The second presidential debate is scheduled for Friday at Washington University in St. Louis.

Harder Than Running a Marathon?

John Kerry's vice presidential pick, John Edwards, appeared on ABC's "Regis and Kelly" Thursday morning, where he talked about the Kerry-Edwards plan for Iraq, the economy and whether it's easier to run a marathon than running for office.

"Running for this office is harder than running a marathon," said Edwards, who is featured on the front cover of this month's issue of Runner's World magazine.

The 51-year-old North Carolina senator has been running for almost 30 years. He's finished five marathons, one of them, in 1983, in just over three-and-a-half hours.

"He's just very private about his running," an aide told Runner's World. "Asking to run with him is like asking to take a shower with him." An aide also said that in the current campaign, "he won't even let us put a camera on him," while he's running.

While Kerry enjoys athletic activities like bicycling, Edwards told Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa that running "keeps me sane."

Ripa said Harrison Ford would be the best actor to play Kerry in a movie version of the Democratic candidates' lives, and that Hollywood hunk Tom Cruise should play Edwards.

Edwards responded that someone recently said they had a mental image of him in the movie, "A Few Good Men," starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, "me as Tom Cruise and Dick Cheney as the Nicholson character." "Can you see it now, Cheney: 'You need me on that wall, you want me on that wall' … and me saying, 'You can't handle the truth!'"

On Bush's Trail

President Bush's campaign stop Wednesday was one part political stem-winder and one part late-night comedy monologue.

"My opponent is one of the few candidates in history to campaign on a pledge to raise taxes. (Laughter) And that's the kind of promise a politician from Massachusetts usually keeps," Bush said at an event in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

"But to be fair, he's earned a special distinction in Congress. The nonpartisan National Journal analyzed his record and named John Kerry the most liberal member of the United States Senate. (Boo) And when the competition includes Ted Kennedy, that's really saying something. (Laughter and applause) I'm telling you, I know that bunch. (Laughter) It wasn't easy for my opponent to become the single most liberal member of the Senate. You might even say, it was hard work. (Laughter and applause.)

"My opponent says he has a plan for Iraq. Parts of it should sound pretty familiar — it's already known as the Bush plan."

On the vice presidential debate: "America saw two very different visions of our country, and two different hairdos."

And on the first presidential debate, where cameras caught Bush grimacing during some of Kerry's answers: "He [Kerry] said terrorists are pouring across the Iraqi border, but also said that fighting those terrorists is a diversion from the War on Terror. (Laughter) You hear all that and you can understand why somebody would make a face." (Laughter and applause)

Cheney's Cause

Cheney was in Tallahassee, Fla., where he was boosting the president and taking on the pair's Democratic challengers.

"There isn't anything in Kerry's background that gives you any reason to believe he would be tough on prosecuting the War on Terror," Cheney said at a campaign event.

Try as they might, "John Kerry and John Edwards cannot with tough talk obscure a record that goes back 30 years that had him [Kerry] on the wrong side of virtually every issue that dealt with national security," Cheney told a town-hall style meeting of supporters.

On Kerry's Trail

Kerry has no public events Thursday and is in seclusion for a second day in Englewood, Colo., preparing for Friday's debate.

Kerry spokesperson Mike McCurry told reporters that because Edwards nailed Cheney to the wall in Tuesday night's vice presidential debate, Bush had to come out and give a speech Wednesday targeting Kerry to make up for it.

In that speech, the president accused Kerry of waffling in his position on the War on Terror, pushing for higher taxes and sending mixed signals to allies and enemies.

"The important thing was they needed a big win from the vice president, they didn't get it so they now called out the president to really throw the kitchen sink at John Kerry," McCurry said. "I think that that gives you some sense of where they think they are. It is rare to see a president of the United States come out and be that personal, that negative, that vicious, so it gives you a very good sign of where they think the damage has been done."

Edwards' Argument of Denial

Edwards was in West Palm Beach, Fla., Wednesday, where he slammed Bush and Cheney for being in their state of "denial" where Iraq is concerned.

On the Duelfer report, which was released this week and showed that Saddam Hussein wasn't actively manufacturing weapons of mass destruction after 1991, Edwards said: "We have a report today that there clearly were no weapons of mass destruction. All of that known and Dick Cheney said, again last night, that he would have done everything the same. George Bush has said he would have done everything the same. They are in a complete state of denial about what's happening in Iraq."

He added: "They still don't recognize that there's any problem with jobs and the economy" despite rising health care costs and record job losses.

"You can't fix these problems until you recognize there is a problem … they're in denial. They're in denial about everything."

Steve Schmidt, a Bush spokesman, countered, "Their defeatist rhetoric is not consistent with the reality on the ground in Iraq."

Laura on Suits and Faces

First lady Laura Bush wants Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, to know that she'll be wearing a blue suit during Friday night's presidential debate. During last week's debate, when the families of the two presidential contenders took the stage, both Mrs. Kerry and Mrs. Bush were wearing white. Mrs. Bush told "The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno "that she and Mrs. Kerry probably have "a lot in common."

"We even chose to wear the same color suits," she said. "So now I just want to announce today that I'll be wearing a blue suit Friday night."

Asked by Leno about the president's scowling facial expressions during last week's face-off with Kerry, Mrs. Bush said: "You know I didn't see that. I was on the very front row, and in person that didn't really show up that much … but I think he said this morning that anyone who listened to his opponent say that many things about him would have to make a face."

Leno quickly quipped: "When you don't have Botox, you can actually move your face."

Poll Watch

Florida

An American Research Group poll of 600 likely Florida voters conducted Oct. 2-5 found that Kerry has 47 percent support, compared to Bush's 45 percent. Independent candidate Ralph Nader has 2 percent support in this poll, while another 6 percent are unsure. According to this survey released Sept. 20, Bush had 45 percent support, compared to Kerry's 46 percent.

New Hampshire

Another ARG poll of 600 likely New Hampshire voters conducted Oct. 3-5 have Bush and Kerry tied with 47 percent support, Nader with 1 percent and 5 percent are unsure. That poll released Sept. 17 had Bush ahead by 4 points.

New Jersey

Kerry has a 3-percentage-point lead over Bush among 819 likely New Jersey voters surveyed Oct. 1-4 in a Quinnipiac poll. Kerry had 49 percent support, Bush had 46 percent, Nader had 2 percent and another 3 percent were unsure. In late September, the two candidates were tied in this poll.

Ad Wars

Ad: 'You Saw'

Sponsor: Kerry-Edwards campaign

Voiceover: "You've seen a debate where John Kerry was strong and clear, and that he would find and kill terrorists to protect America. You've seen Dick Cheney not tell the truth on Iraq, and on his financial connections to Halliburton. Now, George Bush is desperately attacking John Kerry. But when it comes to Iraq, the economy, the deficit, health care costs and gas prices and more you've seen the Bush-Cheney failures for yourself. It's time for a new direction."

Kerry: "I'm John Kerry and I approve this message."

Ad: 'Stand Up'

Sponsor: The Media Fund

VO: Only a man who stands up to his government can truly lead. John Kerry fought and bled in the Vietnam War.

On screen: Kerry has been taking a stand since 1972

VO: He fought side by side with brothers who could not get out of the draft because they didn't have a rich father like George W. Bush.

On screen: "Kerry has a plan to get our troops home from Iraq." (Source: CNN, 9/20/04)

VO: John Kerry understands war and who is disproportionately affected by it.

On screen: "The death toll for U.S. troops in Iraq passed 1,000." (Source: Associated Press 9/8/04)

VO: The way this war is going, our 14-year-olds will be fighting in Iraq in 4 years. You better wake up before you get taken out

On screen: Go to breakbushoff.com

Ad: 'Just Getting By'

Sponsor: The Media Fund

VO: It will be virtually impossible to continue just getting by. For the past four years, Bush's people got paid … but most of us are catching hell. John Kerry will raise the minimum wage. John Kerry's first priority is to those struggling to make it in America, by creating good-paying jobs with health care.

On screen: "John Kerry has a plan to create 10 million jobs" (Source: Boston Globe, 6/25/04)

"You need to understand that the clock is being turned back and no one seems to be paying attention."

On screen: "Affirmative Action continues to be challenged by the Bush administration. (Source: CNN 1/16/03)

VO: You better wake up before you get taken out.

Ad: 'Hioco'

Sponsor: Move America Forward

Melissa Hioco, wife of Army National Guardsman: "I am so proud of my husband Jason. As a member of the Army National Guard he is serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Taking on the terrorist threat in Iraq has made the United States safer. That is why the terrorists are desperately trying to create unrest in Iraq. They know that if we are successful it will be a devastating blow to their violent agenda. Please stand behind my husband Jason and all of our troops as they help to move America forward from the threats of terrorism."

Ad: 'Johns'

Sponsor: Move America Forward

Deborah Johns, mother of U.S. Marine: "I am so proud of my son William, a U.S. Marine serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The people of Iraq have lived 30, 40 years under oppression. William is helping to bring about freedom and the people are recognizing that freedom is a gift. He supports what we are doing over there and our efforts to not only help Iraqi people be free but to help to maintain the freedoms that we enjoy here but unfortunately some take for granted. Please stand behind my son William and our troops as they help move America forward from the threats of terrorism."

Ad: 'Sister'

Sponsor: Let Freedom Ring

Sister: "My brother is so far away in Iraq but I always feel he is here close to my heart. He told me that 25 million people are free in Iraq because President Bush took a stand against dictatorship oppression and terrorism. How many sisters can say that their brother helped free 25 million people? I am proud of him, I am proud of our military, our president, our country. God bless America. Re-elect President Bush."

Let Freedom Ring Incorporated paid for and is responsible for this ad. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. On the Web at LetFreedomRing.com.

Ad: 'We Believe'

Sponsor: Let Freedom Ring

Woman: "We believe in America. One nation under God."

Man: "We believe in the Constitution of our founding fathers providing for a limited government and equal opportunity for all."

Woman: "We believe in America's traditional values where a marriage is one man and one woman."

Man: "Where individual initiative is the true key to prosperity."

Woman: "We believe for the world in which we live that America needs President George Bush. Your vote for President Bush will help let freedom ring across America."

Funny Files

"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno":

"Last night they held the vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards — the CEO versus the trial lawyer. Or, as I like to call it, 'Shark Tale."'

"Did you see Cheney next to Edwards? Didn't it look like the before and after pictures on 'Extreme Makeover'?"

"It's a very tricky position because how do you argue your qualifications to be vice president? 'If you need someone to run the country, I'm the second best man for the job.'"

"During the debate, President Bush was in the Oval Office with the TV on. He was cheering, he was screaming, he was jumping up and down! He was watching the Yankees game."

"Late Show with David Letterman":

"Edwards and Cheney sitting there together at the desk, they looked like the dinner theater production of 'Tuesdays with Morrie.'"

"Late Night with Conan O'Brien":

"During the debate, John Edwards accused Dick Cheney of 'not being straight with the American people.' Apparently Cheney misunderstood because he started yelling, 'Who you calling gay?' And then they kissed for half an hour."

"There were four reporters in the audience for every person. Not only that but there were also four paramedics for every Dick Cheney."

"Real Time with Bill Maher":

"New rule: Florida has to sit this election out. You know, you'd think after the year 2000, they would have made sure to get it right this time. But, no, even Jimmy Carter — a man who has seen more Third World hellholes than a lesbian couple trying to adopt — even he says Florida is not ready for an election. So, sorry, Florida, you're going to have to take that Tuesday off and just treat yourself to an extra hurricane. "

FOX News' Corbett Riner contributed to this report.