Red Stripe

Election Day is 25 days away. The second presidential debate was held Friday night at Washington University in St. Louis and the last one will be Oct. 13 in Tempe, Ariz. Friday's debate was held in a town-hall like setting and focused on Iraq and the War on Terror, as well as domestic issues such as health care, medical liability lawsuits and homeland security.

Stay on Your Side

Beyond the different feel of Friday night's freestyle format, the Bush-Kerry match up had a new twist: A red line was drawn down the middle of the stage.

The two camps spent several hours negotiating the new rule on Thursday and agreed with the Commission on Presidential Debates on the line’s addition.

The Bush campaign said it would help the look of the debate on television so that the best camera shots can be used and one candidate won’t upstage the other. The Kerry campaign said before the big event that they were with it but they didn't expect moderator Charlie Gibson to enforce keeping each man on his side of the line.

As it turns out, enforcement wasn't needed. It appeared that both Bush and Kerry stayed on their side of the red stripe.

Oil-for-Food: The Issue

The scandal over the U.N. Oil-for-Food (search) program finally broke into the presidential race Thursday as President Bush argued that Saddam Hussein (search) enriched himself and his evil ambitions by taking money from the program.

Responding to an official report that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction when the United States went to war, Bush said Saddam used what was supposed to be a humanitarian program “to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions … He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away.” Bush sees Saddam Hussein as a unique threat, a sworn enemy of the United States and a state sponsor of terror operating in the world's most volatile region.

Sen. John Kerry (search), the Democratic rival, later said what the report showed was that sanctions against Iraq had been working and that war was not necessary.

“Mr. President, the American people deserve more than spin about this war,” he said. “They deserve facts that represent reality, not carefully polished arguments and points that are simply calculated to align with a preconceived perception.”

For more about the Oil-for-Food scandal, click here to read a FOX News special report.

Poll Watch


Dead heat. That’s the finding of an Associated Press poll of 1,273 registered voters conducted Oct. 4-6. Bush and Kerry have 47 percent each with independent Ralph Nader at 2 percent. Two weeks ago, Bush had a nine-point advantage. Margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.5 percent.

In a separate AP poll of 944 likely voters, Kerry has reversed positions and leads with 50 percent to Bush’s 46 percent. Nader is at 2 percent (MOE +/- 3 percent).

Bush’s job approval has dropped from 54 percent in a Sept. 24 AP poll to 46 percent now.


Kerry is at 48 percent while Bush has 47 percent in this American Research Group survey of 600 likely voters in this battleground state. Nader has 1 percent. Undecideds make up 4 percent. (MOE +/- 4 percent.


Another poll from American Research Group has a similar result. Kerry is at 48 percent, Bush is at 46 percent, Nader 1 percent and undecided are at 5 percent. Six hundred likely voters in the state took part. (MOE +/- 4 percent).

Ad Wars

Ad: 'Michael J. Fox'

Sponsor: Kerry-Edwards

MICHAEL J. FOX: Stem cell research has the promise of finding cures for illness, from Parkinson's to Alzheimer's to diabetes. John Kerry strongly supports stem cell research. George Bush is putting limits on it. Stem cell research can help millions of Americans whose lives have been touched by devastating illnesses. George Bush says we can wait. I say lives are at stake and it's time for leadership. That's why I support John Kerry for president.

JOHN KERRY: I'm John Kerry and I approved this message.

Ad: 'Mother'

Sponsor: MoveOnPAC

This ad is an edited version of an ad we saw last week from the group RealVoices.Org. MoveOnPac bought the ad from RealVoices.Org and is now spending $1,000,000 to have it broadcast in Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania on another cable news network and on DC cable.

ON SCREEN: Message to George W. Bush.

CINDY SHEEHAN: My son was brave; he didn't want to go to war. But he joined the Army and he volunteered to go on the mission that killed him because his buddies needed to be rescued. He died in his best friend's arms in Iraq.

(Picture of Casey Sheehan in front of American flag)

CINDY SHEEHAN: I imagined it would hurt if one of my kids was killed, but I never thought it would hurt this bad. Especially someone so honest and brave as Casey, my son, when you haven't been honest with us, Mr. Bush.

(Picture of Casey Sheehan in uniform)

CINDY SHEEHAN: When you and your advisors rushed us into this war. How do you think we felt when we heard the Senate report that said there was no link between Iraq and 9/11?


ANNOUNCER: MoveOn PAC is responsible for the content of this advertisement.

Funny Files

"Late Night With Conan O'Brien":

"President Bush and John Kerry will hold their second presidential debate on television. Or as most Americans call it, Game 3 between the Yankees and the Twins."

"The Tonight Show With Jay Leno":

"If you watched the debates the other night, you know Cheney claimed that was the first he'd ever met Edwards, which turns out was not true. They'd actually met on three other occasions, once at a prayer breakfast, once on 'Meet the Press' and one crazy night at a motel in Encino."

"[Friday] is the second presidential debate, or as Republicans are calling it, 'Fear Factor.'"

"[Friday's] debate in St. Louis will be before an audience made up entirely of undecided voters. That creates a huge dilemma for Kerry. Does he stand on stage beside Bush or sit in the audience with all the other people who can't make up their minds?"

"Late Show With David Letterman":

"This is what his handlers have advised him to do after the first debate last week: George W. Bush's challenge now will be to stretch four and a half minutes of meaningless platitudes into an hour and a half. That's his challenge."

FOX News' Corbett Riner, Carl Cameron and Jim Angle contributed to this report.