The election is 18 days away.
President Bush (search) and his Democratic challenger, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search ), were crisscrossing battleground states such as Iowa and Wisconsin Friday in an effort to win over those key undecided voters.
Bush 'Retarded' Ad Causes Firestorm
What some might consider an offensive political flier has caused quite a stir.
The ad shows a photo of a Special Olympics athlete running a race. Superimposed over his face is President Bush's. On the flier is the text: "Voting for Bush is Like Running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded."
Click here to see the flier.
Copies of the flier were said to have been found in the office trash of Tennessee state Democratic Rep. Craig Fitzhugh.
Fitzhugh denies the allegation.
"First of all, it wasn't in my headquarters, it was in the local Democratic headquarters that has other candidates there as well, and we don't know who left the flier there," Fitzhugh told FOX News on Friday.
"We do know that the volunteers in the campaign headquarters took it out on the street in a city-owned trash container and threw it away," he added, "and shortly thereafter a gentleman came by and retrieved it and took it to [his opponent's] headquarters, and that's when it was distributed worldwide over the Internet without checking with anybody, and that's when I was accused of having something to do with it.
"The facts clearly show now that's not the case, but the damage has been done to me and my family," he continued.
Fitzhugh's Republican challenger, Dave Dahl, said he didn't believe his opponent personally produced the flier or had anything to do with distributing it.
"The fact still remains that this flier was in his campaign headquarters and someone distributed the flier," Dahl told FOX News. "It's an egregious thing to portray these special-needs kids in this way."
Fitzhugh said Dahl and other Republicans distributed the flier without any formal inquiry as to whether Fitzhugh had anything to do with it.
"I did not, and would not in any way, have anything to do with such a terrible piece of literature," Fitzhugh repeated. "Not even literature. A piece of trash."
Dahl denied circulating the flier, saying it was already out and about. Four different copies of it were sent to the Lauderdale County Republican headquarters, as well, he said.
"We began checking to see where it emanated from, and everyone said that it came from the Lauderdale County Democratic headquarters, which Mr. Fitzhugh shares," Dahl said. "It's less than 60 feet from the bank where he's the chairman of the board."
Brooms, Baseball and Cleaning Up Messes
Kerry and running mate John Edwards (search) returned to Iowa together for the first time since the primary season. The Democratic ticket and their wives held a rally of thousands at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and took turns throwing punches at the president.
On the presidential debates, Edwards said Bush has "been up to the plate three times, he's swung three times and he's out come Nov. 2."
The North Carolina senator also quipped: "My favorite moment in the debates which didn't get a lot of attention ... was at the second debate ... the town-hall meeting... George Bush asks, 'is my time up yet?'"
Kerry spent his time hitting Bush in a more general way:
"When they have the state fair, they clean it up in 24 hours — well, it will take a little longer to clean up the mess in Washington," the senator told supporters, some of whom waved brooms to represent their candidate "sweeping" the debates.
Bush likes to say that Kerry can run but can't hide from his liberal Senate record.
"The saying comes from an old boxer, Joe Louis. When Muhammad Ali was fighting George Foreman ... He looked at George Foreman and said, 'George, is that all you got?'"
Kerry responded Thursday: "So I say, Mr. President, after four years of falling wages, losing jobs, health care, is that all you got, Mr. President?"
In an earlier address to the AARP in Las Vegas, Kerry said Bush just 'doesn't get it' when it comes to helping the middle class.
"He can spin until he's dizzy, but at the end of the day, who, who, who does he think the American people are going to believe? George Bush or their own eyes?" Kerry said.
—FOX News' Catherine Loper contributed to this report.
New Bush Guard Service Documents Released
The Pentagon has found and released 28 new pages of Texas Air National Guard documents concerning George W. Bush.
Pentagon officials described the documents as being insignificant. They are mostly temporary duty orders (TDY) for supplemental training during then Lieutenant Bush's stint in the guard.
Bush's service in the National Guard has been a topic of discussion in his past campaigns, but has become an even bigger issue this year because of John Kerry's own military history during the Vietnam War. Bush has been accused of getting favoritism to avoid active duty service while Kerry, a Naval officer, has been blasted for exaggerating his heroism and for anti-war comments he made after returning home.
On Bush's Trail...
Bush, speaking at a rally in Las Vegas, made fun of himself and the oft-made criticism of his less-than-masterful handling of the English language.
"In the last few years, the American people have gotten to know me," Bush said Thursday at the rally. "They know my blunt way of speaking. (Applause) I get that from Mom. (Applause) They know I sometimes mangle the English language. (Laughter) I get that from Dad. (Laughter) Americans also know that I tell you exactly what I'm going to do and I keep my word." (Applause)
Vice President Dick Cheney (search) and his wife, Lynne, were in Ft. Myers, Fla., Thursday for a rally. Cheney wasted no time taking Kerry to task on a variety of issues, including his record on defense and tax policy, as well as Kerry's comment from the first presidential debate — which continues to dog him — in which he said if elected, he would make sure the United States passed a sort of "global test" before taking actions such as invading another country in the hunt for terrorists.
"You saw John Kerry last night [in the third debate] trying to back and fill on the idea of a global test," the vice president said. "Now that notion fits with his whole career, but he doesn't want us to know about his whole career. He is trying to hide it, to cover it up by using a little tough talk during the course of this campaign. But you can't do it, it won't work.
"To use a phrase that we like in Wyoming, 'you can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig.'"
Cheneys Still Fuming About Lesbian Comment
During the Ft. Myers rally Thursday, Mrs. Cheney introduced the vice president with nary a word about the incident that had so upset her Wednesday evening — Kerry bringing Cheney's daughter, Mary, into the final debate with Bush.
"We're all God's children," Kerry said when asked if he thought homosexuality is a choice. "And I think if you were to talk to Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, she would tell you that she's being who she was. She's being who she was born as. I think if you talk to anybody, it's not a choice."
Kerry said in a statement Thursday that he "was trying to say something positive about the way strong families deal with the issue."
After the debate, Lynne Cheney called the comment a "cheap and tawdry political trick."
On Thursday, the vice president had some of his own choice words for Kerry in the midst of a 7-minute exegesis of the senator's shortcomings.
"Last night's debate, I thought what you saw was the character and vision of our president. He is a man of loyalty and kindness who speaks plainly and how means what he says," Cheney told supporters in Ft. Myers. "And you saw something quite different from his opponent. You saw a man who will say and do anything in order to get elected.
And I am not just speaking just as a father here, though I am a pretty angry father, but as a citizen."
Kerry senior adviser Debra Deshong told FOX News on Friday that "this is a smokescreen they're [the Bush campaign] throwing up to make up for the fact they lost three debates in a row."
But Bush-Cheney campaign spokesman Kevin Madden said Kerry's comment was "the very worst political instinct from the Kerry campaign ... I think it will not pass the smell test of the American public."
Voter Fraud Allegations Continue
The Democratic National Committee has denied that it's advising party loyalists to invent accusations of Republican attempts to intimidate minority voters.
Allegations prompted by a DNC memo say party workers should be on the lookout for "expected" voter intimidation activity from the GOP. The memo also advises that if no evidence of such tactics exists, activists should launch a "preemptive strike" to alert the media that something might happen.
A DNC official said the memos are only designed to alert party workers to potential efforts to scare off minority voters, not to concoct last-minute claims if intimidation to increase minority turnout at the polls.
But Republicans are on the offensive.
"This document proves the Kerry campaign and the DNC are more interested in scaring minority voters instead of working to reach out to them on Election Day, even if it means completely making things up," Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie said in a statement.
Meanwhile, senior House and Senate Democrats Thursday sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft urging the Justice Department to investigate claims that a firm paid by the RNC, Voter's Outreach of America, shredded hundreds of voter registration forms filled out by Democrats. The department said it would review the request.
As for a voter registration scandal in South Dakota, six Republican officials have resigned over allegations they participated in the falsifying of absentee ballot applications.
And in Ohio, a federal judge ordered Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell to allow voters to cast a provisional ballot at the wrong polling place so long as it's in their county of residence. Blackwell had ordered poll workers to send voters to their proper precinct. He said he would appeal the court ruling, saying federal law leaves such questions to state election officials to decide.
—FOX News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.
A survey of 602 likely voters in Indiana, conducted Oct. 10-12, gives Bush 53 percent support, Kerry 40 percent and another 7 percent are unsure. The poll was conducted by Research 2000 for the South Bend Tribune and WSBT TV.
Another Research 2000 poll conducted for WCAX-TV in Vermont shows that of the 403 likely voters surveyed in that state from Oct. 10-12, Kerry has Bush beat with 53 percent support over the president. Another 3 percent support independent candidate Ralph Nader, while 4 percent are unsure.
Sponsor: Kerry-Edwards campaign
Narrator: "How out of touch is George Bush with Ohio? Over the last four years, we've lost over 230,000 jobs in our state. Now George Bush sends his treasury secretary to Ohio to tell us these job losses are a 'myth.' Do you think it's a myth that we've lost jobs? Over 100,000 Ohioans have lost their health insurance. Family incomes have fallen by $1,500. When is George Bush going to face reality?"
Sponsor: Softer Voices, a 527 group. Ad will run in Toledo, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pa.
Voiceover: "Softer Voices is responsible for the content of this advertising. In the War on Terrorism, America knows our enemies are here. Planning. Waiting. Watching. The threat is real. The dangers are great. Who will lead the fight for our freedoms? Who will defend our families? Who can America trust to win the war on terrorism? Protecting us at home. Winning the War on Terrorism. Providing strong leadership for America. George W. Bush."
Ad: 'Exaggeration,' Web video ad
Sponsor: Democratic National Committee
On screen: Is George Bush telling the truth about the War on Terror?
Bush: "Uh, gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Usama bin Laden, that's kinda one of those uh, exaggerations."
On screen: Really?
On screen: 03/13/04
Bush: "Ya' know, again, I don't know where he is, (chuckle), I repeat what I said, I truly am not concerned about him."
On screen: Truth. Not Exaggeration.
Ad: 'Not Funny,' Web video ad
Sponsor: Democratic National Committee
(Split screen Kerry/Bush)
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, who moderated the third presidential debate: "Health insurance costs have risen 36 percent over the last four years, according to The Washington Post. We're paying more, we're getting less. I would like to ask you, who bears responsibility for this? Is it the government? Is it the insurance companies? Is it the lawyers? Is it the doctors? Is it the administration?"
Bush: (laughing) "Gosh, I sure hope it's not the administration."
On screen: 45 Million Americans Without Healthcare, What's so funny Mr. President?
Sponsor: November Fund
Voiceover: "Emergency rooms are closing. Fewer doctors deliver babies. Delays for mammograms. As personal injury lawyers get rich suing lawyers, doctors pay."
Barbara: "My doctor helped me beat cancer, but he couldn't beat the trial lawyers. They drove his cost so high he quit."
Voiceover: "Now they're spending millions to block legal reform."
Barbara: "What are trial lawyers doing to your healthcare? Ask your trial doctor while you can."
Voiceover: "Warning: Trial Lawyers May Be Hazardous to Your Health"
Ad: 'WI Fooled'
Sponsor: Media Fund
Voiceover: "George Bush said his tax cuts would create 3 million jobs."
Bush: "Fool me once, shame on, shame on you."
Voiceover: "But Wisconsin's lost over 67,000 manufacturing jobs while corporations get tax breaks overseas."
Bush: "Fool me, you can't get fooled again."
Voiceover: "With nearly 3 million factory jobs lost, 45 million Americans without health insurance, 1,000 soldiers dead in Iraq. Don't get fooled again."
"Tonight Show" host Jay Leno opened his monologue Thursday night comparing the campaign to the baseball playoffs: "There's a new three strikes and you're out policy. But enough about President Bush in the debates."
Leno said Bush did a little better in the third debate because he spoke from the heart — but in the first two debates he tried speaking from the brain.
Leno also had a taped bit, using clips from the Wednesday night debate in a game show format — poking fun at both candidates.
"Late Show" host David Letterman said it was a pretty good debate, because "both candidates got to dodge a range of issues." But Letterman said Bush seemed a little confused, because at one point, the president "called out, 'State capitals for 200, Alex!"'
Letterman said Kerry and Bush agree on one thing — "there are too many CSI shows."
FOX News' Corbett Riner and Liza Porteus contributed to this report.