The election is 13 days away. As President Bush (search) and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry (search), continued to woo voters in America's heartland on Wednesday, national polls show the race continues to be close with the president enjoying a narrow lead.
9/11 Ad Wars
The Sept. 11 ad wars broke out Tuesday, as supporters of Bush launched a tear-jerking commercial in which a teen who lost her mom in the World Trade Center (search) recalls how Bush comforted her.
Meanwhile a new Kerry ad features an anti-Bush 9/11 widow, Kristen Breitweiser.
Both ads are aimed at women and seniors as they weigh their final choice on who can best keep America safe in an era of terror.
The biggest TV buy ever for a single political ad — $17 million — features Ashley Faulkner, 16, whose mom was killed on 9/11, as she tells how Bush came back to hug her at an Ohio rally when a friend told him of her loss.
"He's the most powerful man in the world and all he wants to do is make sure that I'm safe, that I'm OK," she says, and her dad, Lynn, adds that he saw in Bush's face "what I want to see in the heart and soul" of a president.
The spot was inspired by Lynn Faulkner's photo of Bush and his daughter. It was made by GOP adman Larry McCarthy. The pro-Bush independent group Progress for America Voter Fund is paying for the ad, which brought in $3.3 million in donations when it debuted yesterday.
It's already airing in nine swing states — Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, New Mexico and Nevada — plus nationwide on the FOX News Channel, CNN, Lifetime, Hallmark and A&E.
The Kerry ad features Breitweiser — one of the "Jersey Girls" who've often been critical of Bush — and mixes criticism of the president with family photos, including one where her late husband Ron cuddles their baby girl.
"I fought for the 9/11 commission, something George W. Bush — the man my husband, Ron, and I voted for — didn't think was necessary. And during the commission hearings, we learned the truth — we are no safer today," Breitweiser says.
"I want to look in my daughter's eyes and know that she is safe, and that is why I am voting for John Kerry."
—The New York Post
Cheney, Kerry on Mary
Vice President Dick Cheney (search) sat down with FOX News' "Hannity and Colmes"' Sean Hannity for an interview Tuesday afternoon and was asked about Kerry's remarks during the last presidential debate in which he referred to the sexuality of Mary, the vice president's daughter. Mary is a lesbian. Cheney was specifically asked about Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill's comment to FOX News that her sexuality was fair game:
"I think what it showed clearly was this whole thing was calculated if you got your campaign manager out there immediately after —- he's said it during the course of the final debate. Then Mary Beth Cahill was on the tube saying Mary's fair game," Cheney told Hannity.
"That says to me they made a conscious decision that this was something they wanted to do and that it was part of a political strategy. I think that's what we found offensive. It's behind us now. We're moving on. I think a lot of people look at it and say it's just one more example of a candidate who's prepared to say anything in order to advance his political cause."
The entire interview will be aired on FOX News Channel on Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT.
In an interview with National Public Radio's Juan Williams, who also is a FOX News contributor, Kerry was asked about his comments on Mary Cheney's sexuality:
"I made it in a very constructive and I thought proper way. I know they love their daughter very, very much. I respected that," Kerry said. "And all I was doing was pointing out the difficulties that people face as they confront choices. And how you do embrace somebody's being who they are. And I was trying to point out she's who she is. I don't think it was a choice. And so it was meant very respectfully and I think that I think I've said everything that needs to be said about that. That I respect them and I respect their love for their daughter and I respect her."
Bubba on the Trail
President Bill Clinton (search) will join Kerry on the campaign trail Monday as he appears with the current presidential hopeful during a rally in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania is viewed as a key battleground this election year.
The two-term former president also will campaign separately for Kerry, Joe Lockhart, an adviser to Kerry and former Clinton press secretary, said Wednesday.
For the second time Tuesday, Kerry mentioned Clinton as an influence on his campaign.
To a local NBC affiliate, WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pa., Kerry said "I think it's possible ... that former president Clinton may be here, working," in the campaign's final days. He said this in an interview after his Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Speech.
Then, during a rally in Dayton, Ohio, Tuesday night, the senator said he had been talking to Clinton "before I came out here." He then went on to describe their conversation about how the Bush-Cheney campaign is trying to "scare" Americans. He ended by saying, "Clinton says when the other guy is trying to make you stop thinking … and you want America to think about their future … it's clear who you ought to be voting for."
Kerry's campaign also has outlined for Clinton other ways he can help rally voters and participate in the last two weeks of the presidential campaign, including visits to battleground states. The camp has also said that Clinton is likely to do radio spots and other things that don't require the physical exertion that campaigning would.
"There has been some discussion with the former president about things that will be great for him to do," said Kerry adviser Mike McCurry. "We're hoping that something will be able to come together."
Litigating Election Day
Kerry's campaign has recruited nearly 10,000 lawyers to fight for Democratic votes in courtrooms across America. To Kerry legal advisers say they will dispute election results even if Bush is the clear winner and will challenge anything that looks like voter intimidation or interference.
"We are bound and determined to let every person who wants to vote actually get a chance to do that on November the second," said Kerry campaign senior adviser Eric Holder.
The Bush campaign has left the recruitment of lawyers to state Republican parties and vow to battle Democratic lawyers where necessary and say the Democrats are too ready to go on the offensive and their plan sounds like a recipe for frivolous lawsuits.
"The Republican National Committee along with the president want this election to be decided by the voters. Democrats want this to be decided by the trial lawyers," said RNC senior adviser, Robert Traynham.
Bush has a five-point lead, receiving 48 percent to Kerry's 43 percent among likely voters, according to the latest FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll. When independent candidate Ralph Nader is included, he receives 2 percent, Bush 49 percent and Kerry 42 percent. Two weeks ago, Bush had a two-point lead over Kerry in the three-way race, and a three-point lead in the head-to-head matchup.
Men are more likely to support Bush over Kerry (51 percent to 41 percent), and women also give a slight edge to the president (47 percent to 45 percent). Married women, a voting group many are watching this year, give their support to Bush (49 percent to 43 percent), while single women support Kerry (49 percent to 41 percent).
By a margin of 52 percent to 34 percent, self-identified independent voters today are backing Bush. This is up from an 11-point advantage the president had among this group two weeks ago.
The survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted Oct. 17-18.
Another national poll of 678 likely voters, released by CBS News/The New York Times, shows Bush with a slight lead over Kerry, within the margin of error. The president has 47 percent, Kerry has 45, Nader has 2 percent and another 6 percent are unsure. That poll was conducted Oct. 14-17.
A FOX News/Opinion Dyamics poll of 800 voters in the battleground state of Ohio shows Bush with a lead of 49 percent over Kerry's 44 percent. That survey, conducted Oct. 17-18, shows that if Nader makes it on the ballot there, Bush would get 47 percent and Kerry 45 percent.
According to the poll, men are much more likely to vote for Bush (52 percent to 41 percent), while the vote among women is closely divided and gives only a one point edge to Kerry (46 percent Bush to 47 percent Kerry). Majorities of married men and women support the incumbent.
Another poll of 757 likely Ohio voters, conducted by the University of Cincinnati from Oct. 11-17, shows that Kerry has 48 percent, compared to Bush's 46 percent. Another 5 percent are undecided. But Bush's support has slipped in the state, according to that poll, within the past month. In September, Bush enjoyed 54 percent support among Ohio voters, as compared to Kerry's 43 percent.
Colorado, New Hampshire and New Jersey
Bush has a six-point lead over Kerry in Colorado, according to a CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll conducted Oct. 14-17 of 666 likely voters. Bush has 51 percent, Kerry 45 percent and Nader 1 percent; another 3 percent were unsure. That same poll released Oct. 7 showed Kerry and Bush tied with 49 percent.
Of the 400 likely voters surveyed in New Hampshire by Suffolk University/WHDH-TV, Kerry is supported by 46 percent of those surveyed Oct. 14-17, while Bush is supported by 41 percent. While only 1 percent would vote for Nader, another 12 percent are unsure.
In New Jersey, two polls show the Democratic challenger with a lead over the president. A Quinnipiac University poll of 786 likely voters, conducted Oct. 14-17, give Kerry 49 percent support, Bush 45 percent, Nader 1 percent and another 4 percent are unsure. The Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers poll showed Kerry ahead of Bush, 48 percent to 38 percent, among registered voters. The Massachusetts senator's lead among likely voters is even wider — 51 to 38 percent.
"The Tonight Show with Jay Leno":
"Well today is October 19th, which means there are only 15 voting days left in Florida. Have you heard Florida's new slogan? 'Hey, let's screw this one up early."'
"Ralph Nader said he has no intention of leaving the presidential race. It's not so much he wants to stay in the race. It's just that he has nowhere else to go."
"John Kerry said today that Bush was planning a 'January surprise' if he's re-elected. Hey, if we know who's going to be president by January that will be a surprise, don't you think?"
"A man was arrested in Ohio after being paid in crack to register voters. They were paying people in crack to register voters. You know it's scary enough that the election is going to be decided by the undecided. But to be decided by undecided crack heads. That's really bad."
"Over the weekend, President Bush told a crowd of supporters in Florida that he is the best protection from the draft. That's not true. Bush's dad was the protection from the draft."
"I always love when politicians try to be all things to all people. This week, John Kerry bought a hunting license in Ohio to appeal to gun owners and hunters. Then he went to a Catholic Mass to appeal to Catholics. He also campaigned in Appalachia. He told the crowd that his wife Teresa was his first cousin."
"Late Night with Conan O'Brien":
"John Kerry is being accused of using bad grammar to appeal to uneducated voters because yesterday he stopped in a store and asked, 'Can I get me a hunting license here?' After hearing about it President Bush said, 'It should be 'Can me get me a hunting license here?"'
"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says that after he gave a speech at the Republican Convention, his wife, Maria Shriver, was so mad, she wouldn't have sex with him for 14 days. Schwarzenegger said things got so bad he had to call up Bill O'Reilly."
"Late Show with David Letterman":
"They're doing the early voting in Florida and there are already irregularities in the early Florida voting. You know it's sad when the voting goes smoother in Afghanistan than it does in Florida."
"But down in Florida in the early voting, there were computer glitches, confusing ballots, long lines and chaos. And when President Bush heard about this, he said, 'Mission accomplished!"'
FOX News' Major Garrett, Catherine Loper, Corbett Riner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.