Trail Tales: Color Code Conundrum

The election is 12 days away. Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry (search) was hunting in Ohio Thursday morning, hoping to shed his elitist image and portray himself as just a regular guy. Meanwhile, President Bush (search) was hunting for votes in Pennsylvania, where Kerry has a slight lead in the polls.

Back Off Our Colored Alert System

Department of Homeland Security (search) officials are going on the defensive in response to comments Kerry made to "Rolling Stone" magazine on various homeland security issues, including the national color-coded terror-alert system.

Kerry said that "Americans, sadly, laugh" at the color-coded terror system. "They don't know what to do."

The Democratic hopeful said that, if elected, he would discontinue the program.

"I'm going to find some more thoughtful way of alerting America. If we have to alert America, I think the most important thing to do is alert law enforcement more effectively across the country. Law enforcement doesn't have even a single, unified watch list yet. They still have separate watch lists, with different names and different people. This is the single, simplest, most important thing the Department of Homeland Security was supposed to do, and they haven't done it."

When asked if it seems as if the threat level gets raised at key moments during the presidential campaign, Kerry said: "Yeah. But you know what? I'm not going to question motivations that I can't …"

In it's response to Kerry's remarks, DHS said simply, for one, "it's a political season."

"Clearly he (Senator Kerry) doesn't understand the (color-coded terror-alerts) system. It is not designed as a signal to the American public. It is designed as a signal to law enforcement to take action based on an assessment of the threats by the intelligence community," the agency said.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said the alert system is no laughing matter.

"I don't know anybody who laughs at those color codes because everybody knows there may be a problem and of course, I think homeland security people are doing a terrific job in this country to keep us safe," the Republican lawmaker told FOX News on Thursday, noting that the Patriot Act (search) has helped catch over 300 terrorists, 130 of which have already been convicted.

"John [Kerry] reminds me of the old song, 'Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better' - there isn't anything President Bush doesn't do that John says 'I can do better ' .. I think it's ridiculous .. they [Kerry camp] keeps talking about their 'plans' ... why don't they talk about what they're going to do?"

Robertson to Get Forgiveness?

Pat Robertson is in hot water with Bush officials.

The religious broadcaster said in a CNN interview that aired Tuesday night that he warned Bush before U.S. troops invaded Iraq that the United States would sustain casualties but that Bush responded, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." Read more about Robertson's comments by clicking here. 

White House and campaign advisers denied that Bush made the comment.

Bush senior adviser Karen Hughes told FOX News that she can't imagine the Feb. 10, 2003, conversation between the two men unfolded as has been reported. She said she's "sure it's not accurate." And that the president hasn't spoken to Robertson since the interview Tuesday.

Hughes said that another person who was in the room at the time -- senior adviser Karl Rove -- does not remember Bush saying that and, she added, anyone knows that when you go into a war you will of course face casualties. Hughes suggested the White House would be going back to speak to Robertson, a well-known Bush supporter who made his own bid for the presidency in 1988, to reconcile the discrepancy.

Robertson on Wednesday issued a statement, noting that during this week's interview, he "began and ended with my warm endorsement and praise of President Bush. President Bush is a great leader and I am 100 percent in favor of his re-election."

"I emphatically stated that, I believe 'the blessing of heaven is upon him' and I am persuaded that he will win this election and prevail on the war against terror in order to keep America safe from her avowed enemies," Robertson said in the statement.

THK's Mouth Gets Her into Trouble Again

Teresa Heinz Kerry's off-the-cuff remarks about Laura Bush's employment history isn't the first verbal snafu for the first lady wannabe.

In an interview published Wednesday in USA Today, Heinz Kerry suggested Laura Bush never had a "real job," but Bush was once a school teacher and a librarian. Heinz Kerry apologized for the error. "I appreciate and honor Mrs. Bush's service to the country as First Lady, and am sincerely sorry I had not remembered her important work in the past," she said in a statement. Read more about Heinz Kerry's comments on Laura Bush by clicking here.

Women and other viewers were burning up the phone lines at FOX News during "Fox and Friends" Thursday morning and they were more than heated about the insinuations in Heinz Kerry's remarks.

"Her comments really seek to drive a wedge between women who work at home and women who work outside the home," Bush adviser Karen Hughes told FOX News. "Most American women don’t appreciate that and I don't think their husbands will either."

The Kerry camp says the big hullabaloo is another attempt by the Bush camp to take the focus off "real" issues.

"We are certainly very proud of the first lady - she's a wonderful first lady and a wonderful mother - she's done great things for her country," Broderick Johnson, a Kerry senior political adviser, told FOX News on Thursday. "Teresa Heinz Kerry has nothing but great respect" for her.

This isn't the first time Heinz Kerry's mouth has gotten her into trouble.

In September, she said "only an idiot" wouldn't support her husband's health-care plan. "Of course, there are idiots," she said in a newspaper interview.

If Kerry is elected, Heinz Kerry then predicted, opponents of his health care plan will be voted out of office. But the multimillionaire and philanthropist insisted she wasn't selling her husband's plan.

"I don't have to sell it -- the people want it," she said. "The common man doesn't look at me as some rich witch. I talk about what I see. It has always been so. You judge people not by their pocketbook but by their actions. Walk the walk."

During the Democratic convention in Boston, she told one reporter to "shove it" and in August, during a rally where a Bush supporter was chanting "Four more years! Four more years!" through a bullhorn from the back of a park, Heinz Kerry stopped herself and said: "They want four more years of hell."

Kerry, who has continuously said he loves the fact that his wife has no qualms about her verbal sentiments, gave her a long hug and a big smile when she finished.

"She speaks her mind, and she speaks the truth, and she's pretty quick on her feet, too," Kerry said then.

On Kerry's Trail

Hunting for Waterfowl and Votes

Wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, Kerry left on a hunt for ducks and geese just before 7 a.m. EDT on a supporter's farm outside of Youngstown, Ohio, Thursday. Kerry adviser Mike McCurry said it's important in the final days of the campaign that voters "get a better sense of John Kerry, the guy."

The Democratic senator plans to spend some of the time before Election Day hunting, watching baseball and talking about his faith. It's all part of an effort to win over swing voters who may be open to voting against Bush but aren't sure they feel any connection with Kerry.

Kerry watched his beloved Boston Red Sox win the American League championship Wednesday night after arriving at his hotel room in Boardman, Ohio. "They're the greatest comeback team there is," Kerry told journalists invited in briefly. He declined to say if there were any metaphors for his campaign.

The National Rifle Association said it bought a full-page ad in Thursday's Youngstown newspaper that says Kerry is posing as a sportsman while opposing gun-owners' rights. Kerry has denied NRA claims that he wants to "take away" guns, but he supported the ban on assault-type weapons and requiring background checks at gun shows

"If John Kerry thinks the Second Amendment is about photo ops, he's Daffy," says the ad the NRA said would run in The Vindicator. It features a large photo of Kerry with his finger on a shotgun trigger but looking in another direction.

Kill Terrorist! …Bush's 'Bad Medicine'

On Wednesday, Kerry delivered a one-hour plus broadside aimed at the president covering the war in Iraq and the struggle against terror in Waterloo, Iowa.

"The president took his eye off the terrorists. I will stop at nothing to kill the terrorists before they kill us and prevent others from taking their place. That requires America to be strong. It also requires America to be smart," Kerry said during a campaign stop in Waterloo.

Kerry campaigned with rock star Jon Bon Jovi on Wednesday night at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where he made references to Bon Jovi songs. Actor Ted Danson and Pittsburgh Steeler Franco Harris were also there.

"John [Bon Jovi] actually has 2 songs about the administration's policies," Kerry said. "He didn’t know it, but he wrote a song called ‘Bad Medicine’ - that’s about their healthcare plan. And he wrote a song about their economic plan - it's called ‘Living on a Prayer.’"

On Bush's Trail

Bush was in three states he lost to Al Gore in 2000: Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

War on Terror Not a Metaphor and Social Security Demagoguery

"Senator Kerry's top foreign policy adviser has questioned whether this is even a war at all. Here's what he said, and I quote, 'We're not in a War on Terror in the literal sense. It is like saying "the war on poverty,' it is just a metaphor.' End quote," Bush said during a campaign stop in Mason City, Iowa. "Confusing food programs with terrorist killings reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the war we face, and that is very dangerous thinking."

Vice President Dick Cheney was in Clio, Minn., Wednesday for a roundtable at the local Big Boy (who no longer is associated with Bob). He repeated comments that got a lot of attention on Tuesday. Scared yet?

"We've learned since [9/11] that the biggest threat we face today is the possibilities of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with a deadlier weapons than have ever been used against us -- a chemical weapon or a biological agent of some kind or even a nuclear weapon with the possibility that they could threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans under those circumstances," Cheney said.

Cheney also accused Kerry of scaring people on Social Security.

"This whole notion that John Kerry is out there peddling that there is going to some - I think he calls it a 'January Surprise' Social Security is suddenly at risk. Hogwash. That is just fundamentally not true," the vice president said. "He knows it is not true that is the most disturbing thing of all. The president has made it very clear. Everyone I know has made it abundantly clear that Social Security is absolutely secure for current generation of recipients."

How Dare Cheney Get a Flu Shot

The Kerry-Edwards campaign slammed the Bush administration Wednesday for being a bunch of hypocrites when it comes to who gets the in-demand flu vaccination. There are reports that Cheney, a heart patient, has received a flu shot.

"Once again the Bush administration proves that it is the 'Do As We Say, Not As We Do' White House," Kerry-Edwards campaign spokesman Phil Singer said in a statement. The very week that [Health and Human Services] Secretary Thompson is telling Americans to keep calm, Dick Cheney, [Treasury Secretary] John Snow and [Senate Majority Leader] Bill Frist are getting flu shots. It is unfortunate that the Bush administration failed to do the work necessary to ensure that all Americans, including those most at risk, had been able to get shots as well."

Hatch said the criticism of Cheney is "ridiculous."

"You would think that you would want your top people to be careful with regard to the flu - a lot of us, when we get up to around 70 years of age, face very serious difficulties when you get the flu," Hatch said. "It's a very pathetic thing," the Utah senator said, adding that ush is not to blame for Chiron's vaccine shortage, but the litigation system is.

Poll Watch

A national NBC-Wall Street Journal poll of 831 likely voters conducted Oct. 16-18 shows Bush and Kerry tied at 48 percent support. The Independent candidate received 1 percent support, while another 3 percent were unsure.

Of 600 likely voters in New Hampshire, Bush has 47 percent, Kerry has 46 percent, Nader has 1 percent and another 6 percent were unsure. That survey was conducted by American Research Group from Oct. 16-18.

Another ARG poll of 600 likely New Mexico voters, taken Oct. 16-18, found that Kerry has a slim lead over Bush, 48 percent to 46 percent support. Nader got 1 percent, while another 5 percent were unsure. An ARG poll of 600 likely Wisconsin voters, taken Oct. 16-19, also has Bush and Kerry tied with 47 percent, Nader with 2 percent and 4 percent were unsure.

Kerry has 50 percent support among 600 likely voters in Oregon, according to a poll released by The Portland Tribune-KOIN-TV-KDRV-TV and conducted Oct. 11-14. Bush got 44 percent, while another 6 percent were unsure.

Among 641 likely voters in Florida, Kerry has 45 percent support over Bush's 44 percent. Nader received 2 percent in the survey taken Oct. 10-15 by the University of North Florida.

FOX News' Corbett Riner, Liza Porteus, Mike Emanuel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.