The latest from the Political Grapevine:
Two weeks after announcing John Edwards as his running mate — and just days before heading to Boston to accept the Democratic Presidential Nomination — John Kerry is gaining ground, according to a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll.
The survey shows the candidates in a dead heat, after President Bush led Kerry by 7 points in a Fox poll one month ago. The bump could be attributed to the addition of Edwards to the ticket because 53 percent of voters say he helps the Kerry campaign.
But on the day of the 9/11 commission report, the president continues to lead on which candidate would make the U.S. stronger, with 44 percent saying President Bush and 38 percent saying John Kerry.
Former counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke told the 9/11 commission earlier this year that the Bush administration was not committed to fighting terrorism before September 11th. Now, Clarke is criticizing the commission's report, telling ABC news it fails to answer key questions such as whether President Bush gave enough attention to terror threats early in his term.
In fact, the commission did answer that question, but not the way Clarke wanted. He argued the Bush administration did little or nothing to confront the threat. The commission, however, concludes that President Bush was — "genuinely concerned about the danger posed by Al Qaeda."
Cressey Under Fire
Meanwhile, Roll Call reports that Clarke's former chief of staff Roger Cressey, who backed Clarke's charges against the Bush administration, was under criminal investigation when he left the White House in 2002. Justice Department officials were looking into claims that Cressey was negotiating for a job with a private company while at the same time recommending that company for a $600,000 government contract.
When told of the investigation, the unnamed company withdrew its job offer. Cressey later paid a $5,000 fine to avoid prosecution, but insists that he never violated the law.
Stand-up comedian Margaret Cho, who in a profanity-laced tirade once joked that President Bush would be like Adolf Hitler if only he applied himself, has been cut from the lineup of a gay political event in Boston next week.
The Human Rights Campaign, which is sponsoring the event, says Cho's racy political humor didn't fit its theme of Gay Unity. But Cho's manager says she was cut to avoid further problems for the Kerry campaign — which came under fire last week for vulgar comments made by comedian Whoopi Goldberg at a Democratic fundraiser — adding — "In light of the recent Whoopi Goldberg incident ... they're just running scared."
— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report