What Was That in Kerry's Jacket Pocket?

The latest from the Political Grapevine:

What Was It?

Internet speculation abounds over the object John Kerry (search) appeared to remove from his jacket pocket as he approached the podium at Thursday's presidential debate.

Online video replays led some observers to accuse Kerry of bringing an illegal "cheat sheet" to the debate.

But upon careful review, it seems clear that the object the senator took out of his pocket was nothing but a black pen.

While debate rules state that "No... tangible things may be brought into the debate by either candidate," no one in the Bush camp seemed ready to make an issue of a pen.

Survey Squabble

A Newsweek survey that came out over the weekend has revived a controversy over sampling in political polling.

The new poll gave Kerry a two-point lead over President Bush. But the voter sample — the people questioned — turned out to be 36 percent Democrats and 34 percent Republicans.

The previous Newsweek poll, which had 39 percent Republicans and only 30 percent Democrats, gave the president an 11-point lead.

The question is whether such seeming discrepancies in the samples reflect actual voter sentiment, or whether the voter sentiment is a reflection of the samples.

Some pollsters "weight"  — that is, adjust — their results to correct such party imbalances. Others say that amounts to tampering with the results.

Hiring Hamas
The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency admits to employing members of the Palestinian terror group Hamas (search) in Gaza, and says he doesn't see anything wrong with it.

In an interview with Canadian television, Peter Hansen (search) called Hamas a "political organization," and said that the U.N. does not "exclude people from one [political] persuasion as against another."

Hansen added that he asks employees to "behave in accordance with U.N. standards and norms for neutrality."

The U.N. agency has long denied Israeli accusations that Hamas exploits U.N. facilities to transport terrorists and arms.

Picture Politics

A New Jersey Middle School teacher was asked to turn in the keys to her classroom after refusing to take down a picture of President Bush.

Shiba Pillai-Diaz (search) says the photograph, which WABC reports was hung on a small bulletin board alongside pictures of past presidents, was not displayed for political reasons.

But after Pillai-Diaz, a Bush supporter, refused to accommodate parents who insisted she remove the photo or add a picture of Kerry, principal Jim Warfel accused her of disrupting the school with her "inflammatory politics" and ordered her to leave the building.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report