Election Recycling: You Guys Really Do Care Edition

big hair In fresh ad blitz, the Bush camp will focus on Kerry's previous support of a 50-cent increase in the gas tax to illustrate Kerry as "a senator who has a consistent record of voting for higher taxes, who wants to cut the deficit in half but, if you cost out some of his proposals. . . has a trillion-dollar tax gap" between his proposed spending and new revenue. Kerry flak estimates are "completely absurd." [WP and NYT]

Senators Hagel and McCain break Republican ranks to defend Kerry. Says Hagel: "You can take a guy like John Kerry, who's been in the Senate for 19 years, and go through that voting record. You can take it with. . . any of us, and pick out different votes, and then try to manufacture something around that." [LAT]

In new book, Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism coordinator, says Bush ignored al Qaeda threat, pressed to blame Iraq, and "manufactured" the war. White House says remarks are partisan. [WP and WT]

Bush camp sees in Kerry a pattern of fabrication and exaggeration going back to Massachusetts campaigns including exaggerated claims of an Irish heritage, back-tracking on Roe v. Wade remarks, and breaking a campaign spending cap. But, notes WT, "For his part, Mr. Bush, on several occasions as president, has made public demands on pending bills, but abandoned those principles later." [WT]

Bush paints himself as a supporter of employees and advocate against corporate malfeasance, to counter Kerry's assertions. "It's going to be very difficult for Bush to insulate himself from those attacks from Kerry and the Democrats. When you see a close connection between corporate America and the White House, that can be very damaging for an incumbent when the election is about his performance on the economy," says a scholar. [NYT]

Senator Kennedy: "All we have to do is go down the list of members of the United Nations to find out where [Kerry's] support is. The CIA knows it. They work for the president. They can give him the names of all of those countries." [WT]

Kerry, short on cash, relies on the Media Fund and MoveOn.org ads to counter Bush's assult. [WP]

RNC has $45 million to the DNC's $18 million; Nader raised $559,000 in February. Kerry has raised $14 million online since Super Tuesday. [NYT and WT]

Companies milk the election for points among young voters. "A lot of companies are interested in joining young people in that message to say, 'You guys really do care,' and they want to associate themselves with movements that show that young people really are engaged," says an MTV ad exec. [NYT]

A handful of people, under guidance of Karl Rove, run the Bush campaign. [USAT]

George Soros: "I would be definitely willing to spend more. I probably will spend more, because there is such a disparity [between Democrats and Republicans] in the amount of money available for the media campaign now. . . The purpose of campaign finance reform was primarily to remove special interests from influence, from access, and supporting 527s doesn't give me or anyone else access. I think I am justified in what I am doing." [BG]

Kucinich will campaign through June: "My commitment remains steadfast." [USAT]

Bush enjoys campaigning, as long as he is home for dinner and ESPN plays on Air Force One. [NYT]

Kerry, on vacation, still tends to negative attacks. [USAT]

Late-night joke count, Jan. 1 to March 9: Bush, 213; Kerry, 53; Kucinich, 43. [WP]

[Bush has the support of Big Hair. Photo: REUTERS/Larry Downing]


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