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Trail Tales: What's That Face?
Friday, October 01, 2004

The election is 32 days away and the first presidential debate is over. One down and two more to go between President Bush (search) and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (search).

The Metrosexual and the Cowboy

Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday, Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate, in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president.

"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.

With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going.

Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights.

"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.

Kerry still trails in actual horse-race polls, but aides say his performance was strong enough to rally his base and further appeal to voters ready for a change.

"I'm metrosexual  he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.

A "metrosexual" is defined as an urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.

What's That Face?

The Kerry campaign on Friday released cutaways of the president's facial expressions seen during Thursday's debate. Spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told FOX News on Thursday night that they planned to show Bush appearing arrogant, annoyed and aloof at various times.

"I think that's fine I hope they send it far and wide," Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie (search) told FOX News after the debate. "The fact is, the president was listening to Sen. Kerry and taking notes ... they would rather have that kind of distraction than talk about the facts."

A 30-page set of rigid guidelines governed the debate; among the rules was a ban on news networks' split-screen views of both candidates. But some, including FOX News, ran the split screens anyway.

The technique allowed viewers to see the facial expressions of both men, and Kerry definitely showed less emotion than Bush.

"Several times it looked to me as if the president was sucking on a lemon," said Washington Post political writer and FOX News political analyst Ceci Connelly. 

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) said the cutaways that will be shown are true to Bush's form during the debate, adding that Bush looked "clueless."

"You looked at a president of the United States tonight that looked annoyed during the entire time of the debate, he looked angry, he couldn't answer the questions as to what's been happening in Iraq," McAuliffe told FOX News. "The cutaways merely are George Bush. I think he even sighed a few times ... he did not look presidential tonight. You saw a president tonight  and that was John Kerry."

Kerry also didn't appear to sweat. The debate rules dictate that the temperature had to be 70 degrees a plus for Bush, who loves the heat of central Texas. Kerry, who tends to sweat, reportedly wanted the room cooler.

Each podium was the same size, which illustrated Kerry's 3-to-4-inch height advantage over the president.

Silence and Power Outages

While it is not uncommon in press filing centers for reporters to laugh, cheer, groan and audibly react during a presidential debate, there was silence in the press room Thursday night.

There is a growing consensus among reporters that Kerry's criticisms got under the president's skin.

Sen. Bill Nelson (search), D-Fla., told FOX News that between 300,000 and 400,000 Floridians were unable to watch the debate because they were still without power after their state's quadruple walloping by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne.

Bush Twins and Kerry Kids

On another note, the daughters of Kerry and Bush apparently have become quite close while stumping for their fathers.

When asked what Bush thought Kerry's biggest character flaws were that could prevent him from being elected, the president started off commending the senator for being a "great dad" to daughters Alexandra and Vanessa.

Bush said he appreciated "the fact that [Kerry's] daughters have been so kind to my daughters," adding that "it's been hard" for the children of both candidates while their dads have been on the campaign trail.

Kerry told Bush he appreciated his comments about his family "enormously," and said he'd followed the progress of the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara.

"I've chuckled a few times at some of their comments," Kerry said.

Bush laughed, saying, "I'm trying to put a leash on them."

Thou Shalt Not Smear Democrats

Sen. Robert Byrd (search), D-W.Va., delivered a statement on the Senate floor Thursday criticizing a Republican National Committee flyer sent en masse to West Virginians, which he said suggests that Democratic officials want to ban the Bible.

Byrd sees the flyer as the "latest in a pattern of distortions from the RNC and the Republican leadership" and points to the situation in Iraq as evidence.

The RNC is "spreading this tripe to smear Democrats, and the president ought to demand that the Republican National Committee apologize to the people of West Virginia," Byrd said. "The political hacks behind that blasphemous flyer should be required to re-read the Book of Exodus. There is no free pass from the commandments in an election year."

Republicans "must think that spreading nonsense about banning the Bible is a sure-fire way to get votes in an election year. But the people of West Virginia are smarter than that."

Byrd said truth is "tailored to fit the occasion" this election year, and "nowhere is this more evident than on the subject of Iraq. Whether it be weapons of mass destruction or an imminent threat or mushroom clouds, the reason for the war changes faster than the weather. Talk about flip-flops!"

Election Politics on the Hill

Election politics strayed onto the Senate floor again Thursday.

Kicking it off, Sen. Ted Kennedy (search), D-Mass., beat the same drum he did Wednesday, saying the premise for war in Iraq was faulty and blaming Bush for the violence and instability there now.

Sen. Gordon Smith (search), R-Ore., rose to the president's defense and methodically cited various statements Kerry has made about the war, pointing out what he described as inconsistencies.

Kennedy: "It's now clear from very moment he [Bush] took office, his agenda was clear find a rationale to get rid of Saddam."

Kennedy: "In the Rose Garden in 2002, the president said Iraq is a threat of unique urgency ... On Oct. 7, he echoed [Condoleezza] Rice's image of nuclear devastation ... and said we cannot wait for the final proof, the mushroom cloud ... This was the administration's rallying cry for war."

Smith: "It seems to me that Senator Kerry is playing a rather false game with the American public ... I've heard him complain we don't have enough troops ... and now he says bring them home ... Then he said he has the ability to change the dynamics on the ground ... he does have the ability to change the dynamics ... The enemies of democracy would feel emboldened to wait it out until our forces leave."

Poll Watch

A CBS poll of 200 "fence-sitters" found that 44 percent thought Kerry won Thursday night's debate, 26 percent said Bush came out the victor and 30 percent said the two candidates were tied.

An ABC News poll found that 45 percent of respondents said Kerry won, 36 percent said Bush did and 17 percent said the two men were tied.

Cutter told FOX News that the Kerry camp's internal flash polling showed their candidate's favorability going from 43 to 68 as a result of the debate.

As for national polls showing Kerry behind in the race, aides to the Democratic challenger dispute the accuracy of surveys of likely voters, arguing that they fail to account for newly registered voters recruited by groups like MoveOn, Rockers, HipHop and America Coming Together (ACT).

According to a Los Angeles Times national poll conducted Sept. 25-28, Bush has 51 percent, compared to Kerry's 46 percent.

Among the 1,100 likely voters surveyed, 3 percent were undecided. Among 1,531 registered voters, Bush had 49 percent support, Kerry had 45 percent and 6 percent were undecided.

Kerry has a slight lead over Bush, however, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 489 likely New Jersey voters, conducted Sept. 23-28. Kerry got 45 percent in that poll, while Bush got 44 percent and independent candidate Ralph Nader got 1 percent; 10 percent were undecided.

Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania

Bush has a 10-point lead over Kerry among the 704 likely Florida voters surveyed in a CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll. Conducted Sept. 24-27, the poll found that Bush has 53 percent support over Kerry's 43 percent.

Bush gained four percentage points since an earlier poll was conducted by the same group. Four percent or respondents were unsure.

That same group surveyed 664 likely voters in Ohio from Sept. 25-29 and found that Bush got 50 percent support, Kerry got 48 percent and 2 percent were unsure. In a three-way race with Nader, Bush got 49 percent, Kerry got 47 percent and Nader got 1 percent; 3 percent were unsure.

Among 654 likely Pennsylvania voters, a CNN/USAToday/Gallup poll found that Bush has 50 percent support, Kerry has 47 percent and 3 percent are unsure.

Throw Nader in the mix and Bush's support drops to 49 percent, Kerry's to 46 percent and Nader gets 1 percent support; 4 percent are unsure.

Ad Wars

Washington Sen. Patty Murray's opponent this fall, U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, has a new ad out that includes remarks she made after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks about why people in the Arab world like Usama bin Laden.

Ad: 'Different'

Sponsor: George Nethercutt

(Photo of bin Laden)

Voice-Over: "When most Americans think of Usama bin Laden, they think of this:"

(photo of World Trade Center wreckage)

On Screen: "Patty Murray has a different view of bin Laden"

Murray: "He has been out in these [Arab] countries for decades building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful he has made their life better. We have not done that."

On Screen: "Patty Murray on Usama bin Laden"

Voice-Over: "He had made lives better?"

Nethercutt: "I am George Nethercutt and I approved this message because winning the War on Terror means fighting terrorists, not excusing them."

Print Ad: 'That Dog Don't Hunt'

Sponsor: National Rifle Association

Text: "John Kerry says he supports sportsmen's rights. But his record says something else."

The ad lists six issues Kerry voted on that appear to be against the right to bear arms, including how the Massachusetts senator voted for an amendment to outlaw most ammunition used by deer hunters, supported a higher tax on firearms and ammunition and his purported 20-year record of voting against sportsmen's rights.

The bottom of the ad says: "If John Kerry wins, you lose."

On top of the ad is a huge white poodle wearing a Kerry sweater and the tag line "That Dog Don't Hunt."

FOX News' Liza Porteus, Corbett Rhiner, Carl Cameron and Julie Asher contributed to this report.

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