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Inside Politics
The Morning Grind / DayAhead

Same-sex marital woes for Bush

Makeup time for Kerry and Dean

By John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit

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ON CNN TV
Stay with CNN-USA for reports and analysis on the state of the race after John Kerry's four-state sweep and President Bush's new defense of his economic policy. Of special interest Wednesday evening: A "Face Off" on electronic voting on "Lou Dobbs Tonight" at 6 p.m. ET.
more videoVIDEO
CNN's Candy Crowley on John Kerry's sweep of four more state primaries

CNN's Bill Schneider compares Bush 2004 and Bush 1988

CNN's Bruce Morton looks at John Kerry's chances in the South
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush draws fire on two fronts Wednesday as he campaigns in must-win Ohio, one of seven swing states where a gay GOP organization -- the Log Cabin Republicans -- is launching an unprecedented TV ad blitz chastising their fellow Republican over his disdain for gay marriage.

From the left, Bush gets hit by the Media Fund, which is spending almost $5.1 million to air a new ad throwing everything at the president but the kitchen sink -- job losses, tax cuts, health care, special interests and corporate corruption.

Take your pick, they're all jammed into the 30-second spot, which the Media Fund clearly wants to air before the Federal Election Commission issues a decision on spending by so-called 527 groups that could curtail their role in '04 politics. (Named for a section of the tax code regulating their activities, these groups can accept "soft money" -- or unregulated donations that come mostly from corporations and unions.)

But it's the Log Cabin ad that's sure to draw the most attention, if only because it's the first time the 27-year-old group has run a TV commercial, and it's the most public criticism it's ever levied at a Republican president.

Reflecting the difficult position Log Cabin is in, the ad strategically criticizes Bush without ever mentioning his name or the specific disagreement at hand. Indeed, one could watch the entire ad and assume (wrongly) that Log Cabin and the Bush administration walk hand in hand on the issue of gay marriage.

The ad features grainy black-and-white footage of Dick Cheney talking encouragingly about gay relations during an October 2000 vice presidential debate in Kentucky.

"The fact of the matter is we live in a free society, and freedom means freedom for everybody," said Cheney, whose daughter Mary is openly gay and works on his campaign.

"We don't get to choose, and shouldn't be able to choose, and say you get to live free but you don't. People should be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to enter into. That matter is regulated by the states."

On screen, key phrases appear. "States can choose for themselves," followed by "Federal law protects them from what other states decide."

More Cheney: "I think different states are likely to come to different conclusions and that's appropriate. I don't think there should necessarily be a federal policy in this area."

The ad concludes, "We agree. ... Don't amend the Constitution." Fade to black.

With a relatively small $1 million buy, the ad is clearly targeted at political leaders in Washington, but officials said it will air for several weeks in swing states such as Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

Kerry makes nice

Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry is set to confer Wednesday afternoon with Howard Dean at new, spacious downtown campaign headquarters, the first time the two Democrats have met up since their final debate in Wisconsin. It's a private meeting with no joint appearance scheduled, and aides play down expectations that the head-to-head will result in Dean's public endorsement of Kerry, at least not Wednesday.

Later Wednesday, Kerry sits down with Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and his senior staff. Similarly, aides play down speculation of fireworks.

On Wednesday morning, Kerry is meeting with workers at Hill Mechanical Group in Chicago, Illinois, before making his remarks to the AFL-CIO executive council meeting via satellite. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a likely 2006 gubernatorial candidate, also is addressing the group.

A small sample of Kerry's remarks: "George Bush likes to talk about tax cuts, but the truth is that since George Bush came into office, Americans have been taxed more than ever before," he'll say, citing increased gasoline taxes, college tuition hikes, higher health-care costs, and state and local property tax increases.

Vice presidential tea leaves

In yet another sign she's not seeking a spot on the '04 ticket, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is holding a news conference Wednesday with Americans for Gun Safety to announce a national campaign to address the problem of guns and domestic violence. The event at the Capitol is part of "Stop Violence Against Women Week."

While she may be pushing an entirely worthy cause, Clinton must know that Kerry is not seeking an outspoken advocate of gun control as his '04 running mate. Gosh, and the Grind thought there was still a chance she'd reconsider. ...


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