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Inside Politics
The Morning Grind / DayAhead

Born to run

By John Mercurio
CNN Political Unit

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Sen. John Kerry counts down the days until the election at a Wednesday rally in Iowa.
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Morning Grind
George W. Bush
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Michigan

NEW YORK (CNN) -- You've gotta hand it to the Red Sox. Odds stacked against them, they vowed no surrender. With hungry hearts and a reason to believe, they took themselves to the promised land. They're tougher than the rest. Some might say they're ... born to run. All of Boston, a lucky town, was dancing in the dark last night. Glory days, indeed. Here in the Big Apple, well, they've seen better days.

Which brings us, of course, to Bruce Springsteen, who takes his show on the (thunder) road today, trying to make John Kerry the man at the top. Bruce could help Kerry, of course. But questions remain: Does Kerry, so often a cautious man, have the human touch? Could he lead the country to better days? Or is it all just a brilliant disguise? (OK, we'll stop. Even we're getting annoyed with ourselves.)

The Boss will rendezvous with Kerry in Madison, Wisconsin, at the state Capitol around 2 p.m. ET and then will jet back to Columbus, Ohio, with him for a late afternoon rally at Ohio State University. Former Sen. John Glenn joins them in Ohio. Springsteen teams back up with Kerry on Election Eve in Cleveland.

Just a hunch, but we're betting that Kerry, who has avoided linking his campaign to his beloved but cursed Sox, will do so more freely now that they're champions. However, pitcher Curt Schilling may have taken some wind out of Kerry's sails today by endorsing President Bush on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Meanwhile, the president campaigns for a second day in rural Michigan, making clear the GOP's eleventh-hour goal of denying Kerry this blue/Gore state by appealing to swing, conservative Democrats. (Following Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's reprimand, however, we presume he'll avoid invoking JFK from now on.) Bush -- who drew some 20,000 folks to the Silverdome last night in Pontiac, Michigan, one of his campaign's best turnouts -- comes back Saturday, appearing in the GOP stronghold of Grand Rapids. (Watch for some references there to native son Gerald Ford.)

It's a good strategy for Bush-Cheney. Kerry's never been too chummy with the state's all-powerful auto industry. And few Democrats can offer a winning scenario that doesn't include the Wolverine State -- at least not without breaking into hysterics. Kerry, who stumped with Gov. Jennifer Granholm on Monday after a five-week absence from the state, will be back in Detroit on Saturday.

Still, a Detroit News poll out this morning shows Kerry has opened up a 5-point lead among likely voters in Michigan. That's technically within the survey's margin of error, "but it certainly looks good for John Kerry in Michigan," Steve Mitchell, one of the state's most respected pollsters, told the News. (A Mitchell poll last week had Bush up 3 points.) The News, a conservative paper that has never backed a Democrat for president, withheld its endorsement from Bush last weekend, saying it would back "none of the above."

But again, everything's topsy-turvy right now. Former President Clinton gave satellite TV interviews to Hawaii affiliates to help shore up Kerry in that uber-blue state. At the request of Clinton and senators in Arkansas and West Virginia, Camp Kerry has made a late push, backed by cash, in those states. Bush-Cheney is pouring money into New Hampshire to reverse polls showing Kerry leading there. As we so often try to tell people, the only poll that matters ...

Watching closely

Meanwhile, the Justice Department today will announce plans to send 1,000 federal election observers and monitors into areas where problems are possible. The plan is to have them call in discrimination allegations to a Justice command center in Washington. The group will be three times the size of the number sent out in 2000. The feds' role is limited to enforcing the Voting Rights Act.

So, does any of this last-minute campaigning matter, these big names and famous faces coming out for Kerry or Bush? Of course, but not as much as it might seem. While candidates work hard to get out the vote, a lot of folks have already gotten out and voted. A new Associated Press-Ipsos survey found 11 percent of voters had marked ballots in 32 states that permit early voting, and another 11 percent said they intended to do so before Tuesday. Voters are waiting hours to cast early ballots in such non-swing states as Georgia. Experts predict as many as 26 million people will vote before the first ballot is cast Tuesday in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire.

Chilling images

Also today, Clinton tells ABC's Diane Sawyer that heart surgery forced him to face chilling images of death -- until they were swept away by the faces of his wife and daughter, bathed in pools of light, the New York Daily News reports.

"I saw, like, dark masks crushing, like death masks being crushed, in series," Clinton told Sawyer in an interview airing tonight on ABC News' "PrimeTime Live." "Then I'd see these great circles of light. And then, like, Hillary's picture or Chelsea's face would appear on the light, and then they'd fly off into the dark, into the distance. And other people that I knew and cared about. It was amazing."

Common bond

And finally, this nugget on Bush and Kerry being blood brothers (also a Springsteen song title. Sorry, we just can't help ourselves). Bush and Kerry are ninth cousins twice removed, and according to Ancestry.com, they share a famous common ancestor: none other than Vlad III Dracul, the macabre Transylvanian warlord from the 15th century who is more commonly known as Dracula, later immortalized in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel, "Dracula." They're also apparently related to the late Princess Diana.

Bush has closer ties to Dracula, going back 32 generations to the former ruler of Transylvania and what is now southern Romania. Kerry has to go back 34 generations in the family tree. As for the Diana connection, Kerry and Bush are both related to her and the House of Windsor. They are distant cousins of the famous princess: Kerry is a 12th cousin once removed; Bush is her 11th cousin twice removed.


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