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U.S. election notebook

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"Even though you won't BE the commander-in-chief, you'll have 'access.' Really, really, really good access."

Bidding started slowly, causing the seller to consider adding a bonus, but has picked up gradually. The auction ends on Oct. 29, three days before the U.S. vote.
Bush denies electronic lifeline rumours
The mysterious bulge under George W. Bush's jacket during the first televised debate, which set off furious internet speculation, was simply a badly tailored shirt, the U.S. President said in an interview Tuesday.

Mr. Bush characterized as "absurd" the rumours suggesting that he had been receiving discreet radio communication from his aides during the debate.

"I'm embarrassed to say it [was] a poorly tailored shirt," he told ABC television in an appearance Tuesday morning.

When the journalist persisted, Mr. Bush became exasperated.

"Please explain to me how it works so maybe if I were ever to debate again I could figure it out," he said. "I guess the assumption was that if I were straying off course they would, like a hunt dog, they would punch a buzzer and I would jerk back into place. It is absurd."

Some speculated after the debate that the bulge in Mr. Bush's jacket could be an electronic receiver used to channel ready-made responses from his aides into a discreet earpiece for him to repeat word-for-word.

The rumours were fuelled by the easily visible bulge and by an odd comment Mr. Bush made during a rejoinder to Mr. Kerry.

"As the politics change, his positions change," Mr. Bush charged, in a comment that can be seen by clicking here and fast-forwarding 40 minutes and 30 seconds into the debate.

"And that's not how a commander in chief acts," he continued. "I, I, uh - Let me finish - The intelligence I looked at was the same intelligence my opponent looked at."

(At that point, the green light was on, indicating that Mr. Bush had at least 30 more seconds to complete his response.)
Call for Bush assassin poorly received
The Manchester Guardian issued an apology Monday for printing an apparent call for U.S. President George W. Bush's assassination.

The progressive-minded British newspaper ruffled some feathers on the weekend when television columnist Charlie Brooker hammered Mr. Bush and pleaded for a political assassin to emerge.

"John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr., where are you now that we need you?," the column concluded.

(All three men attacked sitting presidents of the United States. Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln in 1865, Oswald killed John F. Kennedy in 1963 and Hinckley wounded Ronald Reagan in 1981.)

The newspaper's apology called the comment "tasteless" but argued that it was intended as irony and "not as a call to action."
Jesse 'The Body' Ventura endorses Kerry
Former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura — whose career path has ranged from special forces soldier to professional wrestler to actor — has apparently endorsed John Kerry.

The move puts him at odds with Predator co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been campaigning for George W. Bush.

Mr. Ventura appeared at Minneapolis press conference with former Maine governor Angus King. He gestured his approval of what Mr. King was saying, nodding when Mr. King argued that the United States is in danger under Mr. Bush's leadership.

But the normally outspoken Mr. Ventura remained almost completely mute during the press conference, apparently still nursing a grudge with the Minnesota media that dates to his days as governor.

"He plans to vote for John Kerry," Mr. King said, in comments reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "But he doesn't want to make a statement and subject himself to the tender mercies of the Minnesota press."

As Mr. Ventura retreated to his car after the appearance, he told the pursuing reporters that he would give interviews only in Los Angeles, adding: "You attacked my children."
Heavy stakes on Redskins game
If the candidates are serious about victory they should take a moment Sunday to cheer on the Washington Redskins, bearing in mind the 68-year-old pattern that the outcome of that game points to the victor in next week's vote.

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