Reuters reports more bad news for the Bush administration: "U.S. businesses added 96,000 jobs to payrolls in September, the government reported on Friday, a weaker-than-expected total that was expected to sharpen a presidential debate later in the day over the economy's direction. [...] The September job-creation total came in below Wall Street economists' forecasts for 148,000 new jobs. The department also revised down its estimate of August new jobs to 128,000 from 144,000 it reported a month ago. Most jobs in September came in the services sector, while manufacturers shed 18,000 jobs last month after increased hiring in the two prior months."
"Though four hurricanes swept through the Southeast during August and September, which Labor said likely held down employment growth, it concluded the impact was minimal. The Bureau of Labor Statistics commissioner, Kathleen Utgoff, said 'we do not believe the net result of...(the hurricanes) materially changes the national employment situation, but we cannot precisely quantify the weather effects.'
"Analysts described the jobs number as weak."
New York Times today:
New Attacks, Bush Pushes Limit on the Facts
From the beginning of the year, the White House has charted new ground with the sweep of its negative campaigning, starting with an $80 million wave of attack advertisements directed at Senator John Kerry that began the moment he effectively won his party's nomination last spring.
But the scathing indictment that Mr. Bush offered of Mr. Kerry over the past two days - on the eve of the second presidential debate and with polls showing the race tightening - took these attacks to a blistering new level. In the process, several analysts say, Mr. Bush pushed the limits of subjective interpretation and offered exaggerated or what some Democrats said were distorted accounts of Mr. Kerry's positions on health care, tax cuts, the Iraq war and foreign policy.
To cheers in Michigan, Mr. Bush asserted that under Mr. Kerry, the nation would have to "wait for a grade from other nations and leaders'' before acting to protect itself. Mr. Kerry has repeatedly said that he would not give up the right to act pre-emptively "in any way necessary to protect the United States,'' but has suggested that any president would need to demonstrate legitimate reasons for such an action.
To laughter, Mr. Bush said that Mr. Kerry would impose "Hillary care'' on America, a huge national health care program that would impose increased federal control over the health care decisions of citizens. Mr. Kerry's health care plan is significantly larger than the one Mr. Bush has offered, and it includes increased reliance on Medicaid and state health insurance programs for the poor. But unlike what Mrs. Clinton proposed in 1993, it would not create any big new federal bureaucracy and would retain the current employer-based system, and Mr. Kerry said he was averse to any kind of national health care plan.
To boos, Mr. Bush said that Mr. Kerry had set "artificial timetables'' for pulling troops out of Iraq, which the president warned would embolden the enemy and endanger the troops. In fact, Mr. Kerry said that he could envision beginning to withdraw troops in as little as six months, but only if he succeeded in moving Iraq toward stability, and has decline repeatedly to set a timeline.
Mr. Bush's aides defended Mr. Bush's statements, saying that the president had fairly spotlighted positions Mr. Kerry has taken over the years. "The campaign's criticisms of John Kerry are meticulous and precise and most of the criticisms involve reading back John Kerry's own words,'' said Steve Schmidt, a campaign spokesman for Mr. Bush.
But other analysts, including some Republicans, said Mr. Bush was repeatedly taking phrases and sentences out of context, or cherry-picking votes, to provide an unfavorable case against Mr. Kerry.