Democrat John F. Kerry has new reason to be cheerful. Kerry leads President Bush on the question of who conveys more optimism, according to a new poll.

The Republican incumbent accused Kerry of being pessimistic. That in turn prompted the Democratic challenger to accuse Bush of being pessimistic and to declare in his nomination acceptance speech that "we are the optimists."

All these professions of hopefulness have evidently paid off for Kerry. The National Annenberg Election Survey run by the University of Pennsylvania showed last week that 42 percent of the independent voters prized by both candidates think Kerry is more optimistic, while 30 percent think Bush is. The same group's poll taken before the Democratic convention had Bush leading the optimism derby with independents by 41 to 34 percent.

N.Y. Grumbles Over Convention

New York, New York, the city so big they had to name it twice, is not sure it's big enough to handle a swarm of Republican delegates and an even larger swarm of journalists at the party's national convention later this month.

Eighty-three percent of New Yorkers said they don't want the Republican convention in town, according to a survey taken by 5W Public Relations. When a sample of 536 adults was asked whether they were happy that the Republicans are coming to town, even most self-identified Republicans said no. The firm ranked the reasons for this lack of enthusiasm: Fifty-three percent were worried about traffic, closed streets and security hassles; 27 percent said "too many out-of-towners"; and 13 percent in this city with a Republican mayor but a traditionally Democratic electorate said it was because "I hate Republicans."

Nearly 70 percent said they were afraid to go to work that week starting Aug. 30 because of security concerns. All the more reason to head to the Hamptons.

Nader Presses On

Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, on the other hand, is eager to go to New York for the Republican gathering -- as an accredited journalist.

Nader wrote Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie last week noting that he publishes a newspaper column and, therefore, wants access to the GOP proceedings. "My intention is to observe the convention as well as to report on the convention," Nader wrote Gillespie.

Republicans have shown interest in Nader recently, helping him garner petition signatures in his bid to get on the ballot in key states, where the GOP hopes he will siphon votes from Kerry. But so far this new GOP solicitousness toward the longtime foe of big business and its heavily Republican supporters has not resulted in convention access.

Nader, who unsuccessfully tried to get credentials for the Democratic convention in Boston, put out a news release Friday saying he has yet to hear a response from Gillespie.

Party Hopping

Rep. Rodney Alexander (La.) has made it one seat harder (12) for Democrats to win back the House this fall by switching from Democrat to Republican, dividing the House into 229 Republicans and 205 Democrats.

Alexander said he had struggled with his conservative votes his entire first term, backing President Bush's tax cuts and the war in Iraq. "I just decided it would be best for me to switch parties, that I would be more effective in the 5th District in the state of Louisiana as a Republican," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

Alexander registered Wednesday, at the start of qualifying for the 5th District race, as a Democrat. Friday afternoon, the last day of qualifying, he switched to Republican, leaving fuming Democrats no time to field a strong opponent.


"Hello? I didn't get paid to be an interpreter here today."

Teresa Heinz Kerry, after her husband suggested she translate a question posed to her in her native Portuguese at an event in Beloit, Wis. After laughter and applause, she relented and offered the translation.

Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry campaigns at a farm in Missouri. President Bush waves to supporters as he arrives at a picnic in Straham, N.H.