While the candidates went state to state yesterday in pursuit of sound bites, their surrogates on Sunday morning talk shows offered up a final round of sound gnaws.
Partisanship and plain language were the order of the day as prominent supporters of President Bush and Sen. John F. Kerry discussed the latest Osama bin Laden message, the fate of 377 tons of Iraqi munitions, and the real and imagined records of the presidential candidates.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, said: "John Kerry has found himself always on the side of being antiwar, anti-military. A whole career in the United States Senate that he ignores in which he's voted against military funding. During the Ronald Reagan era, he was against our military. When he came back from Vietnam, he was against our military. He was against the Persian Gulf War.
"He consistently attacks our military now. He does it in the guise of attacking the leadership, but in fact, he's attacking the military, the same way he did after Vietnam."
On "Fox News Sunday," Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, a Democrat, was asked whether Bush or Kerry might be helped by a videotape broadcast Friday in which bin Laden belittled Bush and subtly threatened both candidates.
"It's obvious to me that bin Laden is trying to help George Bush because George Bush is the best recruiter that al Qaeda has," Rendell said. "George Bush is so disliked in the Arab world that we're creating terrorists every single day -- more terrorists than we can even come close to killing."
On ABC's "This Week," Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) assessed the candidates.
Asked about Kerry's observation that the U.S. military "outsourced" the search for bin Laden after the overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, Frist said: "To have John Kerry blame our troops, it's like . . . 40 years ago when he came back from Vietnam. . . . " He is "blaming our troops on the ground. Who is John Kerry going to blame next in this war on terror?"
Pelosi said of Bush: "Without any equivocation, as a mother of five children, as a woman who worries about the security of our country, with 10 years of experience on the intelligence committee and now as House Democratic leader, our country is less safe because of the actions of George W. Bush. He has not made us safer. He has turned Iraq into a Pandora's box and has neglected to finish the job."
On CNN's "Late Edition," Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) and Al Sharpton, who sought the Democratic nomination earlier in the year, went head to head.
King predicted that on Election Day, voters will remember that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was "deposed" and bin Laden was driven from Afghanistan.
"And now, rather than being able to attack the United States, he's sitting behind a curtain somewhere and sending out taped messages. One of the reasons he can't attack us is because of the Patriot Act, and people like John Kerry want to repeal it," King said.
Sharpton rejoined: "Congressman, Saddam Hussein is deposed. Bin Laden is cutting videos. That does not make me feel secure."
-- David Brown