Minutes after the last balloon fell on Republicans in New York, Kerry staged a midnight rally in Ohio. The Democrat, trying to flatten Bush's post-convention lift, may only have succeeded in adding to the faint aroma of desperation emanating from his campaign in recent days.
The road to Nov. 2
Bush, meanwhile, is hoping to dominate the campaign and deflect attention from his liabilities, including the conflict in Iraq, by fleshing out his domestic plans over the next few weeks. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., told reporters that "a lot of work has been done" by White House aides to fill in the details of ideas the president touched on last night.
But both candidates may wind up frustrated in their attempts to control the course of the campaign. As strategists from both sides said, events that cannot be predicted or controlled may well drive the election.
This morning, the most closely watched economic statistic of the presidential contest - the number of new jobs created last month - will be released. Anemic job growth has helped feed economic fears, especially in toss-up states of the old Rust Belt states and upper Midwest.
By tomorrow, Hurricane Frances is expected to hit Florida. The storm could offer a timely opportunity for the president, and his brother Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, to give a tangible demonstration of their concern for residents of one of the most critical battleground states.