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It's the Economy ...

The Los Angeles Times says its new poll with Bloomberg shows that "Americans have become more optimistic about the economy, and President Bush is getting some of the credit...  Seven weeks before the midterm elections, the economy remains voters' primary focus.  Among registered voters, 32% listed the economy and jobs as the most important election issue, followed by the war in Iraq (21%), immigration (17%) and the war on terrorism (13%).  In follow-up interviews, those polled cited a variety of reasons for feeling better about the economy, including unemployment at a low 4.7% nationally, lower gas prices this month and an interest rate freeze by the Federal Reserve." 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that she doesn't think the recent plunge in gas prices is due to price manipulation, NBC's Mike Viqueira reports, but Pelosi also said the root cause doesn't really matter: "We are still at the mercy of a Saudi prince that the President was kissing."  And she asserted that Democratic prospects for November won't be affected by the price drop.

The Washington Times says Bush in Florida yesterday "came armed with a series of statistics about Democrats' records, which he said voters should remember when they head to the polls."  Leading Democrats said they welcome the chance to debate Republicans on the economy.  The story notes that Bush's "tax message yesterday was overshadowed by the deal his administration reached with key senators to approve a CIA interrogation program." 

The New York Times says Bush's argument signaled a new phase of the White House's campaign strategy.  "'If they get control of the House of Representatives, they'll raise your taxes, it will hurt our economy, and that's why we're not going to let them get control of the House of Representatives,' the president said… 'I want you to remember the last time they had control of the United States Congress back in 1993, they passed a massive tax increase.'" 

Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is pleased with how his talks went in China, but now he has to sell Congress on them, including Democrats who have labor's interests in mind six weeks before the midterm elections.  A senior Administration official predicts to the Financial Times that "'we will be spending a lot of time on [Capitol] Hill over the next week.'"