The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox, and Los Angeles Times all lead with the results of yesterday's two primaries, where Sen. John Kerry won big, and Wesley Clark lagged in third and, according to his campaign, is dropping out. USA Today off-leads the primaries and leads with the White House's release of some of President Bush's records from his stint in the National Guard. The paper emphasizes that despite the White House's assertions to the contrary, the records don't clear up questions about Bush's attendance.
Kerry won 52 percent in Virginia and 41 percent in Tennessee. Sen. John Edwards finished second in both contests with 27 percent. Howard Dean scored single digits.
Exit polls continued to show that much of Kerry's momentum can be attributed to the electability factor. Aides to Kerry's rivals complained in the NYT that the tightened primary schedule are magnifying the effects of that feedback-loop. Meanwhile, Slate's Will Saletan notices that exit polls suggest that when it comes to the actual issues voters prefer Edwards. Given that, Saletan argues, the run on Kerry could be self-defeating. "Could I be wrong about all this?" he says. "Sure. Punditry is a dangerous game. But according to the exit polls, that's exactly the game Democratic voters have played in nominating Kerry."
The papers note that yesterday's White House press briefing was "tense," as USAT puts it. Asked whether the administration had found any former National Guardsmen to corroborate Bush's statements that he served during a period for which definitive records haven't been found, spokesman Scott McClellan responded, "Obviously, we would have made people available."
Most of the papers front two bombings near Baghdad that killed at least 75 Iraqis. Both attacks were aimed at police stations, and many of the casualties were men who had been waiting to apply for jobs. After the first bombing, rumors spread that an American plane was responsible, and a mob shouting, "No, No to America" tried to storm the ruined station.
USAT says that four Baghdad cops were killed in shootings yesterday. The NYT notes that "at least 300" officers have been killed since April. An American commander told the Times that Iraqi police are understaffed and that the force in Baghdad needs to be doubled.
The Post announces above the fold that the president plans to back a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. While not specifically addressing the issue, the legislation that Bush plans on endorsing apparently would not bar states from allowing gay civil unions. That ticks off some religious groups. "Let's do it right and also ban phony marriage that is called something else," said the head of one organization. The Post characterizes the WH's preferred message as "Bush is for traditional marriage, not against gay people."
The Post and NYT go inside with top generals telling senators they're not into the White House's decision not to budget for a full year's worth of Iraq and Afghanistan operations. The White House has said it will add the costs in later, probably after the elections. "I am concerned," said the Army's chief of staff, "on how we bridge between the end of this fiscal year and whenever we could get a supplemental in the next year."
The NYT says on Page One and the WP stuffs word that the president is about to offer some non-proliferation ideas, namely a plan to crack down on the nuclear fuel market by trying to limit sales to only those countries that already have the fuel or the capacity to make it. As the Post emphasizes, that's going to make some countries unhappy, since it might mean locking them out of the nukes club. The papers say the WH didn't consult with the U.N., which has its own proposed reform.
The papers mention inside that the Russian presidential candidate who went missing has turned up. He explained he just went on a quickie vacation and decided to turn off his cell phone. Nobody seems to buy that, including his wife.
As violence continues in Haiti—a big anti-government protest march is scheduled for today—editorials in both the NYT and WP criticize the White House and Haiti's neighbors for essentially ignoring the crisis. From the Post:
They are standing by as a violent movement, made up at least in part of criminals and thugs with connections to Haiti's last dictatorship, overthrows a democratically elected president—or is itself brutally put down. If the Bush administration gives in to the temptation to sit on its hands in the hope of seeing Mr. Aristide's downfall, it will only invite more misery—in Haiti, and very likely, in the seas between the island and Florida.