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This is the first foray into the debate milieu for the two research institutes, and a wise, nimble move. Both groups agree that a discussion centered on security and foreign policy is “critical” and timely.

ABC News, meanwhile, has raced in to lay claim to the only prime-time presidential debate to airing “the Saturday before the New Hampshire primary,” which could be in December or January, because of the state’s unresolved dispute with Iowa over the dates.

CARDBOARD SIGN PATROL

A succinct form of White House reportage is “local color.” Along for the ride, “pool” journalists doggedly supply the endless details from President Obama’s out of town jaunts. “Pooler” dispatches from his three-day bus trip to promote job creation policies share news that the president enjoyed a barbecue platter and sweet tea in Marion, N.C., and a cheeseburger, french fries and sweet tea in Skipwith, Va.

And outside Patricia’s Child Care Center in Brodnax, Va., “Tiny red plastic chairs had been set up in the parking lot for the tots to watch the motorcade along highway 58,” the poolers report. The motorbus-cade also passed a citizen displaying a Confederate flag and a billboard from the local Sons of Confederate Veterans.

From the hand-written cardboard signs held up by citizens along the route came four messages: “Job?” “We believe, we voted, now what?” “Yes we can, Obama 2012” and “Presidents bowl free,” this outside a local bowling alley.

POLL DU JOUR

• 65 percent of Americans agree that U.S. economic and political systems can be changed through “persistent organized protests.”

• 48 percent of Republicans and 85 percent of Democrats agree.

• 49 percent have a favorable impression of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.

• 9 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats agree.

• 36 percent say the goals of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are “clear.”

• 8 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

• 24 percent have a favorable impression of “Wall Street investors and big banks.”

• 45 percent of Republicans and 8 percent of Democrats agree.

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