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CBS appoints review panel

CBS turned to a former attorney general and a retired wire-service executive Wednesday to lead an independent probe of how it botched the story on President Bush's National Guard service that produced an apology this week.

Richard Thornburgh, who ran the Justice Department during parts of the Reagan and first Bush administrations, will conduct the investigation with Louis Boccardi, who retired as chief executive of the Associated Press. Thornburgh is also a former Republican governor of Pennsylvania.

CBS president Les Moonves and news division chief Andrew Heyward picked the pair in an effort to begin repairing the damage from the 60 Minutes report on Bush the network based on documents it admits it cannot authenticate.

"It's a journalistic challenge to look at the handling of the story, what was done, what was not done, and see what lessons we can derive for CBS News," Boccardi said. "I spent four decades of my life wrestling with journalistic issues. . . . I know it's a hornet's nest, but I feel I can make a contribution." He said CBS has assured him of full cooperation and that the report will be made public.

Kerry pulls ads in four states, focuses on others

WASHINGTON _ Bowing to political realities, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has canceled plans to begin broadcasting television commercials in Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana and the perennial battleground of Missouri.

The decision to shrink his political playing field reduces Kerry's strategic options in the homestretch of the campaign. President Bush won all four states in 2000, and Kerry can't win the White House without taking a state or two from the Republican incumbent.

While pulling back from some states that Bush carried, Kerry is still strongly competing in several GOP-leaning battlegrounds, including Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Nevada.

Bush wants to raise money for recount

WASHINGTON _ President Bush's campaign is urging election regulators to allow it and rival John Kerry to raise unlimited individual donations to cover costs for a possible recount, as Bush and rival Al Gore could in 2000.

In a letter to the Federal Election Commission made public Wednesday, the Bush campaign argued that nothing in the campaign finance laws has changed on recount fundraising since 2000.

In 2000, Bush and Gore could raise unlimited donations from individuals for their recount funds, but were barred from accepting corporate and union money. A major new campaign finance law has taken effect since the 2000 election, barring federal candidates from raising corporate, union or unlimited donations known as soft money for election costs. The FEC has not said whether the soft-money ban applies to recounts.

The candidates . . .

JOHN KERRY: In West Palm Beach, Sen. John Kerry Wednesday appealed for support from Florida's critical blocs of senior citizen and Jewish voters with a pledge not to privatize Social Security and a vigorous reiteration of his long support for Israel.

"Let me make it clear: I will never privatize Social Security ever, ever, ever," the Democratic presidential nominee told a crowd of several hundred at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

PRESIDENT BUSH: In King of Prussia, Pa., President Bush on Wednesday accused Sen. John Kerry of demoralizing Iraqis and U.S. troops by sending "mixed signals" about the war in Iraq.

At a rally in this Philadelphia suburb, Bush told a few hundred supporters gathered in a convention center that "you cannot lead the war against terror if you wilt or waver when times get tough."

"Mixed signals are wrong signals," he said.

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