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THE RACE TO THE WHITE HOUSE | CAMPAIGN 2004 / TRAIL
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Boston Police Call for Boycott of Convention

March 14, 2004

As part of a labor dispute with the city, a Boston police union is urging police officers from around the country and Democratic leaders to boycott the Democratic National Convention in July.

Complaining of inadequate staffing to handle the security demands of the event, along with unresolved contract negotiations, Boston police officers last week detailed plans to protest the July 26-29 convention.

"There will be an expectation that the line not be crossed," said Thomas J. Nee, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen's Assn. "I know Democrats do not do that. That's the protocol."

Using a new website, www.boston04.net, association members are recruiting police officers nationwide to join their picket lines. Los Angeles officers have thrown their symbolic support behind the effort.

"The fact is that we all belong to National Assn. of Police Organizations," said Bob Baker, the president of the 9,200-member Los Angeles Police Protective League. "When we've been in times of need they've supported us," he said. "We certainly have firsthand knowledge of the strain a Democratic convention can put on a city." The 2000 Democratic National Convention took place in Los Angeles.

Organizers said they hoped to recruit 300,000 police union members nationwide.

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An 'Oops' Moment

Giving people the chance to be creative can have unforeseen consequences, the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign discovered last week.

Since December, the campaign's reelection website has featured a custom poster generator that allows visitors to the site to personalize, print and post their own signs bearing the official Bush-Cheney '04 logo. Until Thursday, visitors could include their home city and state on the sign, or invent their own message of up to 44 characters. The possibilities were almost endless -- a filter automatically rejected swear words.

For some weeks, however, mischievous Web surfers had been creating satirical, often profane signs, all accompanied by the words "Paid for by Bush-Cheney '04, Inc." The practice was exposed by political commentator Ana Marie Cox, who posted readers' off-color sign suggestions on her news and gossip site, www.wonkette.com. One tame submission: "Vote ironically! Bush Cheney '04."

On Thursday, the campaign eliminated the type-your-own-message box, limiting personalizing to state and "coalition groups," which included categories such as Arab Americans, sportsmen, families and labor.

The campaign could not be reached for comment on the change.

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Bush Is No. 1

President Bush has been named the top "get" -- or sought-after guest -- for political news programs, according to a poll by Television Week, an industry publication. First in several categories -- Most Likely to Make News, Hardest to Get and Highest-Maintenance -- the president is in demand from news-show bookers.

"You can't miss," with a presidential guest spot, one industry respondent told Television Week.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell rounded out the Most Likely to Make News category. Sens. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), John Edwards (D-N.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) also made the cut.

Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Kerry -- the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee -- snagged the "Plays Hardest to Get" title for their tight schedules and elusiveness, as did national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

Least Likely to Make News? Rice.

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Who's Counting?

270: The number of guests President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush have invited for overnight stays in the White House since the Bushes moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in January 2001.

938: The number of guests who were invited by former President Bill Clinton and former First Lady Hillary Clinton to spend the night at the White House during his first four years in office.

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Duly Quoted

"Within hours of the story being made public, the Kerry campaign took down the offending articles. Thus, the Internet was forever cleansed of obscene material."

Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "Daily Show," referring to recently removed profanity from news articles that had been posted on the Kerry website, www.johnkerry.com.

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Compiled from staff, Web and wire reports by Times staff researcher Susannah Rosenblatt.

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