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AUSTIN EDITION - EDITORIAL BRIEFS COL Kerry has support abroad

John Kerry has taken a lot of heat, some of it justified, for his supposed flip-flops and alleged half-truths.

However, Kerry was right on the money early in the campaign when he said that most of the rest of the world wants to see him win this election. He was ridiculed for that statement, but a new comprehensive poll shows that if this were a worldwide election, Kerry would defeat President George W. Bush in a landslide.

The poll, conducted by the Canadian research firm GlobeScan, found that Kerry would win 30 of 35 countries surveyed, and, on average, would win 46 percent of the vote, to 20 percent for Bush. In Norway, Kerry would trounce Bush 74 percent to 7 percent; in Germany, 74-10, in the Netherlands, 63-6, in Canada 61-16, and so on in nation after nation. Even in Bush's most prominent ally, the United Kingdom, Kerry would win 47-16.

Interesting but irrelevant trivia? Not really. Whoever wins the presidency has to build a working relationship with the governments of these countries, and most governments eventually are responsive to public opinion.

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; DFL makes hay on harassment e-mail

Late Thursday evening, Rep. William Kuisle, R-Rochester, sent an e-mail to what he thought was a small group of Republicans. The message leaked.

Kuisle called on Republicans to attend Carole King's press conference on the University Center Rochester campus Friday. King, a singer-songwriter, was there to campaign for John Kerry. The trouble was that Kuisle suggested Republicans do a bit more than attend.

Kuisle wrote, "If anyone can go and harass it would be appreciated." Harass?

The e-mail became public because it was forwarded to the DFL. By Friday, it was well traveled. The DFL was making hay. Kuisle, having been a dairyman and now a party leader who pulls no punches, knows all about making hay.

"Should I have used the word harass?" Kuisle asked. "No," he said. "I was not intending to get people to harass but to get people to show up."

Kuisle is right, he shouldn't have used the word. However, the DFL is being a bit overwrought calling the statement "malicious" and an attempt to "harass women." It would be far out of character for Kuisle to intend any malicious meaning.

"If somebody wants an apology, I'm big enough to give it," Kuisle said. This should be the last word on the subject.

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; Security too tough?

They might have been just doing their job, but frisking and "wanding" toddlers and children seems a bit much.

The two images here were taken at John Kerry's campaign stop in Rochester last week. Security people had roped off nearly two city blocks, and anyone who wanted access to a greeting line to see Kerry was frisked. Toddlers included. That's too much.

This is not to mean that security details surrounding a presidential candidate shouldn't be present. However, such a greeting line is the intersection between a security cocoon around a candidate and open and unfettered public assembly. Don't forget the First Amendment protects, among other rights, "the right of the people peaceably to assemble."

Wanding and frisking children not old enough to drink from a cup without a lid indicates a chilling atmosphere that comes dangerously close, if not past, the threshold of a restriction of assembly.

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