The bin Laden factor

Osama bin Laden was careful not to endorse a Presidential candidate. But my guess is that the picture of this mass murderer's face, combined with a hectoring hone, will anger U.S. voters a lot more than it scares them. Bin Laden has been out of the news so long that many people wondered whether he was alive. In the final days before the election, his re-emergence will help keep the focus of the national debate on issues of war, terrorism and security. And it will do so by reminding people of 9/11 in the most visceral manner.

So how does the video alter the dynamics of the race? It's unlikely to have a huge effect. But the race is incredibly close. And any political fallout from bin Laden's reappearance on Web sites, cable news and newspapers is likely to benefit President Bush.

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