There was a mixed bag of economic news this week ... and enough to go around to keep both political parties fueled for the presidential campaign.
Republicans intent on keeping the White House are sure to point to an increase in orders for durable goods in June ... rising sales of existing homes ... and improvements in consumer confidence for the fourth straight month.
Democrats trying to win the Oval Office are sure to point to an anemic 3 percent growth in the U.S. economy during the second quarter ... the decline in June of new home sales ... and only modest growth in worker wages and benefits from April to June.
It's also likely the Democrats will pounce on White House predictions this week of a record budget deficit for fiscal 2004. Indeed, the Bush administration's handling of the economy was but one of the topics prominently mentioned this week at the Democratic National Convention.
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry officially became the party's nominee this week at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Like every DNC gathering that preceded it, the convention included the traditional hoopla associated with election-year politics.
In an acceptance speech seasoned with nationalism, Kerry pledged to renew trust and accountability to the Whitehouse. Amidst the promises and patriotism, however, a more subtle theme could be heard.
Sen. John Kerry, Democratic Presidential Nominee: "Where is the conscience of America? I'll tell 'ya where it is. I'll tell 'ya where it is. It's in rural and small town America..."
Despite a significant number of close races in the heartland, Kerry scarcely mentioned rural America, in the 50-minute speech. While rural voters could tip the balance in key battleground states including Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, Kerry targeted his speech at the vast middle class.
Sen. John Kerry, Democratic Presidential Nominee: "I will cut middle class taxes. I will reduce the tax burden on small business. And I will rollback the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals who make over $200,000 a year, so we can invest in health care, education and job creation."