October remains the month for political surprises

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Heading into the final weekend of the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry was feeling good about his chances of winning the White House.

The Democratic nominee thought he had bested President Bush in their three prime-time debates. He also felt he'd convinced Americans his military and foreign affairs experience left him better equipped to end the Iraqi war.

Then Osama bin Laden weighed in with the most recent "October surprise" to land with a thud on a presidential campaign.

Kerry believes bin Laden cost him the presidency by issuing a videotape that criticized Bush and warned U.S. voters that "your security is in your own hands" in the election. And the Massachusetts senator thinks that's instructive for both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain during the final month of their campaign.

From Henry Kissinger's declaration that "peace is at hand" in Vietnam a month before the 1972 election, to a report just before the 2000 vote that George W. Bush had once been arrested for drunken driving, last-minute sensations have demonstrated the potential to reshape a race.

"It changed the entire dynamic of the last five days," Kerry said this week of the bin Laden tape. "We saw it in the polling. There was no other intervening event. We saw the polls freeze and then we saw them drop a point, because all the security moms, it agitated people over 9/11."

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