The Note: Good, Bad, or Ugly


Said Camp Clinton: "Sen. Obama is so desperate to divert attention from his limited national security experience that he's not just misleading voters about Sen. Clinton, he's also misleading voters about his own supporters."

All that NAFTA rhetoric? Depends on the state, Amy Chozick and Nick Timiraos report in The Wall Street Journal. "After weeks of hammering the North American Free Trade Agreement on campaign stops in Ohio, the Democratic presidential candidates are singing a different tune in Texas," they write. "Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have had to adjust their messages as they have shuffled between hard-hit Ohio and robust Texas, where Nafta is largely seen as an economic boost to the state's border communities."

The Obama campaign tussled with Politico editors over a story on Catholic voters over the weekend, and Politico editor John F. Harris pulled back the curtain. "Campaign reporters with Politico and other publications tell me the response was characteristic of an Obama press operation that is becoming known, as is its counterpart in the Clinton campaign, for an aggressive style," Harris writes.

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz detects a shift in press scrutiny. "During a campaign stop in Ohio last week, ABC's Jake Tapper asked Barack Obama about what he called 'an attempt by conservatives and Republicans to paint you as unpatriotic,' " Kurtz writes. "Obama dismissed the criticism as 'nonsense.' But did the exchange mark the end of a long period in which the media have gone easy on the man who could all but clinch the Democratic nomination in tomorrow's primaries?"

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller digs into McCain's Senate record: "The fine print of his record in the Senate indicates that he has been a lot less consistent on some of his signature issues than he has presented himself to be so far in his presidential campaign," she writes.

"His most striking turnaround has been on the Bush tax cuts, which he voted against twice but now wants to make permanent. Mr. McCain has also expressed varying positions on immigration, torture, abortion and Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary."

McCain tells The Wall Street Journal's Bob Davis that he'll be correcting his Web site regarding his position on Social Security. "Actually, I'm totally in favor of personal savings accounts and I think they are an important opportunity for young workers," he writes (teeing up a Democratic issue all over again). "I'll correct any policy paper that I've put out that might intimate that personal savings accounts are not a very important factor."

The Washington Post's Peter Slevin sees both Clinton and Obama shifting their anti-war messaging. "They use the war as a proxy to discuss national security, describing Iraq as an example of misguided foreign policy and failed counterterrorism strategy," Slevin writes. "A combination of somewhat better news from the war zone and worsening economic prospects at home is pushing the candidates beyond the templates that guided their strategy when the campaign began."

Don't forget Rhode Island (or Vermont, for that matter). "Senator Barack Obama blended themes of optimism and change yesterday with a sharp attack on opponent Hillary Clinton's vote for the Iraq war, at a presidential campaign rally before an overflow crowd of 10,000 at Rhode Island College," Scott MacKay and Mark Arsenault write in the Providence Journal.

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