But don't discount the degree to which these leaders are becoming followers: "Where once power flowed downward from party chieftains and elected officials to voters, figures like [Rep. Robert] Brady [D-Pa.] -- who answers to different constituencies as a ward leader, party boss, congressman, and superdelegate -- are for the first time feeling strong pressure from those they represent," Sasha Issenberg writes in The Boston Globe.
Said Brady -- whose heavily black Philadelphia district is likely to lean Obama: "I'm kind of hoping my district will tell me what to do."
Who's in a rush, anyway? "Dozens of uncommitted superdelegates with sway over the Democratic presidential nomination say Pennsylvania's primary on Tuesday won't be the decisive factor in their choice between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama," Fredreka Schouten writes in USA Today. "Instead, they told USA TODAY and Gannett News Service, they will choose by July 1, a deadline suggested by Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean."
Obama sought to brush off his debate performance, "both literally and figuratively," per ABC's Sunlen Miller. "That's her right to kind of twist the knife a little bit," Obama said. "That's what you got to do," he added with a laugh. "That is also precisely why I'm running for president to change that kind of politics."
(And Barack Obama as Jay-Z? The Atlantic's Matthew Yglegsias picks up on the brush-off that was "somewhere between a dog whistle to the kids and a reverse Sister Souljah.")
Obama "attempted to get back on the offensive Thursday, arguing that his candidacy offers a clear departure from the attack politics and trivial issues that he said have dominated presidential campaigns and led to gridlock in Washington," Shailagh Murray and Perry Bacon Jr. write in The Washington Post. "Obama and his team appeared taken aback by some of the negative reviews of his performance in the 90-minute debate."
(And in case you were wondering -- Obama doesn't seem keen on committing to a 22nd debate, in North Carolina or elsewhere. "I could deliver Senator Clinton's lines," Obama said, per the Charlotte Observer's Jim Morrill and David Ingram.
"I'm sure she could deliver mine." We'd tune in for that.)
Former President Bill Clinton was "tickled" by the debate -- and it helps to have a selective memory, or at least selective hearing. "Well, they've been beatin' up on her for 15 months," he said, per ABC's Sarah Amos. "I didn't hear her whining when he said she was untruthful in Iowa or called her the senator from Punjab."
The Boston Globe's Susan Milligan sees a shift in tactics for the stretch: "While Barack Obama slammed his rival for attacking him in Wednesday night's debate, Hillary Clinton sought yesterday to convince voters she is likable, sparing Obama from harsh rhetoric and jokingly noting that she's nicer than some people seem to think," she writes.
"As the bile settled from the Democrats' hard-edged debate the previous evening, Mrs. Clinton sought to project a softer, more nurturing image than the stern figure on the debate stage," writes James O'Toole of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"When asked by a supporter what he should say to prospective voters while canvassing this weekend, she replied: 'You know, just knock on the door and say, "She's really nice," or, you could say, "She's not as bad as you think."