The Note: Baggage Check

Obama's connection to former Weather Underground members is coming in for a fresh round of scrutiny. "Some of the old fault lines were visible again Thursday as Sen. Barack Obama's suddenly defensive presidential campaign sought to distance him from Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, aging academics who planted bombs in the Capitol, the Pentagon and other buildings to protest U.S. government policy," Bob Drogin and Dan Morain write in the Los Angeles Times.

"The evidence linking Obama, who was born in 1961, to the two former militants, now in their 60s, remained thin, despite the appearance of a slickly produced, anonymously issued five-minute video titled 'Obama's Terrorist Connections' on YouTube that sought to exploit the alleged tie," they add.

"Front-runner status brings unexpected headaches, and Sen. Barack Obama continues to show he's not immune," Christine Bellantoni and S.A. Miller write in the Washington Times.

Headline in The Wall Street Journal, clipped and saved by the 527 crowd: "Woods Fund Could Become Obama's 'Swift Boat.' "

ABC's Jake Tapper: "Which is worse, using this 'guilt by association' technique, his being on a board with [Ayers] and having been to his house for a key political meeting? Or Bill Clinton commuting Evans' sentence and pardoning Rosenberg? Or is it all equally disturbing? Or equally irrelevant?"

Obama is helped by the fact that he was a bit too young to have been there and done that. "Once again, a presidential campaign is refighting the 1960s," McClatchy's Stephen Thomma writes. "Unlike all those baby boomers, Obama was a kid at the time. Nonetheless, his apparently casual relationship with Ayers since then still threatens to drag him into the dangerous political crosscurrents of the time."

Obama got a hand from his mayor: "Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, whose father was famously not so sympathetic to anti-war protesters, is coming to the defense of Barack Obama for his friendship with former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers," Mike Dorning and Rick Pearson write for the Chicago Tribune.

And Obama may be helped by the fact that the aftermath of the Philly debate is focusing on the network that brought it to you. The Philadelphia Inquirer's debate follow-up: "The morning after Wednesday night's presidential campaign debate in Philadelphia, the names on the nation's lips were . . . Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos."

"The media post-mortem -- which boiled over in more than 17,600 comments posted on the ABC Web site alone -- also touched on questions that had long been simmering in the protracted Democratic campaign over the role of moderators in televised debates, to say nothing of political journalists generally," Jacques Steinberg writes in The New York Times.

"If there was a common theme, it was that Mr. Gibson and Mr. Stephanopoulos had front-loaded the debate with questions that many viewers said they considered irrelevant."

Said Stephanopoulos: "We thought it made sense to deal with the core controversies," he said, by way of explaining those early questions. All of them, he said, went to "what has become the No. 1 issue between the candidates -- who can win in November?"

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