The Note: Super-Scare

"As Mr. Obama told close friends after watching the replay, he felt dumbfounded, even betrayed, particularly by Mr. Wright's implication that Mr. Obama was being hypocritical. He could not tolerate that."

Not the perception McCain wants: "Though Senator John McCain has promised to not raise taxes, his campaign acknowledged Wednesday that the health plan he outlined this week would have the effect of increasing tax payments for some workers, primarily those with high incomes and expensive health plans," Kevin Sack and Michael Cooper write in The New York Times.

The McCain/Clinton gas tax holiday isn't too popular. "A growing chorus -- including a top congressional Democrat -- labeled Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's proposal for suspending the federal gasoline tax ineffective and shortsighted yesterday, even as she continued to paint Sen. Barack Obama as insensitive to drivers' woes for not endorsing the plan," Alec MacGillis and Steven Mufson write in The Washington Post.

"It is an expensive and environmentally unsound policy that would do nothing to help American drivers," writes The New York Times ed board.

The Washington Post's editorial: "His opponents no doubt hope that Mr. Obama's stand will prove to be political suicide. We think it qualifies as political courage."

The Obama campaign sends this quote around from Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M. (who has made his bed and is now jumping up and down on it): "I am disappointed, but not surprised that Senator Clinton's aides admit that it wouldn't do much besides give her a chance to attack Senator Obama. We need solutions instead of cynical, irresponsible political stunts. . . . The Clinton-McCain scheme is designed to win elections, not fix our energy problems. The American people are smarter than that."

Tales from the Indiana ad wars: "With Sen. Barack Obama's campaign stumbling in recent days, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's backers have poured $1 million into an independent ad campaign in Indiana critical of Obama's economic recovery program," Dan Morain reports in the Los Angeles Times. The Obama campaign has filed an FEC complaint against the American Leadership Project.

The Washington Times' Christina Bellantoni sees a "softer side" of Clinton emerging in her ads and on the trail -- as when she joined a commuter for his ride to work Wednesday. "Gone is the tough and all-business presidential candidate who regularly blared at rival Sen. Barack Obama, who lately is instead battling self-inflicted wounds," Bellantoni writes. "In her place is what most people who know her well say was there all along -- a warm and engaging woman willing to laugh at herself."

The Los Angeles Times' Mark Z. Barabak looks at DNC Chairman Howard Dean, specifically "the fault line that divides Dean's supporters and critics": the 50-state strategy. "The former Vermont governor has poured tens of millions of dollars into the state parties. Computer systems have been modernized, and voter files -- the information used to solicit money and support -- are constantly scrubbed, expanded and forwarded to Washington, building a national database that should greatly help the presidential nominee."

More Dean enemies: "A group of Florida Democrats marched on party headquarters Wednesday demanding that Democratic leaders reverse a months-old decision to deny the state a say in the party's presidential nominating process," per the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Mark K. Matthews.

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