The Note: Whispered Shouts

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney sees one of Obama's challenges as moving beyond the Clinton era: "After 16 years, the Clinton era may be coming to an end, presenting Democrats with a historic but potentially wrenching transition and a challenge to Senator Barack Obama as he seeks to reconcile a deeply divided party," he writes. "The Clintons are in many ways a security blanket for many in the party; they may not be easy to quit."

That could be the easy part of his to-do list. USA Today's Susan Page outlines Obama's tasks ahead: "Navigating a half-dozen final, smaller contests and clinching the 2,025 delegates needed for nomination. Uniting a divided party and appealing to base voters who have been cool to him. And pivoting for a fall election against Republican John McCain, who's had a three-month head start."

Obama's new focus is just as well -- since Republicans already have their eyes on him. Republicans "have greatly stepped up their criticisms of Senator Barack Obama in recent weeks while practically ignoring Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton," Michael Cooper writes in The New York Times.

Michigan Democrats have a plan to bring to the DNC, with a proposal that would give Clinton 69 delegates, and Obama 59.

But it's fair to say Jimmy Carter isn't a fan. He went on Leno Wednesday night to argued against awarding delegates to Florida and Michigan. "It would be a catastrophe for the party," the former president said, saying that the states "disqualified themselves" by jumping the line.

Obama on Thursday keeps it private, with superdelegate meetings but no public schedule. It's full-on campaign mode for Clinton, with one of those race-against-the-time-zone days that bring her to West Virginia, South Dakota, and Oregon.

Bill's back to his barnstorming, in West Virginia on Thursday.

Actually, it's a full-Clinton push: "Clinton the candidate is staging a Capitol lawn rally in Charleston, Clinton the ex-president is barnstorming in a five-town blitz and Clinton the onetime first daughter is campaigning in Shepherdstown," Mannix Porterfield writes in the Beckley Register-Herald.

Get the full political schedule in The Note's "Sneak Peek."

Also making news:

While you were busy trying to track down uncommitted superdelegates, John McCain was on Jon Stewart's program Wednesday night to announce his running mate. That's right, it's everyone's favorite No. 2, Dwight K. Schrute.

Stewart suggested that he choose Sen. Clinton, but McCain didn't jump at the opportunity to make history: "I don't want to look in the camera and say that I would ever do that," he said.

It was a big night in New York for McCain otherwise: He raised $7 million for his campaign and the national party at his biggest fundraiser to date, ABC's Bret Hovell reports.

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller writes up McCain's outreach to the right: "Senator John McCain appealed to religious conservatives on Wednesday with pledges to prosecute sex traffickers, fight Internet child pornography and make religious freedom a priority in American diplomacy."

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