The Note: Dream Maker?

"The charge from McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, advanced a heated ongoing battle of words over how the new president should navigate the tricky shoals of Middle East diplomacy and laid the rhetorical foundation for an issue that almost certainly will be revisited in the coming months," Tim Jones and John McCormick write in the Chicago Tribune.

The Boston Globe's Peter Canellos: "Barack Obama may still be proposing policies that strike conservatives as weak and foolish. But after his aggressive response to President Bush's apparent criticisms of his foreign policies last week, it's clear that he's doing so in a forceful and politically savvy way."

McCain is set to hit Obama over Cuba policy Tuesday in Miami: "Senator Obama has shifted positions and says he only favors easing the embargo, not lifting it," he plans to say, per his campaign. "He also wants to sit down unconditionally for a presidential meeting with Raul Castro. These steps would send the worst possible signal to Cuba's dictators -- there is no need to undertake fundamental reforms, they can simply wait for a unilateral change in US policy."

ABC's Jake Tapper writes up McCain's shifts to the center -- including his appearance on "Ellen" (where the host is now engaged to be married) on Thursday. "The fact that McCain is reaching out to DeGeneres' viewers -- an act that would have been close to unthinkable during the Republican primaries -- is indicative of how the conservative Republican is attempting to pivot towards the political center and reach out to independent voters and Democrats, while his would-be opponents continue to battle it out in the five remaining Democratic primaries," Tapper reports.

The flip side of all that McCain media access? "While McCain enjoys an image as a media darling, based largely on his bantering relationship with reporters on his bus, he and his presidential campaign aides have been hitting back hard against high-profile news reports they regard as inaccurate or unfair," The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports. "The result is a more contentious relationship between the presumed Republican nominee and major news organizations than is publicly apparent."

How's this for an argument-ender? "Whether he's deflecting criticism over his health-care plan or mocking a tribute to the Woodstock music festival, Senator John McCain has a trump card: the Hanoi Hilton," Bloomberg's Ed Chen writes.

The Sked:

Clinton spends election night in Louisville, Ky., while Obama hits Des Moines to mark a milestone in a place he once celebrated a big one.

McCain campaigns in Miami -- ahead of the Democrats, who hit Florida Wednesday.

Get all the political schedules in The Note's "Sneak Peek."

Odds & Ends:

Obama's warning shot to his wife's critics was an interesting move -- but don't look for big consequences. The DNC is still targeting Cindy McCain over her tax records, and spouses are here to stay in American politics.

Responds the Tennessee GOP, per the New York Daily News' Michael Saul: "If Sen. Obama thinks that his wife can go out there and make campaign speeches and yet somehow be immune -- or be off limits -- to criticism for the things she says in campaign speeches on his behalf, then, he's just wrong."

Surely what's good for Bill Clinton is good for Michelle Obama?

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