"The Illinois senator moves forward from the primaries after a string of losses, a rocky breakup with his longtime church, and an apparent weakness in attracting the white, working-class demographic seen as crucial to a Democratic victory in November," Amy Chozick writes in The Wall Street Journal.
It's a fight for the center: "What Democrats are just beginning to figure out is that John McCain is positioned to compete with Obama for the votes of the many Americans who are eager to put the hyper-partisanship of the past eight years behind them and witness a Washington that finally begins to address the nation's challenges," David Broder writes in his Washington Post column.
On to the General:
These town-hall-style debates could actually happen. It's a bold gambit by Team McCain (albeit in keeping with the let's-debate-more mantra of the lesser-funded campaign) that could truly remake the race: As both candidates have learned, any one encounter can alter the course of a candidacy.
"Senator John McCain Wednesday invited his newly-anointed fellow presumptive nominee to a string of casual debates at town hall-style meetings to take place over the course of the summer," per ABC's Bret Hovell. (He's asking for 10 -- but do they really need to meet every week between now and Labor Day?)
It would "rewrite the book on debates," Maeve Reston writes in the Los Angeles Times. "The timetable would make the debates the first between major-party candidates to occur before Labor Day weekend -- the traditional start of the fall campaign season. They also would be the first between candidates who have yet to formally receive their parties' nominations."
Format issues remain -- but there's an agreement in principle. "Oh, we're definitely going to be doing some town hall debates," Obama told ABC's Charlie Gibson.
"In the letter, [McCain] proposed flying to the first town hall meeting in the same plane as a symbol that they are 'embracing the politics of civility,' " Michael Shear writes in The Washington Post. "The decision to challenge Obama to joint town hall meetings was widely seen as a recognition that McCain is more comfortable in that forum than he is behind a lectern, where Obama is strong."
Also unprecedented: "Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are quietly working together on a good-government bill despite their campaign-trail battle over who is tougher against Washington's special interests," reports The Hill's Susan Crabtree. "McCain's Senate office contacted Obama's office Monday night asking to sign on to a bill opening federal government contracts to public scrutiny, according to three knowledgeable sources."
Obama at AIPAC:
Don't let the brief Clinton-Obama encounter at the AIPAC convention distract from the substance here: His speech Wednesday was a rather significant move to the right on Middle East policy.
Eleven months after saying he would sit down with Iran's leader "without precondition," Obama said Wednesday: "Contrary to the claims to some, I have no interest in sitting down with our adversaries just for the sake of talking. But as president of the United States, I would be willing to lead tough and principled diplomacy with the appropriate Iranian leaders at a time and place of my choosing if and only if it can advance the interest of the United States. That is my position. I want to be absolutely clear."