The evidence: "The campaign on Monday barred cameras from a large gathering of African-American civic leaders Mr. Obama attended. It recently refused to provide names of religious figures with whom Mr. Obama met in Chicago and directed some of them to avoid reporters by using a special exit. And on Wednesday, the campaign orchestrated Michelle Obama's appearance on the friendly set of 'The View' and a flattering spread in the pages of Us Weekly."
"Strategists for Mr. Obama, the country's first black nominee, have made it clear that they believe they need to take extra steps to control his image and protect against attack," Rutenberg and Zeleny continue. "But such efforts at times appear to conflict with the candidate's stated desire to be unusually transparent and open, and they have already occasionally put him at loggerheads with news organizations pushing for greater access to him now that he is the presumptive nominee."
Obama adds a new wrinkle to his personal trade wars (was Austan Goolsbee right?). In an interview, "the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA," Fortune's Nina Easton writes. " 'Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,' he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA 'devastating' and 'a big mistake.' "
And this will fuel the next GOP fire, on national security. (Pick the word you'd highlight in this sentence if you were a Republican operative -- and brace for the full assault.) Obama, on how he would bring Osama bin Laden to justice: "What would be important would be for us to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he's engaged in and not to make him into a martyr."
Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., leads things off for the RNC Thursday morning: "Senator Obama needs to explain why he is arguing that Osama bin Laden should have the habeas rights and privileges of American citizens, and further why bin Laden should be exempt from the death penalty for his vicious attacks."
(That's not what he said -- but good luck trying to reel this one back in.)
That was a whole lot of flags for one little event Wednesday with Obama's new foreign-policy working group: "The meeting was the first major step in a series of actions the Obama campaign plans to take to make sure the Democratic candidate doesn't fall to the same argument that has been particularly damaging to the party since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks," Amy Chozick reports in The Wall Street Journal. "Sen. Obama has no personal military experience and is running against a war hero."
It's an impressive group, but: "At the same time, the Illinois senator's choices for his Senior Working Group on National Security may open him up to more criticism from Republicans that the professed 'change' candidate is relying on familiar Washington insiders or that the failure of these former officials to kill or catch Osama bin Laden before the 9-11 attacks left the nation vulnerable on President Bush's watch," McClatchy's Margaret Talev reports.