The Note: Signed and Sealed

Bloomberg's Al Hunt sees a race on the economic low road: "McCain is placating economic conservatives in the Republican Party by promising tax cuts that would lead to a fiscal nightmare. Obama is pandering to labor with protectionist threats that would endanger relations with important trading partners," Hunt writes. "These stances run counter to major themes in both campaigns that seek to differentiate the two contenders from the unpopular Bush administration: McCain as a bipartisan leader, and Obama as a candidate out to change the my-way-or-the-highway approach to foreign policy."

If he could solve this, he'd win in a landslide: "Like most Americans, [one of my pet peeves is] sitting on the runway at an airport for an interminable length of time, taxiing back into the gate and then taxiing back out," McCain tells Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

More things you didn't know about McCain (proudly keeping the Reagan mantle): "I was on 'Saturday Night Live' a few weeks ago and did a couple of skits, and Usher was on. Very talented. Very good. And I'm usually not into that brand of music, but I watched him rehearse, and I watched him twice. And I was very impressed. I got one [Usher CD]. Actually, my daughter, Meghan, likes him, and she got it for me."

The DNC has some fun with McCain's economic team. A new Website up Monday takes aim at Carly Fiorina, Phil Gramm, and Douglas Holtz-Eakin.

Cindy's Close-Up:

Holly Bailey profiles Cindy McCain for the Newsweek cover: "Her tax records, her hair and clothes, even the authenticity of 'family' recipes posted on the campaign's Web site have become the subject of intense attention on the Internet and cable TV," Bailey writes.

"Recently, Cindy has set out to show the country that she is no vacant 'Stepford wife.' She has started doing more press interviews and can be surprisingly candid about her personal life and her feelings. Still, she clearly finds the confessional mode of American politics distasteful, and does not feel the need to overshare. 'It's more about . . . feeling comfortable . . . and not feeling compelled to do things that I wouldn't normally do,' she says."

A new kind of scrutiny for Cindy: "Hensley & Co., one of the nation's major beer wholesalers, has brought the family of Cindy McCain wealth, prestige and influence in Phoenix, but it could also create conflicts for her husband, Sen. John McCain, if he is elected president in November," Ralph Vartabedian writes in the Los Angeles Times.

"Hensley, founded by Cindy McCain's late father, holds federal and state licenses to distribute beer and lobbies regulatory agencies on alcohol issues that involve public health and safety. The company has opposed such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving in fighting proposed federal rules requiring alcohol content information on every package of beer, wine and liquor."

General Positioning:

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