The Note: Black Arts

Obama knows it: "At a town hall meeting [in Albuquerque] on Monday, Obama praised the women responsible for his upbringing and outlined his record of pushing to address issues important to women. The only men in the room were reporters, campaign aides and Secret Service agents," Murray and Kornblut write.

Here's some offense: "Barack Obama challenged the women's rights record of his Republican rival, John McCain, on Monday as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee stepped up efforts to win over female voters," Michael Finnegan writes in the Los Angeles Times. "Opening a Southwest campaign swing here at a baked-goods business, Illinois Sen. Obama criticized Arizona Sen. McCain for opposing a bill that would make it easier for women to sue for pay discrimination."

The local coverage: "Obama, who has been able to draw crowds around the country of thousands, seemed focused on getting votes one at a time during the intimate, invited-only event," Kate Nash writes in The New Mexican. "His voice at times was absorbed by the giant bags of coffee beans from countries including Guatemala and Brazil, which were stacked on shelves almost halfway to the ceiling."

Yet for all the inclusiveness -- Obama seems interested in a big tent only so long as he can paint the sides of it.

The New York Times' Andrea Elliott has details of a canceled December Obama campaign event that was to be held at a mosque. The country's first Muslim congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., recalls the words spoken by an Obama aide: "We have a very tightly wrapped message."

Per Elliott: "When Mr. Obama began his presidential campaign, Muslim Americans from California to Virginia responded with enthusiasm, seeing him as a long-awaited champion of civil liberties, religious tolerance and diplomacy in foreign affairs. But more than a year later, many say, he has not returned their embrace."

"While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations -- unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts -- have been ignored."

Said Ellison: "A lot of us are waiting for him to say that there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim, by the way."

And liberal groups are starting to notice that some of the old Obama caution is presenting itself again (working on that voting-record ranking, perhaps?).

"Barack Obama's support of an overhaul of domestic-spying laws last week was the latest in a string of statements suggesting the Democratic presidential candidate is tacking toward the center to compete with John McCain," Susan Davis writes in The Wall Street Journal. "On foreign policy, national security, tax issues and even local politics, Sen. Obama has made some decisions lately that belie his ranking by the nonpartisan National Journal as the U.S.'s 'most liberal' senator."

"His recent strategy of political triangulation has already sparked a fight with, a powerful liberal advocacy group," The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports. " has challenged Obama for supporting a compromise on intelligence surveillance legislation that many Democrats oppose. officials have come close to accusing Obama of breaking a promise he made last year to fight a bill that would grant legal immunity to telecommunications firms that shared customer information."

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