The Note: Return of the Empire

Sen. Clinton warms up for the big evening with a 9:30 am ET speech to the American Nurses Association House of Delegates Convention, and a 1:30 pm ET speech to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Conference; both events are in Washington.

President Bush heads to Camp David early this afternoon, to greet the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

Get the full political schedule in The Note's "Sneak Peek."

Et Cetera:

Fair to say Ralph Nader got what he wanted? Obama responded to him on Wednesday, after Nader said Obama is trying to "talk white": "First of all, what's clear is that Ralph Nader hasn't been paying attention to my speeches," he said, per ABC's Jake Tapper. "Ralph Nader's trying to get attention. He's become a perennial political candidate. I think it's a shame."

Who's going to be next, now that Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., broke the seal on Republicans using ties with Obama in a positive light? (Maybe no one, but still.)

"The outbreak of enthusiasm is a striking shift from the spring, when Republican advertisements from North Carolina to Mississippi to Illinois ominously painted Obama as an out-of-touch liberal bringing his brand of politics to regions of the country that should shun it," Jonathan Weisman writes in The Washington Post.

Feel like the campaign is missing something? Dan Balz does: "Gone in the early stages of this campaign is any sense of the uniqueness of the two nominees," Balz writes for The Washington Post. "McCain is certainly no garden-variety Republican and the historic possibilities of Obama's candidacy cannot be overstated. But those realities have been submerged beneath a tactical shouting match that feeds the cable culture of contemporary politics."

  "Disappointed? Get used to it," Kirsten Powers writes in a New York Post column. "Obama didn't come out of nowhere to defeat the Clintons because he's goody-goody. . . . More important, this move will tarnish his image a lot less than the bruising he'd take if he let himself be out-funded by Republican independent groups -- remember what the Swift Boat Veterans did to John Kerry in 2004?"

Veepstakes morsels: "The answer to that is 'Yes,' " said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., asked on MSNBC whether he'd accept an offer to join Obama's ticket.

Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., knows how to drive a message. On CNN Thursday morning, Romney said: he'd "like to see a time when Barack Obama said, 'I disagree with my party,' " per ABC's Matt Stuart. "I don't think at any time" that Obama was "able to reach across the aisle," said Romney.

And how's this for an audition? "Echoing comments by Barack Obama, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius predicted that Republicans would undertake 'a major effort to try and frighten people about him' because of his race," per David Goldstein of the Kansas City Star. Said Sebelius: "That has been the Republican playbook for the last eight years. . . . 'He's not qualified, he's somebody who should scare you. He's too liberal.' "

Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., is holding a spot on his schedule for the Republican National Convention: "I believe in John McCain," Lieberman tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "If he asks me, sure, I'd consider it."

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