The Note: McCain 3.0

Here comes the outside help: The RNC's new independent expenditure arm is spending $3 million this weekend in four swing states -- Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania -- with an ad targeting Obama's position on energy policy, per ABC News.

This isn't great for the brand -- but green is green. "Allies of Sen. John McCain have found new loopholes in the campaign-finance law he helped write -- and they're using them to reel in huge contributions to help him compete with Sen. Barack Obama," Brody Mullins and T.W. Farnam write in The Wall Street Journal. "In one method, a Republican Party fund aimed at electing governors has started marketing itself as a home for contributions of unlimited size to help Sen. McCain."

"To try to keep up with Sen. Obama, the Republican party hopes to raise an additional $120 million on his behalf in a variety of ways. Those include a technique that allows donors to contribute more than $70,000 in a single check," Mullins and Farnam write.

A different kind of help that's coming: "At a meeting Tuesday in Denver, about 100 conservative Christian leaders from around the country agreed to unite behind the candidacy of John McCain, a politician they have long distrusted, marking the latest in a string of movements that bode well for McCain's general election prospects among the Republican base," Time's Michael Scherer reports.

And this could be an even different kind of help: "President Bush will soon decide whether to close Guantanamo Bay as a prison for al-Qaeda suspects, sources tell ABC News," ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg reports. "Sources have confirmed that President Bush is expected to be briefed on these pressing GTMO issues -- and may reach a decision on the future of the naval base as a prison for al Qaeda suspects -- before he leaves for the G8 on Saturday. An announcement, however, is not expected before he leaves the country."

McCain will need any edge he can get: "Mr. Obama's stepped-up schedule of big-money fund-raisers -- the campaign has more than a dozen events planned over the next two weeks -- showcases a formidable high-dollar donor network that is gaining more heft with an influx of former supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton," Michael Luo and Christopher Drew write in The New York Times. "Now that he is the presumed Democratic nominee, Mr. Obama is able to collect the much larger checks to the cash-strapped party, on top of the $4,600 he can get from each contributor for the primary and the general election."

Here comes the biggest issue-based outside group to date -- and it's much, much closer to Obama's side than McCain's: With a $40 million budget and Elizabeth Edwards on board, "a national advertisement by the newly formed group Health Care for America Now, to be released on Tuesday, will take on insurance companies and argue for comprehensive, affordable health care in the United States," Julie Bosman writes in The New York Times.

But Karl Rove provides a fiscal reality check/pep talk: "His fund raising peaked in February. June's fund-raising numbers, due in mid-July, will show whether his current pace of spending can be sustained," Rove writes in his Wall Street Journal column.

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