The Note: McCain 3.0

Obama is in North Dakota, and plans to spend Independence Day with his family in Montana.

Unemployment figures are out at 8:30 am ET.

The president sets to leave for the G8 this weekend.

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

Also in the news:

Is Gates staying for sure? "The Obama and McCain campaigns are working to compile lists of potential nominees for dozens of national-security and counterterrorism positions so would-be policy makers can be vetted and confirmed as quickly as possible," Yochi J. Dreazen and Siobhan Gorman write in The Wall Street Journal.

"Given the inevitable gaps, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked senior Pentagon officials to be prepared to stay in their jobs for the first few months of 2009. The Obama campaign has endorsed the idea. Obama aides say the Illinois senator is considering asking Mr. Gates to stay as defense chief if he is elected," they write.

Get your partying in early: "Barack Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee are toying with a convention scheduling change that has been broached before in theory but never seriously considered: cutting the party's conclave in Denver short by one day to give Obama an extra day of post-nomination bounce in the crowded August calendar," Doyle McManus and Don Frederick write for the Los Angeles Times. "Obama aides have floated the idea of ending the Denver convention on Wednesday, Aug. 27, instead of Thursday, Aug. 28."

Could the campaign actually help the candidates govern? "In their contest for the White House, Barack Obama and John McCain are expanding the campaign battlefield," Ron Brownstein writes in the new National Journal. "Paradoxically, that may be the first step toward taming the partisan warfare in Washington that has blocked progress on the country's most pressing problems."

"This electoral stability has promoted rigidity in Washington," he writes. "Obama and McCain, in one of this year's most hopeful signs, are refusing to passively accept that fate."

Obama's community organizing skills are coming in useful on the trail, per Bloomberg's Indira A.R. Lakshmanan. "The same tactics Obama honed in mobilizing people to agitate for neighborhood improvements he's now using to draw millions of volunteers and voters to his campaign. His experiences with a church-based group also helped shape his views on individual responsibility and the role of government, according to dozens of people who knew him 20 years ago."

Obama's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, is stepping up her visibility for the Obama campaign, per the Chicago Sun-Times.

If this isn't a sign of interest, what is? "He cut his hair," Salon's Mike Madden writes of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn. "Gone was the mullet he'd worn for years, even though Minnesota media outlets and political blogs mocked him for it. As Pawlenty hit the Sunday talk shows in May and June, he sported a trim new look. You might even call it vice-presidential."

Want to choose the Obama family's next dog? The American Kennel Club hopes so. "The AKC is asking Americans to cast a vote for the best qualified 'first pet' for the Obama family, limiting the list of selections to hypoallergenic breeds because of Obama's daughters' allergies," ABC's Lindsey Ellerson writes. "The public has been given five solid canine choices including the Bichon Frise, the Chinese Crested, the Poodle, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Miniature Schnauzer."

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