The Note: Welcoming Gifts

How did John McCain become effective in the institution where he was long loathed? "Previously a marginal player better known for heckling the Senate than for influencing it, Mr. McCain returned from the 2000 campaign with a new national reputation and a new political sophistication," David Kirkpatrick writes in The New York Times. "Over the next eight years, he mastered the art of political triangulation -- variously teaming up with Mr. Lott against the president or the new Republican leaders, with Democrats against Republicans, and with the president against the Democrats -- to become perhaps the chamber's most influential member."

Worth tracking in Florida: "There is a fierce behind-the-scenes battle for influence over presumptive Democratic candidate Barack Obama's Hispanic and Latin American agenda, and some Democratic strategists say that its outcome could determine the result of the November elections," Andres Oppenheimer reports in the Miami Herald. "Some Obama backers in South Florida, in particular, are especially miffed at what they see as excessive power by labor-union-tied, left-leaning Mexican-American leaders at Obama's Chicago headquarters over the campaign's nationwide Hispanic and Latin American policy strategies."

Paul Krugman sees the future, at "Netroots": Krugman "predicted, with seeming confidence, an Obama victory in November -- but added that 'within three months of taking office, no, less than three months' the media would be out to get him, as much as they had at the high point of anti-Bill Clinton bashing," Greg Mitchell writes for Editor & Publisher.

Top six issues of concern at "Netroots Nation," per the straw poll being released later Monday: 1. Energy and global warming. 2. The growing gap between the rich and the poor. 3. Loss of constitutional rights. 4. The war in Iraq. 5. Corruption and special interests running Washington. 6. Lack of affordable health care. (Terrorism is 10th.)

GITMO on Monday: "Osama bin laden's driver was captured in Afghanistan months after Sept. 11...allegedly with missiles hidden in his trunk," ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg reported on "Good Morning America" Monday. "Today, Salim Hamdan will make history: the first person since World War II tried by a US military tribunal for war crimes. In a special courtroom in Guantanamo Bay, Hamdan's trial will be test case for the system the United States created to try al-Qaeda suspects."

The Kicker:

"Wake up . . . You just gave a lot of people a scare." -- Conan O'Brien, to John McCain, pretending to nod off when asked about his age.

"It's like being in AA [baseball] and all of a sudden you're playing in Yankee Stadium." -- McCain, on his jump to the big leagues of a presidential campaign.

Bookmark The Note at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/TheNote/story?id=3105288&page=1

Interns for the ABC News Political Unit:

The ABC News Political Unit is now seeking three full-time fall interns in Washington, D.C.

The internship begins Monday, Aug. 4, or Monday, August 11, and runs through Friday, Dec. 12.

Not only do Political Unit interns attend political events and collaborate on stories for the politics page of ABCNews.com, including The Note, they also help us by conducting research, maintaining contact lists, and monitoring conference calls convened for reporters by the presidential campaigns.

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