A broader point worth remembering: "Mr. McCain's advisers said he would talk this week about jobs and other bread-and-butter issues of concern to voters while Mr. Obama met with heads of state overseas, but Mr. McCain's campaign has in fact been in constant reaction mode to Mr. Obama's lavishly covered foreign trip," Bumiller writes.
The fight McCain wants to have is the fight Obama doesn't want to have -- and the upshot of his success on the trip is that he doesn't really have to.
"Obama was asked repeatedly about his early opposition to the surge. Rather than assess whether he had taken the wrong position, he asserted that the overall direction of the debate over the future role of the U.S. military in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been moving in a direction he favors," Dan Balz and Sudarsan Raghavan writes in The Washington Post.
Keep in mind that the main ad McCain is running is chiding Obama over gas prices -- what ever happened to the comfort zone of national security?
"McCain is attacking too much and indiscriminately," writes Slate's John Dickerson. "The barrage undermines his brand, takes time away from telling voters what he might do for them, and looks awfully old-timey in a year when voters want a new brand. He should go on the offensive, yes, but in targeted forays."
He's shrugging off Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki -- but the issue is that he even has to address him. "Well, I've heard Maliki say a number of things," McCain said, per John DiStaso of the New Hampshire Union-Leader, "but always when I've heard him, he said it's still dictated by conditions on the ground."
And something McCain said to CBS' Katie Couric is getting the Arizona senator off-message. "Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening," McCain said.
Per the AP: "The problem with McCain's statement -- as Obama's campaign quickly noted -- was that the awakening got under way before President Bush announced in January 2007 his decision to flood Iraq with tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to help combat violence."
Then there's McCain's other message: beat the press.
New press credentials distributed by the McCain campaign for the Wilkes-Barre visit Wednesday: "McCain Press Corps: JV Squad. 'Left behind to report in America.' " Complete with a picture of the Statue of Liberty, per ABC's Bret Hovell.
"Sen. John McCain's campaign is dialing up its criticism of the news media, with a Web video and an online contest mocking the mainstream press for what the campaign describes as Obama-tilted coverage," per ABC News. "The critique of the news media is particularly striking coming from McCain, R-Ariz., who has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with journalists. In 2000 and 2008, his Republican rivals accused members of the media of being too close to McCain, and McCain once jokingly referred to the political press corps as 'my base.' "
"In past campaigns, complaints about media bias have galvanized conservatives, which could help McCain as he tries to solidify the Republican base," Maeve Reston writes in the Los Angeles Times. "But the sentiments in the fundraising e-mail Tuesday were also a public expression of months of grumbling by McCain advisors, who sarcastically call Obama 'The One.' "