We're 100 days out now -- yes, that's it -- and at least the next seven of those will depend on which of these seven storylines matters most:
Will it be . . .
1. Sen. Barack Obama's move toward Sen. John McCain's Iraq position?
2. McCain's move toward Obama's Iraq position?
3. McCain's leftward mobility?
4. McCain's rightward mobility?
5. Obama's messaging flexibility?
6. Obama's messaging on inflexibility (a sore hip -- enough to keep him off the court for a stretch)?
7. Vice-presidential advisability? (Good chance of one pick this week -- but whose might it be?)
Or is it just the inevitable comedown that bears watching? "We had a good week," Obama tells Maureen Dowd. "That always inspires the press to knock me down a peg."
"I wouldn't even be surprised if that in some polls that you saw a little bit of a dip as a consequence we have been out of the country for a week," Obama told reporters on the last leg of his foreign trip, per ABC's Jake Tapper. (Seriously -- after THAT week?)
It's with just a little bit of Obama baggage -- and, spin aside, a little bit of extra Obama confidence (Gallup's daily tracking has his lead at nine points) -- that the campaign returns stateside this week.
If everyone knows this race is going to come down to the economy -- where's it been for us lately?
This is one of those rare openings for either candidate to shape the race: The No. 1 issue has been sorely neglected (no, McCain's adventures with processed cheese don't count), so there's a potential payoff for the first candidate to approach the economy in a way that gets traction.
Who wants it? Obama, D-Ill., spends Monday with economic advisers, to roll out some new steps to address the housing crisis and spiraling gas prices.
And after the week McCain stayed in the heartland to keep the focus on the economy while Obama was abroad, with both candidates now back home, McCain, R-Ariz., is turning up the heat on Obama on . . . foreign policy.
(Need another sign that the campaign is more than slightly more about one candidate than it is the other?)
McCain "suggested yesterday that Sen. Barack Obama had crafted a war strategy designed to further his own political advancement," Juliet Eilperin reports in The Washington Post. "The moves puzzled some GOP strategists, who said McCain would be better off touting a more positive message."
Said one strategist "with close ties" to the campaign: "They're doing it because the candidate, and the campaign, is not happy with where they are and they're lashing out."
"Senator Barack Obama signaled on Sunday that he would return his focus to the economy after a whirlwind foreign tour, but Senator John McCain's eyes remained very much fixed on national security, as he repeatedly attacked his rival," Michael Powell and Susan Saulney write in The New York Times.
Among the attacks . . . this one's the subject of his TV ad: "If I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn't visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event," McCain told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week."
"I'm not prepared to see the sacrifice of so many brave young Americans lost because Senator Obama just views this war as another political issue with which he can change positions," McCain said on CNN.