The Note: McCain's Mojo

Those clever RNC press folks managed to get tire gauges delivered to the Obama traveling press corpse in Elkhart, Ind., Tuesday night.

(But was this McCain agreeing -- or at least taking some zing from his attacks? At his tele-town hall meeting Tuesday, McCain said: "And could I mention that Senator Obama a couple of days ago said that we ought to all inflate our tires, and I don't disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it, but I also don't think that that's a way to become energy independent.")

Still, this team knows how to press: "John McCain is going nuclear on gas prices," Politico's Lisa Lerer reports. "At least that's what his campaign would like voters to believe, as the presumptive Republican nominee crosses the country touting his energy policies in hopes of winning voters anxious about record fuel prices."

The Los Angeles Times' Peter Nicholas: "Often cool on the stump, Obama struck a combative note when he told the 2,700 people who came to see him here that McCain had unfairly characterized his position. Ridiculing him over tire gauges, Obama said, is shallow campaigning -- on the order of McCain's much-publicized TV ad likening Obama to celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton."

If you don't think Obama feels the pressure, check out his interview with the Las Vegas Sun's Jon Ralston: "I thought I was talking to you instead of debating John McCain, but I am happy to let you serve as his proxy. The fact of the matter is that I supported that energy bill saying at the time that those tax breaks were wrong but also recognizing that this was the largest investment in alternative energy in history," Obama said.

For fans of the Truth-O-Meter, meet Politifact's Flip-O-Meter, where Obama earns a "full flop" for shifting on whether to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

By forcing Obama's hand on drilling, McCain may be giving him troubles on the left. "If he does really get behind this new compromise in Congress, I think that would be a huge mistake," Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida, tells McClatchy's Lesley Clark and Beth Reinhard. Margie Alt of Environment America said in a statement: "We are disappointed to see that Sen. Obama has expressed openness to compromise on offshore drilling and the health of our beaches."

McCain's even one-upping Obama with his Olympic ad buy: He's spending $6 million, compared with Obama's $5 million, per Advertising Age's Ira Teinowitz (in part because McCain has no need to save money in his kitty for after the convention).

How is everything shaking out? A six-point Obama lead (hello, stability) in the AP-Ipsos poll. "McCain, the senator from Arizona, is leading by 10 points among whites and is even with Obama among men, groups with whom Republicans traditionally do well in national elections," per the AP's Alan Fram. "Obama leads by 13 points among women, by 30 points among voters up to age 34, and by 55 points among blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, the poll shows."

"In the two months since Barack Obama captured the Democratic nomination, he has hit a ceiling in public opinion, proving unable to make significant gains with any segment of the national electorate," Politico's David Paul Kuhn reports.

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