Still not sorted out: McCain on the Social Security payroll tax.Bloomberg's Ed Chen: "These contradictions reflect a central conundrum for the Arizona senator: He's seeking to both placate conservatives -- suspicious of him because of his willingness to buck the party in areas from climate change and campaign finance to President George W. Bush's tax cuts -- and project himself as an independent ready to work with Democrats on many of these issues."
Since the surge "worked" . . . "John McCain called for an 'economic surge' Wednesday, marrying key language from the war in Iraq with the economic troubles facing the United States," ABC's Bret Hovell reports. "Our surge has succeeded in Iraq militarily, now we need an economic surge," McCain said at a cabinet manufacturer in Southeastern Ohio, "to keep jobs here at home and create new ones." (Anyone clear on what this means?)
"The Surge is so much a part of his mantra that it is now on the verge of becoming McCain's cure-all for America's problems," ABC's David Wright reports.
Those House protests are great optics, but are missing just a few pieces. "It turns out [House Minority Leader John] Boehner was at Muirfield for his annual Freedom Project fundraiser/golf tournament," Ben Pershing writes for The Washington Post. "As for McCain, it would be a big deal indeed if Congress came back into session for an energy vote and the Arizonan actually showed up. This Friday will mark the four-month anniversary of the last time McCain actually cast a vote in the Senate."
Gas gaffes abound: "This morning, officials from Sen. Barack Obama's campaign proudly announced its cool new way to wage the political energy war -- it would run TV advertisements on the subject, starting today, on Gas Station TV, a network of televisions in gas pumps in Florida," per ABC's Jake Tapper. "How cool, how cutting edge, how innovative and unique. Except for the fact that the ads never ran."
"The Obama campaign was apologetic, maintains the ads were confirmed and offered back-up; the company says otherwise. Regardless, it's a major gaffe by a campaign that is typically well-organized," Beth Reinhard writes for the Miami Herald.
A light summer Thursday. McCain has an 11:30 am ET town-hall meeting in Lima, Ohio (GOP territory).
Obama is in Minneapolis and Chicago for private meetings (and a whole lot of Hawaii packing, we can only assume by the need to take a pre-vacation vacation day).
President Bush is in Thailand.
Get the full political schedule in The Note's "Sneak Peek."
Let's hug it out. "It was almost a double man-hug. But just what does it mean?" ABC's John Berman, Sunlen Miller, and Andy Fies report. After Indiana Senator Evan Bayh gave a rousing 12-minute introduction to Barack Obama in Elkhart, Ind., this morning, Senator Barack Obama bounded on stage for an embrace. The two men held each other for a moment, speaking words no one else could hear. And just when it looked like it was over, they went in for more."
"The reasons for Mr. Bayh's apparent presence in the inner circle of potential ticketmates are varied, and they say something about the nature of the 2008 race and the correlation of forces within the Democratic Party," Larry Rohter writes in The New York Times.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., had his day in the limelight Wednesday -- and he had something to say (and just maybe one too many kind things to say about Obama).