Five good reasons that Sen. Barack Obama is headed to his vacation without having named a running mate:
1. He's not happy with his choices (and is there a better place to be Biden your time?)
2. He's too happy with his choices (and is remembering his good-Bayh hug).
3. Isn't afraid of competing with the modern pentathlon team competition (yes he Kaine.)
4. Doesn't really want to enjoy Hawaii (briefing books make lousy beach Reed-ing).
5. Really does want to enjoy Hawaii (it's better than leaving your veep to the lions in the lower 48 -- but what's the matter with Kansas, again?)
One truly great reason he's leaving town without having made an announcement:
He doesn't want to make the call to Hillary (and God forbid Bill answers).
Obama starts his Hawaii vacation with a mystifyingly long list of questions unanswered about the convention that's barely two weeks away. He has no running mate, no set speaking schedule, no real sense of what protests he'll face -- and no party peace.
As Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton hits the trail for Obama Friday in Nevada -- her first solo campaign appearance for the candidate she's endorsed -- it's time (again) to try and answer the question she famously posed two months ago: What does Hillary want?
"Advisers to Sen. Barack Obama are scrambling to reach a compromise with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to appease her supporters and find roles for her and her husband," Anne E. Kornblut writes in The Washington Post.
"The back and forth with Clinton -- as well as questions about whether her husband will actively campaign for Obama after the convention -- threatens to distract attention from what Obama's backers hope will be one of the convention's central themes: change," Kornblut writes. "Planners are hoping to create an event that looks and feels different from past conventions, with more interactive components and an emphasis on the grass roots, in order to mirror the core message of Obama's candidacy."
(How much of this is about logistics, and how much is about respect? In which area can Obama afford to be more magnanimous?)
Clinton backers got some platform language: "Demeaning portrayals of women cheapen our debates, dampen the dreams of our daughters, and deny us the contributions of too many." And: "Our party is proud that we have put 18 million cracks in the highest glass ceiling."
(Proud that 18 million people voted for someone who isn't going to be the nominee?)
And former President Bill Clinton is locked in for a Wednesday convention speech, putting him in the center of the showcase on the vice presidential nominee's night -- and in the limelight the day after his wife takes the stage in Denver, ABC's Sarah Amos reports.
Yet Clinton could still not answer a simple question in her Web chat with supporters Thursday: Will she allow her name to be placed into nomination? (Obamaland wants a nomination by acclimation, not by roll call -- something that hasn't happened since LBJ claimed the nomination in a party still reeling from JFK's death, in 1964.)
"Sen. Barack Obama's campaign appears reluctant to have any sort of roll call vote at the Democratic convention this month," ABC's Jake Tapper reports. "Why? They have no interest in highlighting the narrowness of his victory."
Gary Hart offers some advice: A vote isn't necessarily bad. "My people put on a massive demonstration [on the convention floor in 1984]. It went on for 10 or 15 minutes," Hart tells Allison Sherry and Anne C. Mulkern of The Denver Post. "They felt very good about it afterward."
Obama may actually believe that the negotiations are "seamless," by why then do we see the cracks?
This is a pretty big split in perceiving the convention's purpose: "I don't think we're looking for catharsis. I think what we're looking for is energy and excitement about the prospects of changing this country."
"Even as Hillary Clinton heads to Las Vegas today in her first solo trip to campaign for Obama, she is holding out the prospect of a drawn-out nominating vote that experts say at best would be a distraction and at worst a disaster," Newsday's Tom Brune and Janie Lorber write.
Don't forget that Bill Clinton couldn't quite say that Obama was ready to be president. "Taken together, the Clintons' comments were evidence that some bitterness lingers two months after Clinton battled Obama to a near-draw, gave up her campaign and asked him to help her retire a multimillion dollar campaign debt," Reuters' Steve Holland reports.
Obama has already given the Clintons plenty -- and this is his convention, after all. "Two nights out of four featuring the Clintons is not what Obama had in mind for his convention, but he'll have to live with it," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter writes, noting that neither Obama nor the Clintons can stop delegates from voting for whomever they wish.
"The dustup over the Clintons will get resolved, but it's a harbinger of drama to come. Bill Clinton is still sore," Alter continues. "And Barack Obama hasn't quite figured out yet that the men who have been president is a tiny club, and Clinton is the only one whose advice is likely to prove useful."
Can't he be even more generous? (He's won the only prize that really matters.)
"What else does she want? As Al Gore learned in 2000, having one Clinton, let alone two, hover over you as you campaign for the presidency can be trying," Katharine Q. Seelye writes in The New York Times. "Either way, she does have leverage. Polling shows that Mrs. Clinton remains as popular among Democrats these days as Mr. Obama, despite his having campaigned for two months as the party nominee."
"The Obama team's patience is being tested again, Obama advisers say," Kenneth T. Walsh writes for US News & World Report.
(And restart more old Clinton drama soon: "Former advisers to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are in a tizzy over an upcoming piece in the Atlantic Monthly that chronicles the inner workings of the now-defunct campaign," Anne Kornblut writes in The Washington Post. "Of particular concern are nearly 200 internal memos that the author, Josh Green, obtained -- 130 or so of which he plans to scan in and post online. When the piece is published sometime next week, readers will be able to scroll through the memos, from senior strategists such as Mark Penn, Harold Ickes and Geoff Garin, and see what exactly was going on inside the infamously fractured Clinton organization.")
Obama will answer questions from the press upon arrival in Hawaii, then is basically down for a week -- save a fundraiser next Tuesday.
Obama "is expected to remain on Oahu and return to the mainland on Aug. 16," per the Honolulu Star Bulletin. "It is not known where he will be staying, but he has a fundraising event planned for Tuesday at the Kahala Hotel & Resort. Andy Winer, local Obama coordinator, said the 500 available tickets for the $2,300-a-person private event have been sold. If those figures hold, it would be a take of at least $1.15 million."
His biggest agenda item: Curing "Obama fatigue," he told reporters Thursday, per ABC's Sunlen Miller.
He's already comic fodder, and the GOP is getting going (look for the RNC's Hawaii travel guide, complete with tips on where on the islands you can get your tires inflated).
"Although Democrats view the dog days of summer as downtime -- Mr. Obama will take next week off to vacation in Hawaii with friends -- the Republican Party is busy defining its opponent and setting out the terms of the debate that will begin in earnest after Labor Day," Stephen Dinan writes in the Washington Times.
Being pushed by the GOP message machine on Friday: Obama's response to a 7-year-old's question about why he's running for president. "America is no longer what it could be, but it once was," he said. (What, you didn't want to tell her there's no Santa Claus?)
More from the mouths of babes -- advice to Michelle Obama from another youngster: "We should finish what we started in Iraq."
So the field is clear for Sen. John McCain -- whose campaign is $50,000 poorer as he tries to burn the straw littering his field.
"Senator John McCain's presidential campaign said Thursday that it would return all the contributions solicited for it by the Jordanian business partner of a prominent Florida fund-raiser for Mr. McCain," Michael Luo writes in The New York Times.
"The decision to return the money follows a report in The Washington Post that found that Harry Sargeant III submitted a bundle of checks for $2,300 and $4,600 on a single day in March, all of them from donors in Southern California who had never given before this year's campaign and did not appear to be likely candidates to contribute as much as $18,400 per household," writes Matthew Mosk of The Washington Post, who broke the story.
"Although the contributions were credited to Sargeant, whose company has Defense Department contracts worth as much as $1.4 billion, the checks came from Americans of seemingly modest means," Mosk writes.
And yet -- the story may not end there: "Sargeant raised at least an additional $460,000 for McCain, some of which was gathered on his behalf by a former high-ranking CIA anti-terrorism expert who is now Sargeant's business partner. Sargeant did not name any of the other associates who may have helped him with fundraising."
"McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said some of the people solicited by [Mustafa] Abu Naba'a had no intention of supporting McCain for president," per the AP's Pete Yost. "Rogers said 'that just didn't sound right to us' so the money is being returned. He estimated the total at less than $50,000, saying 'we think we have a pretty good estimate of how much Abu Naba'a solicited.' "
What he'd really like is to be rid of this package: It's Rick Davis' lobbying work, once again in the spotlight, at a bad time in a bad place (Ohio), in those lost DHL jobs.
"Republican John McCain called Thursday for a federal investigation into plans by the DHL shipping company that could cost 10,000 jobs here, as he and his campaign manager took criticism for helping DHL complete a key corporate merger in 2003," the AP's Beth Fouhy reports.
"The politically sensitive case has embarrassed McCain, who has railed against the role of special interest groups in Washington, and it threatens to undermine his efforts to capture this crucial state in November," the Los Angeles Times' Bob Drogin writes. "In news releases, conference calls and local street protests, Democrats and union groups have blamed McCain and Davis for backing the original deal, and accused McCain of ignoring the workers' plight."
A key test for McCain? "I can't assure you that this train wreck isn't going to happen but I will do everything in my power to see that we avert it," said McCain in a meeting with Wilmington, Ohio, business owners, local officials, and community organizers, per Politico's Lisa Lerer.
At what price? "Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Thursday jumped onto a populist, anticorporate bandwagon, appearing before workers expected to lose their jobs in the planned shutdown of a large DHL air cargo hub here, and promising to use government powers in an effort to prevent the loss-plagued company from slashing jobs," Alex Roth and Elizabeth Holmes write in The Wall Street Journal.
How does this square with the new McCain economic message? "People are tired of big corporations, lobbyist and special interests who they feel prosper at their expense," reads the memo from McCain aide Taylor Griffin, as obtained by Huffington Post. "People must understand that John McCain is not only thinking of their future, but their children's futures as well."
A new strategy in the 527 wars: "Nearly 10,000 of the biggest donors to Republican candidates and causes across the country will probably receive a foreboding "warning" letter in the mail next week," Michael Luo reports in The New York Times. "The letter is an opening shot across the bow from an unusual new outside political group on the left that is poised to engage in hardball tactics to prevent similar groups on the right from getting off the ground this fall."
"Led by Tom Matzzie, a liberal political operative who has been involved with some prominent left-wing efforts in recent years, the newly formed nonprofit group, Accountable America, is planning to confront donors to conservative groups, hoping to create a chilling effect that will dry up contributions," Luo writes.
But who, exactly, is the candidate of big oil? Citing Center for Responsive Politics data, ABC's Jake Tapper reports: "McCain has received three times more money from the oil industry in general -- $1.3 million for McCain compared to approximately $394,000 for Obama. But that said, Obama has received more campaign cash than McCain has from the employees of some of the biggest oil companies -- Exxon, Chevron and BP."
"Maybe Barack Obama is wrong in insisting that John McCain is the darling of Big Oil. Maybe it's really Obama," McClatchy's David Lightman writes.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joins the chorus of the concerned: "It's John McCain who wears $500 shoes, has six houses, and comes from one of the richest families in his state," Schumer tells Politico's Ben Smith. "It's Barack Obama who climbed up the hard way, and that's why he wants middle-class tax cuts and better schools for our kids."
Peggy Noonan sees McCain finding his voice at that motorcycle rally: "There's a thing that's out there and it's big, and latent, and somehow always taken into account and always ignored, and political professionals always assume they understand it," she writes in her Wall Street Journal column.
"It has been called many things the past 50 years, 'the silent center,' 'the silent majority,' 'the coalition,' 'the base,'" she writes. And watching that McCain event -- vroom vroom -- one got the sense it is perhaps beginning to pay attention to the campaign. I see it as the old America, and if and when it reasserts itself, the campaign will shift indeed, and in ways you can even see from 10,000 feet."
Meet the new McCain: "The McCain team decided to go for broke," Time's Michael Scherer reports. "Under the direction of top political strategist Steve Schmidt, the campaign's new goal is to tag Obama as nothing more than an untested politician with considerable rhetorical talents while touting McCain as the proven independent reformer voters already know."
Better late than . . . "A month after a campaign shake-up that reshaped John McCain's field operation, aides to the Republican nominee are touting organizational changes they say are bringing them closer to Barack Obama's sprawling effort," Politico's Jonathan Martin reports.
Is a McCain ad calling Obama (subliminally) the anti-Christ? Anyone a fan of the "Left Behind" series?
"An Internet ad launched last week by the McCain presidential campaign has attracted more than one million hits by appearing to mock Barack Obama for presenting himself as a kind of prophetic figure," Douglas Belkin, Stephanie Simon, and Suzanne Sataline report in The Wall Street Journal.
They continue: "The ad has provoked a growing debate on the Internet over whether it is playing with apocalyptic themes. Those ideas are chiefly shared by fundamentalist Protestants and some other evangelical Christians. Among their expectations: the ascension of a false prophet, a one-world government and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ."
Flashback: This is the same ad team that produced a Web video that, for a split second, framed Obama's face with the letters "al qD."
What we do know is what we don't know: "A clear front-runner may emerge after the debates, but for now, polls might not even predict the past," GOP strategist Todd Domke writes in his Boston Globe column.
The Olympics start in smoggy Beijing at 8:08 pm local time (which is 8:08 am ET). (Get it? It's 8/8/08.)
The day's big event: Sen. Clinton stumps solo for Obama at a voter registration drive and rally in Las Vegas, at 3:15 pm ET.
McCain eats things on sticks: He hits the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines (does it seem like a year ago that this was the center of the universe?) at 11:30 am ET, then does another one of those late-Friday press availabilities, in Bentonville, Ark.
Obama is headed to Hawaii for his vacation, and has a "welcome to Hawaii event in Honolulu."
And the White House press corps did get there -- eventually. "As the plane taxied to its gate, just hours before the start of the 2008 Summer Olymipcs, the journalists scurried to collect their belongings, an announcement was made by the White House administrators that there would be a delay in exiting the plane," ABC's Stephanie Simon reports. "Delays are a common occurrence on overseas White House press flights, but this one was particularly unusual due to the length of the delay: just shy of three hours."
Coming Sunday: Jake Tapper fills in for George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" -- with guests Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., and Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La.
Get all the candidates' schedules in The Note's "Sneak Peek."
Also in the news:
Maybe actually good for Obama in Michigan? (Seeing him sidelined is probably best at this point.) At least it happened after his mom won her primary . . .
"Shortly after Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick wakes up in jail this morning -- still reeling from becoming the first sitting mayor in Detroit's 307-year history to spend a night behind bars -- Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is expected to charge him with felony assault," per the Detroit Free Press. "At 10 this morning, Cox is expected to announce that he is charging Kilpatrick with assaulting an officer in July as he tried to serve court papers on one of Kilpatrick's best friends."
The DNC's platform draft has some new abortion language, per ABC's Teddy Davis: After stating support for Roe v. Wade, the platform continues: "We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions."
New knock on T-Paw: Too ready (and readying). "If anything, Mr. Pawlenty's critics say, he is too prepared for this moment; they say he has been so conscious of the possibility of higher office that he has been overly careful as governor," Monica Davey writes in The New York Times.
"This year, he vetoed 34 bills passed by a Democratic-dominated Legislature, more than any other Minnesota governor had vetoed in a year since at least World War II, leading his most fervent critics to describe him as more of a goalie fending off pucks than a leader rushing the net Some critics even note changes in his haircut — once a mullet-style, now a cropped conservative look less common at a Minnesota hockey rink — as evidence of his political calculations."
Surprise! It's a sellout in Denver: "Colorado's tickets to see Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Invesco Field at Mile High were more than spoken for within about 24 hours, officials said, and the application process closed Thursday for all but those willing to be put on a waiting list," Chuck Plunkett writes in The Denver Post.
Oprah's coming! "Oprah Winfrey has rented a house in a historic neighborhood near Cherry Creek for the week of the Democratic National Convention, according to a source," Gargi Chakrabarty reports in the Rocky Mountain News. "Rent for the house, which is on South Gaylord Street, is said to be $50,000 a week."
Bloomberg's Kim Chipman profiles Obama's grandmother -- the reason for the Hawaii trip, really. "When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a 'typical white person,' he was underestimating her," she writes. "As a banker in 1960s Hawaii who offered her grandson one of his earliest models for overcoming barriers, Madelyn Dunham was anything but typical."
House race results in Tennessee: "Rep. David Davis (R-Tenn.) was upset Thursday in a little-noticed Volunteer State primary," Roll Call's Lauren W. Whittingham reports."Johnson City Mayor Phil Roe (R), who finished in fourth place in the 2006 GOP primary that Davis won, took this cycle's primary by about 500 votes -- or less than 1 percent.
In a race where Obama denounced the challenger's tactics,http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/08/07/obama_weighs_in_on_tennessee_h.html Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., trounced "the opponent who ran an ad linking him to the Ku Klux Klan," per the AP's Woody Baird.
"Most of the time, the TV is on HGTV, and I suffer that silently. . . . She likes American Idol, her and the girls, in a way that I don't entirely get." -- Barack Obama, conceding that his wife, Michelle, generally has control of the remote control, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
"Foolishly she continues to try to assert her control over the remote." -- John McCain, not backing down in the stand-off with his wife, Cindy.
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