The Note: Image Nation

He gets to do this because he's the one campaigning this week: "During the Republican primaries, McCain rarely mentioned his history of collaborating with Democrats such as [Sen. Ted] Kennedy, partly because their joint effort last year to promote immigration reform angered many GOP voters. Lately, however, in states such as Pennsylvania, McCain has sprinkled the names of Democrats into his remarks," Seema Mehta writes in the Los Angeles Times.

"At the same time, while in the Keystone State, McCain has tried to exploit a comment Obama made this year that people in small towns in Pennsylvania and elsewhere 'cling' to guns and religion because of economic uncertainty."

"His reprise of the 'bitter' flap -- an off-the-cuff remark made by Mr. Obama at a private fundraising event in San Francisco prior to Pennsylvania's April primary -- harkened back to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's successful campaign in the state," S.A. Miller writes in the Washington Times. (More on this later.)

But don't call it negative: "We're not sending any negative message in our campaign," McCain said on NPR's "Morning Edition" Wednesday morning. "I've never heard Steve Schmidt say we need a negative message in the campaign. . . . I've run many, many campaigns and I have never believed that we need a strong negative message."

Really? No negative messaging? "Millions of TV viewers are seeing negative political ads during the Olympics, a gamble by Republican John McCain that the sheer size of the audience outweighs any potential backlash against sharp rhetoric during a feel-good event," USA Today's Jill Lawrence reports. "The claims in both [McCain] ads, that Obama voted to raise taxes on lower-income people and will raise them as president, have been labeled false or misleading by and, non-partisan fact-checking groups that say Obama proposes tax cuts for lower-income people."

The latest from Hawaii: "According to the campaign, it is a mere coincidence that Obama, his family and friends from Chicago are staying on a sprawling Kailua beach estate owned by Jill Tate Higgins, a California businesswoman who Federal Election Commission reports show has contributed $2,300 to his campaign over the past year," Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown reports.

And he showed some toe: "Barack Obama stepped out in Honolulu wearing a dreaded summer men's wear combo: Pants and flip-flops," Amy Diluna writes for the New York Daily News. "In the city, it is a fashion disaster of epic proportions: The rarely attractive toes peeking out from the bottom of trousers, the proximity of piggies to pavement and the filthy residue that sticks. It's a sandal scandal."

Newsweek's Andrew Romano is sick of it: "My point is WHO CARES. Last month, the Republicans were trying to insinuate that Obama's predilections for exercise, organic tea and chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars somehow disqualified him from the presidency. Now they're saying that spending a week near his childhood home--and his elderly grandmother -- is proof of his snobbery. Here's hoping that America's voters aren't as silly as its pundits."

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