The Note: Image Nation

A new question on the McCain campaign's Georgia ties: "Sen. John McCain's top foreign policy adviser prepped his boss for an April 17 phone call with the president of Georgia and then helped the presumptive Republican presidential nominee prepare a strong statement of support for the fledgling republic," Matthew Mosk and Jeffrey Birnbaum write in The Washington Post. "The day of the call, a lobbying firm partly owned by the adviser, Randy Scheunemann, signed a $200,000 contract to continue providing strategic advice to the Georgian government in Washington."

Think McCain sees an opening? "McCain's rhetoric has become increasingly sharp. On Tuesday, he called Russia an unrepentant combatant against a 'brave little nation' and compared Russian 'killing' in the 'tiny little democracy' to Soviet aggression during the Cold War era," Michael Shear and Alec MacGillis report in The Washington Post.

They continue: "Obama's more nuanced tone may reflect the debate going on among his advisers, who say they must bear in mind the messy geopolitical reality that America relies on Russia on a host of issues, from Iran to nuclear proliferation to energy and climate change."

"What remains to be seen is whether the endgame to the Georgia crisis makes McCain seem prophetic or headstrong and whether his muscular rhetoric plays a role in defining for voters the kind of commander in chief he would be," Politico's Ben Smith writes. "What is not in doubt is McCain's view of Russia."

McCain knows President Saakashvili so well he calls him "Misha." And there's this: "I told him that I know I speak for every American when I say to him, 'Today we are all Georgians,' " McCain said Tuesday, per ABC's Jake Tapper.

As for Obama: "He could not afford to be perceived as AWOL on this just because he is vacationing in his native Hawaii," Lynn Sweet reports in the Chicago Sun-Times. "Obama has issued three statements since Friday -- one read before cameras en route to Hawaii on Friday -- another session with cameras Monday, where he interrupted his Hawaiian vacation to call for a cease-fire and international intervention. At first he urged restraint for both nations, but that changed as Obama, President Bush and rival John McCain recognized Russia as responsible for bringing the countries to the brink of war."

Dems are stirring up: "Republican presidential candidate John McCain so far is ignoring calls from several watchdog groups to cancel an Atlanta fundraiser promoted by Ralph Reed, a longtime friend and business partner of imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff," Susan Crabtree reports in The Hill.

"The oddity here is that much of the information about the Abramoff-Reed relationship was uncovered in an investigation by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, chaired by John McCain," Al Kamen writes for The Washington Post.

What would it say about Obama's forthcoming numbers if there's something to this? "Senator Barack Obama will start looking the other way when it comes to the role 527s and other independent groups play in the election, a source close to his campaign told the Huffington Post," Sam Stein reports.

And while we're talking books -- anyone think this is just approximately 3 1/2 years late? From the press release: "Alexandra Kerry brings us inside the bubble of her father's bid for the presidency and traces her campaign experience from its infancy to her father's ultimate defeat."

The Sked:

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