Easy pushback on national security: "Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain," Luke Rosiak reports for the Center for Responsive Politics. "[T]he fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain's haul."
McCain's "pro-choice" trial balloon is making for good target practice, with former governor Tom Ridge, R-Pa., in conservatives' sites. "For those who have been anxiously awaiting McCain's pick as a signal of his ideological intentions, there was deep concern that their worst fears about the Arizona senator may be realized," Politico's Jonathan Martin writes.
"Explanations were abounding Thursday on why Sen. John McCain mentioned Tom Ridge as a possible running mate -- including a serious pick, a trial balloon for the right and an ecumenical gesture for the left," Ralph Z. Hallow writes in the Washington Times.
Don't make it Sen. Joe Lieberman either, Rich Lowry writes for National Review. "A McCain-Lieberman ticket might have an unbecoming pleading quality -- please, we're not really Republicans, so let us in for just 1,461 days. The ticket would make McCain, the experienced hand, the steward of a campaign verging on the gimmicky. . . . McCain-Lieberman is a more desperate move than McCain should feel compelled to make right now."
Mike Huckabee has a long memory: "I think there are better choices for Sen. McCain that have the approval of value voters," Huckabee said of former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., on Fox News. "The issue is that in many ways, Mitt Romney has had very definite swings of position. Not just on one or two things, but on many of the issues."
The convention schedule is filling out with short-listers: "Two candidates rumored to be in the mix to become Barack Obama's running mate have been given speaking slots for Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the convention committee announced Thursday," per ABC's Z. Byron Wolf and Matthew Jaffe. "Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., will both speak on the night of Wednesday the 27th, the same night as the eventual vice presidential nominee."
(Of course, it's easier to change a schedule than it is even to repaint a plane.)
David Sirota uses his syndicated column to join the liberal Bayh-bashing. "Obama selecting this corporate Frankenstein would implicitly signal that the Illinois senator's populist campaign promises are a farce," Sirota writes. "Let's say Obama doesn't mind destroying Democratic enthusiasm for his candidacy. Let's say he is specifically looking to win a Republican state like Indiana. Even in that context, a Bayh nomination is absurd." Bayh and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, R-Minn., square off on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Obama wraps up his Hawaiian vacation Friday, as he and his family (and the traveling press corps) head back to Chicago.
Obama and McCain will be in Orange County, Calif., for the joint faith forum at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church.
For the veep's watchers: Obama is back on the trail Sunday, with events in Reno, Nev., and San Francisco. Then it's New Mexico on Monday, Florida on Tuesday, and -- per The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder -- Richmond, Va., on Thursday.
McCain has private meetings Friday in Long Beach, Calif., in advance of Saturday's faith forum.