The Note: House Edge

An entirely fictitious memo that will be read some time before Sen. Barack Obama arrives in Springfield, Ill., on Saturday:

To: Number Two From: Barack Obama

Congratulations. You have agreed to be part of a historic campaign to save the country from more of the same with a vision to take us to a better place, via a new course for America. Enclosed you will find your poncho for Thursday night.

Yes. We. Can. To make sure that we do, I thought I might provide a few pointers:

New kinds of leaders provide new kinds of leadership. Think of that before you hit the stump.

Remember how many houses you have. Also remember how many houses John McCain has.

Pay attention to how few leaks sprung while your name and a few others were in the mix. Before you decide to leak something, call or Berry me -- or get in touch with David Plouffe, and he can tell you why it's a bad idea.

Once a week, John Kerry will call. Be polite.

Twice a week, Howard Dean will call. Let it go to voicemail.

Every day, Rahm Emanuel will call. Write down everything he says.

You will be asked about Hillary Clinton. Smile -- but you're on your own on this one.

PS: You will not influence me by trying to influence Michelle.

Obama's running mate arrives -- soon (promise! with only a full week wasted on silly speculation!) -- to a lovely big gift from McCain.

Forgetting how many houses you have is a maybe-three-times-an-election-cycle gaffe that breaks through and has a life of its own. (Yes, that WAS Mike Allen's voice on the morning shows Friday . . . )

It provides a handy new storyline for a campaign that needed one -- perfect defense for the elitism charge, and also a line that buttresses the charge that McCain is out of touch on the economy.

"ABC News, working with the McCain campaign, counted nine houses on seven properties," ABC's Jake Tapper reported on "Good Morning America" Friday. "But then it turns out there's another Phoenix condo they own that the McCain campaign did not tell us about. So, 10 houses on eight properties."

It also changes the tenor of the race: Welcome, Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko, to the general election.

But even ad wars about houses and felons won't push the veepstakes from the top of your attention grid.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Obama said, teasing reporters (and his party) on Thursday.

Yes, we would.

So we care that, after spending some quality time with Obama Thursday, Gov. Tim Kaine, D-Va., switched to the past tense: "I've always thought it seemed a bit unlikely but I'm not going to tell you it hadn't been fun," said Kaine, per ABC's Jennifer Duck. "It's been nice to be mentioned but I'm going to let them do the heavy lifting at this point."

We care that, for the second time this week, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., got a favorable mention on the stump from Obama.

We care that, despite nothing real happening in his life other than shuttling the kids around and going for neighborhood, the people around Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., are quietly optimistic. (And nine new campaign offices in Indiana opening Saturday -- what ever could the campaign have in mind?)

We might even care that he says the election is likely to turn on the economy: His running mate "will be a partner with me in strengthening this economy for the middle class and working families," Obama told USA Today's Kathy Kiely. "I want somebody who's independent, somebody who can push against my preconceived notions and challenge me."

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