The Note: Contact Sports

"Kennedy's speech was much more than a moving acknowledgment of the tribute being paid to him -- it was much more than anyone could have expected," Peter Canellos writes in The Boston Globe. "It was, in fact, the party's real keynote address -- a call to arms that brought together past and present, and set the agenda for all the speeches to follow."

"Mr. Kennedy's appearance wiped away, at least for the evening, some of the tension that continued to plague the party in the wake of the primary fight between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton," Adam Nagourney writes in The New York Times. "It also represented an effort by the Obama campaign to claim the Kennedy mantle."

As for all those "regular people" -- anyone not get the message? "There was no missing the political point behind the made-for-TV show. Not after speaker after speaker filled in minor pieces of the portrait of a good old-fashioned, red-blooded American who shares your values, values, values," Michael Goodwin writes in his New York Daily News column. "That so many of those speakers were white underscored the depth of concern and the campaign's target."

Slightly marring a lovely evening in Denver: "Three men have been arrested on drug charges in Aurora, Denver and Glendale -- one of them carrying weapons that authorities said may have been intended for use against Barack Obama," Christopher N. Osher and Carlos Illescas report in The Denver Post.

Keeping Democrats worried: They want a Democratic president in battleground states, but are less enthusiastic about this Democrat. The new Quinnipiac University poll: "Florida: McCain leads 47 – 43 percent, compared to a 46 – 44 percent Obama lead July 31; Ohio: Obama has 44 percent to McCain's 43 percent, compared to a 46 – 44 percent Obama lead least time; Pennsylvania: Obama leads McCain 49 – 42 percent, unchanged from July 31."

On the political sked (outside the Pepsi Center):

Sen. Joe Biden and Michelle Obama attend an economic security event in Denver at 10:30 am MT -- and both are planning on being at Sen. Clinton's speech.

Sen. Barack Obama has a late morning event in Kansas City (not St. Louis).

Hillary Clinton pops around town, speaking to EMILY's List among other gatherings.

Bill Clinton adds a late event, a 9:45 am MT international affairs forum in Denver.

McCain addresses the American Legion in Phoenix.

Former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., is the star at the GOP's oppo headquarters on Tuesday, with a Christian Science Monitor lunch and everything else a veep's prospect could hope for.

Also in the news:

Obama is pushing back on the Bill Ayers connection, responding to a 527 group's ads. "With all our problems, why is John McCain talking about the '60s, trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers?" his new campaign ad asks.

But why build this up? "That they've made a strategic decision to air a commercial about William Ayers is perplexing," McCain strategist Steve Schmidt tells National Review's Rich Lowry. "He's deluding himself if he doesn't think his relationship with an unrepentant domestic terrorist who was part of this viscous, crack-pot group will give the American people pause. If he does, he's being very naïve."

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