The Note: Expecting Surprises

"This was another storm John McCain didn't want to come ashore," Thomas M. DeFrank writes in the New York Daily News.

Remember when this was going to be Sarah Palin's story? "The Palin pick allows McCain to run the way he wants to -- not as the old goat running against the fresh upstart, but as the crusader for virtue against the forces of selfishness. It allows him to make cleaning out the Augean stables of Washington the major issue of his campaign," David Brooks writes in his New York Times column.

Try that on for size now: "He's a superhunky bad-boy ice hockey player from cold country; she's a chestnut-haired beauty and popular high school senior," per the New York Daily News. "The all-American teen twosome will make GOP vice presidential pick and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin a grandma at age 44 -- just in time for Christmas."

Another cut on the lost day: "Day One wasn't going to look at the Bush-Cheney record in total, but rather at the administration's one big talking point: It's record of protecting the country from another major terrorist attack," Peter Canellos writes in The Boston Globe. "This is not only the one aspect of the Bush record that McCain enthusiastically embraces, it's a key part of the party's argument against Barack Obama."

Democrats don't forget: "McCain faces a unique challenge this week. He must not only distance himself from the uncompassionate and incompetent response of the Bush administration concerning Hurricane Katrina; he must also distance himself from his own hapless and heartless response," Donna Brazile writes in her Roll Call column.

Republicans would like, at some point, to tell another story: "The Democratic National Convention significantly boosted Americans' views of Barack Obama as a strong leader who 'shares your values' and can manage the economy and Iraq, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Saturday and Sunday finds," Susan Page writes for USA Today. "Republican John McCain's advantage in handling terrorism was dramatically reduced, and his 'unfavorable' rating ticked up to its highest level this year."

The poll puts it at Obama 50, McCain 43.

The Sked:

The Republican National Convention whirls to a belated start Tuesday. The schedule is still in flux, but headliner speakers include Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; former Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.; and President Bush, live via satellite. (What -- no hook-up for Cheney?)

"With Gustav having having spared New Orleans, the convention's focus will switch from the meteorological to the political," per ABC's John Berman and Jennifer Parker.

Palin will be a no show at a Tuesday event hosted by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly and the Republican National Coalition for Life, per ABC's Teddy Davis.

Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., campaigns in Florida.

McCain has no public events scheduled Tuesday.

Obama is down in Chicago Tuesday, with no public schedule.

Also in the news:

Speaking of that Obama guy: "It was Labor Day, and Barack Obama had to work. Hard. Because there were land mines to dodge everywhere he stepped," James Oliphant writes in the Chicago Tribune. "First was the potentially devastating Hurricane Gustav as it roared ashore in Louisiana. Next came the revelation that Bristol Palin, the unmarried, 17-year-old daughter of GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, is expecting a baby. . . . By Monday, Obama had abandoned any pretense of campaigning, tossing out his planned speech in Detroit before a large crowd of union members."

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