The Note: Twin Paths

"Never in recent American history has the candidate of a party seeking to maintain its hold on the presidency seen its candidate so aggressively dismiss the legacy of the incumbent commander-in-chief and his allies," The Nation's John Nichols writes.

Yet McCain is no simple lifter-upper: "For every McCain call for consensus Thursday night, there had been a missile aimed at Barack Obama on Wednesday night. For every call to fight as Americans for America, there had been a party comrade calling on the faithful to fight as Republicans for conservatism. For every insistence that he was not working for any one party, McCain's allies had already done his dirty work," per the AP's Ron Fournier. "This conflict between smiles and swordsmanship undercuts his campfire-song message of a unified nation working together for change."

What Sarah has brought: "Jolted by Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin joining John McCain on its party's ticket, the conservative Republican base may finally be as fired up and ready to go as the liberal activists backing Democrat Barack Obama," Brian C. Mooney writes in The Boston Globe. The Rev. Pat Robertson, on CNN, called Palin the "most exciting Republican politician since Ronald Reagan."

"I think that what Barack did for the Democrat Party, she is certainly doing for the Republican Party, and we're gonna surprise a lot of people," Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said on ABC NewsNOW Thursday.

Think people are interested? Says Nielsen: "More than 37.2 million people tuned in for coverage of the third night of the 2008 Republican National Convention . . . just 1.1 million fewer viewers than Barack Obama's record-breaking speech on day four of the Democratic convention."

Writes ABC's Jake Tapper: "This included a big female audience of 19.5 million women -- 5.2 million more women than tuned in for Sen. Hillary Clinton's, D-N.Y., speech of day two of the Democratic convention and 6.9 million more than watched Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., accept the Democrats' vice presidential nomination. These are numbers that will scare and unnerve Democrats."

"Republican analysts were saying, virtually until the announcement that Mrs. Palin would be on the ticket, that the party could not run on a base-turnout election strategy," Ralph Z. Hallow writes in the Washington Times.

From the new CBS/NYT poll (which pegs the race at 42-42): "McCain has . . . closed the enthusiasm gap some with Obama, but it still exists. Fifty-five percent of Obama's supporters are enthusiastic about their choice, and now so are 35% of McCain's. Last weekend, just 25 percent of McCain's supporters were enthusiastic about him, compared to 67 of Obama's supporters."

"Overnight, internal campaign polls found a big move by Christian voters and Republican women back into the Republican fold," Thomas M. DeFrank reports in the New York Daily News. Said one senior strategist: "We are now dead even."

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