The Note: The Big Shift

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann see a chance for McCain-Palin to go on offense: "Republicans must battle to underscore the threats this country faces, economically and internationally, and that we can't let an ingenue take over. They must capitalize on McCain's aggressive determination to bring reform to Washington and to emphasize Obama's inexperience and failure to grasp how to change Washington," they write. "But it was McCain's gutsy selection of Palin that opened the door to victory."

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe sees McCain-Palin at the "high-water mark," with Democratic turnout efforts still superior: "Our sense is that, that independent women who are truly undecided," Plouffe told McCain reporters in Chicago Monday, per ABC's Ron Claiborne. "There is no question that they believe that Gov. Palin has given them a surge of energy here in the short term. We'll see where they stand eight weeks from now."

(Indeed. And might the map be shrinking? "We are very focused on the battleground states that will decide the race," Plouffe said.)

The campaigns, to some extent, continue to play on different fields (though they look more similar all the time): "The two presidential campaigns are plotting strategies that rely on vastly different readings of the electoral map, with Democrat Barack Obama competing hard in a large number of traditionally Republican states and John McCain, the GOP nominee, focusing on a small set of familiar battlegrounds," Peter Nicholas writes in the Los Angeles Times. "A wild card in their calculations is McCain's surprise vice presidential choice, Sarah Palin." (Remember back when Obama used to be the wild card?)

Obama on Tuesday talks education in Ohio, touting charter schools and efforts to replace inferior teachers: "There's partisanship and there's bickering, but there's no understanding that both sides have good ideas that we'll need to implement if we hope to make the changes our children need," Obama plans to say, according to advance excerpts.

New language taking on McCain -- wresting back his "change": "In the past few weeks, my opponent has taken to talking about the need for change and reform in Washington, where he has been part of the scene for about three decades," Obama plans to say. "And in those three decades, he has not done one thing to truly improve the quality of public education in our country. Not one real proposal or law or initiative. Nothing."

Obama continues: "After three decades of indifference on education, do you really believe that John McCain is going to make a difference now?"

He's backing up the message with a new ad: "Barack Obama understands what it takes make America number one in education again. John McCain doesn't understand.  John McCain voted to cut education funding.  Against accountability standards.  He even proposed abolishing the Department of Education.  And John McCain's economic plan gives two hundred billion more to special interests while taking money away from public schools."

Counters RNC spokesman Alex Conant: "What has Barack Obama ever done for education reform other than give speeches about it?"

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