The Note: Populism Now

Beyond appearances, Obama fundraises while McCain campaigns and WP's Matt Mosk does the math and finds it hard for Obama to justify his decision to opt-out of public financing: "[P]residential strategists and campaign finance experts expressed surprise yesterday that Obama's decision to become the first presidential nominee to swear off public funding for the general election -- and McCain's decision to finance his bid with a single $84 million infusion from the federal government -- has not given Obama a clear financial edge."

Obama, overstepping: "In January, I outlined a plan to help revive our faltering economy . . . which formed the basis for a bipartisan stimulus package that passed the Congress," Obama said Tuesday.

ABC's Jake Tapper: "Is that true? Democrats on Capitol Hill who support Obama say no."

Swinging back is House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio: "Sen. Obama had less to do with the stimulus bill than Al Gore did with inventing the Internet."

What's not being done: Per The Wall Street Journal, "Neither candidate has embraced a more radical plan that would allow the government to take over the bad assets currently fouling the financial system."

One upshot of all of this (we hope): "The political exchanges threatened to force the campaign conversation back to serious policy ground after days of coverage saturated with Mrs. Palin's lipstick, glasses and prowess as a moose hunter," Valerie Richardson and S.A. Miller write in the Washington Times.

From the Palin files: "A former top Justice Department prosecutor now working for John McCain's presidential campaign has been helping to direct an aggressive legal strategy aimed at shutting down a pre-election ethics investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin," Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports. "The growing role of Edward O'Callaghan, who until six weeks ago served as co-chief of the terrorism and national security unit of the U.S. attorney's office in New York, illustrates just how seriously the McCain campaign is taking the so-called 'troopergate' inquiry into Palin's firing last summer of Walt Monegan, Alaska's Public Safety Commissioner."

Remember cooperation? "Alaska's investigation into whether Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power, a potentially damaging distraction for John McCain's presidential campaign, ran into intensified resistance Tuesday when the attorney general said state employees would refuse to honor subpoenas in the case," per the AP's Steve Quinn.

From the annals of transparency: "Using a personal email account to conduct official business is what officials of the Bush administration -- perhaps most notoriously Karl Rove -- in an apparent attempt to circumvent any subpoenas," ABC's Jake Tapper writes. "Is following that model 'transparent'?"

Sen. Hillary Clinton is not eager to do a riff with Sarah Palin of SNL: "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the hockey mom GOP phenom, is coming to New York next week to carry John McCain's flag at a pro-Israel, anti-Iran rally. But she won't be sharing the stage with Sen. Hillary Clinton, who backed away from the event after learning Palin was coming. "Her attendance was news to us," Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines said last night. "Clearly there was some miscommunication because this was never billed to us as a partisan political event. Sen. Clinton will therefore not be attending this event.""

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