The Note: Desperate Times . . .

Four weeks out, what does it say that . . . Team McCain is hoping that Bill Ayers has one last bomb in him -- just enough to blow up the presidential race?

. . . That it's the McCain campaign that has to telegraph its intentions to keep the base from sitting the rest of this one out?

. . . That Karl Rove has gone from nudging along McCain strategy to sounding the GOP alarm bells?

. . . That Palin Power needs to be employed to save a single electoral vote in Nebraska (and that she wants both Michigan and Jeremiah Wright in play -- her campaign's moves notwithstanding)?

. . . That GOP jitters are spreading across the (diminished) map?

. . . That Sen. John McCain is turning a page only to find an old story he doesn't like to hear told?

So we reach the nasty stage -- with Ayres and Rezko (but not Wright -- unless Gov. Sarah Palin gets her way) back among us.

But context is everything, and might these attacks have been more effective a few weeks ago -- back when convention wisdom wasn't congealing, back when the map wasn't crumbling, back when the GOP aides wasn't fretting/sniping/panicking, back when this race still looked wide open?

It's not (just) the fundamentals of the economy, it's the fundamentals of the campaign: McCain is looking to rock a race that has already been through as big a storm of perceptions as we're likely to see.

He's relying on old connections and shady associations to raise doubts about Sen. Barack Obama -- when it might be too late to make it all stick.

"Take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn't going to save John McCain. The race is over," Howard Wolfson declares on his New Republic blog. "This is a big election about big issues. McCain's smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality."

Like the crisis that's brought us to this, the fundamentals are beyond the candidates' control: "John McCain needs a game-changer to win the U.S. presidential election. He's not going to provide it himself, and Barack Obama won't give it to him," Bloomberg's Al Hunt writes in his column. "The Arizona Republican's best chance for a turnaround is a national security crisis over the next four weeks that somehow persuades swing voters that his experience and credentials are essential."

Palin got to test-drive the new message: "Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin unleashed a new attack on Sen. Barack Obama, accusing him of 'palling around with terrorists' for his association with former 1960s radical William Ayers," per ABC's Imtiyaz Delawala.

"This is not a man who sees America as you and I see America," Palin said in Carson, Calif.

"Last night in Omaha, Sarah Palin not only questioned Obama's patriotism," reports ABC's David Wright, on "Good Morning America" Monday, "she accused him of consorting with terrorists."

Says GOP strategist Ron Bonjean: "It's clear we're at a tipping point. We're at a decisive moment where Sen. McCain needs to act and act fast."

And Palin wants to go further: Asked about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Palin tells Bill Kristol that he should be in the mix: "I don't know why that association isn't discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that -- with, I don't know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn't get up and leave -- to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up."

(Other tidbits: She'd welcome another debate with Joe Biden -- but won't issue the challenge herself -- and the hockey mom offers this advice to McCain for Tuesday's debate: "Take the gloves off.")

(Is this Palin being Palin? If so, is this what the GOP wants/needs?)

A new ad from the McCain campaign Monday is maybe as explicit (on a different subject) as Palin would be: "Who is Barack Obama? He says our troops in Afghanistan are 'just air-raiding villages and killing civilians.' How dishonorable. Congressional liberals voted repeatedly to cut off funding to our active troops. Increasing the risk on their lives. How dangerous."

But Team McCain isn't even convinced it will work: "McCain's course correction reflects a growing case of nerves within his high command as the electoral map has shifted significantly in Obama's favor in the past two weeks," Thomas M. DeFrank writes in the New York Daily News.

Says a "top McCain strategist": "It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice. . . . If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."

Careful what page you turn to: The attacks have barely begun, and already a swift and fierce response from Obamaland

"On Monday the Obama campaign will start hitting Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on his role in the late 80s/early 90s Keating 5 scandal, despite previous indications by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., made months ago, that the scandal was not 'germane' to the presidency because McCain had apologized for his role," ABC's Jake Tapper reports.

"The Obama campaign, including its surrogates appearing on radio and television, will argue that the deregulatory fervor that caused massive, cascading savings-and-loan collapses in the late '80s was pursued by McCain throughout his career, and helped cause the current credit crisis," Politico's Mike Allen reports.

(Obama, in May: "I don't have any doubt that John McCain's public record about issues that he's apologized for and written about is not germane to the presidency.")

A new Web video is being released at a new Website at noon ET Monday -- with the preview out late Sunday.

Campaign Manager David Plouffe, in an e-mail to supporters late Sunday: "The backward economic philosophy and culture of corruption that helped create the current crisis are looking more and more like the other major financial crisis of our time. During the savings and loan crisis of the late '80s and early '90s, McCain's political favors and aggressive support for deregulation put him at the center of the fall of Lincoln Savings and Loan, one of the largest in the country. More than 23,000 investors lost their savings. Overall, the savings and loan crisis required the federal government to bail out the savings of hundreds of thousands of families and ultimately cost American taxpayers $124 billion."

And from a new Obama ad: "Three quarters of a million jobs lost this year. Our financial system in turmoil. And John McCain? Erratic [!] in a crisis. Out of touch on the economy. No wonder his campaign wants to change the subject."

Who can best afford a late food fight? "The onus is on Republican John McCain to turn the race around under exceptionally challenging circumstances -- and his options are limited," the AP's Liz Sidoti writes. "McCain's advisers say the Arizona senator will ramp up his attacks in the coming days with a tougher, more focused message describing 'who Obama is,' including questioning his character, 'liberal' record and 'too risky' proposals in advertising and appearances."

"Some Republicans close to McCain's campaign fret in private that Obama may be pulling away for good; others aren't so pessimistic," Sidoti continues. "But there's unanimity in this: McCain has dwindling chances to regain momentum, and the upcoming debates are critical."

"The terrain of the election has shifted mightily to economic fear and Obama is moving his campaign to exploit that. Meanwhile the McCain campaign retains its lamentable focus on press tactics at the expense of a real strategy," GOP strategist Mike Murphy writes in his Time blog. "McCain is losing. To regain a chance to win, McCain must run as who he truly is; pragmatic, tough, bi-partisan and ready to break some special interest china to get the right things done in Washington. Fix the message, and you will fix the states."

We know who's started this one, because they told us what they were doing: "Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations," Michael D. Shear reported in Saturday's Washington Post.

And yet: "The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. appears to be off limits after McCain condemned the North Carolina Republican Party in April for an ad that linked Obama to his former pastor," Shear adds.

"The dust-up comes as Obama's poll numbers have risen in recent weeks, even in some traditionally Republican states, as Wall Street's woes dominate the news," Maeve Reston and Seema Mehta write in the Los Angeles Times.

"The new GOP tack comes as the economic crisis increasingly dominates the campaign and new polls show Obama growing stronger in key battleground states," USA Today's Jill Lawrence writes. "A Columbus Dispatch poll put the race at Obama 49%, McCain 42% in Ohio, while a Minneapolis Star Tribune poll gave Obama an 18-point lead in Minnesota. A Denver Post poll of Colorado showed the race deadlocked 44%-44%."

Obama "has sought to pre-empt what he referred to as 'Swift boat'-style attacks on his character, like Ms. Palin's in Colorado and California over the weekend. He also referred to Mr. McCain as 'erratic' in an advertisement released Sunday," Steven Lee Myers writes in The New York Times.

Is Ayers the last bullet left? "For six months, they have largely held off. Until now," ABC's Ron Claiborne reports. "It appears the McCain campaign is finally preparing to launch a forceful assault on Obama's character by portraying him as having a cozy relationship with a man it calls an 'unrepentant terrorist,' even though there is scant evidence that the two men were much more than acquaintances who happened to serve together on two not-for-profit boards several years ago."

Ask "The Bullet" himself (who, we learn here, pushed Palin for veep): "A month from election day, [Steve] Schmidt faces his most difficult professional challenge," Dan Morain and Bob Drogin write in a Los Angeles Times profile. "McCain has dropped in polls as Washington struggled to find a solution to a reeling Wall Street. Polls show voters trust Obama more than McCain to fix the economy."

When it comes to the map, only one side is on offense: "Mr. Obama has what both sides describe as serious efforts under way in at least nine states that voted for President Bush in 2004, including some that neither side thought would be on the table this close to Election Day," Adam Nagourney and Jeff Zeleny write in the Sunday New York Times. "By contrast, Mr. McCain is vigorously competing in just four states where Democrats won in 2004: Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, followed by Wisconsin and Minnesota. His decision last week to pull out of Michigan reflected in part the challenge that the declining economy has created for Republicans, given that they have held the White House for the last eight years."

"In the days before and after Tuesday's presidential debate, Barack Obama will spend all of his time in states where Democratic presidential candidates rarely go, especially this close to an election," John McCormick writes in the Chicago Tribune. "This weekend and through the middle of this week, Obama is focusing on Virginia, North Carolina and Indiana. It has been nearly a month, for example, since he even visited the battleground of battlegrounds, Ohio."

"Our path to victory is clear," Mike DuHaime tells The Washington Post's Dan Balz and Anne Kornblut. (So why can't anyone else see it?)

"Over the course of two weeks, as the financial crisis and faltering economy have taken center stage, the electoral map has shifted sharply away from McCain and towards Barack Obama," Michael Scherer writes in Time. Quoting Karl Rove: "If the election were held today, Obama would win every state John Kerry won in 2004, while adding New Mexico, Iowa and Colorado to his coalition."

Advice from Rove: "People have persistent doubts about whether Obama is qualified," Rove writes in his Newsweek column. "McCain-Palin must deepen those doubts by pounding away on questions about Obama's character, judgment and values. Drawing on Obama's own record and statements, they need to paint him as a big spender, class warrior and cultural elitist; they need to say he's never worked across party lines or gotten his hands dirty solving big issues. But the duo must also give voters reasons to support them."

Hopeful, still: "Sarah Palin's debate performance, and the passage of the economic-rescue plan, may bookend a bad couple of weeks for McCain. He has a month to turn things around. It's doable; but it won't be easy," Rove continues.

The problem with attacks: "The Obama–Biden ticket will win by a solid but not overwhelming margin unless Mr. McCain goes personally negative against Mr. Obama, as weekend press reports indicate. If he does, the Obama-Biden ticket will win by a landslide of historic margins," Lanny Davis writes in his Washington Times column.

Does he have another miracle in him? "Krauthammer's Hail Mary Rule: You get only two per game," Charles Krauthammer writes in his column.

Newsweek's Jon Meacham makes the case against Palin: "She may be ready in a year or two, but disaster does not coordinate its calendar with ours. Would we muddle through if Palin were to become president? Yes, we would, but it is worth asking whether we should have to."

Does it mean anything that McCain, like Palin, is having outside days for debate prep? "Other than that last-minute audible, McCain appears to be engaged in especially serious preparations for Tuesday's debate, one of his last opportunities to change the trajectory of a race that may be slipping out of his control. He is certainly doing more formal preparation than he did before last month's debate in Mississippi," Michael Abramowitz and Perry Bacon Jr. report in The Washington Post.

Will we hear complaints of bias this time? "Sen. John McCain finally gets his long-demanded joint town-hall meeting with Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday night in Nashville, Tenn.," The Wall Street Journal's Amy Chozick writes. "The Republican's performance in the second of three presidential debates -- the only one held in the format he tends to favor -- could help determine his ability to stay competitive in a race that seems to have moved against the Arizona senator over the past week."

More for your backdrop: "Sen. Barack Obama's campaign is poised to benefit from a wave of newcomers to the rolls in key states in numbers that far outweigh any gains made by Republicans," Alec MacGillis and Alice Crites write in The Washington Post. "In Florida, Democratic registration gains this year are more than double those made by Republicans; in Colorado and Nevada the ratio is 4 to 1, and in North Carolina it is 6 to 1. Even in states with nonpartisan registration, the trend is clear -- of the 310,000 new voters in Virginia, a disproportionate share live in Democratic strongholds."

If young voters turn out: "A USA TODAY/MTV/Gallup Poll of registered voters 18 to 29 years old shows Democrat Barack Obama leading Republican John McCain by 61%-32%, the most lopsided contest within an age group in any presidential election in modern times. Obama's margin is overwhelming across four groups of younger voters, divided by their engagement in the election, their optimism about the future and other factors," per USA Today's Susan Page.

Bad McCain news in Virginia: "With Barack Obama treating the Old Dominion like a battleground state and reliable polls showing a margin-of-error race there, some are cautioning that McCain is making a critical mistake by allowing the Democratic nominee to outpace him in terms of visits and resources committed," Politico's Jonathan Martin writes.

Virginia "has logged more than 300,000 new voters since the year began. The state does not record party affiliation, but it says that 41% of the new registrants are under the age of 25, and an additional 20% are between the ages of 25 and 34," Peter Nicholas writes in the Los Angeles Times.

And Ohio: "Ohio is quickly slipping from Sen. John McCain's hands, and without the state's 20 electoral votes, there is virtually no way the Republican can find his way to the White House," Joseph Curl writes in the Washington Times.

Helping in Ohio: "Springsteen's appearance came on the eve of today's deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. It is also the last day for people to register and vote at the same time; early voting will continue until the election. Obama's campaign has pushed to get voters -- especially younger voters and African-Americans -- registered in time to cast absentee ballots," Alan Johnson writes for the Columbus Dispatch.

(The Boss hits Michigan Monday -- following Jay-Z's appearance over the weekend.)

And Nevada: "Last week, as the economy slipped further toward recession, the momentum seemed to be shifting in places such as Nevada, a swing state that went for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and has been seen as promising turf for Senator John McCain for months," Lisa Wangsness writes in The Boston Globe. "With the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, a tourism industry damaged by rising food and energy prices, and an unemployment rate at a 23-year high, Nevada is, according to polls, edging Obama's way."

And New Hampshire? "Thinking we had the old McCain, we gave him a decisive victory in our primary that permitted him to vanquish those challengers. But he betrayed us," filmmaker Ken Burns writes in the Manchester Union-Leader. "If you have to say you're a maverick in your ads, it's clear you're not. The real maverick turns out to be Barack Obama, who bucked his party's establishment and whose once-lonely positions have been adopted by nearly everyone including even the Bush administration. Nearly everyone, that is, except John McCain."

And, basically, everywhere: "A review of the most recent polling data from 12 key states -- where the race for the White House will almost certainly be decided -- shows a dramatic shift toward Democrat Barack Obama in the last two weeks," David Saltonstall writes in the New York Daily News.

"The McCain campaign's initial plan to win Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire -- swing states that all went for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004 -- has been shelved. Now extra reinforcements have been sent to shore up traditional Republican strongholds, such as Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico, against newly registered and energized Democrats," ABC's Russell Goldman reports.

They're still steaming in Michigan (a decision Palin herself doesn't quite get): "He has given up on our State? What a total and complete crock of crap. Again, I think McCain owes the Republicans and the People of Michigan a HUGE APOLOGY. SOON!" writes Jack Waldvogel, Chairman of the Emmet County GOP, in a message obtained by Politico's Jonathan Martin.

"The presidential candidate's decision last week to stop campaigning in Michigan and scale back advertising there triggered complaints from state party leaders that the withdrawal could undercut in particular two Republican members of Congress facing tough re-election challenges at a time when the party is struggling to contain its losses on Capitol Hill," John D. Stoll writes in The Wall Street Journal.

Time for another new era, already? "Some Congressional Republicans have begun viewing [McCain's] potential defeat as a step toward political renewal," John Harwood writes in The New York Times. "Now House Republicans say they would consider losing only 10 [seats] a success. Nor do they fear Mr. McCain's defeat. His 'maverick' stance has long left Republican regulars ambivalent. As Republicans in Congress learned under Bill Clinton, and Democrats under Mr. Bush, opposing a president of the other party can help legislative minorities refocus message and agenda."

GOPers want to drive: The Republican Party is filing an FEC complaint Monday against the Obama campaign.

"In announcing the move Sunday, they said they were concerned that the Democratic presidential candidate may be accepting donations from foreign nationals, and may also be taking a large number of donations that exceed federal limits for individuals," T.W. Farnam writes in The Wall Street Journal. "The Republican Party cited a large amount of money coming to the Democratic presidential candidate from overseas, and a small amount of money that he has returned from foreigners, in explaining their complaint."

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff: "Consider the cases of Obama donors 'Doodad Pro' of Nunda, N.Y., who gave $17,130, and 'Good Will' of Austin, Texas, who gave more than $11,000 -- both in excess of the $2,300-per-person federal limit. In two recent letters to the Obama campaign, Federal Election Commission auditors flagged those (and other) donors and informed the campaign that the sums had to be returned. Neither name had ever been publicly reported because both individuals made online donations in $10 and $25 increments."

Also in circulation: "Sen. Barack Obama, who vows to change Washington by trimming wasteful spending and disclosing special-interest requests, wrote the Bush administration last year to seek a multimillion-dollar federal grant for a Chicago housing project that is behind schedule and whose development team includes a longtime political supporter," the Washington Times' Jim McElhatton writes. "Mr. Obama's letter, however, was never disclosed publicly. In fact, the letter was ghostwritten for him by a consultant for the Chicago Housing Authority, which wanted the money -- a practice ethics watchdogs have frequently criticized."

Palin gaffes? The vice-presidential candidate, quoting a Starbucks cup, quoted Madeleine Albright thusly: "There's a place in hell reserved for women who don't support other women."

Per the New York Daily News: "As it turns out, Palin misquoted both Albright and her mocha cup, which reads: 'There's a place in hell reserved for women who don't help other women.' At least for the moment, Albright had the last word. 'Though I am flattered that Gov. Palin has chosen to cite me as a source of wisdom, what I said had nothing to do with politics,' Albright told the Huffington Post."

Per Reuters' Jason Szep: "Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin called Afghanistan 'our neighboring country' on Sunday in a speech that could revive questions over her tendency to stumble into linguistic knots."

But look who else thinks she's a star: "Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley told hundreds of people gathered on Boston Common yesterday that Trig Palin, the child with Down syndrome whom Governor Sarah Palin chose not to abort, was the 'star' of the political conventions this year," per The Boston Globe's Michael Paulson.

Said O'Malley: "I very seldom get to see any television, but I did watch part of the political conventions, and for me the star of the conventions was Trig Palin, whose mother said that he was 'beautiful' and 'perfect.' . . . And when his little sister used that spit to slick his hair down, I mean, I stood up and applauded."

The Los Angeles Times' Ralph Vartabedian and Richard A. Serrano look at McCain's crash landings: "In his most serious lapse, McCain was 'clowning' around in a Skyraider over southern Spain about December 1961 and flew into electrical wires, causing a blackout, according to McCain's own account as well as those of naval officers and enlistees aboard the carrier Intrepid. In another incident, in 1965, McCain crashed a T-2 trainer jet in Virginia."

The Washington Post's Paul Farhi on the marriage that crashed: "According to public records, he and Cindy received a marriage license in Maricopa County, Ariz., in early March 1980, four weeks before his divorce from Carol was final. A judge in Florida dissolved the McCains' marriage April 2, entering a default judgment after Carol failed to respond to three court summonses. John and Cindy were wed six weeks later, on May 17. This rapid-fire sequence of events raises a question about John McCain's path to the White House: Would he be where he is today had he not changed his life, and his wife, when he did?"

Sen. Joe Biden sits down with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter. A few nuggets: "When Obama phoned in June to tell him he wanted to vet him, Biden said OK, but that he might well decline. He consulted with longtime advisers Ted Kaufman and Ron Klain and went back and forth on whether the vice presidency was really the best place for him to have influence with an Obama administration. It helped that all spring Obama had called him every other week or so to get his thinking on varied matters (like how to question Gen. David Petraeus when he testified)."

(Is that a detail a vice-presidential candidate wants out about the guy at the top of the ticket?)

Alter continues: "At a secret meeting in mid-August at the Graves 601 Hotel in St. Paul, Minn., that lasted two to three hours, Obama told him it wouldn't work unless Biden viewed the vice presidency as 'the capstone' of his career, not a step down. 'Not the tombstone?' Biden joked."

Tammy Haddad scores an interview with Lynne Cheney at the vice president's residence. She says Jane Mayer gets it wrong: "She's got Dick spending a considerable amount of time down in a bunker somewhere with all of these, I don't know, communications. It's not true. . . . Most of the time when Dick was in an undisclosed location we were either here or we were at Camp David. . . . It's all the more reason, I think that Dick should write a book when this is all over."

Lynne Cheney on Sarah Palin: "I was really stunned when John McCain picked her. But then I saw her at the convention. That speech she delivered ­-- honestly, I've seen a lot of politicians, I've seen a lot of people who are very polished, who do their thing just right. But what she has is that air of 'This is who I am.' The authenticity comes through. I saw Bill Clinton talk about her and he said that she was one of the most naturally gifted politicians he'd seen. ­I think that's true."

Haddad: "Wow, and from Bill Clinton!" Cheney: "Yes, he gave a very interesting analysis of her."

Think the base is all the way there for McCain? "If McCain wins the election, we've got just as much work to do as if Obama won," former House majority leader Tom DeLay tells's James Gerber. "I've known McCain for 23 years, and McCain's hard to swallow."

"His stance on global warming, immigration, campaign finance, affirmative action," DeLay added, "it's just a whole list of things that is not going to appeal to conservative Republicans. And if he becomes president, teaming up with the Democrats, we're going to have a lot of work to do to stop them."

Checking in on Hillary: "Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton has raised more than $8 million for former rival Barack Obama's presidential campaign since July and plans to barnstorm the country for even more cash, as the New York senator works to show she is aggressively helping the candidate who cut short her White House bid," USA Today's Fredreka Schouten reports.

"I am using every tool that I have to help Democrats win," Clinton said.

Latest on "Troopergate": "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's attorney general announced Sunday that seven state employees will now honor subpoenas to testify in the legislative investigation of the Troopergate affair," Wesley Loy reports in the Anchorage Daily News.

Bloomberg's Matthew Benjamin does the short-list thing for Treasury secretary.

"McCain in a Reuters interview last week mentioned Warren Buffett, the 78-year-old billionaire who supports Obama and his proposal to increase taxes on the rich, as well as former EBay Inc. Chief Executive Meg Whitman and Cisco Systems Inc. Chairman John Chambers, both of whom have limited experience with financial markets."

"Obama has made it clear he would rely on former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin for advice in his choice. Rubin, according to people who have spoken with him, would have a short list of recommendations that includes New York Federal Reserve Bank President Tim Geithner, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Roger Altman, a Wall Street investment banker and former deputy Treasury secretary."

Says Grover Norquist, of Americans for Tax Reform: "Warren Buffett is a goddamned Democrat and he doesn't understand that a 28 percent capital gains tax would be a bad thing. . . . He might be a good bridge partner, but he's awful on policy."

How does this play in Virginia? "I've lived here for at least 10 years and before that about every third duty I was in either Arlington or Alexandria, up in communist country," Navy veteran Joe McCain -- John's brother -- said in Loudoun County, Va., at a campaign event Saturday night.

Donor fatigue in Hollywood? " 'Oh my god. Take a gun and shoot me.' That's one Hollywood fund-raiser's take on the difficulties of coming up with more political coin this month," per Variety's Ted Johnson.

The Sked:

John McCain spends the day in New Mexico, with a 3:15 pm ET rally in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico.

It's a busy Monday for Sarah Palin in Florida. She begins with a 9 am ET rally in Clearwater, then holds finance event in Naples at 12 pm ET. She then holds a second rally at 2:45 pm, ET in Estero, and rounds out the day with a second finance event in Boca Raton.

Neither Barack Obama or Joe Biden have any public events scheduled for Monday. Obama is in Asheville, N.C., preparing for Tuesday's debate in Nashville.

Biden is spending time with his family Monday and Tuesday, following his mother-in-law's death.

The Kicker:

"I have to say if there's a prettier state than North Carolina, I have not seen it yet. . . . I confess that I haven't been to Alaska." -- Barack Obama, in what qualifies as a laugh line from his stump.

"I was just trying to give Tina Fey more material -- job security for 'Saturday Night Live.'" -- Sarah Palin, on the trail in Nebraska Sunday.

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