The Note: The Plumback

"McCain likes to say that he isn't George W. Bush – and in this case of bungled public relations, it is clear he is not. The famously-disciplined Bush campaign operation would likely have found the perfect anonymous citizen to illustrate a policy proposal, rather than spontaneously wrap itself around an unknown entity with so many asterisks," Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Amie Parnes report.

The LA Times compiles some wit and wisdom of JTP. . . . On Iraq: "I don't know if you guys are Christians or not, but that's like somebody coming to Jesus and becoming saved. These guys have freedom." On domestic programs: "Social Security is a joke." On politics: "The politicians are the nobles. We are the serfs. OK?"

Is Palin sick of the story too? "I begged our speech writers, 'Don't make me say "Joe the Plumber," please, in any speeches.' And I was asked 'Just one time, just at this fundraiser,' " she said Thursday night in North Carolina, per ABC's Imtiyaz Delawala.

Palin's still packing them in. Headline in the Bangor Daily News: "Palin rallies 5,000 in Bangor; Alaskan maverick delivers folksy GOP message."

On McCain's message, the newest new start: "McCain's self-rescue effort began in earnest yesterday, with a new ad that, once and for all, severed his ties with the Bush administration," Sridhar Pappu writes in the Washington Independent. "Titled 'Fight,' the GOP presidential nominee speaks directly to the camera: 'The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they? I'll make the next four better. Your savings, your job and your financial security are under siege. We need a new direction, and I have a plan.' "

Any ideas left that work? "I think McCain lost ground in the debates mainly because of his threadbare ideas and solutions. People didn't hear John McCain the brave iconoclast; they heard John McCain the doctrinaire conservative Republican, circa 1964," Eugene Robinson writes in his Washington Post column.

ACORN cracking? "The FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election. A senior law enforcement official confirmed the investigation to The Associated Press on Thursday," the AP's Lara Jakes Jordan reports. "A second senior law enforcement official says the FBI was looking at results of recent raids on ACORN offices in several states for any evidence of a coordinated national scam."

Vicki Iseman speaks: The woman at the center of the controversial New York Times story about McCain's relationships with lobbyists sits down with National Journal's Edward T. Pound.

"I did not have a sexual relationship with Senator McCain," she said. "I never had an affair or an inappropriate relationship with Senator McCain, and that means I never acted unethically in my dealings with the senator. . . . I have never even been alone with Senator McCain."

Iseman blames John Weaver for helping land the story, and Weaver responds: "I love John McCain . . . and I wouldn't do anything to harm him."

Sarah Palin is set to appear on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend, per ABC's Imtiyaz Delawala.

It was rented white tie for Obama and McCain Thursday night at the Al Smith dinner.

Some of the best lines:

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