The Note: Grounded Control

The comfort zone: "His 'time for change' closing argument in this moment of national anxiety focuses heavily on the economic issues that are at the core of voter concerns right now, skipping quickly past the questions of war and peace that animated his campaign when it started nearly two years ago," Peter Baker and Jeff Zeleny write in The New York Times.

"The closing Obama speech is cautious, calibrated to cement the inroads he has made with voters whose comfort level with him has grown," they write. "Even as he sums up the case for his candidacy, Mr. Obama is seeking to defuse any remaining uncertainty about electing a largely untested first-term senator and dispel his critics' depiction of him as an inexperienced, unproven leader who would raise taxes, redistribute wealth and go soft on terrorists."

Sealing the deal? "Obama's use of his campaign cash and of Clinton comes as the Illinois senator looks to hold on to his substantial lead in polls nationwide and in a number of battleground states, including several where a Democratic presidential nominee has not won in years. If Obama can sustain his momentum for six more days, he will be well positioned to win the presidency with a large mandate from voters," Scott Helman writes in The Boston Globe.

"As for Obama himself, he must maintain his steady, cool demeanor, which, ironically, was once viewed as a political liability. But now it has come to symbolize the candidate's sure hand in the middle of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression," Sridhar Pappu writes in the Washington Independent.

On the deal he's trying to close: "Barack Obama has pulled ahead in enough states to win the 270 electoral votes he needs to gain the White House -- and with states to spare -- according to an Associated Press analysis that shows he is now moving beyond typical Democratic territory to challenge John McCain on historically GOP turf, " the AP's Liz Sidoti writes.

"Even if McCain sweeps the six states that are too close to call, he still seemingly won't have enough votes to prevail, according to the analysis, which is based on polls, the candidates' TV spending patterns and interviews with Democratic and Republican strategists," Sidoti continues. "McCain does have a path to victory but it's a steep climb: He needs a sudden shift in voter sentiment that gives him all six toss-up states plus one or two others that now lean toward Obama."

George Will waves a flag for McCain: "From the invasion of Iraq to the selection of Sarah Palin, carelessness has characterized recent episodes of faux conservatism. Tuesday's probable repudiation of the Republican Party will punish characteristics displayed in the campaign's closing days."

David Broder joins him: "McCain was handed a terrible political environment by the outgoing Bush administration -- a legacy of war, debt and scandal that would have defeated any of the other aspirants for the nomination. But because McCain could not create a coherent philosophy or vision of his own, he allowed Obama and the Democrats to convince voters of a falsehood: that electing McCain would in effect reward Bush with a third term."

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