The Note: Gonna Do Him Good?

The policy challenges: "President-elect Barack Obama is pushing Congress this year to approve as much as $50 billion to save cash-starved U.S. automakers and appoint a czar or board to oversee the companies, a move that would require President George W. Bush's support, people familiar with the matter said," Bloomberg's Matthew Benjamin and Julianna Goldman report. "Obama's economic advisers are now convinced that if General Motors Corp. doesn't get a financial lifeline soon, it will have to file for bankruptcy by the end of January. And if the companies don't get almost $50 billion, Obama will be dealing with the issue again by next summer."

Easier said: "The Bush administration and Republicans in the Senate could present an obstacle to an auto-industry bailout," The Wall Street Journal's Greg Hitt, John D. McKinnon, and Matthew Dolan report. "Republicans already are uncomfortable with the government's costly intervention in the financial sector and the effective nationalization of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurer American International Group Inc."

Why play there but not play here? "Barack Obama tapped a pair of high-profile delegates to represent him at this weekend's international economic summit, but world leaders wish the President-elect himself was coming," The New York Daily News' Kenneth R. Bazinet and Michael McAuliff report. "The dignitaries visiting Washington will be respectful of lame-duck President Bush, but their interest in Obama prompted the President-elect Wednesday to name former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) to satisfy the demand."

(How many international incidents have Obama conversations -- or lack thereof -- nearly sparked in the nine days since he won the election? Chalk up another one, in India -- where the conversation the whole country was waiting for finally took place.)

Loose Senate ends:

Alaska surprise: "Mark Begich made a dramatic comeback Wednesday to overtake 40-year incumbent Ted Stevens for the lead in Alaska's U.S. Senate race," Sean Cockerham and Kyle Hopkins write in the Anchorage Daily News. "Begich, who was losing after election night, now leads Stevens by 814 votes -- 132,196 to 131,382 -- with the state still to count roughly 40,000 more ballots over the next week."

And/but: "While Stevens' era in the Senate is in danger of ending, another longtime Alaska Republican is returning to Washington, D.C. Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young maintained his solid lead over Democratic challenger Ethan Berkowitz after Wednesday's count. Berkowitz made some headway but Young still led by more than 15,000 votes."

(The AP has called the race for Young.)

Sen. John McCain hits the trail Thursday, for the first time since losing the election, campaigning alongside Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Taking it national: "Saxby and this race may well end up being the firewall against the 60-vote majority the Democrats are trying to achieve," said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

"The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, meanwhile, has purchased a week's worth of ads on metro Atlanta television stations for Martin," Jim Tharpe and Aaron Gould Sheinin write in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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