'08ers to Concentrate on Economic Concerns

PRESIDENTIAL RACE OVERVIEW

The presidential hopefuls hit the campaign trail running this week after a pretty quiet holiday weekend. Both Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., plan to highlight the economy before courting Latino voters later in the week. On Monday, Obama will be in North Carolina, McCain will be in Denver.

Obama will appear with Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., at two New York fundraisers this week. The pair attend fundraisers in Manhattan on Wednesday and a women's fundraiser breakfast at the New York Hilton and Towers on Thursday.

ABC News' George Stephanopoulos has learned that the McCain campaign has hired Mike DuHaime as political director, the first new hire by Steve Schmidt in his capacity as the person in charge of day-to-day campaign operations. DuHaime had been working for the RNC as a senior advisor for political operations. He managed the failed presidential campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

IN THE PAPERS/ONLINE

In a new television ad to be released this week, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans backing McCain make the case that the U.S. is winning the Iraq war and should continue the mission. Vets for Freedom, a 20,000 member group, will run ads in battleground states Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and on cable nationwide. LINK

The Republican National Committee's Independent Expenditure Unit went up with its first television ad over the weekend. The 30-second spot, airing in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, attacks Obama for opposing a gas tax holiday, nuclear energy and additional domestic oil drilling. "Barack Obama: Just the Party line," a narrator says. LINK

Even before McCain embarks on his "jobs tour" this week, the Obama campaign's economic policy advisor released a lengthy memo which tries to frame McCain's economic plan as a continuation of President Bush's policies. The full memo can be found on Mark Halperin's The Page Web site. LINK

While the Obama campaign makes a final decision about using the 76,000-seat Invesco Field for the August convention acceptance speech, some Democrats have begun expressing concern with the delays and rising costs of the convention. To help the process run more smoothly, the campaign has dispatched 10 people to Denver to assist Democratic National Committee planners.

New York Times reporter Lelie Wayne writes, "With the Denver convention less than two months away, problems range from the serious — upwardly spiraling costs on key contracts still being negotiated — to the mundane, like the reluctance of local caterers to participate because of stringent rules on what delegates will be eating, down to the color of the food. At last count, plans to renovate the inside of the Pepsi Center for the Democrats are $6 million over budget, which may force convention planners to scale back on their original design or increase their fundraising goals." LINK

DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Convention CEO Leah Daughtry called the New York Times story "a gross misrepresentation" of their work so far. Their statement can be found HERE.

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