'08ers to Concentrate on Economic Concerns


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 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.

The site of the other convention activities (or the entire convention, depending on the Invesco Field decision) -- the Pepsi Center -- will "hand over the keys to construction teams for the Democratic National Convention Committee at 8 a.m. Monday, and the on-the-ground, multimillion-dollar race to transform the arena into a convention hall by Aug. 25 begins," the Denver Post reports. LINK

The Academy Award-winning director of the Al Gore climate change film, "An Inconvenient Truth," Davis Guggenheim, was spotted Friday filming Obama as he campaigned in Montana. The footage is believed to be for a story about Obama's life and how Democrats believe they can win the West. The film will air during the Democratic convention. LINK

Even though Republican candidates this year seem to run for cover the moment his name is mentioned, President Bush remains the party's most prolific fundraiser. Bush has raised nearly $70 million for Republican candidates, and since the start of 2007, he alone is responsible for raising more than the DNC, the New York Post reports. LINK

Republican opposition researchers are digging to find an audio version of Obama talking about his past drug use, Politico reports. In his best-selling book, "Dreams of My Father," Obama explains the allure of drugs. There is also a section in the book where Obama repeats passages from a sermon delivered by his controversial former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, decrying "white folks' greed." LINK


In a very delicate way, Joe Lieberman suggested that Obama might not be prepared to handle a terrorist attack immediately after he takes office. Appearing on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," the independent Connecticut senator invoked the 1993 al Qaida attack on the World Trade Center and the larger 9/11 attack, which occurred during President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush's first years in office.

"What I'm saying is we need a president on January 20, 2009, who's ready to be commander in chief on day one. I think by his life experience, by his long service in the Senate, by his passing tests under pressure, by his introduction of the 9/11 Commission and support of the 9/11 legislation, by his support of the Patriot Act and the wiretapping act, John McCain is ready to protect the security of the American people."

On CBS's "Face the Nation," the man who faced a fierce attack by Republicans in 2004 for "flip-flopping" on important issues accused McCain of being a bigger "flip-flopper" than he was accused of. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said, "This is a different John McCain. This is not the Sen. John McCain. This is nomination John McCain. This is want-to-be president John McCain. And the result is that John McCain has flip-flopped on more issues than I was even ever accused possibly of thinking about."

As always, you can watch Sunday show highlights on "This Week's Sunday Sound" webcast. LINK


On Monday, McCain travels to the battleground state of Colorado to announce a "jobs first" economic plan. This will be the first of five days of economic-themed activity in battleground states.

Senior McCain advisor Carly Fiorina attends a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters Monday, July 7.

McCain and Obama speak to the League of United Latin American Citizens conference at the Washington Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, July 8.

Schmidt's top challenge will be to help McCain deliver a clearer and more consistent message on the economy and government reform, and to do so in the right places.

Obama and McCain keep their sights on Hispanic voters -- and perhaps sharpen their immigration rhetoric -- with an appearance at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference in San Diego. Obama attends events Sunday, July 13 in the morning, while McCain is on hand Monday, July 14 in the afternoon. NCLR is the largest U.S. Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.

There will be lots of VP buzz at this weekend's gathering of the nation's governors in Philadelphia. The opening news conference is at 8:00 a.m. ET Saturday, July 12. Former President Clinton delivers an afternoon keynote address on Saturday, July 12.