• "John McCain and Barack Obama each took a hushed approach to letting the world know where they stand on the California ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage," the Los Angeles Times reports. "The muted announcements -- McCain supports the proposed ban, Obama opposes it -- will have little if any bearing on the presidential contest in a state that strongly favors Democrats."
• "Five years into an unpopular war in Iraq, many US military voters are eschewing their traditional Republican ties to support" Obama "for president against" McCain, Agence France Presse reports. "The main reason for the defection is the Iraq war, where 4,113 US troops have died since the 2003 invasion and for which the US government has come under fire even from the military, despite recent security improvements."
• "The Majority Action Fund, one of George Soros's liberal 527 groups that helped Democrats retake the House in 2006, is back in action after lying dormant for the last two years," The Hill reports. "Although Soros is sitting on the sidelines so far this cycle, the group has expanded its scope to include Senate races as it works to offset conservative groups that have upped the ante in down-ballot races while most Democrats have focused on the presidential race."
• "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Freedom's Watch, a 501(c)(4) organization, are tussling over the status of former White House political advisor Karl Rove and the extent of his ties -- or lack thereof -- to the conservative advocacy group," Roll Call (subscription) reports.
• "Voting by Hispanics surged in the last congressional elections, showing strength that could swing this year's presidential vote in closely contested states like Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico," AP reports. "A government report released Tuesday shows that 5.6 million Hispanics voted in the 2006 general election, an increase of 18 percent over 2002, the previous year for a federal election without a presidential race on the ballot."
• AP also reports that "48 percent of voting age citizens voted in the 2006 congressional elections, the highest percentage in a non-presidential year since 1994, according to a report released Tuesday by the Census Bureau."
Dems 2008: Obama's Mortgage Deal Is Probed
• "Shortly after joining the U.S. Senate and while enjoying a surge in income," Obama "bought a $1.65 million restored Georgian mansion in an upscale Chicago neighborhood," the Washington Post reports. "To finance the purchase, he secured a $1.32 million loan from Northern Trust in Illinois." But he "received a discount" with "an interest rate of 5.625 percent on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, below the average for such loans at the time in Chicago."
• "Obama said Tuesday that if elected president he would expand the delivery of social services through churches and other religious organizations, vowing to achieve a goal he said President Bush had fallen short on during his two terms," the New York Times reports. "In embracing the same general approach as Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama ran the political risk of alienating those of his supporters who would prefer that government keep its distance from religion."
• "Retired Gen. Wesley Clark rejected suggestions he apologize Tuesday for saying" McCain's "medal-winning military service does not qualify him for the White House," AP reports. "Obama said Clark's comments had been inartful. McCain said Obama should go further than that."
• Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., "on Tuesday became the third high-ranking Obama supporter to question" McCain's "military service, but" Obama's "campaign said it was not part of an orchestrated effort conceived or approved by" Obama, the Washington Times reports. Speaking on MSNBC, Webb "said Mr. McCain should 'calm down' about his military record."
• "The unprecedented online network that has driven" Obama's "fund-raising and organizing success may be a double-edged presence in the campaign, as his support for a domestic-spying bill has spawned a challenge from his Internet-savvy liberal base -- on his own campaign Web site," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.
• Bloomberg News looks at how "Obama volunteers" are being "deploy[ed] to areas that for decades Democratic hopefuls... had largely forfeited."
• "Democrats see in Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) an effective leader, not afraid to throw a punch or shake hands with her Republican opponents, all while being elected by sizable margins in a bright red state -- twice," The Hill reports. "Because of that she's considered a rising star in the Democratic Party and said to be on the short list of potential running mates for" Obama.
• "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has scrubbed all negative ads from her campaign Web site and YouTube page, leaving visitors with only the warm and fuzzy moments from her bid for the presidency," the Washington Times reports.
• "Lawyers for disgraced Chicago businessman Antoin "Tony" Rezko accused the government of 'recklessly' whipping up a 'media frenzy' by alleging that Rezko used a straw donor to contribute to" Obama, the Politico reports. "In a filing unsealed this week, Rezko's lawyers asserted 'there is no evidence whatsoever' that Rezko, an early political patron of Obama's, reimbursed an associate for a $10,000 contribution to Obama's 2004 U.S. Senate campaign."
GOP 2008: Bush May Hurt McCain Among Independents
• "McCain pressed President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia to do more to improve human rights in a meeting on Tuesday evening," the New York Times reports. "Earlier in the day, he criticized " Obama "for opposing a trade agreement between the United States and Colombia."
• AP reports that today McCain will "tour a Colombian port by boat Wednesday to get a firsthand look at the country's drug interdiction programs."
• "While Democrats have used the North American Free Trade Agreement and China's trade surplus as symbols of the declining competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing, McCain is seeking to burnish his free-trade credentials," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "That's a risky strategy during a period of economic malaise and job insecurity, but is one that typically pays off in presidential elections."
• "McCain warned a group of sheriffs Tuesday that a Supreme Court shaped by" Obama "could hurt law enforcement," The Hill reports. McCain "reminded the National Sheriffs' Association that the next president will nominate hundreds of federal judges and that these personnel decisions 'will have far-reaching consequences for all Americans, and perhaps especially for law enforcement.'"
• "Top GOP officials, frustrated by what they view as inconsistent messaging, sluggish fundraising and an organization that is too slow to take shape, are growing increasingly uneasy about the direction of the McCain presidential campaign," the Politico reports.
• "Bush's record unpopularity is playing an unprecedented role in the 2008 campaign, complicating" McCain's "task among key constituencies," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "Bush's second-term slide in the polls has been especially sharp among independents, a group that Sen. McCain depends on."
• "McCain has begun to raise eyebrows in Republican circles for his lack of fundraising help on behalf of his party's House and Senate campaign committees," The Hill reports. McCain "has yet to send a fundraising appeal for those committees nearly four months after becoming his party's presumptive nominee."
• "McCain, who four years ago condemned independent ads challenging Democrat John Kerry's military record, has accepted nearly $70,000 for his presidential campaign from the top donors of the group behind the attack ads and their relatives, a USA Today analysis shows. That's nearly four times the amount McCain received from those donors in the 14 years before launching his current campaign at the end of 2006."
• "Having established a recent precedent for increased scrutiny of spousal finances, the" Republican Party "now finds its own presumptive nominee," McCain, "under an unwanted spotlight over his wife Cindy's fortune," the Politico reports. "The burgeoning focus on Cindy McCain's finances could attract attention to an aspect of the Arizona senator's family life that is unlikely to be advantageous to him on the campaign trail -- the affluent lifestyle and free-spending habits of the McCain clan."