• "Barack Obama and John McCain, in a rare note of harmony on national security, both want a surge of troops into Afghanistan," Bloomberg News reports. But, "experts say adding forces won't help much in combating insurgents unless Pakistan joins the fight."
• For months," McCain "and other Republicans have been criticizing" Obama "for not having visited Iraq in a long time, even running a daily tally that is now well past 900 days," the New York Times reports. "But now that Mr. Obama is about to travel there and elsewhere in the region, Republicans seem unable to decide whether that is worthy of praise or an opportunity for payback for Mr. Obama's unrelenting criticism of their own policy."
• "As voters assess the presumptive presidential nominees' competing visions, they must also weigh how likely either candidate would be to follow through on promise," National Journal reports, unveiling a new database of promises "made on the campaign trail and online" by both Obama and McCain.
• Looking at speculation that Sen. Chuck Hagel, D-Neb., is being considered as Obama's vice president and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., as McCain's, the Politico reports that "though it's nothing more than unfounded conjecture at this point, top conservative and liberal activists nevertheless say that any cross-party selection of that kind would thrust the respective party conventions into turmoil."
• "The Democratic National Committee plans to target" McCain "and help" Obama "with an independent ad campaign run by veteran Democratic strategist Jonathan Prince," AP reports. "By law, the effort would be prohibited from coordinating with either Obama's presidential campaign or with the DNC. The ads would be financed with party money, however."
• "Democrats' strong showing in second-quarter fund raising has bolstered the party's hopes for expanding majorities in both houses of Congress," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "The latest Federal Election Commission reports show five Democratic challengers for Senate seats now held by Republicans raised more money than their GOP opponents."
• "The freshmen members who gave Democrats their House majority two years ago appear to be in good financial shape at the end of the second quarter, and their fundraising success may allow the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to spend more money on open races or challenging Republican incumbents," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.
Dems 2008: Obama's 'Mini State Department'
• The New York Times looks at Obama's "huge 300-person foreign policy campaign bureaucracy, organized like a mini State Department," and designed to "assist a candidate whose limited national security experience remains a concern to many voters."
• Former President Bill Clinton "said Thursday he is eager to campaign for" Obama "whenever the Democrat needs him, but has not given any thought to whether he wants to speak at the party convention in Denver," AP reports.
• "Obama not only revived his own powerhouse money machine after clinching his party's presidential nomination last month, he jump-started the sputtering fund-raising apparatus of the Democratic National Committee," the Boston Globe reports. "That could be bad news for" McCain, "who is banking on a hefty advantage in national GOP money to help offset Obama's superiority in the money fight."
• "Obama 's trip to the Middle East and Europe marks his first high-profile step onto the international stage, a campaign-season audition of sorts for a presidential hopeful pledging a new era in diplomacy and an end to the U.S. combat role in Iraq," AP reports.
• Continuing to burnish "his foreign policy credentials," Obama "is traveling this summer to Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the taxpayers will be footing the bill," AP reports. "As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama is allowed to travel the world at government expense to learn firsthand about foreign-policy issues before Congress."
• Obama "now calls climate change 'one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation,' and proposes cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050," USA Today reports. "But as a state senator, from 1997 to 2004, he usually supported bills sought by coal interests, according to legislative records and interviews."
• The Politico profiles Kirk Dillard, "an accomplished and articulate legislator who served with Obama in the Illinois state Senate" and "is an unabashed admirer" of the Illinois senator, but who is also a Republican and a delegate for McCain.
GOP 2008: McCain To Focus On Swing States Next Week
• "At times it appears" McCain's "Straight Talk Express should stop and ask for directions. From signature issues such as immigration and climate change to tax cuts," McCain "sometimes just seems lost as to his own record and his stance on hot-button social issues," the Washington Times reports, listing statements McCain has had to "clarify" recently.
• AP looks at how "religious conservatives... were energized by President Bush's public declaration of faith and handed him a landslide in 2004," but finds that the same is not true about McCain and religious voters this cycle.
• "Although" McCain "has called Social Security 'a disgrace,' he still cashes his own retirement check every month," AP reports. "McCain's 2007 tax return shows Social Security benefits of $23,157 for the year, an average of $1,929.75 a month. He said he started receiving the payments 'whenever I was eligible.'"
• "McCain said on Thursday he believes" Obama's "upcoming trip to Europe is tantamount to holding political rallies abroad," Reuters reports. "McCain, speaking to reporters, also ridiculed Obama's vow to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in 16 months as risking losing the hard-fought gains won by U.S. soldiers under a troop build-up ordered 18 months ago."
• As Obama "travels abroad," McCain "will visit battleground states," USA Today reports. McCain "is lining up trips next week to Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania to emphasize jobs, energy and health care while Obama is in the Middle East and Europe."
• "Although Missouri has gone red in the past two presidential elections," McCain "cast himself as the underdog" to Obama Thursday, "as he made his second stop in the state this week," AP reports.
• "McCain said Thursday he doesn't believe General Motors Corp. needs a federal government bailout, but if conditions worsen enough for the auto maker, all options need to be considered," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.
• McCain also "said Thursday that his proposal to suspend the gas tax for three months this summer may need to be extended longer if high gas prices continue to take a toll on the economy," AP reports.