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Obama's Middle East tour continues to attract huge coverage while McCain remains a 'political wallflower.' Plus: Will Schwarzenegger challenge Boxer in 2010?

• "Western Republican states that mostly were ignored by Democrats until Sen. Barack Obama 'showed up' are turning into political battlegrounds in the 2008 election," the Washington Times reports. Obama "is aggressively challenging Sen. John McCain in at least six of them, including Republican strongholds New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Montana and North and South Dakota, where polls show the race between the two rivals is close or in a dead heat."

• "Stumping through Ohio, Michigan and other industrial swing states," McCain and Obama "are struggling to balance economic and political realities: to project confidence about America's future in a global economy while conveying concern for people whose jobs have disappeared," Bloomberg News reports.


• "As" Obama "began an overseas tour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told employees at U.S. embassies to provide only minimal help to visiting presidential candidates," AP reports. "The department said the State Department issued similar orders ahead of" McCain's "overseas tours to Iraq, Mexico and elsewhere this year, but limited the communication to embassies in countries the Republican planned to visit."

• The Los Angeles Times has "a presidential primer on the Middle East conflict" for both Obama and McCain.

• "The American Civil Liberties Union sued Alabama elections officials Monday over what it says is an overly expansive policy disenfranchising felons, amid concern from voting rights groups nationwide that voting lists are being culled with too great alacrity by many states," the New York Times reports.


Dems 2008: Obama Heads To Jordan Today

• "The Iraqi government on Monday left little doubt that it favors a withdrawal plan for American combat troops similar to what" Obama "has proposed, providing Mr. Obama with a potentially powerful political boost on a day he spent in Iraq working to fortify his credibility as a wartime leader," the New York Times reports.

• "Obama has certainly not won the argument over Iraq policy," the Washington Post reports. "But the curious turn of events made for an unexpected opening act for the Democrat's week-long tour of seven countries, demonstrating anew the combination of agility and good fortune that has marked his campaign."

• "A U.S. security agreement with Iraq is likely to include target dates for handing over control and withdrawing American combat forces -- but it also will depend on continued improvement in conditions on the ground," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. However, "the continuing discussions appeared to reflect the influence of" Obama.

• "Obama traveled to a former hotbed of the Sunni insurgency" today "for talks with tribal leaders who joined the fight against al-Qaida in Iraq and now seek a deeper role in Iraq's political future," AP reports. "Obama, wrapping up his stop in Iraq, gathered with leaders of the so-called Awakening Council movement in Ramadi, one of the main cities of the western Anbar Province where al-Qaida once had the upper hand against embattled U.S. and Iraqi troops."


• "Obama's visit has been duly noted" in Baghdad "but is not the No. 1 thing on people's minds," the Los Angeles Times reports. "Iraqis tend to be jaundiced about American politics and skeptical that the differences between the presidential candidates have anything to do with them."

• "Obama arrives" in Amman, Jordan, "later today for meetings with Middle East leaders who want to test his commitment to the region," USA Today reports. "He will have a private meeting with King Abdullah and then join his travelling companions -- Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. for a small dinner with the king, Queen Rania, and several top Jordanian officials."

• "For what feels like forever, Israelis and their Arab neighbors have been hopelessly deadlocked on how to resolve the Palestinian crisis," the New York Times reports. "But there is one point they may now agree on: If elected president," Obama "will not fundamentally recalibrate America's relationship with Israel, or the Arab world."

• "An Obama campaign ban on green clothing during the candidate's visits to Israel and Jordan has created wide puzzlement among observers of the Middle East," the Politico reports. "An Obama aide explained to reporters that green is the color associated with the militant Palestinian group Hamas," but "green is more generally seen as a symbol of Islam."

AP previews the "Obamamania" hitting Europe prior to the Democratic candidate's visit there later this week.

• "After a hard-fought contest for the Democratic presidential nomination, donors to" Obama "and defeated rival" Hillary Rodham Clinton "didn't rush to help each other's candidates in June," the Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports. "People who had previously given to Sen. Clinton's campaign donated $1.8 million to Sen. Obama in June," representing "less than 4% of Sen. Obama's June fund-raising total of $52 million."

• "Obama is using his fundraising advantage over" McCain "to build a network of campaign workers in states Republicans have dominated for decades," Bloomberg News reports. "The Illinois senator also is carving out a bigger travel budget and spending to advertise on the Internet, the source of much of his fundraising and organizing edge."

GOP 2008: NYT Rejects McCain Op-Ed

• "McCain blasted" Obama Monday "on both foreign and domestic policy, charging that his Democratic presidential rival was 'completely wrong' on the Iraq war and is stubbornly opposing an expansion of offshore oil drilling," the Boston Globe reports. "McCain said he would make sure that US forces don't leave until the war is won, but 'could be largely withdrawn' from Iraq within two years because of the surge's success."

• "McCain was like the wallflower at an international political dance on Monday as he campaigned at the quiet summer home of a popular President Bush, George H. W., while the worldwide news media spotlight beamed down on" Obama "in Baghdad," the New York Times reports. McCain's advisers "have taken to referring to Mr. Obama sarcastically as 'The One' and railing against the large amount of coverage Mr. Obama is receiving compared with Mr. McCain."

• "McCain said 'Iraq' when he apparently meant 'Afghanistan' on Monday, adding to a string of mixed-up word choices that is giving ammunition to the opposition. Just in the past three weeks, McCain has also mistaken 'Somalia' for 'Sudan,' and even football's Green Bay Packers for the Pittsburgh Steelers," the Politico reports. "Ironically, the errors have been concentrated in what should be his area of expertise -- foreign affairs."

• "The New York Times defended its decision not to publish an op-ed article as submitted by" McCain "about the Iraq war on grounds it customarily reviews such pieces with the author," AP reports. In the op-ed, McCain "describes how the buildup of U.S. forces in Iraq has helped curb violence" and "chides" Obama "for outlining his plan for Iraq before his current meetings there with commanders and Iraqi leaders."

AP reports that McCain foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann "has lobbied the National Security Council, Congress and the State Department on behalf of Stephen Payne, the Texas businessman and longtime Republican fundraiser caught up in a controversy over whether he sought to sell access to the Bush White House."

• The Washington Post profiles Cindy McCain. The idea of "perfection" is "a theme that repeats itself in interviews with those who know her -- this woman who hid her drug addiction from her husband for years, who fought her fear of campaigning via small planes by getting her pilot's license without telling her husband."

• The Post also examines McCain's late maternal grandfather. "While much has been made of McCain's paternal lineage -- the upstanding admirals of the Navy -- less appears to be known about Arch Wright, who made a fortune on liquor, gambling and oil in Indian territory before relocating to Los Angeles with a sprawling clan in tow, including McCain's mother, Roberta Wright McCain."

Downballot 2008: Boxer Preps For Possible Schwarzenegger Challenge

• "Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) wrested just shy of $1.5 million from his Senate colleagues last month, with one-third of the whopping sum coming from Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.)," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

• "Republican Senate leaders -- terrified by the prospect of losing five or more seats in November -- have freed their members to vote however they need to vote to get reelected, even if that means bucking the president or the party's leadership," the Politico reports.

• Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., "is aggressively raising money in anticipation of a tough 2010 reelection bid that could pit her against the political star-power of" California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), The Hill reports. Boxer "reported $3.5 million in cash on hand, compared with just $1 million at a similar point before she won her third term in 2004, according to campaign filings."

• "As early primary voting got under way last week across Tennessee, Rep. Steve Cohen held a nearly 3-1 cash-on-hand advantage over his top opponent in the crowded 9th district Democratic primary," Roll Call (subscription) reports. But "Cohen's top primary challenger, attorney Nikki Tinker, who is black, picked up support from the political action committee of the Congressional Black Caucus in the form of a $5,000 check late last month."

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