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EARLYBIRD

Campaign News

Palin energizes GOP base as Democrats struggle with how to challenge her. Plus: Downballot races shift into high gear.

• "Heading into the final stretch of the presidential campaign, John McCain and Barack Obama both are embracing the slogan of 'change' -- but making their cases quite differently," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Sen. Obama is focusing, in rallies and interviews, on his proposals to reverse the policies of the unpopular President George W. Bush. Sen. McCain is emphasizing his history of challenging his own party, saying he is better able to transform Washington."

• "With just over eight weeks left until Election Day, the two sides are settling into an unusually broad set of state-by-state face-offs, with an increased focus on turning out supporters and tough decisions looming about where to invest time and money for new advertisements," the New York Times reports. "Yet the two men issued a joint statement on Saturday announcing that they would appear together at the World Trade Center site on Thursday."

 

• "Job No. 1 for the next president? In the minds of an overwhelming number of Americans, it's fixing what ails the sick economy. What the voters will have to sort out are very different approaches offered by" Obama and McCain, AP reports. "Both of their fix-up plans rely heavily on tax cuts, but in sharply different ways that speak to the historic differences between Democrats and Republicans."

• McCain and Obama "offered very different visions for solving Social Security's financial problems Saturday in separate appearances before AARP, a Washington lobby that advocates for older Americans," the Wall Street Journal reports. McCain "said he remains open to personal accounts, also called private accounts, for younger people." Obama "says he remains deeply opposed."

• "Both presidential campaigns expressed support on Saturday for the planned government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a necessary step to protect homeowners from further distress," the New York Times reports. "Obama, in comments to reporters in Terre Haute, Ind., said that although he supported the concept of a takeover, he would withhold final judgment until the Treasury Department released a detailed outline of the plan' while McCain "said at a rally in Albuquerque that 'we need to keep people in their homes, but we can't allow this to turn into a bailout of Wall Street speculators.'"

 

• "The widespread practice of students' registering to vote at their college address has set off a fracas in Virginia, a battleground state in the presidential election," the New York Times reports. "Student-registration controversies have been a recurring problem since 1971, when the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 from 21, and despite a 1979 ruling by the United States Supreme Court that students have the right to register at their college address." And "Virginia is not the only state with murky guidelines."

• "Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules," the Washington Post reports. "The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship."

GOP 2008: McCain Gets Post-Convention Bump

• "McCain had his best head-to-head showing in polls since May on Sunday as new numbers showed he has either tied or jumped ahead of his Democratic rival," The Hill reports. "The new poll numbers are the first based mostly on interviews conducted after the conclusion of last week's Republican National Convention in St. Paul."

• "Sometimes McCain sounds like he's running almost as hard against" Bush "and the Republican Party as he is against Obama,," AP reports. "One of his challenges is to separate himself from the unpopular incumbent in the White House and fight against Obama's charge that a McCain presidency would amount to a third term for Bush."

 

• Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's "debut has invigorated the Republican base here in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, a battleground area in a top swing state, and one where GOP turnout depends heavily on evangelical Christians... along with the many military families clustered around the Norfolk and Portsmouth bases," the Washington Post reports. "The reaction has been remarkably instantaneous, with socially conservative voters who had barely heard of Palin electrified by the few facts they quickly learned."

• "After the Republican reception for" Palin "this last week, it seemed reasonable to wonder how" McCain "was ever going to campaign on his own again. The campaign's effort to present the Republican ticket as a team of mavericks ready to shake up Washington has loosened up McCain on the stump and banished the staid image of the dignified elder statesman," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "No one has ever tried to combine presidential politics and motherhood in quite the way" Palin "is doing, and it is no simple task," the New York Times reports. "In the last week, the criticism she feared in Alaska has exploded into a national debate."

• The Los Angeles Times looks at Palin's reception and appeal among working women.

• Palin "has agreed to her first interview since last month, with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson later this week, the network and" McCain's "campaign said" Sunday, the Washington Post reports. "Palin's relations with the news media have gotten off to a rocky start."

• "An Alaska state investigation into" Palin's "firing of her public safety commissioner is turning into a power struggle between the state's executive and legislative branches," the Wall Street Journal reports. "While Gov. Palin," McCain's "running mate, hits the campaign trail, lawmakers in Alaska are scheduled to meet Friday to decide whether to issue subpoenas to at least seven Palin administration officials."

• "In the" last "three months... the McCain organization has become a campaign transformed: an elbows-out, risk-taking, disciplined machine that was on display here last week at the Republican convention that nominated Mr. McCain," the New York Times reports. "And the catalyst for the change has largely been" Steve Schmidt, "37, a veteran of the winning 2002 Congressional and 2004 presidential campaigns, where he worked closely with Karl Rove."

• "Corporate executives, who once discounted" McCain's "campaign, have been key to the Republican presidential nominee's rebound on the fund-raising circuit, a new analysis of campaign donations shows," the Wall Street Journal reports. "But in the months after" Obama and McCain "started to square off as their parties' likely nominees, Sen. Obama maintained only a slight financial edge overall, while Sen. McCain claimed the advantage among top industry donors."

• "A new book released the day after" McCain "accepted the Republican presidential nomination attacks one of his trademark political successes: his investigation of now-jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff in 2004 and 2005," the Politico reports. "'The Perfect Villain: John McCain and the Demonization of Lobbyist Jack Abramoff,' by former Boston Globe freelancer Gary S. Chafetz... aggressively puts forth the case that McCain's investigation into Abramoff wasn't the high-minded reform crusade he has made it out to be on the campaign trail, but rather was pure political payback."

Dems 2008: Obama Criticizes Palin Cautiously

• "Obama on Saturday launched his first attack on GOP vice presidential nominee" Palin "during his first appearance in Indiana since the Democratic National Convention," the Indianapolis Star reports. "Palin portrays herself as being against earmarks, but she has taken them 'when it's convenient,' the Democratic presidential nominee said."

• "Obama laughingly questioned his rival's assertion that" Palin "has more foreign policy experience than he does because of Alaska's proximity to Russia," The Hill reports. "For the most part, Obama, speaking on ABC's 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos,' avoided any harsh criticism of" McCain's "new running mate, but he seemed to indicate that he views the pick as largely political."

• "Obama's foes on Sunday seized upon a brief slip of the tongue when the Democratic presidential nominee was outlining his Christianity but accidentally said 'my Muslim faith,'" the Washington Times reports. "The three words -- immediately corrected -- were uttered during" the ABC interview "when Mr. Obama was trying to criticize the quiet smear campaign suggesting that he is a Muslim."

• "Obama says he would delay rescinding" Bush's "tax cuts on wealthy Americans if he becomes the next president and the economy is in a recession, suggesting such an increase would further hurt the economy," AP reports. "Nevertheless, Obama has no plans to extend the Bush tax cuts beyond their expiration date, as" McCain "advocates."

Joseph Biden "departed Sunday from party doctrine on abortion rights, declaring that as a Catholic, he believes life begins at conception," the New York Times reports. "In an interview on "Meet the Press" on NBC... Mr. Biden tried to walk the line between the staunch abortion-rights advocates in his party and his own religious beliefs."

The Hill reports that, in the same interview, Biden "called his rival" Palin "a 'tough, smart' opponent, but said the election will come down to the presidential candidates."

Downballot: Still No Winner In Alaska Primary

• "The winner of Alaska's August at-large GOP primary still remains undecided after more than 25,000 provisional and absentee ballots were counted on Friday, although the new vote totals showed embattled Rep. Don Young [R] has increased his slim lead over Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell [D]," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "Young is now ahead of Parnell by 239 votes, up from a 151-vote lead immediately after the Aug. 26 primary."

• "With the Republican National Convention spilling into the first week of September, the traditional post-Labor Day start to the fall campaign was delayed a week," Roll Call (subscription) reports. "But as Members of Congress return to the Capitol this week for the final legislative push before leaving town to hit the campaign trail, there is little question that election season is now in full swing."

• "As the dust settles in Minnesota's Twin Cities after the Republican National Convention, candidates in several Tuesday primaries hope to kick it back up again," The Hill reports. "In the state's 1st Congressional District, two Republicans are competing to win the right to take on first-term Rep. Tim Walz (D), a top GOP target."

• "With the fall campaign season now officially under way," Sen. John E. Sununu, R-N.H., and former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) "have come out slinging daggers. And like the presidential candidates, who are grappling for the mantle of change, the candidates down-ballot are doing so by clashing over practical kitchen-table issues -- the price of gasoline and home heating oil, health care costs, job security -- that make this race emblematic of Senate contests across the country," the New York Times reports.

• "With home-state Sen. John McCain having officially accepted the GOP presidential nomination in St. Paul, Minn., on Thursday, Arizona Republicans are energized -- and looking to the top of the ticket to heal old intraparty wounds and lift their downballot candidates," Roll Call (subscription) reports.

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