• "Sen. John McCain's vice-presidential pick, Sarah Palin, is helping the Republican candidate nationally but hasn't yet changed his fortunes in some of the largest swing states," the Wall Street Journal reports. "McCain is still trailing in Ohio -- seen as a Republican must-win -- according to new surveys of big battleground states by Quinnipiac University."
• "In a somber event that belied the vitriol exchanged by the two campaigns in recent days," Barack Obama "and McCain walked side by side down a long path to a reflecting pool in the middle of an ominously empty space where the World Trade Center once stood," the Boston Globe reports. "With Cindy McCain and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York behind them, each placed a rose given them by a victim's family member... into the pool, which began the day empty but was overflowing with flowers by the time they arrived."
• Obama and McCain "pledged to inspire a new commitment to public service Thursday, as they set aside the rancor of an intense presidential campaign during a two-hour forum on the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks," the Washington Post reports. "In back-to-back conversations largely devoid of partisan recrimination," McCain and Obama "each urged Americans to honor the victims of the country's worst terrorist attack by dedicating their time to service through teaching, the military, the Peace Corps and faith-based volunteering."
GOP 2008: Palin Meets The Press
• "For the last two weeks, Democrats and even some Republicans have asked: Does" Palin "have enough experience to hold the second-highest office in the nation, or the presidency if the need arises?" the New York Times reports. "'I'm ready,' Ms. Palin answered without any hesitation in an interview with ABC News on Thursday, saying she had felt no doubt about accepting" McCain's "offer to run as his vice-presidential nominee."
• Palin "linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks" Thursday, "telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would 'defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans,'" the Washington Post reports. "The idea that the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein helped al-Qaeda plan the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a view once promoted by Bush administration officials, has since been rejected even by the president himself."
• Palin "said Thursday that Georgia and Ukraine should be admitted to NATO and that the U.S. should be prepared to go to war if Russia invades Georgia again," the Wall Street Journal reports. "'I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help,' she said in an interview with ABC News."
• "The McCain campaign is defending" Palin's "much-criticized inquiry into banning books at her hometown library, saying her questions were only hypothetical," AP reports. "Shortly after taking office in 1996 as mayor of Wasilla, a city of about 7,000 people, Palin asked the city's head librarian about banning books. Later, the librarian was notified by Palin that she was being fired, although Palin backed off under pressure."
• Palin's "administration threatened to sue" Thursday "to stop a probe into her firing of the state's public-safety commissioner, escalating its efforts to fight an investigation seen as a potential political threat to her nomination as vice president," the Wall Street Journal reports. "In a letter to a top state lawmaker, written on a letterhead bearing the governor's name, Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Barnhill said: 'Bluntly and to the point, we think there is a legitimate concern that this investigation is no longer being conducted in a fair manner.'"
• "More than half of Republicans surveyed -- 53% -- say that having Palin on the ticket makes them more likely to vote for" McCain, USA Today reports. "The intense reaction cuts both ways: More than one-third of Democrats surveyed said that Palin made them less likely to vote for McCain."
• Palin "represents many things Hollywood liberals love to hate, from her opposition to gay marriage to her support for gun rights, yet she possesses two key qualities they admire -- star appeal and a great script," Reuters reports. "Accordingly, Hollywood Republicans -- often overshadowed by their left-leaning peers -- are seeking to capitalize on the celebrity of" McCain's "running mate... to generate support in a town well-known for its lavish Democratic fund-raisers and events."
• McCain "won't attend a gathering of religious conservatives this weekend -- and the Republican presidential nominee won't have to ask forgiveness," Bloomberg News reports. "The Arizona senator's selection of" Palin "as his running mate has appeased the evangelical and social conservatives who form his party's core voters. Now, they are letting him know that he doesn't need to further demonstrate his fealty."
Dems 2008: Obama & Bill Clinton Lunch In Harlem
• "Obama will intensify his assault against" McCain, "with new television advertisements and more forceful attacks by the candidate and surrogates beginning Friday morning, as he confronts an invigorated Republican presidential ticket and increasing nervousness in the Democratic ranks," the New York Times reports.
• McCain "is mocked as an out-of-touch, out-of-date computer illiterate in a television commercial out Friday from" Obama "as the Democrat begins his sharpest barrage yet on McCain's long Washington career," AP reports.
• For more on the Obama spot and other political advertising, see NationalJournal.com's Ad Spotlight blog.
• "Despite the talk about a changing electoral map and new strategies," Obama "is pulling back from his 50-state plan as" McCain "has solidified Republican support, turning November's presidential election into a contest for the same handful of states that have swung the last two contests," the Washington Times reports.
• Obama "plans to dispatch President Bill Clinton to deliver his newly sharpened economic message to voters in battleground states in an effort to counter a surge in popularity for the Republican ticket," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Over a private lunch of take-out sandwiches and flat-bread pizza at Mr. Clinton's Harlem office, the two men discussed the state of the race, and the Illinois senator sought advice on driving home his economic pitch."
• "Oh how things have changed for" Obama "since he last appeared on 'Saturday Night Live,'" AP reports. Obama's "campaign revealed Thursday that he would be making his second appearance on the program, for the season premiere this weekend." He "last appeared on the program in November 2007, making a cameo during an opening skit about a Halloween party at Hillary Rodham Clinton's house."
Downballot 2008: Funny-Man Franken In A Smiling Mood
• "Six years ago," North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) "won a Senate seat based on a long record in Washington and powerful ties to top Republicans. Few thought her re-election was in doubt," the Wall Street Journal reports. "But this year, with voters frustrated with Washington in general and Republicans in particular, Mrs. Dole is in a bruising battle to keep her job, according to recent polls."
• "Is comedian Al Franken (D) making a comeback?" Roll Call (subscription) asks. "Democrats see Franken in a better position to take on" Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., "than a few months ago, when his campaign was dragging from months of bad headlines."
• "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added nine more candidates to its Red to Blue program to win GOP-held seats, and identified five more candidates as 'emerging races,'" CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports. "In a memo written by DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland to his Democratic House colleagues, the list of new Red to Blue candidates includes one announced this week: Alice Kryzan, who is running for the open seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Thomas Reynolds of New York."