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Democrats question Bush's motives for FEC nominations and Obama makes 'celebratory' return to Capitol. Plus: Ron Paul supporters plan uprisings.

• "On Tuesday, President Bush suddenly announced three new nominees to the" Federal Election Commission, the New York Times reports. "The reason for the about-face? Several Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations and watchdog groups said they believed that" Arizona Sen. John McCain, "the presumptive Republican nominee, had been pressing the White House and" Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell "to resolve the issue."

• The Politico reports that "McCain's presidential campaign is rejecting allegations that" Bush "withdrew a nominee to the nation's election watchdog to spare the Arizona senator an embarrassing rebuke for violating campaign finance rules."


AP looks at how three Indiana and North Carolina residents decided to cast their votes this week.

• "Democratic congressional candidate Jim Esch endorsed Democratic businessman Tony Raimondo in his bid for the seat Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., will vacate," CongressDailyAM (subscription) reports.

CongressDailyAM (subscription) also reports that "three black state lawmakers say they are weighing whether to run for three congressional seats this fall as independents."


Dems 2008: Obama Eyes General Election

• "Sen. Barack Obama began trying to rally the Democratic Party around him on Thursday and struck a tougher tone against" McCain, "saying Mr. McCain was 'losing his bearings' in his pursuit of the White House," the New York Times reports. "Even as" New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "persisted with her campaign for the nomination," Obama "made a celebratory return to the Capitol, where he received an enthusiastic reception on the House floor in an appearance staged to position him as the party's inevitable nominee."

• The Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal also report on Obama and McCain's jabs over foreign policy.

USA Today previews how Obama is revamping his campaign strategy for the general election.

• "Clinton on Thursday sent a letter to" Obama, "asking him to work with her on a solution to allow delegates from Florida and Michigan to help choose the party's presidential nominee," The Hill reports.


• "Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) announced, after meeting with Obama at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee headquarters, that he would endorse the Illinois senator for president," The Hill reports.

The Hill also reports that Obama "has finally caught" Clinton "in Capitol Hill endorsements."

• "Saying he believes" Obama "is the best candidate to fight for working people," former Rep. David Bonior, D-Mich., "endorsed the Illinois senator’s run for the presidency this morning, adding that he has shown the fight he needs to win in November," Detroit Free Press reports. "Bonior, who ran former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards' unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination, could be a key figure in helping to sway organized labor behind Obama."

The Washington Post further reports that "behind the scenes, his campaign worked with a light touch to win over uncommitted superdelegates and allies of Clinton, mindful of not appearing overconfident and of the fact that they would need the backing of the candidate, her husband and their supporters in the fall."

• "Some Washington lawmakers are hesitating to announce their support for" Obama, "fearing a backlash from voters at home," the Wall Street Journal reports.

The Politico reports on how Clinton's Hollywood supporters are looking to Obama.

• "According to a senior Democratic aide, Clinton asked some uncommitted superdelegates if they could commit to her privately -- without the political risks of a public endorsement -- so that she could gauge whether she has the support she feels she needs to remain a viable candidate," The Politico reports.

The Hill, meanwhile, reports that "uncommitted superdelegates in Congress are questioning" Clinton's "decision to fight for the Democratic nomination until June 3, the date of the last primaries in South Dakota and Montana, and possibly beyond."

• Obama "said on Thursday the U.S. friendship with Israel was 'unbreakable' and vowed to ensure the security of the Jewish state if elected president," Reuters reports. He "gave few details of his plans for the Middle East but vowed to work to ensure a secure Israel."

• Clinton on Thursday "dismissed calls for her to drop out and insisted anew that she would be the stronger Democratic candidate to face" McCain "in November -- in part because she is winning the support of most white voters," AP reports.

• Clinton "has events scheduled today in the upcoming primary states of Oregon, South Dakota and West Virginia," AP reports.

• But the Los Angeles Times reports that "one Clinton aide said Thursday: 'There is a profound sadness' among the staff. 'I don't think anyone sees that there's a clear path to victory here.'"

• "The once-formidable fund-raising machine of" former President Clinton and Hillary Clinton "has begun to sputter at the worst possible moment for" her "presidential campaign, Clinton advisers and donors said Thursday," the Times also reports. "Clinton's diminished political momentum" has "increas[ed] the likelihood that" she "will lend her campaign more of her own money beyond the $11 million she has already provided."

• West Virginia, a "state of small towns is home to the gun-owning, church-going, financially struggling voters whom" Clinton is targeting in the primary there Tuesday. "She says Obama alienated them with his remark before the Pennsylvania primary last month about 'bitter' dislocated workers in small towns 'clinging' to guns and religion," USA Today reports.

GOP 2008: McCain-Backed Land Swap Benefits Donor

• "McCain championed legislation that will let an Arizona rancher trade remote grassland and ponderosa pine forest" in Prescott "for acres of valuable federally owned property that is ready for development, a land swap that now stands to directly benefit one of his top presidential campaign fundraisers," the Washington Post reports.

USA Today looks at "four GOP senators facing tough re-election battles because of the unpopular Iraq war, President Bush's sagging approval ratings and the shaky economy" who "will put McCain's independent appeal to the test in November."

• The question of whether McCain did not vote for Bush in 2000 "has kicked up a minor ruckus in political circles this week as" liberal blogger Arianna Huffington "and the McCain campaign have traded he-said, she-said barbs," the New York Times reports.

• "McCain could be heavily outspent by his Democratic rival in the U.S. election in November," Reuters reports. "For every $1 the Arizona senator has raised," Obama "has raised $3." Clinton, "unlikely at this point to beat Obama for the Democratic nomination, has raised two and a half times as much as McCain."

• "Across the country, at state and county GOP conventions, diehard supporters of maverick" Texas Rep. Ron Paul "are staging uprisings in an effort to secure a role for Paul at the national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul," the Boston Globe reports. "The lingering anti-McCain sentiment among some voters and the continuing Paul insurgency suggest that McCain has not fully quelled hostility from some elements in his party."

• "Cindy McCain made crystal clear" Thursday "that she has no plans to release her tax returns -- now while her husband is the presumptive Republican nominee, or later if she becomes first lady," the Boston Globe reports

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