CLINTON: The New York Times notes that Clinton seems to be in a better campaign mood -- that she's campaigning as if she's got some momentum on her side. "If many of her advisers are worried and even gloomy about her prospects on Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton appears charged up (to the point where her voice is increasingly hoarse). She is talking to reporters and joking around more, not less, and she has been taking time to show good cheer on 'Saturday Night Live' over the weekend and on 'The Daily Show' on Monday." More: "For better or for worse, Mrs. Clinton has come full circle on her message, again embracing the strategic assumptions with which she began the campaign in January 2007: That she is the most able and experienced Democrat to be commander in chief, to manage the economy, and to win what she calls a 'wartime election' in November.
"It is a sobering message, not the kind that rouses people to their feet to cheer. But it is the sort of competency-based rationale that was so much a part of her years as first lady and her campaigns for the United States Senate in 2000 and 2006."
The Los Angeles Times takes a look at how Clinton's campaign got to this point. "Hillary Clinton may be one of the most disciplined figures in national politics, but she has presided over a campaign operation riven by feuding, rival fiefdoms and second-guessing of top staff members." More: "Already, some in Clinton's senior staff are pointing fingers over what went wrong, with some of the blame aimed at Clinton herself. As the race unfolded, neither Clinton nor anyone else resolved the internal power struggles that played out with destructive effect and continue to this day."
"Chief strategist and pollster Mark Penn clashed with senior advisor Harold Ickes, former deputy campaign manager Mike Henry and others. Field organizers battled with Clinton's headquarters in northern Virginia. Campaign themes were rolled out and discarded, reflecting tensions among a staff bitterly divided over what Clinton's basic message should be. The dispute over Bill Clinton's schedule shows how easily plans can unravel. Some campaign staffers didn't expect to win South Carolina overall, but 'our strategy was to go after specific districts in South Carolina' to add to the delegate total while freeing Bill Clinton to spend time in other Southern states, said a Clinton campaign aide. But Bill Clinton said 'I need to be in South Carolina,'" the aide said. 'It was a one-man mission out there.'"
Meanwhile, here's how Penn keeps winning the argument inside the campaign. "The dispute flared anew after Clinton's defeat in South Carolina. At a meeting in the Arlington, Va., headquarters, Penn and others gave a PowerPoint presentation on what was billed as a new message: Clinton would be championing 'Solutions for America.' Henry, then the deputy campaign manager, objected, according to people at the meeting. He said it sounded like a repackaging of the old message that Clinton was a strong leader rather than a warm person. Indeed, a top item in the PowerPoint was 'strength and experience' -- a theme Clinton had been stressing for months."
"Henry asked: 'Is this what we're doing, or is it up for discussion?' Penn said Clinton had already approved the new message. At that point, Henry asked if the campaign had learned anything from its defeats. It should be clear, he said, that voters want to see a more human side of her. 'This is not bringing out the humanity in her,' Henry said, according to people present."
"Penn countered that the reason for many of her defeats, particularly in smaller states, had been a lack of organization, not the message -- a swipe at Henry and others in field work. In the end, Clinton backed Penn. Henry left the campaign. And Clinton has been casting herself as someone in the 'solutions business' -- a message she repeats as she makes a stand in Ohio and Texas."
Bill Clinton pointed out again yesterday that he's just a pawn on his wife's political chessboard, NBC/NJ's Carrie Dann reports. "Look, I'm not even the candidate," he said to giggles from the audience at Texas A&M University. "I am just a free campaign aide."
"But," he added, "I have an informed opinion about the candidate." The line, which earned the former candidate scattered chuckles, is part of Clinton's last minute push as his wife's No. 1 surrogate in Texas. Yesterday, he gave an impassioned appeal for change, noting how intense interest in the race evidences the nation's hunger for something new. "The country is groaning and moaning and screaming for change," he declared firmly, "to turn this country around and get moving again."
OBAMA: In what is almost like a Perry Mason moment, after days of denying that anyone with the campaign had any contact with Canadian officials, the AP got its hands on a memo of the meeting between Obama's chief policy adviser, Austan Goolsbee, and the Canadian consulate in Chicago. "The memo is the first documentation to emerge publicly out of the meeting ... but Goolsbee said it misinterprets what he told them. The memo was written by Joseph DeMora, who works for the consulate and attended the meeting."
"Goolsbee disputed a section that read: 'Noting anxiety among many U.S. domestic audiences about the U.S. economic outlook, Goolsbee candidly acknowledged the protectionist sentiment that has emerged, particularly in the Midwest, during the primary campaign. He cautioned that this messaging should not be taken out of context and should be viewed as more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans.'"
"'This thing about "it's more about political positioning than a clear articulation of policy plans," that's this guy's language,' Goolsbee said of DeMora. 'He's not quoting me.'"
"Obama spokesman Bill Burton said Goolsbee's visit was not as an emissary from the campaign, but as a professor from the University of Chicago. He was not authorized to share any messages from the campaign, Burton said."
The Rezko trial starts today, and Obama is getting his share of coverage because of it. "Obama is not implicated. But U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve made it likely that Obama's name would come up in court when she ruled that prosecutors could introduce evidence that Rezko used 'straw donors' to give to politicians, apparently including Obama. The relationship between Obama and Rezko was based on more than money."
"They met in 1990 when Rezko, then starting a low-income housing development business, noticed a news article about Obama being elected the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. One of Rezko's partners called Obama on Rezko's behalf and offered him a job, according to a Chicago Sun-Times account last year."
The front page of the http://www.nypost.com/seven/03032008/news/nationalnews/smeared_o_has_cross_words_100255.htm">New York Post: 'O' My God. And The New York Post: "Barack Obama yesterday lashed out at political enemies who are spreading false rumors that he's a closet Muslim as he proclaimed, "I pray to Jesus every night. I am a devout Christian… I pray to Jesus every night and try to go to church as much as I can."
Obama may avoid "the game playing" of politics, but he certainly is not above creating opportunities to needle Senator Clinton, NBC's Abby Livingston points out. Twice yesterday, during question and answer sessions at events in Ohio, Obama was asked about education. And twice, he managed to veer his answer toward competitiveness, globalization, NAFTA and jabs at Clinton.
When asked about No Child Left Behind in Nelsonville, Ohio, Obama addressed his thoughts on that specific policy, but added, "I'm going to keep speaking out against NAFTA and other trade agreements that don't provide reciprocity. But here's the truth: is globalization is not going away. If Senator Clinton talks about a pause in our trade deals, the world will not pause. China's not pausing. India's not pausing. The only way we are going to compete is if our children are better prepared, better equipped," he said.
And in Westerville, Obama was asked another education question -- to which he responded: "There's been a lot of debate here in Ohio about NAFTA, and I've always opposed NAFTA because it didn't have labor standards and environmental standards that were enforceable and safety standards. And you know, Senator Clinton and the Clinton administration thought it was the right thing to do, and I think it was destructive. But what is true, is that even if we get our trade deals right, globalization's not going to go away."