The Washington Post on McCain's major foreign policy speech: "In his first extensive policy speech since securing the delegates needed to win the Republican presidential nomination, McCain delivered an impassioned argument that achieving democracy in Iraq is necessary for a peaceful world. 'Those who argue that our goals in Iraq are unachievable are wrong, just as they were wrong a year ago when they declared the war already lost in Iraq,' he said, without naming Democratic candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. 'Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight al-Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous mistake.'
"But even as McCain offered a defense of President Bush's current war policy, he outlined a sharp critique of the administration's dealings with foreign allies."
L.A. Times lead: "McCain, carefully distancing himself from President Bush and seeking to sound a moderate tone, called Wednesday for stronger ties with allies and cautioned that American power "does not mean we can do whatever we want, whenever we want."
The upcoming issue of Time has an extensive profile of McCain the reformer and his relationship with lobbyists. From Michael Scherer's piece: "For most other senators, especially those lacking presidential ambitions, such untoward appearances would not raise much of an eyebrow. On any given day, thousands of lobbyists work their connections on Capitol Hill, hoping to obtain letters on their behalf or legislation in their favor. But for McCain, such questions become an issue of integrity. He is the one, after all, who regularly breaks the Senate's code of silence by alleging corruption by his peers. 'Elected officials do act in particular ways in order to assist large soft-money donors,' McCain wrote in a sworn statement from the 2002 Supreme Court case over his campaign-finance bill. 'This skews and shapes the legislative process.'
"The McCain campaign answers questions about discrepancies between the candidate's words and actions by asserting that his motivations are different from those of his more crass colleagues. 'John McCain takes positions on legislative and regulatory issues based on his perception of the public good,' writes Brian Rogers, McCain's campaign spokesman, in an e-mail. His position in favor of Ergen, aides say, was nothing other than an effort to bring more competition to cable providers, to lower prices for consumers. Likewise, his opposition to FCC ownership caps for television stations resulted from a long-standing belief that technological changes had made the old laws obsolete."
In a pre-buttal to Obama's economic speech today, the McCain campaign treats Obama as the Dem nominee. From the campaign: " 'This election provides a clear choice. John McCain offers a common sense agenda to cut taxes, eliminate wasteful government spending, and get our economy back on track, while Senator Obama embraces the failed liberal policies of the past that lock down the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that has always grown our economy, created jobs and expanded opportunity for the American people.'"
The DNC plans to go after McCain's viability in the West with a conference call with Democratic Party leaders from Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada. It will also release a memo called "McCain: Losing in the West," which will say, in part, "After representing Arizona for more than two decades McCain failed to break 50 percent in his home state's February 5 primary, and turned in big losses in two other potential swing states that surround Arizona. In Nevada McCain lost to Mitt Romney and even to Ron Paul, earning a meager 13% of the vote. In Colorado McCain received only 19 percent of the vote. Going all the way up the Rocky Mountain West, McCain won just one of six states. " More: "Polls show Democrats leading or running even in a generic presidential horse race among independents in Colorado (46-18), Arizona (32-18), Nevada (28-20), and New Mexico (28-24)."