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Obama: The Re-Launch?

The New York Times front-pages that Obama "is making subtle changes to his campaign style and message in an effort to strengthen his appeal to blue-collar voters and to avoid a defeat in Indiana that aides fear could give Democratic Party leaders further pause about his viability in a general election… Mr. Obama is seeking to absorb the lessons of his defeat in Pennsylvania. The changes reflect concern that he is being portrayed by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as distant and culturally out of touch with many working-class Democrats, a worry underlined by her lopsided victory among many of those voters in that state on Tuesday and last month in Ohio."

More: "In interviews with several associates and aides, Mr. Obama was described as bored with the campaign against Mrs. Clinton and eager to move into the general election against Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee. So the Obama campaign is undertaking modifications in his approach intended to inject an air of freshness into his style. In strategy sessions last week, advisers concluded that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, needed to do a better job reminding voters of his biography, including his modest upbringing by a single mother and one of his first jobs as a community organizer helping displaced steel mill workers. He also has to sharpen his economic message, they said, to improve his appeal and connection with voters in hope of capitalizing on the sensibilities that served him well in Midwestern states." 

The Washington Post adds, "[I]n a noteworthy shift, the Illinois senator is trying to reach working-class and middle-class voters by arguing more explicitly that the reform ideas driving his campaign can address the economic troubles that threaten their way of life. Supplanting lobbyist influence with citizen activism, uniting the country beyond petty partisan gamesmanship and bringing more candor to government, he argues, are not just abstract goals, but concrete steps that can level the playing field and lead to a more equitable distribution of the nation's wealth… Obama hopes the message, still being refined, will bring a victory in the May 6 primary here and help him close out the battle for the Democratic nomination against New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. But interviews here suggested it is not an easy sell. Obama's faith in the power of numbers has taken hold with young and engaged voters, but it is harder to convince Americans who have grown dissociated from their government that they have a role to play beyond going to the polls every few years." 

WSJ runs a similar story. "Barack Obama recast his call for change by speaking more directly to voters' economic concerns as polls show him in a dead heat with Hillary Clinton in Indiana. The shift comes amid signs that Sen. Obama's lofty appeals for hope and change may not be resonating with financially insecure voters, and may even be driving them away."

The Washington Post looks at the debate Wright has sparked inside many black churches. "Wright's appearance today at the National Press Club will begin the annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference. The conference, named for the noted religious scholar, will bring black religious leaders from across the country to Howard University. And at the center of the discussions will be the powerful and provocative tenets of liberation theology."

"Beyond the political debate over how Wright's words have affected Obama's campaign, the spotlight on Wright's sermons has sparked a lively discussion over the theology among the Washington area's large and diverse African American church communities. Some question whether black liberation theology's focus on race and oppression is relevant anymore, whether clinging to a philosophy forged in the civil rights era means holding on to past hurts. Others think it is needed now more than ever in the face of continuing discrimination, chronic unemployment and high incarceration rates among blacks." 

The AP wraps some of Wright's comments to the NAACP: "'I'm not here for political reasons,' Wright said. 'I'm not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media made it seem like I am running for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office. I've been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet. I am not one of the most divisive' black spiritual leaders, Wright said. 'I'm one of the most descriptive.'"

The L.A. Times un-earths a donor that got a favor from Obama, via state grant, while Obama was in the state senate. This is one of those "he's just another politician" stories, but it certainly seems to hurt Obama since it runs counter to his own claims.

Former San Jose Mercury News political reporter Phil Trounstine offers up his analysis of the Clinton-Obama electability argument and sides with Obama. "If Obama wins the nomination -- which is the only outcome for the Democrats that will not leave their party in shreds -- McCain and his allies will not just throw the kitchen sink at him, they'll throw every sink they can find from the bathroom, the laundry room and the garage -- just as they would at Clinton (from Whitewater and the Rose Law Firm to Travelgate and Bosnian sniper fire). But unless he is so crippled by Clinton before he has a chance to face McCain head-on  -- and there's a real question about the Clintons intentions here -- there is no sound basis on which to base the argument that he would be a less effective standard-bearer for the Democrats than would the much-despised former first lady."

Obama's "bitter" comments have made their way into a House ad for a Mississippi special election.  The ad was produced by the NRCC, by the way.