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Obama: Quid pro quo?

In the latest New York Times/CBS poll, majority of American voters say that the furor over the relationship between Senator Barack Obama and his former pastor has not affected their opinion of Mr. Obama, but a substantial number say that it could influence voters this fall should he be the Democratic presidential nominee… The poll … found that most Americans said they approved of the way Mr. Obama had responded to the episode and considered his criticism of Mr. Wright appropriate. But nearly half of the voters surveyed, and a substantial part of the Democrats, said Mr. Obama had acted mainly because he thought it would help him politically, rather than because he had serious disagreements with his former pastor."

More: "For all the concern voiced by some Democrats that the party might be suffering damage from the nominating fight as it headed into the fall election, the survey found both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama in a strong position against Mr. McCain in a hypothetical general election match-up. Mr. Obama would defeat Mr. McCain by 51 percent to 40 percent among all voters, the poll found, and Mrs. Clinton would defeat him 53 to 41."

The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama may have offered the Teamsters a quid pro quo in order to win the endorsement. "Obama won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption, according to officials from the union and the Obama campaign. It's an unusual stance for a presidential candidate. Policy makers have largely treated monitoring of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a legal matter left to the Justice Department since an independent review board was set up in 1992 to eliminate mob influence in the union."

Clinton has not taken a position. More: "Neither Sen. Obama nor Teamsters President James P. Hoffa has spoken publicly about easing up federal oversight, a top priority for Mr. Hoffa since he became union president in 1999. On the campaign trail, Mr. Hoffa stresses Sen. Obama's criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement as the big factor in winning the 1.4-million member union's support. But John Coli, vice president for the Teamsters central region, who brokered the Teamsters endorsement, said Sen. Obama was 'pretty definitive that the time had come to start the beginning of the end' of the three-member independent review board that investigates suspect activity in the union. Mr. Coli said that Sen. Obama conveyed that view in a series of phone conversations and meetings with Teamsters officials last year."

"Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed the candidate's position in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, saying that Sen. Obama believes that the board 'has run its course,' because 'organized crime influence in the union has drastically declined.' Mr. Vietor said Sen. Obama took that position last year."

The AP: "Republicans can hardly contain their glee as they watch Barack Obama battle through a rocky period. And why should they? Nothing else is breaking the GOP's way this year. But, at least now, the Democrats' political phenom is tarnished, and, if he defeats Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic nomination, will enter the general election campaign not only bruised and battered -- but also carrying baggage as he faces Republican John McCain."

Politico looks at Obama's small event strategy. "Obama, once the king of the arena rally, is downsizing. He came in contact this weekend with only a fraction of the voters he usually does in the lead-up to a primary. It completes an almost 180-degree shift from two months ago, when the Illinois senator jumped from one massive event to another, attracting media coverage that focused more on crowd counts than his message or his biography. Obama's approach in Indiana has been noteworthy for how far he has strayed from the formulation that, aides say, worked in earlier primary states, but not as much anymore. 'We were on a steady diet of large rallies,' said David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist. 'And that can become a fatty diet.'"

The Wall Street Journal runs a similar story. "Obama's approach differs from the tack he took in Texas and Ohio in March, when his campaign largely scrapped the town-hall venues that were credited with his surprising win in Iowa at the beginning of the political season. In Pennsylvania, the campaign mixed large rallies -- including one that drew an estimate 35,000 in Philadelphia, the largest of the campaign -- with more town-hall meetings. The rapid succession of primaries after the beginning contests led the campaign to use larger rallies that offered a wider reach."

"Using the arena approach in Texas in particular is seen in the campaign as 'a mistake,' said Mitch Stewart, who oversaw Obama's field strategy in Texas and holds the same role in Indiana. Sen. Obama lost the popular vote in Texas by a fair margin, though he eked out a win in delegates. 'I think we overworked the rallies, to be honest,' said David Axelrod, Sen. Obama's top political adviser. 'The images were of him talking to people but not people talking to him. It became sort of this monotonous backdrop.'"

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe looks at how Obama is back to re-emphasizing his Midwestern roots.