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Obama: Johnson story isn't going away

Just whom did Obama meet with on the religious front yesterday? CBN's Brody notes: "Obama is meeting with influential mega-pastor TD Jakes and pro-life Catholic constitutional law professor Doug Kmiec. ... That's a big deal. A really big deal. The fact that these two conservative men are meeting with Obama may be a signal that Obama's campaign is ready to break down the traditional wall of separation between conservatives and liberals when it comes to religious talk. ... Folks, this is an important development. It shows that the game has changed. Old rules don't apply. We're in uncharted territory. John McCain's religious outreach team has to now step to the plate and work hard for faith voters. It's not automatic."

VIDEO: Keith Olbermann truth-squads allegations by the Republican Party that one of Barack Obama's V.P. search team members, James Johnson, has received some questionable loans from Countrywide Financial.

The Jim Johnson stories keep coming in … The Washington Post: "For Republicans seeking to tarnish Obama's image as a squeaky-clean outsider hoping to clean up Washington -- not to mention divert attention from questions about lobbyists working in Sen. John McCain's campaign -- Obama's embrace of Johnson has been a gift." More: "Responding to questions yesterday about that article, Obama said: 'I am not vetting my VP search committee for their mortgages. These aren't folks who are working for me. They're not people who I have assigned to a particular job in a future administration.'" 

The New York Times: "Johnson was also involved in some of the more controversial executive compensation decisions in recent years, serving on the board of five companies that granted lavish pay packages to their executives -- and often playing a key role in approving them. One of the more well-known cases involves UnitedHealth Group, a Minnesota company, where Mr. Johnson was a board member and later head of the compensation committee. The company came under fire after the chief executive was granted more than $1.4 billion in stock options -- some $618 million of which was returned as a result of settlements with federal regulators and shareholders. The executive, William McGuire, resigned, but he kept $800 million from the package."

"Because of cases like UnitedHealth Group, Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, introduced legislation in the Senate last year to restrict runaway compensation."

The New York Times' Tom Friedman writes that by simply nominating Obama, America's image around the world has already improved.  "This column will probably get Barack Obama in trouble, but that's not my problem. I cannot tell a lie: Many Egyptians and other Arab Muslims really like him and hope that he wins the presidency. I have had a chance to observe several U.S. elections from abroad, but it has been unusually revealing to be in Egypt as Barack Hussein Obama became the Democrats' nominee for president of the United States."

Maureen Dowd, in a fairly sympathetic column, writes about the rough fall Michelle Obama may be in for. "It's good news for Obama that Hillary's out of the race. But it's also bad news. Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of 'Kill the witch.' There are some who think it will be harder for America to accept a black first lady -- the national hostess who serenely presides over the White House Christmas festivities and the Easter egg roll -- than a black president." 

But it's not just MoDo… The LA Times notes the GOP is beginning to take aim at her. "They loved to hate Hillary Rodham Clinton. They loved to hate Teresa Heinz Kerry. And now, it appears, conservative voices are energetically taking on Michelle Obama. 'Mrs. Grievance' bellowed the cover of a recent National Review, which featured a photo of a fierce-looking Obama. The magazine's online edition titled an essay about her stump speech 'America's Unhappiest Millionaire.'"

Is Obama avoiding big rallies for the rest of the summer? Potentially. "Having vanquished Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, Obama has entered the general election phase holding smaller, low-key events rather than the large rallies that have electrified fans but turned off some voters. The change in pace and tone was obvious Tuesday when Obama visited Missouri, a classic toss-up state, and left by lunchtime without doing any events open to the public. He will campaign every day this week, but for the first time will hold none of the rallies that often draw 10,000 or 20,000 or more."