Oh, it's been a long journey from Milan to Minsk.
"In recent months Mr. McCain has recalibrated the way he talks about the economy, often noting that it does not matter whether the technical definition of a recession has been met, given that so many people feel as if they are in one," the New York Times writes. "The tone is in contrast with the one he struck during the primaries, when he sometimes placed more emphasis on optimism. His struggle to find a balance was on vivid display at a Republican debate in January, when he was asked whether the country was better off now than it was eight years ago. 'I think you could argue that Americans over all are better off,' he replied, 'because we have had a pretty good, prosperous time with low unemployment and low inflation, and a lot of good things have happened, a lot of jobs have been created.' Then he added: 'But let's have some straight talk. Things are tough right now.'"
"Gramm told USA TODAY that "what I meant is that American leaders are whiners -- they've got excuses for everything," he said Thursday, adding that some look for scapegoats instead of addressing problems. He criticized Obama for blaming oil companies and speculators for higher gas prices, rather than supporting more oil and gas drilling and nuclear power -- as McCain does.
"Gramm defended his recession comments, saying journalists have been 'amplifying bad economic news' and too many people believe things are worse than they really are. Gramm said he was speaking for himself when he spoke Wednesday to The Washington Times editorial board. 'I wouldn't claim to speak for McCain,' he said."
The Gramm comments and McCain's quick distancing show just how much of a challenge it's been for McCain to prove his economic bona fides.
A law professor from the University of Arizona has concluded that it's possible that a careful following of the letter of the law would make McCain ineligible to be president because of where he was born. "There are, Professor Chin argued in his analysis, only two ways to become a natural-born citizen," the NY Times writes. "One, specified in the Constitution, is to be born in the United States. The other way is to be covered by a law enacted by Congress at the time of one's birth. Professor Chin wrote that simply being born in the Canal Zone did not satisfy the 14th Amendment, which says that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.'"
The L.A. Times looks at McCain's first marriage and how the divorce might have actually hurt McCain's personal relationship with the Reagans.
By the way, per NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy, check out McCain's balanced budget pledge from his Virginia tele townhall: "I'll put this country on the path to a balanced budget by 2013."
So is that a new hedge or VERY careful wording about exactly what he'll do regarding a balanced budget.
Looking ahead to next week, McCain will travel to seven states; quite the busy week actually – California, New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan and New York. Nearly half of the stops involve fundraising.