From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro
*** McCain's opportunity: So how will McCain spend Obama's summer "vacation," as the Democratic candidate heads abroad? Per NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, McCain's advisers say they won't "litigate" all the "campaign hoopla" generated by Obama's foreign travel, but acknowledge they may have to "fight for scraps that fall off the table" when it comes to media coverage and public attention. Looking for the positive, they will try to "mop the floor" with being the "only candidate in the country." These advisers add that McCain will "drive the message" of jobs, the economy, energy, and domestic issues, highlighting contrasts with his Democratic opponent. And he'll start that today when he holds a town hall at a GM facility in Warren, MI. Much attention in that recent Washington/ABC poll was given to Obama's deficit on foreign affairs issues when compared with McCain. But the survey also showed McCain trailing Obama on the economy by a whopping 19 points. What's easier -- Obama erasing his foreign affairs deficit or McCain erasing his economic one? Indeed, this next week might be as important to McCain as it is for Obama.
VIDEO: Will Barack Obama be able to sell himself as a credible commander-in-chief with his trip abroad or might he commit an embarrassing gaffe that could undermine his candidacy? A Hardball panel discusses.
*** That Berlin event: How vulnerable is Obama on this idea that he's campaigning overseas? Will the Berlin event backfire? Will some be offended by the idea of holding a campaign rally in a foreign country? Then again, one of the objectives for this overseas trip -- besides boosting Obama's commander-in-chief credentials -- is to drive home the argument to American voters how the rest of the world wants the US to embark on a different course (and contending that McCain can't deliver on that promise). As one of Obama's new TV ads puts it, "We are a beacon of light around the world. At least that's what we can be again. That's what we should be again." There really isn't a precedent for actually holding a campaign event overseas. How does Obama walk this fine line of appealing to the rest of the world without turning off American voters and appearing that he's already won the election?
*** This gym stuff: We're a bit suspicious. Anyone else think Obama is holding some secret VP meetings? With Obama on his way out of Chicago and some Obama beat reporters not going overseas, maybe we ought to find out if Caroline Kennedy, Eric Holder, Joe Biden, or Evan Bayh happens to like going to Chicago gyms... If Obama plans to name his running mate before the Olympics, he's probably got to be close to a decision, because he'd have to name the running mate in the week he returns from his overseas trip. Time's running out for Team Obama if they want a big pre-Olympics VP rollout. So maybe he's a lot closer than we all realize, and maybe these gym stops are well, you know… Then again, perhaps he just loves shootin' hoops.
*** Speaking of…: Here's some research on VP timing from NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli… From 1980-2004, the vice presidential pick was announced typically within one week of the start date of the convention. The exceptions are:
-- 2004, when Kerry announced Edwards 20 days before
-- 1988, when Bush 41 announced Quayle on the second day of the convention
-- 1980, when Reagan announced Bush on the fourth day of the convention
Memoli also throws in the Olympics as a marker:
-- In 2008, the Dem convention starts the day after the end of the Beijing games
-- In 2004, the GOP convo started the day after the Athens games
-- No other convention was held within a week of the Olympics
-- In 1992 and 1984, Democrats announced VP picks 16 days before the start of the Olympics. (If this held for 2008, Democrats would choose on July 23, which is next Wednesday.)
-- In 1996, Dole chose Kemp six days after the end of the Atlanta games
*** Meet Joe Biden: Next up in our look at potential veep picks is Joe Biden. He's Delaware's longest-serving senator, winning his Senate seat at age 29. Five weeks later, his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident. Biden later re-married… Biden ran for president in 1988, but bowed out after a plagiarism scandal. That same year, he suffered a brain aneurysm…. He commutes an hour and a half to DC every day from Wilmington on Amtrak; in fact, he's gotten to know the train's crew personally and hosts an annual Christmas dinner for them… In addition to his presidential campaign calling Obama a "Johnny-Come-Lately" on Afghanistan in 2007, Biden also has said Obama is not ready to be president. At a debate in August of last year, he stood by a Newsweek quote in which he said, "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training." Biden's response at the debate? "I think I stand by the statement."
*** Dodge, dip, duck, dive, dodge: On Morning Joe, Pawlenty dodged the question whether he's being vetted. He's consistently denied being vetted in the past.
*** On the trail: McCain begins his day with a town hall at a GM facility in Warren, MI, raises money in Detroit, and then appears on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Cindy McCain is in Rwanda on the bipartisan ONE campaign trip.
Countdown to Dem convention: 38 days
Countdown to GOP convention: 45 days
Countdown to Election Day 2008: 109 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 186 days
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