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Obama: An un-Paris Hilton day

Yesterday was a decidedly un-Paris Hilton day for Obama, NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli notes. As if by design, the candidate's first day back on the campaign trail in weeks was all about showcasing the Democratic nominee as just the opposite of what the John McCain ad sought to portray. Instead of the rock star attracting hundreds of thousands abroad, Obama was speaking in small venues in ruby-red "Missoura," talking about high gas prices, and trying some "feel your pain" shoulder pats and hugs.

VIDEO: TODAY's Matt Lauer talks to Nicolle Wallace, an aide for John McCain, and Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for Barack Obama, about a McCain ad that compares Obama to celebrities.

He capped it off by dishing out burgers and franks to dozens of people in Union, where a few hundred huddled under a canopy to see the Democrat. Obama even sent his staff scrambling to keep up as he paraded around the venue to shake as many hands as he could, without so much as a poncho to keep him dry. "Since they don't have any new ideas the only strategy they've got in this election is to try to scare you about me," Obama said earlier, mentioning a "funny name," a different look and "nasty emails."

"You know, the latest one they've got me in an ad with Paris Hilton." He added,  "You know…never met the woman."
It's a tact we can expect to see him keep up today, especially as he visits Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He'll meet with some families who were impacted by the recent flooding, which actually prompted him to cancel a visit last month. He's also going to keep up his focus on the economy, with the campaign signaling new language on the energy debate between the candidates.

For process junkies, AP's Pickler and Fournier have the story of the day -- examining the microtargeting efforts of the Obama campaign. Among the highlights: "Those 75,000 Democrats who will pack a football stadium for Barack Obama's convention speech won't be there just to whoop and holler on television. They'll form the world's largest phone bank to boost voter registration -- fired-up supporters using computer targeting the campaign has spent months putting together."

More: Senior Obama strategist Steve Hildebrand said the campaign has identified 55 million unregistered voters across the country, by comparing registration lists with lists of potential voters gleaned by mining consumer databases the same way credit card companies track people's spending. They say their research estimates more than two-thirds would vote for Obama if they were registered and motivated. The campaign is already holding voter registration efforts across the country, and the convention will be followed by a big drive on the following Labor Day weekend. The campaign is convening the 4,439 convention delegates in state-by-state meetings during the next couple of weeks, and they will be asked to commit time each week before the Nov. 4 election to register voters and persuade them to back Obama."

The New York Times takes a look at Obama's attempts to appeal to GOPers, particularly in states like Indiana, Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, and Virginia. "Mike Murphy, a Republican media consultant who advised Mr. McCain in his presidential bid in 2000, said he believed that Mr. Obama would probably win more Republican votes this fall than Mr. Kerry did in 2004. But he said that most Republicans would ultimately stand behind Mr. McCain and that the Obama campaign's pitch, instead, could end up proving far more helpful with white independent swing voters."

"'The Obama campaign is dripping with money, so they can afford to fool around with Republicans, especially since the McCain campaign is challenged,' Mr. Murphy said, referring to Republican concern that the McCain bid has been unfocused at times. 'Whether Obama pulls in a big number of swing voters this fall depends on whether McCain comes to life.'"