Under the headline "Here we go again," Newsweek wonders what happened to the new type of campaigning a McCain-Obama match-up promised. "It's clear McCain's handlers are determined now to keep him 'on message' and not allow much spontaneity to creep into his performances. They can't persuade him to give up town halls, but last week he was noticeably kept away from the national press corps, whom he once called his 'base.' Although McCain requested that a couch be put on his campaign plane so he could sit around with reporters as he did on his Straight Talk Express bus during the primaries, the couch has lately been occupied only by overflow staff. McCain looked cranky most of last week, as if he could sense the potential harm he was doing to his reputation as a high-road politician."
"Modern political campaigns, aided and abetted by the press, exert a powerful downward force. The Democratic handlers are no more high-minded. If anything, they have been rattled by Republican attacks in years past and are now determined to show their toughness. In 2004, as John Kerry was getting 'Swift-Boated,' depressed Democrats would recite a meme attributed to Bill Clinton's war room: 'If you're not hitting, you're getting hit.'"
Here's an interesting poll of low-income workers in today's Washington Post, conducted in conjunction with the Kaiser Foundation and Harvard. Obama has a 2-1 lead among these folks. "Obama's advantage is attributable largely to overwhelming support from two traditional Democratic constituencies: African Americans and Hispanics. But even among white workers -- a group of voters that has been targeted by both parties as a key to victory in November -- Obama leads McCain by 10 percentage points, 47 percent to 37 percent, and has the advantage as the more empathetic candidate."
More: "The new poll included interviews with 1,350 randomly selected workers 18 to 64 years old who put in at least 30 hours a week but earned $27,000 or less last year. As a group, they are somewhat less likely to be Republicans than all adults under age 65 and are also less likely to be registered to vote. As many call themselves conservatives as liberal, and nearly four in 10 said their views on most political matters are 'moderate.'
"The group, which accounts for nearly a quarter of U.S. adults, gives the Democrat the nod both as the more empathetic candidate and as the one who more closely shares their values. And while many express no opinion about who would do more to improve the economy or health care -- or the voters' finances -- Obama has the clear edge among those who picked a favorite on these core issues."
EDUCATION: McCain has an op-ed in the New York Daily News today on education. "Campaigning at town halls across America, I am often asked about my plans to reform our public schools. And the answer begins with two points on which most everyone agrees: Every public school child deserves a first-rate education. And too many of our schools are producing second-rate results. Beyond that, the education debate divides quickly into two camps. Some say all that's needed is more taxpayer money, along with more prekindergarten and after-school programs. Others believe that the basic structure of the education system is flawed, and that fundamental reform is needed. You can put me squarely on the side of major reform."
"These days, the cause of education reform crosses all boundaries of party, race and financial means. In New York, Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein have taken up the cause of reform, as have many others, including the Rev. Al Sharpton. These men are strong supporters of the Education Equality Project, a group dedicated to finally changing the status quo in our education system. This group of leaders is no longer willing to accept a public school system in which many students never even graduate or learn the basics of math, science and English. As Chancellor Klein puts it, 'In large urban areas the culture of public education is broken. If you don't fix this culture, then you are not going to be able to make the kind of changes that are needed."
ENERGY: Look who's supporting some additional oil drilling? Obama. "In the latest sign of a shift on a key issue, Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said on Saturday he would support an expansion of offshore drilling as part of a broader bipartisan energy bill. Critics are branding this a flip-flop, but Sen. Obama is citing it as an example of a central tenet of his candidacy: a willingness to bridge divisions to address long-festering problems."
By the way, it appears McCain will now also support the compromise legislation
T. Boone Pickens and Gore are not quite ready to join up together, but they are close. Meanwhile, Ted Turner and Pickens are ready to work together... Go figure.
IRAQ: USA Today does a version of the Obama-McCain are coming together on Iraq.