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First thoughts: 72 hours

From Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Domenico Montanaro, and Carrie Dann
*** 72 Hours To Go … I Want To Be Sedated:
Hey, wait a minute, there's something familiar about that number 72. Remember the GOP's 72-hour program? It's amazing that the 2004 buzz phrase describing that GOTV program, which by all accounts was very successful in that election, has barely been mentioned this year. The ground-game buzz is all on the side of Obama. And the McCain decision to double down on TV -- rather than on the ground -- is going to be a tactical decision that gets debated inside GOP circles for some time.

*** Follow the schedules, not the polls: NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart (D) sends along this observation: "Forget the polls, just look at what the candidates are doing and where they are spending money." At this time in 2004, he notes, Kerry-Edwards were campaigning in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and Florida. In 2000, Gore-Lieberman were in the states of Missouri and Ohio, as well as in Florida. But in 2008, Obama and Biden AREN'T campaigning in Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Wisconsin. Instead, they're in Nevada, Colorado, Indiana, as well as the perennials of Ohio and Florida. "You do not have to read poll numbers -- just look at their travel schedule," Hart tells First Read. And as we learned yesterday, the Obama campaign is now spending money in Arizona, Georgia, and North Dakota.

*** McCain's Monday schedule: By the way, in a memo released last night, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis noted where McCain and Palin will be spending their final day of campaigning. "Gov. Palin will hit Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and Alaska in the final day of campaigning, while Sen. McCain will travel from Tampa, Florida, to Virginia, then Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada and finish the night in Prescott, Arizona. The enthusiasm and excitement we generate on Monday will be the electricity that powers our 'Get Out the Vote' efforts on Tuesday."

*** Biden speaks! To the press! Biden yesterday held his first avail with the traveling press corps since September 7, NBC/NJ's Mike Memoli notes. Asked if he were being muzzled after some gaffes on the campaign trail, Biden answered, "If I'm muzzled, I don't know. I've done 200 interviews. I've been doing, you know, half a dozen to a dozen satellite feeds everyday. I'm doing shows, I mean, so, no one said anything to me about it."

*** Playing the Colin Powell card: Obama is using the Colin Powell endorsement in a closing TV ad this weekend. Why did this take so long?

*** Remember Bush? It's just amazing that the sitting president not campaigning this weekend. As the New York Times writes today, "It's the week before Election Day. Do you know where your president is? Probably not, and that is by design. With Senator John McCain lagging behind in the polls and many other Republicans fighting for their political lives, the nation's top Republican — President Bush — is intentionally lying low this week, and is likely to do so until after Americans cast their ballots to pick his successor."

*** Downballot thought of the day: Keep in mind, as the LA Times reports today, that the incoming House Democrats are not going to be your Nancy Pelosi liberals. They'll be winning in some very red districts. This will have a big impact on how the Democrats govern. Sure, the committee chairs will be very liberal, but the 218th vote the House Democrats will need will not be liberal; he'll/she'll be more conservative.

*** On the trail: McCain begins his day in Virginia, campaigning in Newport News and Springfield, and he later stumps in Perkasie, PA before heading to New York for "Saturday Night Live." Obama holds rallies in Henderson, NV, Pueblo, CO, and Springfield, MO. Biden has events in Evansville, IN, Marion, OH, and Bowling Green, OH. And Palin visits Polk City, FL, Raleigh, NC, and Glen Allen, VA.

Countdown to Election Day 2008: 3 days
Countdown to Electoral Vote Count: 68 days
Countdown to Inauguration Day 2009: 80 days
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