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« NY Delegation Backs Obama | Blog Home Page | Roberts Ahead, At 50 »

Strategy Memo: Obama's The Boss

Good Friday morning. Note to campaigns interested in mega-rallies near Washington: It takes an hour to get out of the Nissan Pavilion parking lot. Find somewhere else. Here's what Washington is watching this morning:

-- The Senate is dealing with amendments to the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill when they meet early this morning, hoping to get out of town for the weekend. The House is already gone. President Bush holds a meeting on relief for victims of the recent earthquake in China, then swears in Steven Preston, the new Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Preston replaced Alphonso Jackson, who resigned under pressure. Dick Cheney is in Texas for a fundraiser benefiting former John Cornyn chief of staff Pete Olson, who is running against incumbent Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat, in November.

-- Just when you thought it was safe, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton met secretly last night in Washington, MSNBC and the Washington Post report today. The pair released a joint statement calling their talks "productive," though few would go into detail. The pair met at Senator Dianne Feinstein's home, and though everyone will speculate on Clinton's interest in a vice presidential slot, the meeting took place hours after Clinton disavowed all independent efforts to secure her a slot on the ticket. Clinton is still slotted to speak to supporters around midday tomorrow.

-- Obama has embedded a top aide at the Democratic National Committee, Lynn Sweet reports for the Sun-Times, and the big changes are already beginning. While DNC chief Howard Dean welcomed Obama loyalist Paul Tewes to the 400 South Capitol Street building yesterday, Tewes brought with him a strict no-PAC money policy; national Democrats' main arm will no longer accept lobbyist money, either, the Boston Globe writes. (Note to Democrats: Good p.r. move in the short run, but Republicans are already pitching stories to reporters questioning why down-ballot Democrats aren't similarly barring those contributions. The DCCC was the first to rule out a similar pledge, The Crypt's Ryan Grim reports. Brace for some bad stories here and there)

-- Meanwhile, Obama is getting hammered on every misstatement he makes, thanks to the watchful hawks in the Republican National Committee's press and research offices, and Marc Ambinder knows why: When the inevitable "senior moment" comes for GOP nominee John McCain, which it has several times for Obama, it will soften the blow and reduce interpretation of the flub as anything more than a mere mistake.

-- McCain, stumping again in Florida yesterday, has already identified one group of swing voters he can woo before November. The campaign's target: Clinton voters uninterested in Obama's message, as the Post's Michael Shear and Jon Cohen report. The keys for McCain will be projecting his maverick image as well as Obama's continued failure to win over white working class voters. Still, Shear and Cohen point out, a huge percentage of Democratic and Republican voters have cast ballots for their party in recent years, bringing the possibility of a seriously split Democratic Party somewhat into question.

-- What's not in question is that Obama might have a serious problem with Latino voters, who backed Clinton over the Illinois senator by a wide margin. Right? Well, maybe not so much. Gallup's daily tracking polls from May showed Obama beating McCain among Latinos by a wide 62%-29% margin, the Los Angeles Times points out. That's bigger than the margin by which Latinos favored John Kerry over President Bush (53%-44%). Suddenly, while some concluded that heavily-Hispanic states like Nevada, New Mexico and Florida were out of reach for the Democratic Party, that conclusion is being reexamined as well.

-- Hero/Goat Of The Day: It depends on which party one supports, but Joe Lieberman is coming to prominence once again as either a hero for bucking partisanship and backing McCain, or a goat for abandoning his own party and expecting to keep his seniority, as the Post writes today. Lieberman, who is said to be open to addressing the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, got a stern talking-to from both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Obama, who cornered him on the Senate floor this week, for taking his former party's nominee to task over issues surrounding Iran and Israel. Earlier this week, Lieberman even hosted a fundraiser for McCain in Washington, which attracted pledges of $2 million.

-- Today On The Trail: Barack Obama flew back to Chicago last night, albeit a little behind his traveling press corps in order to attend the meeting with Clinton, and he's got no public schedule for the entire weekend. Clinton is in Washington with no public events of her own, though she will hold a goodbye reception for staff at her home. McCain is still in Florida, where he will tour the Everglades by air boat, then hold a media availability at Everglades Safari Park in Miami.