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Strategy Memo: The Speech

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DENVER, Colorado -- Good Wednesday morning. What were you doing at 3 a.m.? Hopefully not answering the phone. And apologies for the late posting -- we forgot to hit the publish button. Here's what Washington is watching today:

-- Tuesdays in August mean primary elections, and yesterday Alaska and Florida held their first rounds. In Alaska, Rep. Don Young is clinging to a narrow 150-vote lead over Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell in the Republican primary, while Senator Don Young cruised to re-election with 64% of the vote. In Florida, Republican Rep. Ric Keller survived a surprisingly close primary challenge with just 53% of the vote, while wealthy businessman Tom Rooney won the right to face Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney in November.

-- Rooney was the candidate Republicans in Washington wanted, but other than his narrow 37% to 35% win over State Rep. Gayle Harrell, the GOP didn't have much to celebrate last night. Under investigation in connection to the VECO Corp. scandal, Young is seen as an underdog for re-election if he holds onto his lead. Stevens, too, trails Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich by a wide margin. And Keller has a credible challenger in Florida, meaning another Republican seat could be in trouble.

-- Back to Denver, Hillary Clinton's prime time address last night did something to heal the rift between backers of Barack Obama and those who supported the New York senator. The speech went almost as far as Clinton could have gone in urging her delegates to back her one-time rival. "We are on the same team, and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines," Clinton said. "Barack Obama is my candidate, and he must be our president."

-- Clinton stayed on message, echoing the renewal theme of Day Two, and Obama reportedly loved the speech; Michelle Obama and Joe Biden certainly looked like they were appreciative. But Clinton's address didn't go all the way to fixing the hole the extended primary process ripped in the fabric of the party, the Washington Post's Eli Saslow writes this morning. No matter how great the speech was, he writes, Clinton delegates are still frustrated with their situation.

-- Too, much of the speech revolved around Clinton's own presidential campaign. Thanking her fans and the "sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits," Clinton enumerated the reasons she ran for office in the first place, at one point going more than 800 words without mentioning Obama's name. Clinton also never said Obama was ready to lead, as Tom Bevan pointed out last night. Republicans were quick to point out the same.

-- Meanwhile, those who watched Clinton on television also got to see John McCain doing his best to spend all the money he has before he accepts federal funding for his campaign after his convention in St. Paul. McCain has been remarkably visible this week, giving speeches and staying in the news at least with paid media. That's a departure from what nominees traditionally do during their opponents' conventions, which is taking a few days off the trail (And windsurfing, in one memorable case). Obama has his own plans for a bus tour during the GOP convention, marking the end of what has traditionally been a down week for contenders.

-- Roll Out Of The Day: McCain will dominate the news coverage on Friday, though, as he formally rolls out his vice presidential pick with major rallies scheduled for Ohio, followed by stops in Pennsylvania and Missouri, Politico's Jonathan Martin reports today. Obama's roll out of Joe Biden worked well, though McCain's plan involves more public events together than Obama's first days with the Delaware senator.

-- Today On The Trail: Obama spends his day with veterans and military families on the night his convention will focus on security, both economic and physical, in Billings, Montana. Biden will accept the vice presidential nomination tonight in a prime time address in Denver. McCain has no public events slated.