It’s all in how you spin it. Somewhere along the line coming out of the Potomac results, Hillary Clinton got taken out of the conversation. McCain started bagging out the notion of hope, and Obama ignored his more pressing rival entirely, slamming McCain’s “failed policies of the past.” All the while, Hillary ignored the Potomac primary results entirely to concentrate on Texas and Ohio.

Don’t mention the H word: If you happened to be watching TV last night at, oh, around ten o’clock, you may have witnessed the moment when, symbolically, the presidential primaries ended — and the general election began. Out in Madison, Wisconsin, in the speech celebrating his clean and decisive sweep of the Potomac primary, Barack Obama ignored his current opponent and trained his fire instead on the man who may stand as his future rival, John McCain, arguing that “his priorities … are bound to the failed policies of the past.” A few minutes later, from a stage in Alexandria, Virginia, McCain belittled Obama as blatantly as possible without ever mentioning him by name: “To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.” And where in all this, you might well wonder, was Hillary Clinton? In El Paso, Texas, imploring, in effect, “Hey! Remember me?” — Heilemann, The Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine

Hillary’s in denial: All campaigns spin setbacks. But for Clinton, it’s an especially tricky question – and one polls suggest she may have to answer again Tuesday when Hawaii and Wisconsin vote. Should she gracefully concede defeats, as she did when she came in third in the Iowa caucuses? Or ignore losses for fear of drawing more attention to them and to her slide from the frontrunner status she held just two months ago? She’s increasingly choosing the denial strategy. — Politico

1st daughters face off: A recent piece from the Boston Globe—which is accompanied by a photo of Chelsea with Hillary that does convey great warmth—says that Chelsea is becoming more comfortable on the trail. If so, that’s great for Chelsea. Maybe if she gets to find her own voice, people won’t be so skeptical about it. — The XX Factor

Obama’s Iraq war fairytale: It was a cool, damp afternoon when Barack Obama arrived to speak at an antiwar rally in Chicago’s Federal Plaza on October 2, 2002. The scene was ragtag. A metal tower had been festooned with strips of white cloth upon which rally attendees wrote personalized peace messages. Protesters danced to a band featuring kazoos and a marching skeleton. Jesse Jackson was to be the day’s marquee speaker. But it was Obama, wearing a war is not an option lapel pin, who stole the show. Obama’s 926-word speech denounced a “dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.” The crowd was electrified. “I stood there and listened to him give that speech and said, ‘Who is this guy?'” — Michael Crowly, The New Republic

Barack’s ammo: These victories give Obama ammunition for future states because they show he can build a coalition across race, gender, and income for the general election. After the Obama sweep, one Democratic strategist who backs him speculated (salivated) that a big-name Democratic official would call on Clinton to pack in her campaign. Do it for the sake of the party, such a pooh-bah might argue, so that Democrats can avoid an ugly and protracted primary fight and unite against John McCain. Such a person probably won’t be able to make the case. The party isn’t in peril—Democrats tell pollsters they’ll be happy with either nominee—and with Huckabee interfering with McCain’s cakewalk, the fear of an organized GOP offensive is diminished. — John Dickerson, Slate

Hang on, he’s not a done deal: Hillary Clinton has been on a bit of a losing streak lately – and that streak continued last night. Clinton lost all three contests in the so-called “Potomac Primary” by large margins. Unsurprisingly, there have been stories about the bottom dropping out of her campaign – and we should expect them to continue given last night’s results. However, I respectfully submit that all of this talk is a bit hasty. Not necessarily wrong. Just hasty. Of course, she has lost the seven contests since Super Tuesday – the District of Columbia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Virginia, and Washington have all gone to Obama. However, if we understand the Democratic race as the mobilization of demographic groups – none of these losses should come as a surprise, including the states she lost by a large margin. Each of the seven post-Super Tuesday states played heavily to at least one of Obama’s several strengths. — Jay Cost, RealClearPolitics

Now that’s zazzle: A large chunk of this presidential election is shaping up to be about tone: big change vs. little change, hope vs. experience. To see how these ideas are manifesting themselves among voters, one needs to look no further than Zazzle.com, the online site where people can design their own bumper stickers, buttons, and t-shirts. —TechPresident

McCain changes aim: After months in which Republicans have trained most of their fire at Hillary Clinton, Mr McCain appears to have decided that she is now no longer his most likely opponent. Although not mentioning Mr Obama by name, he picked on a word that falls from the Democrat’s lips so often that it has become almost a trademark. — The Times UK

Inside the Clinton shakeup: I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last two years reporting on “Hillaryland,” as Clinton’s inner circle is known, for pieces like this one and this one, and also, infamously, for one that did not run when GQ magazine opted to kill it after learning of the Clinton campaign’s displeasure (full story here). The latter piece focused on the inner workings of Clinton’s presidential campaign and Solis Doyle’s controversial role in it, and I’ll draw on what I learned then to try to add perspective to recent happenings. For the many people in and around Washington who obsess over the latest machinations in Hillaryland, the firing of Solis Doyle—and she was fired, several insiders confirm—is a big deal, but for reasons somewhat different from what the media coverage has suggested. — Joshua Green, The Atlantic

McCain’s a lemon: John McCain’s courage under torture during the Vietnam War deserves everyone’s gratitude and respect. But as a national candidate, the stumpy, uptight McCain is a lemon. Oy, that weaselly voice and those dated locutions and stilted intonations. Who needs a weird old coot with a short fuse in the White House? This isn’t a smart game plan for the war on terror. — Salon

Peter Fray

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