The media’s magnifying glass is slowly shifting its focus back on McCain now that they’ve collectively dismissed Hillary Clinton’s chances, even if she hasn’t…

Yesterday, the GOP nominee was forced to ask a prominent Republican consultant, Craig Shirley, to leave his official campaign role after Politico revealed Shirley’s dual role consulting for the campaign and for an independent “527” group opposing the Democratic presidential candidates. McCain is also shaping up for a meeting with the all powerful NRA today. McCain has had a testy relationship with the influential organisation, but they represent a crucial support base that he desperately needs to win over.

Bush v Obama smackdown. In the escalating smackfest between President George W. Bush and Barack Obama it’s hard to know who needs whom more. Bush is struggling to keep his presidency relevant, and injecting himself into the presidential campaign is a sure way to do that. At the same time, Obama is happy for any opportunity to tie Bush to Republican nominee-to-be John McCain’s side. For Bush, there’s no faster way into the campaign to succeed him (and to reinvigorating his presidency) that via the issue of Israeli security. — Time

McCain’s conflict of interest. Shirley’s firm, Shirley & Bannister Associates, was paid more than $22,000 by McCain for work this February and March to win conservative support. John McCain’s campaign asked a prominent Republican consultant, Craig Shirley, to leave his official campaign role Thursday after a Politico inquiry about Shirley’s dual role consulting for the campaign and for an independent “527” group opposing the Democratic presidential candidates. The campaign also released a new conflict of interest policy barring such arrangements. — Ben Smith, Politico

Is Obama cynical enough? After eight years of the Clintons and eight more of Karl Rove, there’s no doubt Obama’s queasiness on matters of political expediency holds a certain appeal. “The politically correct, in quotes, thing to do would be to throw the guy off the boat the first chance you had,” says one Obama confidant. “No one doubts Hillary would have done that.” He did not mean this as a compliment. On the other hand, there’s clearly some amount of cynicism, calculation, and ruthlessness that’s required of any successful candidate. Which makes it worth asking: How much of these qualities does Barack Obama possess–and is it enough? — The New Republic

Clinton can have VP if she wants it. Does Hillary Clinton want to be the Democrats vice presidential candidate? Probably. Could she get on the ticket by dropping out before the last states vote on June 3rd? Definitely not. Does Barack Obama want her on the ticket? Absolutely not. Can he stop her if she wants it? Probably not. Why not? Super delegates are why not. — Bob Beckel,RealClearPolitics

GOP nominees faces the NRA. John McCain has had a rocky relationship with the National Rifle Association over the years, with his support for closing the gun show loophole at the top of the organization’s list of grievances and his shepherding of campaign finance reform a close second. On Friday McCain addresses the NRA’s annual convention in Louisville. Perhaps the NRA is ready to kiss and make up in order to rally around the Republican nominee? — ABC News

Peter Fray

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