Presidential election mostly will be about Obama\

The presidential election will be about many things. Mostly, it will be about Barack Obama. Millions of Americans are ready for change. But many aren't comfortable with the man who's calling for it, at least not yet. Obama's ability to reach a comfort threshold with large numbers of those voters - backers of the defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton among them - will have a huge impact on whether he defeats Republican John McCain in November. Both candidates know this full well.
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"The one-sentence strategy for McCain," Galen said, "is to push this question: Who do we trust to run the world in these dangerous times?"

If swing voters are thinking in those terms come the fall, it won't be good news for the still-not-all-that-familiar, 46-year-old, first-term senator from Illinois.

Obama's goal, in turn, is to portray the 71-year-old McCain as a tired figure from the past who would deliver a third Bush term.

"Getting the country's arms around Obama involves a comparison," said Mark Alderman, a Philadelphia attorney who is one of the candidate's leading backers. "In every way, the comparison with McCain is going to drive the situation."

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To those who point to his lack of Washington experience, Obama will stress his judgment, energy and intellect - and hope that prolonged public exposure provides reassurance.

To those who say he's too much like Bush, McCain will talk about his reputation as a maverick and cite the occasions on which he has bucked his party, and the administration, at his own political peril.

"The Democrats want a referendum on Bush and on change," said John Brabender, a Pittsburgh-based Republican consultant who recently worked on presidential campaign of Rudy Giuliani. "The Republicans want a campaign that takes a look under the hood of Barack Obama."


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