ALPHA OBAMA: Vive La France!

PARIS (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama expected to spend just enough time in Paris on Friday for talks with the French president and a joint news conference, not a rousing speech like the one he delivered in Berlin. Most newspapers headlined Obama’s pending arrival, with the leftist daily Liberation giving a full front-page spread to “Obamania.” After Berlin, where Obama drew some 200,000 spectators for a speech Thursday, the conservative newspaper Le Figaro wrote that Obama is not looking to draw crowds in Paris “because he knows his huge popularity in our country could ill serve him with a part the American centrist electorate.”

That was a reference to the negative image France had for years among some Americans because of Paris’ vocal opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Only one venue was on Obama’s Paris schedule — the presidential Elysee Palace. President Nicolas Sarkozy greeted Obama as the 46-year-old senator stepped from his car and, after a round of posing for photos, the two disappeared inside the building. A joint news conference was scheduled immediately following their meeting.

Sarkozy, a conservative, had rushed back from a summit in southwestern France to host Obama. Although Sarkozy and Obama are on different sides of the political fence, the French leader seems to have a soft spot for the U.S. senator. “Obama? He’s my buddy,” Le Figaro quoted the president as saying before Obama’s arrival. “I am the only Frenchman who knows him.” Sarkozy, elected in 2007, first met Obama in 2006 while a candidate for the French presidency. Sarkozy offered considerably less to Obama’s Republican rival, John McCain during a March visit to Paris. After 45 minutes of talks, McCain was left on his own, fielding questions from reporters in the courtyard of the Elysee. MORE

UK GUARDIAN: He Came, He Saw, He Sprinkled Us With Stardust. Even Gordon Smiled
INQUIRER: For John McCain, here’s some good news. Barack Obama is home from overseas. There are still 100 days left to go. The polls remain close. And the contrast in political imagery has to get better. It can’t get worse. Consider the visuals from Thursday: One man speaking in Berlin to 200,000 cheering Germans about a vision of America reaching out to the world, while his opponent goes to a German restaurant in Ohio.
GALLUP POLL: A Gallup daily tracking poll releasd Saturday found that Obama had stretched his lead over McCain among national registered voters to seven points — 48 percent to 41 percent — tying his widest previous lead, notched in early June. Gallup.com says in an analysis: “Obama’s particularly large leads over McCain in Friday and Saturday’s tracking suggest that the massive publicity surrounding Obama’s speech at the Victory Tower in Berlin on Friday — the only major public event of the trip — and coverage of Obama’s meetings with the heads of state in France and Germany may have tilted U.S. voter preferences more in his favor.”

edwards_breckgirls_1.jpgHARTFORD COURANT: A story involving her husband John Edwards has been developing since late last year. You may grimace when you read that it’s been coming from the National Enquirer. Early last week, Enquirer reporters observed Edwards skulking his way into the Beverly Hills Hotel, where they heard he was to rendezvous with the mother of his new baby.

Edwards serpentined around the hotel, before reaching the rooms where both his alleged paramour and baby were staying, according to the Enquirer, which appears to have had a platoon of reporters in strategic spots. Edwards probably thought he would not be noticed when he left at 2:30 in the morning, so he alighted upon the lobby from an elevator. Reporters greeted him when he stepped out.

The former presidential aspirant and vice presidential nominee took refuge in a men’s room until hotel security could escort him out and block the five reporters who wanted a few words with him. Edwards later issued a brief statement criticizing the tabloids. He didn’t address the love child story, though it was the right time to deny it if it isn’t true. Whether it’s true or not, his behavior was bizarre for a potential attorney general. MORE

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