A Father's Day weekend and the loss of NBC's Tim Russert has left the political world a little deflated as the week kicks off. But the clock continues to tick away as the vice presidential selections, conventions, debates and election get a little closer every day. Here's some of what's going to be driving the presidential campaign this week:Barack Obama continues to talk abut the economy today in Michigan, a state that has suffered from job losses over the past decade. John McCain has no public events but will be in Texas later in the day to raise money.In private conversations with Democratic fundraisers last week, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe laid out several Electoral College scenarios that do not depend on winning Florida and Ohio, the Associated Press reports. Some states where the campaign is looking to turn blue include Virginia, Georgia, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota. "You have a lot of ways to get to 270," Plouffe told the AP. "Our goal is not to be reliant on one state on November 4th."
A Mason-Dixon poll finds Nevada in play, with John McCain holding a slim 44 percent to 42 percent lead.In a Father's Day appearance at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, Obama called on black fathers to take their responsibilities more seriously, reports CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic. "We need fathers to recognize that responsibility doesn't just end at conception. That doesn't make you a father," Obama told parishioners. "What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child- any fool can have a child. That's doesn't make you father. It's the courage to raise a child that makes you a father."The debate over debates (or town hall meetings) continues as the McCain campaign is blaming Obama's camp for failing to agree to their original proposal to hold ten joint town hall meetings between now and the conventions. The Obama campaign countered by offering up two, more structured events which prompted McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds to tell the USA Today, "Barack Obama requires more preconditions to meet directly with John McCain and American voters than he does with Iran's (President) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with McCain to discuss the war and plans to talk with Obama soon as well. He says Iraqis have no preference in the election, saying, "I leave that judgment for the American people."Obama says that if he's elected, the White House will be getting an upgrade in its athletic facilities. "I hear there's a bowling alley and obviously that hasn't gone too well. So we're getting rid of the bowling alley and replacing it with a basketball court in the White House.''The Los Angeles Times reports that with Hillary Clinton out of the race, Obama is having an easier time attracting the support of women than some observers predicted: "Obama has taken a wide lead among female voters, belying months of political chatter and polls of primary voters suggesting that disappointment over Clinton's defeat might block the Illinois senator from enjoying his party's historic edge among women."Obama spokeswoman (and former journalist) Linda Douglass tells the Washington Post that anyone looking to find out about who's on the vice presidential short list won't get anything from her. She says the candidate has told her he won't speak about it with her. "That was so the people who are trying to claw me every day won't get anything," she said. "I expect to be kept in the dark."