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Starting Gate: No Day At The Beach

Barack Obama heads to Hawaii this morning for a week-long break, the first opportunity he's had for a little rest and relaxation since in what's been a Bataan-like march through 2008. But even as he heads off to the surf, he's finding that dealing with the Clintons is still no day at the beach.

Winding down the day, Obama found himself fending off questions about what Hillary wants – or more precisely, what both Clintons want. The news has been filled in recent days with reports and speculation about the role the former first family will play at the DNC convention at the end of this month.

Tension is clearly in the air, first displayed by Bill Clinton in an interview in which he appeared to find it difficult to find any words of praise for Obama. That was ratcheted up by Hillary Clinton's comments to supports acknowledging the difficulty of finding reconciliation after a very tough primary battle. Added to that combustible mixture are questions about whether Clinton's name might be placed in nomination.

Obama insisted yesterday that these tensions are being blown up by the press. "There hasn't been controversy other than what you guys are projecting right now," he told reporters traveling with him last night. Likewise, Clinton herself sounded a note of unity in an online chat with supporters yesterday, saying, "I am completely committed to helping Senator Obama become the next President of the United States and urging all of you to do the same."

Last night came word that Bill Clinton had been offered a speaking slot at the convention and, as it stands now, it looks like she will speak on Tuesday night and the former president on Wednesday. That might help momentarily but for Obama, the problems go far beyond the convention.

Even if the Clinton do and say all the right things from now until the election, many of the New York Senator's staunchest supporters could be harder to bring on board. There is murmuring among some that Obama has not done enough to help Clinton retire her campaign debt. Many still feel that the nomination was somehow stolen from Clinton and others don't think Obama can win. It may be a tiny slice of the party but it is a vocal one. And how he deals with the Clintons from here on out will always be a tricky and touchy issue for Obama.

Around The Track

  • John McCain's campaign is returning $50,000 raised by a Florida bundler because some of the funds came from foreign nationals.
  • Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty gets the New York Times treatment today.
  • Columnist Peggy Noonan praises Obama's strategy but warns against arrogance: "Because they're young and they've never been in power and it takes time to know what you don't know. The presidential-type seal with OBAMA on it, the sometimes over-the-top rhetoric about healing the earth and parting the seas. They pick the biggest, showiest venue for the Berlin speech, the Brandenburg Gate, just like a president, not realizing people would think: Ya gotta earn that one, kid.
  • After the campaign shake-up last month, McCain's campaign appears to be making headway on the ground game, the Politico reports.