Mark Halperin’s three things to watch for in presidential politics for Monday, July 21:
1) Watch Barack Obama, who made an early-morning landing in Baghdad today. The Illinois Senator is expected to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and other senior Iraqi leaders today. The Senator is also scheduled to have dinner with Gen. Petraeus this evening. Obama has had no traveling press with him so far, but will be joined shortly by reporters who left Chicago in the Obama campaign plane Sunday night. Watch to see how the Senator and his campaign staff stage manage his trip to Baghdad, and what kind of pictures they get back to America today.
2) Keep an eye on John McCain, out on the morning show trail today. In Obama’s absence, the McCain camp plans to kick off a swing state tour with a picnic at the Maine Military Museum today. The Arizona Senator is also expected to be lining up trips to Colorado, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania to emphasize jobs, energy and health care throughout the rest of the week. Pay attention to how the McCain camp and the Republicans bracket Senator Obama’s trip throughout the day and continue to watch to see how the McCain camp tries to get into the coverage mix.
3) Pay attention to how the weekday executive producers, anchors, and other people in cable and broadcast television handle the first weekday of Obama’s overseas trip. Take note of how much coverage they give it, and whether the reporting is booster coverage or more skeptical analysis. Watch whether all of that produces a big win for Obama, as many believe it will.