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Obama's body language, too, has changed. The confident, inspiring early leader has given away to an often hesitant, sometimes-eye-shifting candidate trying to one-up his opponent, news cycle by news cycle.
All of this feeds the McCain effort to present Obama as uncertain and inexperienced.
Obama is not ready to enter intensive care. He still must be rated the favorite in November. But in the weeks before the Democratic convention, he badly needs to take a first-principles review of the issues he is stressing and his manner of presentation.
There is one other factor which could work against Obama. Outside the African-American community, his strongest support is among young voters. Young voters canvass, turn out for rallies, and lend excitement to the campaign. But on election day, they notoriously vote in percentages lower than any other voting group. Obama's campaign must keep them energized and engaged. They should see "Yes we can!" as relating directly to them.
Obama is convincing when he is large and strategic, not small and partisan. Right now he is trapped in daily exchanges of partisan combat, which diminish him. Time to get back to where he started and to recapture an initiative he has lost.
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