Barack Obama must be wondering how the worst press he’s received practically all campaign season came down just before today’s primaries — his chance to close the deal. He can look inward for answers. The big story, of course, is the meeting an Obama advisor, Austin Goolsbee, had with a Canadian official about NAFTA. After Canadian TV reported that Goolsbee had assured the Canadian official that basically all Obama’s tough talk on NAFTA was political maneuvering, the Obama campaign denied the meeting ever took place. Then, on cue, a Canadian memo surfaced confirming that the meeting did take place. The Obama campaign’s evasive answers and qualified denials have failed to placate a press corps determined to prove they’re holding Obama accountable. At the same time, a former Obama supporter, Antoin Rezko, begins his trial in Chicago for influence peddling. While nothing unethical or illegal has been proven about Obama’s relationship with Rezko, the fact that new details are still emerging raises doubts about Obama’s previous claims that he has divulged everything about their association. None of this meshes well with Obama’s claim to be running on a new kind of politics, and, from looking at the polls showing a Clinton rebound, voters are taking notice.
• Michael Crowley holds up World News Tonight to show that Clinton is enjoying her best news cycle in a month. [Stump/New Republic]
• Andrew Romano doesn’t thinks there is much to the Goolsbee accusations, but believes even the hint of wavering on NAFTA could hurt Obama in Ohio tonight. [Swamper/Newsweek]
• Byron York thinks the Obama campaign’s evasiveness on the Goolsbee affair will keep the story alive, though he’s unsure whether it will significantly damage him. [National Review]
• John Nichols calls on the Obama campaign to take the NAFTA story more seriously and worries about the harm that “planting the seeds of distrust” on trade will do to him in the general election, if he makes it that far. [Nation]
• Josh Marshall notes that a YouTube clip of the Canadian Parliament that Obama sent around yesterday actually supports a key accusation against him. [Talking Points Memo]
• Vaughn Ververs writes that Obama is on the defensive when he should be making a final push in Texas and that his handling of the Goolsbee meeting is troubling. [Horserace/CBS]
• Aswini Anburajan details Obama’s testy exchange with the press corps yesterday, who accused him of dodging questions about the Goolsbee meeting and Rezko. [First Read/MSNBC]
• A Post editorial looks at Obama on Goolsbee and Rezko and at Clinton on tax returns and concludes nobody is being quite honest. [NYP]
• Catrin Einhorn reports that the Obama campaign is interested enough in the Rezko trial that they have a staffer taking detailed notes at jury selection, though supposedly she won’t stay for the whole trial. [Caucus/NYT] —Dan Amira
For a complete guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.