from the Tuesday print Sun-Times.
CHICAGO--With 99 days until election day, and an overseas swing out of the way, Barack Obama's campaign has some big items on the "to do" list.
"It really is a sprint at this point," said Obama senior adviser Anita Dunn on Monday.
• Select a vice presidential running mate. While the selection team is narrowing the choices to present to Obama -- Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was the latest buzz on Politico.com -- a team at the Chicago headquarters is getting ready for the rollout. The newly minted vice presidential hopeful will find waiting for him or her a chief of staff, Patti Solis Doyle; an advance team; press spokesman, scheduler and plane.
• Gameplan the Denver Democratic nominating convention. Obama's Aug. 28 acceptance speech at Invesco Field is in place, but the other elements have to be finalized such as the platform, other speakers and Obama's "grand entrance" in the run up to Denver. "All of that is being worked out now," said Obama top adviser Valerie Jarrett on Monday.
Obama's speechwriters are turning their attention to his acceptance speech. Obama's speech at the 2004 convention in Boston skyrocketed him to the fame he leveraged to be the Democratic nominee.
• Prepare for three debates with John McCain. The debates are Sept. 26 at the University of Mississippi at Oxford, Oct. 7 at Belmont University at Nashville and Oct. 15 at Hofstra University at Hempstead, N.Y. There is a vice presidential debate Oct. 2 at Washington University in St. Louis.
• Fund raise. Obama fund-raising director Julianna Smoot and finance chair Penny Pritzker were in Denver on Monday. Their big donors and fund-raisers are getting VIP treatment in Denver, from access to top hotels, to floor passes, to exclusive parties.
Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Jarrett are the headliners for a $1,000-per-person fund-raiser in Chicago on Wednesday. Raising or donating $10,000 buys a place at a "political and policy briefing" Thursday in Chicago featuring campaign manager David Plouffe, top strategist David Axelrod, Pritzker and other campaign leaders. The policy briefings are in the afternoon followed by dinner with senior staffers.
• Vacation. While in London, Obama said he planned to take a week off in August. Michelle Obama on Monday said yes when asked if she was looking forward to a vacation in Hawaii. The Honolulu Star Bulletin reported earlier this month that Obama will be in his native state for a fund-raiser Aug. 12.
The Honolulu visit will offer the campaign yet another chance to revisit Obama's "story" as the campaign moves to underscore his unique biography. "Many people aren't paying attention to the election until it gets closer," Jarrett said. "He still is a relative newcomer to the national stage."
• Define McCain. The campaign is deconstructing McCain's image as a maverick and reframing him as the conservative he is, but that is a big job because "a lot of people attribute to him all kinds of progressive values,'' said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Obama campaign national co-chair.