Free Media

That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.

John McCain’s campaign plans to rely heavily on “free media” in this fall’s general election, to make up for a presumed disadvantage in fund-raising. That means appearances on “Today,” “Face the Nation” and “60 Minutes,” but it is also a sign that entertainment will be tapped like never before. McCain already has proven that he’s adept at doing late-night and even daytime talk shows, but the campaign could see some genuine unusual venues and surreal moments.

Just look at last night’s “Colbert Report,” which drew not just scheduled guest Hillary Clinton  but Barack Obama and John Edwards. It was only last year that the show was treated as somewhat of a hot potato, with Nancy Pelosi and  Rahm Emanuel advising congressional newcomers against it.  Now it’s a stop in the pre-primary media tour.

Obama is learning the game, as he is scheduled to be a guest on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on  Monday night, the eve of the Pennsylvania primary. That’s a tactic that has worked well for the Clinton campaign, as she has appeared on late-night on the eve of other key races. In fact, after her wins in Texas and Ohio, an Obama donor complained to me that the candidate didn’t make full use of these pop cultural moments, and was all but absent from late-night in the days leading up to the contests.

Later today I’ll post a story on another curiosity of this cycle: Candidates appearing on “Access Hollywood,” “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra” and the like.

Colbert’s Night:
The best line from “The Colbert Report” last night came from John Edwards, on his hesitation to endorse. “On the other hand, I don’t want James Carville to bite me.”

LA Cafe: Tina Daunt of the Los Angeles Times writes about one of the Westwide’s most popular salons: Heather Thomas Brittenham’s “L.A. Cafe.” Daunt calls it “a mandatory meeting place for movie producers, progressives and
activists from across the country eager to make a Hollywood connection.”

Surrogates on the Trail: Today in Pennsylvania, Rob Reiner and Heather Tom are stumping for Hillary Clinton, while Maria Bello and Hill Harper are out for Barack Obama. Edward Norton also is stumping for Obama.

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