Notes From The J.V. Squad: A 4:45 pm ET Call Time

COLUMBUS, OH -- Sometimes it's good to be on the junior varsity squad.

We arrived in Columbus, Ohio last night to find that (a) our baggage had neglected to make the trip with us and (b) McCain would not have a public event until late tonight -- 7:00 pm ET, when he speaks with Lance Armstrong at a Livestrong cancer forum. So most of us have been hanging out the lobby of the Renaissance hotel in downtown Columbus watching the orgy of cable coverage devoted to Obama's overseas trip. I noticed that McCain, in a consolation interview with MSNBC, confirmed that he, too, had begun to plan for his presidential transition.

Paraphrasing Lloyd Bridges: I certainly picked the right day to leave my battery charger on "Straight Talk Air."

We head to Denver late tonight. Tomorrow, McCain will make a short hop to the Aspen Institute and chat, very briefly, with the Dalai Lama. This is not a PR stunt; McCain accepted the invitation as a favor to the Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson. Nice photos, though.

The McCain campaign is obviously happy with the new surveys from Quinnipiac showing a competitive race in several key battleground states, including and especially Michigan and Colorado. C. Cillizza makes a point of noting that the data from the new surveys does not explain McCain's more solid numbers. I have a theory. McCain's emphasis on Iraq and the elite's conclusion that the Surge was a success, combined with the campaign's push on energy, has made weakly-partisan Republicans feel more comfortable and confident about their nominee.