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TAMPA, Fla. — Barack Obama radiated confidence and John McCain displayed the grit of an underdog Monday as the presidential rivals reached for the finish line of a two-year marathon with a burst of campaigning across battlegrounds from the Atlantic Coast to Arizona.

“We are one day away from change in America,” said Obama, a Democrat seeking to become the first black president _ a dream not nearly as distant on election eve as it once was.

McCain, too, promised to turn the page of the era of George W. Bush, and he warned about his opponent’s intentions. “Sen. Obama is in the far left lane” of politics, he said. “He’s more liberal than a guy who calls himself a Socialist and that’s not easy.”

Republican running mate Sarah Palin was even more pointed as she campaigned in Ohio. “Now is not the time to experiment with socialism,” she said. “Our opponent’s plan is just for bigger government.”

Late-season attacks aside, Obama led in virtually all the pre-election polls in a race where economic concerns dominated and the war in Iraq was pushed _ however temporarily _ into the background.

Early voting, more than 29 million ballots cast in 30 states, suggested an advantage for Obama as well. Official statistics showed Democrats who have already voted outnumbered Republicans in North Carolina, Colorado, Florida and Iowa, all of which went for President Bush in 2004.

Democrats also anticipated gains in the House and in the Senate, although Republicans battled to hold their losses to a minimum and a significant number of races were rated as tossups in the campaign’s final hours.

By their near-non-stop attention to states that voted Republican in 2004, both Obama and McCain acknowledged the Democrats’ advantage in the presidential race.

The two rivals both began their days in Florida, a traditionally Republican state with 27 electoral votes where polls make it close.

Obama drew 9,000 or so at a rally in Jacksonville, while across the state, a crowd estimated at roughly 1,000 turned out for McCain.

One day before the election, no battleground state was left unattended.

Source: AP

College students on the NAACP’s ‘Vote Hard’ bus tour encourage people to vote in the George Washington Carver Homes housing project in Selma, Ala.

WASHINGTON — The national and state Democratic parties are spending far more heavily than their Republican counterparts on field operations, after years of ceding the advantage in ground-level organizing to the Republican voter-turnout machine.

Finance records show Democrats have hired five to 10 times more paid field staff in swing states than the Republicans.

Democrats have set up 770 offices nationwide, including in some of the most Republican areas of traditionally “red” states — like one in Goshen, Ind., a manufacturing town with a population of about 30,000. It is the seat of Elkhart County, which voted for President George W. Bush in 2004 by more than 40 percentage points. By comparison, Republicans have about 370 offices nationwide.

The focus on the ground-game is a change from past election cycles, when the Democratic party’s prime objective was getting as many broadcast ads on the air as possible. In recent campaigns, Democrats outsourced their ground organization to outside groups, such as labor unions and liberal activists.

The year’s change is made possible by Democratic Sen. Barack Obama’s historic fundraising. His campaign is doing its own advertising, taking that pricey burden off the parties. Campaign-finance data show the Democratic Party has essentially ceded television advertising to Sen. Obama’s campaign. In 2004, the Democratic Party spent nearly $120 million on advertising in support of then-nominee John Kerry, compared to only $500,000 this fall.

And the Obama campaign also is pouring money into state-party budgets. The senator’s presidential campaign along with the Democratic National Committee have put at least $112 million into state parties in recent months, a review of campaign-finance filings shows. They have poured $6 million into both North Carolina and Virginia and even sent $1.8 million into Montana — nearly two dollars for every resident of that state.

We really feel that this election is going to come down to our ground organization and what happens in the final days of the campaign,” said Jen O’Malley, the Obama campaign’s battleground-states director.

Four years ago, the party’s get-out-the-vote effort was largely run by an independent group named America Coming Together, or ACT, which was financed with $164 million from rich liberals but legally prevented from coordinating with their candidate. The group was criticized by some Democrats for not reaching deep enough into the outer suburbs and rural areas, where Republicans were victorious. ACT was also legally restricted when it came to mentioning candidates, and was fined $775,000 after allegedly attacking President Bush in its voter drives.

Republicans say their volunteer-based turnout machinery from 2004 is intact and more than twice as productive as last cycle in making phone calls and house calls. “This operation is working on all eight cylinders,” said Rich Beeson, the political director of the Republican National Committee and a veteran of the 2004 effort. “It’s doing what it was designed to do.” The party has been honing the same model for eight years, developing veteran volunteers who often work full-time without pay.

Republican spending on field staff has grown just slightly since 2004, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis covering reports from the presidential campaigns, as well as national and state parties. The GOP spent an estimated $22 million on personnel from June 1 to Oct. 15, compared to $19 million over the same period in 2004.

Democrats have increased their staff expenditures from $30 million to $56 million — and they employed an estimated 4,500 workers making more than $1,500 a month as of mid-October, the latest information available. Sen. McCain and the Republicans had about 1,100 at that point.

The expansion was made possible by Sen. Obama’s decision to decline public financing for his campaign, freeing himself from its spending caps. Instead he has relied on the legions of supporters who have already contributed over $600 million.

Sen. McCain is limited to spending the $84.1 million he accepted from the government after his September nomination. Sen. Obama is on track to spend more on television advertising than any candidate in history, likely spending more than $100 million on ads in October alone.

Source: WSJ

CNN

MIAMI (AP) — With two days remaining until Election Day, Jay-Z and Sean “Diddy” Combs told voters in South Florida not to be scared away from the polls by long lines.

“It’s bigger than us,” Combs said. “We have to do it for our children, we have to do it for the people that died for us to have the right to vote.”

Combs and Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, appeared before a crowd of about 800 at the Chester Robinson Athletic Center at Florida Memorial University for a “Last Chance for Change” rally Sunday afternoon.

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, music executive Kevin Liles and fellow recording artist Mary J. Blige also joined them at the get-out-the-vote effort for Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

“We stood in line to get the new Lil’ Wayne CD,” Liles said. “We stood in line to get a new pair of Jordans. We stood in line to get in here. So we ain’t afraid of no lines.”

The event was more of a campaign rally than hip-hop extravaganza. None of the artists actually performed on stage, instead using their time to stump for the Democratic nominee. A DJ played as the crowd waited for the group to arrive, and a gospel choir and college step teams also performed.

“We have been doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result,” Blige said. “Please do something different. Barack Obama is a true example of something different. He’s a true example of something our children can have in the future, what they can look at and say: ‘Wow, we can really, really do something. We can really, really be something.'”

When an announcer asked if anyone in the crowd had already voted, several attendees threw their hands in the air, waved blue campaign signs and screamed.

More than 2 million of Florida’s 11.2 million registered voters had already cast their ballots by Sunday morning, according to the state Division of Elections Web site. As of Saturday in Miami-Dade County, more than 300,000 had gone to the polls, according to county statistics. Early voting in the state ended Sunday.

Combs, who bounced on stage wearing an Obama T-shirt and sunglasses, has long worked to increase young voter turnout. Four years ago, he was part of the “Vote or Die” campaign and launched the nonpartisan group Citizen Change.

“I think we just really reinforced what they already knew,” Jay-Z said after the event. “It energized them.”

One attendee, 36-year-old Rebecca Vaughns, said Election Day would be especially sweet for her. The Miami resident, who was wearing a black Obama T-shirt and had a likeness of the nominee shaved in the back of her head, said she had been saving a giant chocolate “O” in her freezer for months, waiting for Nov. 4.

“It’s not about black or white,” Vaughn’s said, “It’s about the fact that this country is in a hole.”

Fort Lauderdale resident Joyce Downing, 53, sat in the back of the stuffy arena before the rally started, wearing a red Obama T-shirt. Downing said she waited five hours a week ago to vote in an election she called an “awakening.”

“Although I’ve voted as long as I’ve been eligible, this is the most exciting election I’ve been able to participate in,” she said.

Source: AP

 

 

Talk about running up the score. Florida now looms as the Democratic firewall on Election Day. Thanks to the disproportionate effect of the economic crisis on the Sunshine State, Republicans are in danger of losing the one state that could block any chances for an Electoral College victory.

I firmly believe that Florida is the most representative of the nation as a whole. Presidents are more successful if they win Florida. I am impressed and moved that Barack Obama seems to understand Florida’s significance — for winning and for governing.

There is perhaps no better indicator for the outcome of this presidential election than how Obama is pinning down John McCain in Florida. A few facts, courtesy of the Arizona Republic:

  • Six of Florida’s metropolitan areas ranked in the nation’s 20 worst for foreclosures in the second quarter. Broward and Miami-Dade counties had 10,000 foreclosures last month alone.
  • In 2004, Democrat John Kerry had 14 offices and about 100 paid staffers in Florida. This year, Obama has 60 offices and about 500 paid staffers.
  • From May to September, McCain led in 25 of the 41 polls taken in Florida, with four ties. But since October, Obama has led in 11 of the 14 Florida polls, with seven of them outside the margin of error.
  • From Oct. 6 to Sunday, McCain ran 5,702 TV ads in Florida’s largest markets, according to Nielsen Media Research. In the same period, Obama ran 18,909 TV ads.
  • As he has in most states, Obama has outraised McCain in campaign contributions in Florida. But the $3 million margin, $17 million to $14 million, is among the smallest in the swing states.
  • Florida has voted for a Democrat only once since 1980. President George W. Bush won the state by 381,000 votes four years ago.
  • For decades, Democrats have led in voter registrations in Florida. This year, they have 650,000 more registered voters than Republicans do. That margin is nearly double the margin the party had in the 2000 and 2004 elections.
  • About a quarter of all the state’s voters are in southeastern Florida, in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Democrats, who have a nearly 600,000-voter edge there, must win big to offset the many Republican-leaning counties elsewhere.
  • Of the 1.2 million voters who have voted early so far, 640,000 of them are registered Democrats, compared with 361,000 registered Republicans. Historically, the GOP has led in early and absentee voting.

Source: CQPolitics

Trick or Treat

Pull baby pull!!

Put Shopping First!

GOP Patriotism

Go Navy!

Stab Baby, Stab!

to see active view click here

CNN

WASHINGTON – In the final weekend of a long race for the White House, Barack Obama promised to heal America’s political divisions while rival John McCain fought to hold on to Republican-leaning states and pledged to score an upset.

For Obama, buoyed by record campaign donations and encouraging poll numbers, it was a time for soaring rhetoric and forays into Republican territory. “We have a righteous wind at our back,” the Democrat said Saturday.

McCain saw the weekend as a final opportunity to persuade voters to prove the polls and pundits wrong and sweep him into office.

“We’re a few points down but we’re coming back,” he told supporters in Virginia.

Obama campaigned Saturday in Nevada, Colorado and Missouri, all states that voted for President Bush four years ago, while McCain struggled to keep Virginia from voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1964.

McCain also made a quick sidetrip to New York City and an appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” where he joked about his campaign and his latest plan to win over voters.

“I thought I might try a strategy called the reverse maverick. That’s where I’d do whatever anybody tells me,” McCain said. If that failed, he quipped, “I’d go to the double maverick. I’d just go totally berserk and freak everybody out.”

Both men appealed to supporters to turn out on Election Day, saying the stakes could scarcely be higher.

“If you give me your vote on Tuesday, we won’t just win this election — together, we will change this country and change the world,” Obama said in a nationwide Democratic radio address.

Vice President Dick Cheney endorsed McCain, saying Americans “cannot afford the high tax liberalism of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.”

Obama, campaigning in Colorado, pounced on the remark, saying McCain had earned the endorsement through supporting the Bush administration’s failed social and economic policies.

“Bush and Cheney have dug a deep hole,” Obama said. “Now they’re trying to hand the shovel to McCain.”

An Associated Press-Yahoo News national poll of likely voters showed Obama ahead, 51 to 43, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. McCain’s campaign says its internal polling shows the gap closing.

http://www.o2bama.com/

The big worry is that the Republicans will attempt to steal this election. By cheating to get in George Bush – we get a lower quality candidate – or more in this election – it’s the best person to lead the country in these economic times. McCain’s view is backward looking, at best he would have made a better president back in 2000, but George W/Rove dirty tricks sealed his fate. In this election he has a person as his VP, who has been deemed unqualified to hold higher office, by the majority voting public. To steal the election – would send the wrong message to the world and put America on a course, which it may not recover from for some time. John McCain has surrounded himself with lobbyists, all lobbyist can’t be bad, but it seems that his focus will be on the interests of these lobbyist over the interests of the average American. These include oil lobbyist, of which he plans to give EXXON Mobil a tax credit – although they made record profits – over giving the poorest workers, and the middle class a tax break. The polls have indicated that people have selected Obama as the best person to steer the county on a new path, while giving high priority to the the interests of the average person who wishes to do well in America. The Republicans propped on the belief that their belief in God/ gives them priority over all others, even those believing in the same God, that this gives them the right to cheat, steal, lie, smear, deceive and manipulate to win an election, by any means, disenfranchising those honest voters, and making a mockery out of the democratic system. Republicans, don’t need to steal this election, what they need, is to steal away and rethink what it means to be Republican – not the racist, hateful, bigoted bag of tricks they have been promoting, not the war mongering blinded by addiction to oil and obtaining the next fix by military means strategy, but a meaningful this is who we are, this is how we want to present ourselves and here’s what we hope to achieve or how we think we might do it better. Alternatively maybe they should select who among them would like to go to prison – for their larger supremacist goal.    

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Barack Obama’s campaign said Democratic voters were piling up imposing early voting totals in battleground states, warning that John McCain must win big on election day on Tuesday to catch up.

“The die is being cast as we speak,” Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters, saying the Democrat was running strong in swing states Florida, Colorado, New Mexico and others.

“So Senator McCain, on election day is going to have to not just carry the day but carry it convincingly,” Plouffe said.

Plouffe also said that the campaign would expand its advertising in the frenetic final days of the campaign into Republican McCain’s home state of Arizona, following polls which suggest the race had tightened there.

The campaign would also take out advertising spots over the final weekend in normally Republican states like Georgia, after being encouraged by early voting figures and North Dakota, he said.

Plouffe said that in the crucial swing-state of Florida, Democrats had built a 200,000 strong gap over McCain after early and absentee voting — reversing the trend from 2004 when President George W. Bush beat John Kerry in the state.

“In 2008, as of last night, we had just about a 200,000 vote edge over the Republicans, which is, obviously, a big change from 2004,” Plouffe said.

Republicans went into election day that year with an edge of around 40,000 votes.

In the western swing state of Nevada, 43 percent of Democrats who voted early were either new voters or sporadic voters — a prized demographic as campaigns seek an edge in close fought states, Plouffe said.

In North Carolina, Plouffe said, 19 percent of Democrats who voted early had never voted in a general election before, bolstering Obama’s hopes of bringing large numbers of new voters into the process.

“We very much like what we’re seeing in early vote. And obviously, in states like Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina.”

The McCain campaign scheduled its own conference call later on Friday to address the state of the race, four days before election day.

“The pundits have written us off much as they have done before, but we are closing my friends, and we are going to win Ohio,” McCain said in the crucial midwestern battleground state on Friday.

“We’re a few points down … but we’re coming back strong.”

Source: Raw Story

From CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Check out CNN’s Electoral Map. (CNN) — Some tough news for John McCain in his own backyard, as his home state of Arizona moves from “safe McCain” to “lean McCain” in the latest CNN poll of polls.

And the Republican nominee continues to lose ground in reliably-red areas, as North Dakota moves from “lean McCain” to “toss-up” – meaning three electoral votes that had been counted for McCain are now considered up for grabs.

But there’s some good news for McCain down south: Louisiana has moved from “lean McCain” to “safe McCain.” And the movement on the map is far from done.

Barack Obama now leads McCain by 131 electoral votes, up from his 128-vote lead yesterday. CNN now estimates that if the presidential election were held today, Obama would win 291 electoral votes and John McCain 160. There are 87 electoral votes up for grabs. Again, 270 electoral votes are needed to win the White House.

The CNN Electoral Map is based on analysis from the CNN Political Unit and takes into account a number of factors, including polling, state voting trends, ad spending patterns, candidate visits, and guidance from the campaigns, parties, and political strategists. The list will be updated regularly as the campaign develops over time.

Source: CNN Politics

A growing number of voters have concluded that Senator John McCain’s running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, is not qualified to be vice president, weighing down the Republican ticket in the last days of the campaign, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

All told, 59 percent of voters surveyed said Ms. Palin was not prepared for the job, up nine percentage points since the beginning of the month. Nearly a third of voters polled said the vice-presidential selection would be a major factor influencing their vote for president, and those voters broadly favor Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee.

And in a possible indication that the choice of Ms. Palin has hurt Mr. McCain’s image, voters said they had much more confidence in Mr. Obama to pick qualified people for his administration than they did in Mr. McCain.

After nearly two years of campaigning, a pair of hotly contested nominating battles, a series of debates and an avalanche of advertisements, the nationwide poll found the contours of the race hardening in the last days before the election on Tuesday. Twelve percent of the voters surveyed said they had already voted. These were among the findings:

¶Mr. Obama is maintaining his lead, with 51 percent of likely voters supporting him and 40 percent supporting Mr. McCain in a head-to-head matchup.

¶Some perceptions of race are changing, with a marked increase in the number of people who say they believe that white and black people have an equal chance of getting ahead in America today.

¶Mr. McCain’s focus on taxes, including his talk about Joe the Plumber, seems to be having some effect, as a growing number of voters now say Mr. McCain would not raise their taxes.

¶Eighty-nine percent of people view the economy negatively, and 85 percent think the country is on the wrong track.

¶Mr. Obama continues to have a significant advantage on key issues like the economy, health care and the war in Iraq.

The survey found that opinions of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain had hardened considerably, as 9 out of 10 voters who said they had settled on a candidate said their minds were made up, and a growing number of them called it “extremely important” that their candidate win the election. Roughly half of each candidate’s supporters said they were “scared” of what the other candidate would do if elected. Just 4 percent of voters were undecided, and when they were pressed to say whom they leaned toward, the shape of the race remained essentially the same.

Bolstered by the fiscal crisis and deep concerns about the direction of the country, Mr. Obama has seemed to solidify the support he has gained in recent months. When likely voters were asked whom they would vote for in an expanded field that included several third-party candidates, Mr. Obama got the support of 52 percent of them, Mr. McCain 39 percent, Bob Barr 1 percent, and Ralph Nader 2 percent.

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Saturday through Wednesday with 1,439 adults nationwide, including 1,308 registered voters. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

The poll was conducted as a wide range of state polls have shown Mr. Obama, of Illinois, ahead or tied in several crucial contested states, including some traditionally Republican states that Mr. McCain, of Arizona, must carry to win the election.

The survey suggested that Mr. Obama’s candidacy — if elected, he would be the first black president — has changed some perceptions of race in America. Nearly two-thirds of those polled said whites and blacks have an equal chance of getting ahead in today’s society, up from the half who said they thought so in July. And while 14 percent still said most people they knew would not vote for a black presidential candidate, the number has dropped considerably since the campaign began.

Mr. McCain’s heavy focus on taxes in the final weeks of the campaign seems to be having some effect, the poll found. Forty-seven percent of voters said Mr. McCain would not raise taxes on people like them, up from just 38 percent who said so two weeks ago. (And 50 percent said they thought Mr. Obama would raise taxes on people like them, while 44 percent said he would not; both numbers are similar to two weeks ago.)

With just days until Americans choose a new president, the survey found them deeply uneasy about the state of their country. Eight-five percent of respondents said the country was pretty seriously off on the wrong track, near the record high recorded earlier this month. A majority said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. And President Bush’s approval rating remains at 22 percent, tied for the lowest presidential approval rating on record (which was President Harry S. Truman’s rating, recorded by the Gallup Poll in 1952).

Mr. McCain’s renewed efforts to cast himself as the candidate of change have apparently faltered. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Mr. Obama would bring about real change if elected, while only 39 percent said Mr. McCain would. And despite Mr. McCain’s increased efforts to distance himself from President Bush, a majority still said he would generally continue Mr. Bush’s policies.

Dixie Cromwell, a 36-year-old cosmetologist from Shelby, N.C., who is a Republican, said in a follow-up interview that she had already voted for Mr. Obama.

“I generally vote Republican, but this year I voted Democrat,” she said. “I just don’t feel we can go through any more of the same old thing that we’ve been going through with the Republican Party.”

Mr. Obama’s policies were seen as much more likely to improve the economy, provide health insurance to more people, and scale back military involvement in Iraq than Mr. McCain’s were. But Mr. McCain enjoyed an advantage when it came to questions about which candidate would make a better commander in chief: 47 percent of voters said Mr. McCain was very likely to be an effective commander in chief, compared with 33 percent who said Mr. Obama would be.

While a majority viewed Ms. Palin as unqualified for the vice presidency, roughly three-quarters of voters saw Mr. Obama’s running mate, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, as qualified for the job. The increase in the number of voters who said Ms. Palin was not prepared was driven almost entirely by Republicans and independents.

Over all, views of Ms. Palin were apparently shaped more by ideology and party than by gender. Ms. Palin was viewed as unprepared for the job by about 6 in 10 men and women alike. But 8 in 10 Democrats viewed her as unprepared, as well as more than 6 in 10 independents and 3 in 10 Republicans.

Here a pro-future energy plan – quickly constructed.

In the future we are going to drive vehicles with mechanics which don’t use oil and gas.

Our factories will be powered by an energy source which cost little or nothing – lowering the cost of production.

The amount spent on energy could be shifted to research and development – we could create more if we don’t have to factor in the energy cost.

Once the cost of energy is out of the equation — as with most things there is an energy cost to manufacture it, and another energy cost to deliver it – to the wholesaler – then another energy cost to either deliver it to the consumer or the retail outlet, each time a product has to be moved or made or cooked, then the energy cost is added on to it like a tax.

Once you take that expense out of the system – then you are instantly looking a system where there is more money.

In your own home – if we don’t have to pay for electricity or heating, or gas to power our cars – or if we can significantly reduce these costs in the short term – and say wages stay the same – then you could instantly see how you could have more money in your own household. But if we could take the cost of energy out of the whole system, or significantly reduce it, then we could see how there would be more money for everyone – as sales or demand may go up and prices go down. We become the limiting factor and not energy availability or its cost. How we want to use and recycle materials for use again, becomes the limiting factors, on what we produce.

TOLEDO, Ohio – No blaring country songs. No pink handmade signs. No rousing chants of “Drill, baby, drill.”

Gov. Sarah Palin abandoned the usual flash of her campaign rallies on Wednesday to deliver her second policy speech as the Republican vice-presidential nominee, an address focused on energy security.

Standing on a riser above a concrete floor, under the glare of fluorescent lighting, Ms. Palin addressed fewer than 200 people, mostly employees of Xunlight Corporation, a spin-off from the University of Toledo that manufactures solar energy implements.

She called for greater energy independence, blaming decades of presidents and legislators for failing to achieve it.

“It’s been 30 years’ worth of failed energy policies in Washington, 30 years where we’ve had opportunities to become less reliant on foreign sources, and 30 years of failure in that area,” Ms. Palin said. “We must steer far clear of the errors and false assumptions that have marked the energy policies of nearly 20 Congresses and seven presidents.”

Ms. Palin also laid the blame at the feet of her Democratic counterpart, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has opposed offshore drilling. Mr. Biden was overheard telling a supporter on the campaign trail that he did not support clean-coal technology in the United States.

“He says that clean coal is O.K. for China, but sorry, Ohio, Joe Biden says it’s not for you,” she said. “And that is just nonsense.”

If Senator John McCain is elected, she added, $2 billion a year would be devoted to clean-coal research and development.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland released a response on behalf of the Obama campaign:

    “In a bit of rare straight talk, Sarah Palin attacked her own running mate’s record today by blaming our oil addiction on ‘thirty years of failure’ in Washington,” said Governor Ted Strickland. “John McCain was there for twenty-six of those years, during which he voted against alternative sources of energy and stood with oil industry lobbyists instead. Now he wants to give those oil companies an additional $4 billion in tax breaks, even as he proposes pennies for the kind of renewable energy that can end our dependence on Mideast oil and create new jobs. After decades of John McCain’s failed leadership on energy, we can’t afford four more.”

As a vice-presidential candidate, Ms. Palin has leaned heavily on her record in Alaska challenging the power of oil companies, and as governor, she negotiated a $40 billion pipeline that would deliver natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska to the lower 48 states. But that project, which she described in her speech on Wednesday, is years away from federal approval and will not be built for at least a decade.

Source: NYT

When it comes to the environment, John McCain only has the interests of Big Oil at heart. That’s why he has over 22 Big Oil lobbyists advising him. That’s why he favored lifting the moratorium on off-shore drilling — a move that prompted Big Oil to donate over $1 million to his campaign. And thanks to the League of Conservation Voters, we’ve got the proof!

2008 Presidential Candidate Comparison

Here’s a look at the candidates’ positions on several key issues. For more information, visit www.nea.org/educationvotes

Click to Enlarge

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CORRECTION: BARACK OBAMA’S EXPERIENCE:

    *8 years as State Senator for district of over 750,000 people
    :.
    *4 years in Senate representing a state of 13 million
    :.
    *First black President of Harvard Law Review
    :.
    *12 years as Constitutional Law professor
    :.
    *Chairman of Senate’s Health and Human Services committee
    :.
    *Sponsored 136 bills,
    :.
    *Served on Foreign Affairs, Environment & Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees

Here’s our daily composite of the six major national tracking polls. The recent tightening in the race appears to have stopped for today, with Obama’s lead expanding slightly:

    • Gallup: Obama 51%, McCain 44%, with a ±2% margin of error, unchanged from yesterday.

    • Rasmussen: Obama 51%, McCain 46%, with a ±2% margin of error, compared to a 50%-47% Obama lead from yesterday.

    • ABC/Washington Post: Obama 52%, McCain 44%, with a ±2.5% margin of error, unchanged from yesterday.

    • Hotline/Diageo: Obama 48%, McCain 42%, with a ±3.3% margin of error, compared to a 49%-42% Obama lead from yesterday.

    • Research 2000: Obama 50%, McCain 45%, with a ±3% margin of error, compared to a 50%-44% Obama lead yesterday.

    • Zogby: Obama 50%, McCain 43%, with a ±2.9% margin of error, compared to a 49%-44% Obama lead from yesterday.

Adding these polls together and weighting them by the square roots of their sample sizes, Obama is ahead 50.5%-44.2%, a lead of 6.3 points, compared to the 50.2%-44.4% Obama lead from yesterday.

WASHINGTON – The government reported Thursday the economy shrank in the summer, the strongest signal yet that a recession may have already begun, a day after the Federal Reserve slashed a key interest rate to battle an economic downturn.

The Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, fell at an annual rate of 0.3 percent in the July-September period, a significant slowdown after growth of 2.8 percent in the prior quarter.

AP – A man passes by an ice sculpture entitled Main Street Meltdown, in New York

AP – A man passes by an ice sculpture entitled Main Street Meltdown, in New York

The spring activity had been boosted by the $168 billion economic stimulus program, but the economy ran into a wall in the summer as the mass mailings of stimulus checks ended and consumer confidence was shaken by the upheavals on global markets. Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, dropped by the largest amount in 28 years in the third quarter.

The classic definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. Many analysts believe the GDP will decline in the current October-December period by an even larger amount and they are forecasting a negative GDP figure in the first three months of next year.

The National Bureau of Economic Research, which is the official arbiter of recessions in this country, has not said when it will make its determination of whether the country has entered a recession.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for unemployment benefits remained at an elevated level last week, another sign of the economy’s struggles. The number of laid-off workers filing new claims totaled 479,000, the same as the previous week, disappointing analysts who had expected a small drop. […]

Source: AP

A new poll from Arizona State University finds John McCain just two points ahead of Barack Obama in his home state.

The results would likely be dismissed if not for the reputation of Bruce Merrill, the poll director, whose work is considered a gold standard in Arizona polling.

Some details:

    Republican John McCain leads Democrat Barack Obama by two points (46 percent to 44 percent) in Arizona, a margin that makes the race too close to call, according to a new Cronkite/Eight Poll. The poll of 1,019 registered voters in Arizona was conducted Oct. 23-26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    According to poll director Dr. Bruce Merrill, “The race in Arizona is very close. Supporters of both candidates are highly committed to their candidates, with 94 percent of Obama’s supporters and 93 percent of McCain’s supporters indicating that they are firmly committed and won’t change their mind before Election Day. In addition, the undecided vote is very low, which means that there are few people remaining to be persuaded during the last week of the campaign. Obama has been closing the gap by attracting independents and women to his campaign. McCain does well among conservative Democrats and evangelicals. Still, a week is a long time in a political campaign and anything can happen. Who wins will be determined by which candidate gets their supporters out to the polls on Election Day.”

The previous Arizona State University, taken last month, had McCain leading 45 percent to 38 percent

Source: HP

NATIONAL

From the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll:

    More than twelve million voters have already cast ballots in the presidential contest, according to one estimate, and new data from the Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll shows these voters breaking Democratic by a wide margin.

    Among those who said they have already voted at an early voting location or sent in an absentee ballot, Barack Obama picked up 60 percent of the vote in the new poll to John McCain’s 39 percent.

    These voters make up 9 percent of “likely” voters in the track.

    The senator from Illinois has a similar lead, 58 to 39 percent, among those who plan to vote early but have not yet. (Those who plan to vote on Election Day also go for Obama, but by a narrower, 51 to 45 percent.)

From Gallup:

    The voter preferences of the group of 1,430 individuals who have already voted and who were interviewed by Gallup between Oct. 17 and Oct. 27 show a 53% to 43% Obama over McCain tilt.

    Among the group of those who say they have not yet voted, but will before Election Day, the skew towards Obama is more pronounced, at 54% to 40%. By comparison, those who are going to wait to vote on Nov. 4 manifest a narrower 50% to 44% Obama over McCain candidate preference. (Across all registered voters over this time period, Obama leads McCain by a 51% to 43% margin).

Some analysis of early trends from Nate Silver:

    According to Michael McDonald’s terrific website, there are three states in which early voting has already exceeded its totals from 2004. These are Georgia, where early voting is already at 180 percent of its 2004 total, Louisiana (169 percent), and North Carolina (129 percent).

    Hmm … can anybody think of something that those three states have in common?

    The African-American population share is the key determinant of early voting behavior. In states where there are a lot of black voters, early voting is way, way up. In states with fewer African-Americans, the rates of early voting are relatively normal.

    This works at the county level too. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio (Cleveland), which about 30 percent black, twice as many people have already voted early as in all of 2004. In Franklin County (Columbus), which is about 18 percent black and also has tons of students, early voting is already about 3x its 2004 total.

COLORADO

Early voting is currently at over 75% of 2004 levels with one week to go.

Democrats currently outnumber Republicans in early voting, albeit by a slim margin – 38.6% of all early voters, to 37.9% Republicans

TEXAS

“Across Dallas County and into the outer suburbs, thousands of people continue to stream into polling places, dwarfing early-voting records and raising questions about what the preliminary tallies mean for candidates and political parties.”

FLORIDA

In this critical swing state, early voters already make up 27% of total 2004 numbers (in 2004, early voters constituted 36% of total votes).

Dems outnumber Republicans so far, 44.7% to 40%.

GEORGIA

Early voting is already 33% higher than 2004 numbers, and is equivalent to 31% of all votes cast in Georgia in 2004.

Of early voters, 35% are African-American, compared to 25% of the total voting population in 2004.

Also, nearly 56% of early voters are women, another excellent sign for Democrats.

OHIO

“Among those in Ohio who told WHIO-TV/SurveyUSA that they have already voted, Barack Obama leads by 13 points. When the two populations are combined, the data is as here reported: Obama 49%, McCain 45%. Compared to an identical WHIO-TV/SurveyUSA poll released two weeks ago, Obama is down 1 point; McCain is flat.”

ILLINOIS

60,000 votes have already been cast in the Tenth Congressional District.

Of those, 58% were cast by registered Democrats, compared to 25% for Republicans.

Obama should win the district and state in a landslide, but these numbers bode especially well for IL-10 Democratic candidate Dan Seals.

IOWA

Registered Democrats have a 20-point advantage in early voting over Republicans in Iowa.

LOUISIANA

Early voting is near double 2004 levels. Of early voters, registered Democrats have a huge edge, 57.9% to 29.4%.

34% of early voters are African-American.

NEVADA

Democrats lead 54.4% to 29.1% among early voters. Early voters constituted 59.4% of all voters in 2004; this year, early voting to this point is equivalent to 44% of all 2004 numbers.

NORTH CAROLINA

The proportion of black voters among all early voters has leveled off – they constitute 28% of all voters now – but still exceeds black registration in the state.

Early voting has far outstripped 2004 levels, and Democrats are turning out disproportionately.

Source: HP

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Pic. Ap

16/10/2008 WIRE: Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, answers a question from plumber Joe Wurzelbacher in Holland, Ohio, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) Pic. Ap

See original Obama-JTP footage below

The Statement:

Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, speaking at an October 27 rally in Leesburg, Virginia, referred to Barack Obama’s October 12 conversation about tax policy with Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the citizen now known as “Joe the Plumber.” She said Obama said he “wants to spread the wealth” and that “Joe the Plumber said to him, it sounded like socialism.”

Get the facts!

The Facts:
Obama met Wurzelbacher at a campaign stop outside Toledo, Ohio, on October 12, Wurzelbacher told Obama he was getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year and asked, “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” Under Obama’s plan, taxes would rise for individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and families with incomes above $250,000.

Obama went into a lengthy explanation of his plan. He said he wants to cut taxes “a little bit more for the folks who are most in need; and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well — even though they’ve been working hard and I appreciate that — I just want to make sure they’re paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts.”

He argued that if consumers had more money to spend, it would be good for enterprises such as a plumbing business. “Right now everybody’s so pinched that business is bad for everybody, and I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”

Wurzelbacher invoked a common small-business concern with Obama: that higher taxes compromise hard-earned profits. “I’ve worked hard. I’m a plumber. I work 10-12 hours a day and I’m buying this company and I’m going to continue working that way. I’m getting taxed more and more while fulfilling the American dream.”

He never told Obama at the time his idea “sounded like socialism.” But two days later, in an interview on Fox News, Wurzelbacher said, “he wants to distribute wealth. I’m not trying to make statements here. That’s kind of a socialist viewpoint.”

In an interview with CNN that aired October 16, Wurzelbacher clarified that the company he wants to buy makes well less than $250,000 a year — which, under Obama’s plan, means his taxes would not be increased.

McCain and Palin frequently refer to “Joe the Plumber” on the campaign trail. Since his encounter with Obama, Wurzelbacher has received much notoriety and has signaled his support for McCain.

Wurzelbacher told conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham on October 24 that he’s considering a run for Congress in 2010. That would pit Wurzelbacher against longtime Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur for Ohio’s 9th District on the state’s northern border, which includes Toledo and Sandusky.

“I’ll tell you what, we’d definitely be in one heck of a fight, Marcy Kaptur definitely has a following in this area,” he said of the possibility. “But, you know, I’d be up for it.”

The Verdict: True. However, while Wurzelbacher has said Obama’s plan comes from a “socialist viewpoint,” [Mr. Wurzelbacher did not mention the word ‘socialism’ at the time of meeting with Obama.]

Source: CNN Political Ticker

Keith Olbermann feature:

The original JTP-Obama footage starts about 6:00 mins in :: commentary on JTP-Obama starts about 4:45 mins in :: It shows how McCain and Palin have whipped up a story out of details that were largely not in their favor :: Obama explains how his plan would be better for a small business like the one Joe hoped to own and Joe listened without ever telling Obama that his plan sounds like Socialism, as both Palin and McCain have claimed.

Obama’s Day In The Rain

Barack Obama spent part of Tuesday outside in the rain in Chester, PA, while John McCain postponed his outside rally in nearby Quakertown. Dressed in sneakers and jeans, the rain pouring down as he spoke, Obama addressed the 9,000 who turned out. “”Let me just begin by saying that a little bit of rain never hurt anybody.”

Photos: HP

The Republican National Committee has taken out a $5 million line of credit to help fund last minute efforts to keep Senate Democrats from winning a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority, according to an official with the committee.

Of the $5 million, $2 million is being directly transferred to the National Republican Senatorial Committee while $3 million is being devoted to coordinated expenditures that began over the last week.

“This effort not only helps fortify senators but it’s good for the whole Republican ticket,” said the RNC official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “This is an investment in the entire ticket in addition to an unprecedented get out the vote effort.”

With the White House apparently slipping away and House Republicans looking at losses of 20 or more seats, the Senate is being painted as the last, best chance for Republicans to hold some semblance of power within Congress.

Right now, three states are largely seen as near-certain Democratic pickups: Virginia, New Mexico, and Colorado.

The RNC line of credit is almost certain to be spent on a handful of vulnerable Republican incumbents who face varying levels of peril. That list includes North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens among others.

The decision by the RNC to help fund a series of Senate contest shows that national GOP strategists see the Senate as their firewall in next week’s election.

Will it change things? It’s very hard to know with so much volatility in the environment. But, it does show the RNC is willing to do everything it can to hold strong against the onrushing Democratic wave.

Washington Post

If it was up to some of these Evangelicals in the past – we might not have television – can you image television without the tele-evangelist? Television as late as the late 1970’s was seen by many as being of the devil. We can go through a whole list of things which they have been fearful of and once these things have been introduced, have not come to past as they have predicted. So we can assume – that anything new or different – like a man who has brown skin and will likely be the next US president – naturally they will fall back on their fear mongering anti-Christ God versus the devil scenarios – for comfort.

Reading/skimming through their manifesto – see below – on one side when it comes to threats to homeschooling and what they can teach – it is like they feel that others are encroaching on their religious freedoms – but when it comes to issues like abortion – it seems that they believe that others should be subjected to their religious beliefs.

And on security Obama who talks more about peace at a time of war and not more war and less about peace as McCain has – leads them to conclude that Obama would be unwilling to defend the US security if it came under threat. But sometimes the best security is the promotion of peace – no one fires a shot and the country security is not breached.

Of course there’s the old he’s going to take away our guns – but then this was not meant to real – it was an exercise in predicting how an Obama presidency might turn out for the worst for Christian – could it be that they are saying that Obama isn’t one.

When you’ve lost your home – or feel that your livelihood is under threat – it is pretty difficult to think about what the other guy might be doing in the house over the way or down the street – as now don’t have a house.

Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts. All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation called “Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America,” produced by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.

The imagined look into the future is part of an escalation in rhetoric from Christian right activists who are trying to paint Obama in the worst possible terms as the campaign heads into the final stretch and polls show the Democrat ahead.

Although hard-edge attacks are common late in campaigns, the tenor of the strikes against Obama illustrate just how worried conservative Christian activists are about what should happen to their causes and influence if Democrats seize control of both Congress and the White House.

“Everyone uses fear in the last part of a campaign, but evangelicals are especially theologically prone to those sorts of arguments,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University political scientist. “There’s a long tradition of predicting doom and gloom.”

“It looks like, walks like, talks like and smells like desperation to me,” said the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell of Houston, an Obama supporter who backed President Bush in the past two elections. The Methodist pastor called the 2012 letter “false and ridiculous.” He said it showed that some Christian conservative leaders fear that Obama’s faith-based appeals to voters are working.

Like other political advocacy groups, Christian right groups often raise worries about an election’s consequences to mobilize voters. In the early 1980s, for example, direct mail from the Moral Majority warned that Congress would turn a blind eye to “smut peddlers” dangling pornography to children.

“Everyone uses fear in the last part of a campaign, but evangelicals are especially theologically prone to those sorts of arguments,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University political scientist. “There’s a long tradition of predicting doom and gloom.”

But the tone this election year is sharper than usual and the volume has turned up as Nov. 4 nears.

Steve Strang, publisher of Charisma magazine, a Pentecostal publication, titled one of his recent weekly e-mails to readers, “Life As We Know It Will End If Obama is Elected.”

Strang said gay rights and abortion rights would be strengthened in an Obama administration, taxes would rise and “people who hate Christianity will be emboldened to attack our freedoms.”

But Margaret Feinberg, a Denver-area evangelical author, predicted failure,

Young evangelicals are tired and rhetoric which is fear-based, strong-arms the listener, and states opinion as fact will only polarize rather than further the informed, balanced discussion that younger voters are hungry for.” 

Separately, a group called the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission has posted a series of videos on its site and on YouTube called “7 Reasons Barack Obama is not a Christian.”

The commission accuses Obama of “subtle diabolical deceit” in saying he is Christian, while he believes that people can be saved through other faiths.

But among the strongest pieces this year is Focus on the Family Action’s letter which has been posted on the group’s Web site and making the e-mail rounds. Signed by “A Christian from 2012,” it claims a series of events could logically happen based on the group’s interpretation of Obama’s record, Democratic Party positions, recent court rulings and other trends.

Among the claims:

    _ A 6-3 liberal majority Supreme Court that results in rulings like one making gay marriage the law of the land and another forcing the Boy Scouts to “hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys.” (In the imagined scenario, The Boy Scouts choose to disband rather than obey).
    _ A series of domestic and international disasters based on Obama’s “reluctance to send troops overseas.” That includes terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that kill hundreds, Russia occupying the Baltic states and Eastern European countries including Poland and the Czech Republic, and al-Qaida overwhelming Iraq.
    _ Nationalized health care with long lines for surgery and no access to hospitals for people over 80.

The goal was to “articulate the big picture,” said Carrie Gordon Earll, senior director of public policy for Focus on the Family Action. “If it is a doomsday picture, then it’s a realistic picture,” she said.

One of the clear targets is younger evangelicals who might be considering Obama. The letter posits that young evangelicals provide the margin that let Obama defeat John McCain. But Margaret Feinberg, a Denver-area evangelical author, predicted failure.

“Young evangelicals are tired — like most people at this point in the election — and rhetoric which is fear-based, strong-arms the listener, and states opinion as fact will only polarize rather than further the informed, balanced discussion that younger voters are hungry for,” she said.

Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values, said the dynamics were quite different in 2004, when conservative Christians spent some energy calling Democrat John Kerry a flip-flopper but were mostly motivated by enthusiasm for George W. Bush.

Now, there is less excitement about McCain than fear of an Obama presidency, Burress said.

In an interview, Strang said there are fewer state ballot measures to motivate conservative voters this election year and that the financial meltdown is distracting some voters from the abortion issue. But he said a last-minute push by conservative Christians in 2004 was key to Bush’s re-election and predicted they could play the same role in 2008.

Kim Conger, a political scientist at Iowa State University, said a late push for evangelical voters did help Bush in 2004, “but it is a very different thing than getting people excited about John McCain,” even with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential pick.

Phil Burress, head of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values, said the dynamics were quite different in 2004, when conservative Christians spent some energy calling Democrat John Kerry a flip-flopper but were mostly motivated by enthusiasm for George W. Bush.

Now, there is less excitement about McCain than fear of an Obama presidency, Burress said.

“This reminds me of when I was a school kid, when I had to go out in the hall and bury my head in my hands because of the atom bomb,” he said.

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Kay Hagan for U.S. Senate (North Carolina)

 
As a state Senator in North Carolina, Kay Hagan has been an effective leader in the fight for better public schools and fiscal responsibility. Hagan is taking on incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole. If elected, Hagan will fight for sustainable energy, access to health care and more in the Senate. Hagan is in a tight race with an opponent who knows how to raise a lot of money. However, it’s one of the most competitive Senate races for a Democratic challenger. Can you pitch in to help flip this seat? (FEC ID: C00440859)   

Jeff Merkley for U.S. Senate (Oregon)

 
Jeff Merkley is running for Senate against Gordon Smith. Merkley is the Democratic Speaker of the House in Oregon. The Oregonian called Jeff’s session as Speaker, “Oregon’s most productive in a generation.” Merkley is pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-worker and supports an exit from Iraq. His opponent, Gordon Smith, was once known as the Senator with the “golden putter.” (FEC ID: C00437277)   

Jim Martin for U.S. Senate (Georgia)

 
This is an exciting race that is tightening up as we speak. Martin is a Vietnam veteran running against conservative Republican, Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss won his seat by smearing another Vietnam veteran, Max Cleland in one of the ugliest races of the last eight years. Martin wants to cut taxes for the middle class, increase consumer protections and end corporate welfare. He also opposed the Wall Street bailout. Can you chip in to help him win? (FEC ID: C00447714)  

Betsy Markey for Congress (Colorado’s 4th District)

 
Betsy Markey is running against one of the most conservative members of the House–Marilyn Musgrave. Musgrave is famous for leading the charge for a Constitutional amendment to bar any recognition of same-sex marriage or “legal incidents thereof.” Markey is unequivocal about the need to end the war in Iraq and wants to expand access to affordable healthcare for all Americans. Can you chip in to help her win? (FEC ID: C00436063)   

Joe the plumber would be eligible for an Obama tax cut - never mind ‘spreading the wealth’ Joe simply won’t have to pay so much - in fact the tax cut he would receive under an Obama administration would equal or near of the back tax Joe now owes. I hope he is getting some payment for all the press he is doing - for a McCain campaign that doesn’t have his interest at heart - as this man in no way earns $250,000 which would make him eligible for a McCain tax cut for the wealthiest 5% - dreaming about being there is fine, for the moment Obama plan would cut him the slack, it appears he and his son need.

Joe the plumber would be eligible for an Obama tax cut - never mind ‘spreading the wealth’ Joe simply won’t have to pay so much - in fact the tax cut he would receive under an Obama administration would equal or near of the back tax Joe now owes. I hope he is getting some payment for all the press he is doing - for a McCain campaign that doesn’t have his interest at heart - as this man in no way earns $250,000 which would make him eligible for a McCain tax cut for the wealthiest 5% - dreaming about being there is fine, for the moment Obama plan would cut him the slack, it appears he and his son need.

Under Obama Joe would get a tax cut – under McCain Joe would have to first have to earn $250,000 plus in profit on his business, so that he can then get a McCain tax cut. If like Joe has stated wants to go into a partnership – that profits will be split – leaving Joe again with less than $250,000 in profits and still eligible for the Obama tax cut for families earning less than $250,000.

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) — The presidential campaign yesterday came down to a contest of “Joe the Plumber” versus “Joe the Hedge-Fund Manager.”

Republican John McCain continued to invoke the Ohio man, known now as Joe the Plumber, to charge that Democrat Barack Obama would raise taxes on American workers. Obama countered that his plan would cut taxes for the Toledo-area plumber while McCain’s proposals favor the wealthiest Americans.

“Thanks to him, we’ve finally learned what Senator Obama’s economic goal is. As he told Joe, Barack Obama wants to, quote, `spread the wealth around,”’ McCain said in New Hampshire, referring to Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, who questioned Obama about his tax plan while the candidate was touring his neighborhood.

At a rally in Richmond, Virginia, Obama responded by saying, McCain “isn’t fighting for Joe the Plumber; he’s fighting for Joe the Hedge-Fund Manager.”

As stocks slump worldwide and a credit crunch burdens businesses and consumers, both candidates are focusing on the economy with the race in its final 12 days. Early voting already has begun in more than two dozen states, including the battlegrounds of Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina.

National Polls

Obama has an average national lead of 7 percentage points, according to data compiled by Realclearpolitics.com. That includes several polls that illustrate the volatility of the electorate. An Associated Press-GfK survey taken Oct. 16-20 showed Obama with 44 percent support to McCain’s 43 percent, well within the margin of error, while a Pew Research Center poll conducted Oct. 16-19 showed Obama with a 14-point lead. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll put Obama’s margin at 10 points.

Obama, who spent yesterday in Virginia, is taking a break from the campaign after an event this morning in Indiana to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii. McCain is heading to Florida, where polls show the two candidates in a close race.

McCain has been hammering Obama on taxes using the example of Joe the plumber, who told the Democratic nominee that he wanted to buy the two-person business where he works and was concerned that Obama’s plan would raise his taxes.

McCain, an Arizona senator, advocates extending the tax cuts passed under President George W. Bush, which are set to expire at the end of 2010. Obama, a senator from Illinois, says he would reduce taxes for families making less than $250,000 a year. Rates for households with taxable incomes of more than $250,000 would return to levels in the 1990s, going to 36 percent and 39.6 percent from the current 33 percent.

Tax Money

McCain accused Obama of seeking “redistribution of wealth.” His running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, has said the Democrat’s plan “sounds more like socialism.”

Obama noted that McCain opposed Bush’s tax cut plan when he was seeking the Republican nomination in 2000 and voted against them in the Senate.

“Was John McCain a socialist back in 2000?” Obama asked at a news conference.

Keeping with his theme, McCain’s campaign released a new television advertisement featuring Obama’s driveway encounter with Wurzelbacher, in which Obama tells him, “I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” The ad then shows a series of men and women saying “I am Joe the Plumber.” At the end, an announcer intones, “Barack Obama. Higher Taxes. More Spending. Not Ready.” The campaign says it will run in “key states” that it didn’t identify.

National Security

Obama also sought to confront McCain on national security, tying it to economic concerns.

“Our economy supports our military power; it increases our diplomatic leverage, and it is a foundation of America’s leadership in the world,” Obama said in Richmond.

On both security and the economy, Obama sought to tie McCain to Bush, whose approval ratings are at all-time lows.

McCain “would continue the policies that have put our economy into crisis and endangered our national security,” Obama, 47, said.

McCain repeated a line he used in their final debate: “I am not George Bush. If Senator Obama wants to run against George Bush, he should have run for president four years ago.”

Both candidates also addressed a controversy over remarks last weekend by Obama’s running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, who said that if the Democrat is elected an international crisis will “test the mettle of this guy.”

McCain cited the statement for the third straight day to make his case that he is better prepared to take office.

`Cannot Invite Testing’

“The next president won’t have time to get used to the office,” McCain, 72, said. “He cannot invite testing from the world.”

Obama said Biden was trying to say that the transition to a new leader always brings the risk that U.S. adversaries will try to gain an advantage. He rejected the idea that his election is more likely to provoke an incident.

“We have to be mindful that as we pass the baton in this democracy that others don’t take advantage of it,” he said.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, in an interview Oct. 21, said there is a risk that terrorists may view the transition as an opportunity to strike, no matter whether it is Obama or McCain who wins on Nov. 4.

Source: Bloomberg

Fifteen days before the election, serious gaps remain in the public’s knowledge about the health of the presidential and vice-presidential nominees. The limited information provided by the candidates is a striking departure from recent campaigns, in which many candidates and their doctors were more forthcoming.

In past elections, the decisions of some candidates for the nation’s top elected offices to withhold health information turned out to have a significant impact after the information came to light. This year, the health issue carries extraordinary significance because two of the four nominees have survived potentially fatal medical problems that could recur.

If elected, Senator John McCain of Arizona, 72, the Republican nominee, would be the oldest man to be sworn in to a first term as president and the first cancer survivor to win the office. The scars on his puffy left cheek are cosmetic reminders of the extensive surgery he underwent in 2000 to remove a malignant melanoma.

Last May, his campaign and his doctors released nearly 1,200 pages of medical information, far more than the three other nominees. But the documents were released in a restricted way that leaves questions, even confusion, about his cancer.

A critical question concerns inconsistencies in medical opinions about the severity of his melanoma; if the classification of his melanoma is more severe, it would increase the statistical likelihood of death from a recurrence of the cancer.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, 65, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, had emergency surgery in 1988 for an aneurysm in an artery in his brain and elective surgery for a second one. His campaign released 49 pages of medical records to The New York Times late last week showing that he was healthy, but the documents did not indicate whether he had had a test in recent years to detect any new aneurysm.

The two other nominees are younger and apparently in good health, but less is known about their medical history. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, 47, the Democratic presidential nominee, released a one-page, undated letter from his personal physician in May stating that he was in “excellent” health. Late last week, his campaign released the results of standard laboratory tests and electrocardiograms from his checkups in June 2001, November 2004 and January 2007. The findings were normal.

Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, 44, Mr. McCain’s running mate, has released no medical information.

There may be no serious problems with the health of any of the nominees. But absent fuller disclosure, there is no way for the electorate to know.

The health of the four nominees is a matter of concern because in the past a number of candidates, and in some cases their doctors and aides, have distorted, kept secret or spoken about the facts only at the last minute when medical events forced the issue. Examples include Senator Thomas F. Eagleton (depression), Senator Paul E. Tsongas (cancer), Senator Bill Bradley (heart rhythm abnormality) and, as a vice-presidential nominee, Dick Cheney (heart disease).

I am a physician who has covered the health of presidential candidates for 36 years. Since 1980, The Times has made it a practice to question nominees for president and other high political offices and, with their permission, their doctors about their health.

The Times has requested such interviews with Mr. Obama since last spring and with Mr. McCain and his doctors since March 2007. None were granted. More recently, The Times sent letters to all four nominees requesting interviews about their health with them and their doctors. None agreed.

The candidates’ health has drawn little attention for most of this long campaign season despite the importance of the issue. But since Mr. McCain selected Ms. Palin as his running mate in August, questions about his health have intensified. In recent weeks, more than 2,700 physicians have signed a petition that ran as an advertisement demanding that Mr. McCain fully release his health records; the petition is sponsored by Brave New Films, the company led by Robert Greenwald, a Hollywood filmmaker who has contributed $2,250 to Democratic candidates and has made a number of anti-McCain videos. Beyond the advertisement, Mr. McCain’s health has become the subject of both speculation and distortion on the Internet and other media.

The following is a summary of the publicly known medical information about all four nominees and the outstanding questions about each.

John McCain

The scars on John McCain’s puffy left cheek are reminders of the extensive surgery he underwent in 2000 to remove a mmelanoma.

The scars on John McCain’s puffy left cheek are reminders of the extensive surgery he underwent in 2000 to remove a malignant melanoma.

Mr. McCain’s difficulty raising his arms and his sometimes awkward gait are remnants of severe, untreated injuries he suffered in Vietnam. Mr. McCain, a Navy pilot, broke both arms and his right knee when his jet was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967. He experienced additional wounds while being tortured during his five and a half years as a prisoner of war. Mr. McCain may eventually need joint replacements, according to his doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Mr. McCain has released more details about his health than the other three nominees, though he has done so in a phased way and has apparently not agreed to any extensive interviews about his health. A handful of reporters were allowed to view his records during his bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. Another group of reporters were permitted to see newer records last May. By not allowing reporters to interview him or his doctors extensively about his entire medical history, he has made it impossible to get a complete picture of his diagnoses and treatment.

In 1999, early in his first run for the presidency, Mr. McCain allowed a small number of reporters, including me, to review an estimated 1,500 pages of his medical records without photocopying or recording the information.

In doing so, Mr. McCain gave the public its broadest look at the psychological profile of a presidential candidate. He released psychological records about him that were amassed as part of a Navy project to gauge the health of former prisoners of war. Assessments were based on standard psychological tests and what Mr. McCain told his doctors after his release. The records mentioned that in 1968, about eight months after his capture and after some particularly brutal beatings from his North Vietnamese captors, Mr. McCain attempted suicide, trying to hang himself with his shirt.

The records and his doctors, whom I interviewed with the senator’s permission in 1999, said he had never been given a diagnosis of a mental health disorder or treated at the project’s center for a mental health disorder.

The records also showed that a surgeon removed a melanoma from Mr. McCain’s left shoulder in 1993. Melanomas can be a far more deadly form of skin cancer than the more common basal cell and other types.

In early August 2000, just as Mr. McCain’s rival George W. Bush was about to receive the Republican presidential nomination, Dr. John F. Eisold, the attending physician at the United States Capitol, detected two more melanomas, Mr. McCain’s second and third.

One on Mr. McCain’s left arm was determined to be the least risky type, in situ. But the one on his left temple was dangerous.

A few days after detection of the melanomas, Mr. McCain sought care for them at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Mr. McCain’s campaign said this year that the left-temple melanoma was 2.2 millimeters at its thickest part and graded as Stage IIA on a scale in which Stage IV is the worst. Stage II meant that the melanoma had not spread into the lymph nodes. The number of melanomas is less significant than the thickness measured in the pathology assessment of any one of them.

Mr. McCain underwent extensive surgery on his face and neck for the melanoma on Aug. 19, 2000. Surgeons removed more than 30 lymph nodes, and pathologists then determined that all of them were cancer free.

In March 2007, as Mr. McCain was making his second bid for the Republican nomination, The Times began asking his campaign for permission to speak with the senator and his doctors, citing the history of such interviews.

On May 6, 2008, Jill Hazelbaker, a McCain spokeswoman, denied the requests, writing in an e-mail message that The Times was “not at the top of the list” and including a link to a Times editorial that had criticized Mr. McCain for not disclosing health information and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York for not disclosing financial records.

On May 23, Mr. McCain allowed a small pool of journalists, including three doctor-reporters, though none from The Times, to spend three hours reviewing a newer set of his Mayo Clinic records. That set, 1,173 pages, included records from 2000 to 2008 but none of the records made available in 1999. Again, the campaign did not allow the journalists to photocopy any documents.

Mr. McCain’s Mayo Clinic doctors answered selected reporters’ questions by telephone, but only for 45 minutes instead of the scheduled two hours. The McCain campaign did not allow New York Times reporters to ask questions in the teleconference.

The clinic doctors said that Mr. McCain was in good health and that no medical reason precluded him from fulfilling all the duties of president.

The doctors said that a fourth melanoma they detected on the left side of his nose in 2002 was also in situ, the least dangerous type. All four melanomas that Mr. McCain experienced were primary, or new, and there was no evidence that any of them had spread, the doctors said.

However, the reporters’ summary cited a report dated Aug. 9, 2000, from two pathologists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington who examined a biopsy of the melanoma taken from Mr. McCain’s left temple a few days earlier.

The Armed Forces pathologists suggested that the left-temple melanoma had spread from another melanoma, known as a metastasis or satellite lesion. “The vertical orientation of this lesion,” the report said, “with only focal epidermal involvement above it is highly suggestive of a metastasis of malignant melanoma and may represent a satellite metastasis of S00-9572-A,” which is the “skin, left temple, lateral” biopsy.

The pool report was by nature unable to provide a complete portrait of Mr. McCain’s recent medical history. It left several questions, including about the number of biopsies and when they were done. On Aug. 18, 2000, Dr. John D. Eckstein, Mr. McCain’s personal physician at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, noted in Mr. McCain’s records that there were two biopsies of the left temple. Dr. Eckstein’s note did not say where and when the biopsies were performed. The Armed Forces report cited one biopsy, so presumably a second was performed in Scottsdale. The Armed Forces pathologists said a melanoma had developed over a skin scar whose origin was unclear.

A skin lesion, not one of the four melanomas, had been removed from Mr. McCain’s left temple in 1996 and interpreted as being benign; some experts have speculated that it might have been misdiagnosed, and thus the origin of the 2000 melanoma.

The Armed Forces pathologists did not speak in the teleconference in May 2008, and questions raised by their report have remained unanswered. The selected reporters did not ask about that report, and the Mayo Clinic doctors did not discuss it. A complete Mayo pathology report was apparently not included in the pool summary.

In interviews, several melanoma experts questioned why the Mayo Clinic doctors had performed such extensive surgery, because the operation was usually reserved for treatment of Stage III melanoma, not Stage IIA.

On Aug. 18, 2000, the day before Mr. McCain’s operation, his surgeon, Dr. Michael L. Hinni, wrote in the records that he planned to do the extensive operation because of the size and location of Mr. McCain’s melanoma. In the teleconference in May 2008, Dr. Hinni explained that because the melanoma was two centimeters across he had to make “a 6-by-6-centimeter island of skin, a fairly sizable wound” to remove it.

If Mr. McCain’s 2000 left-temple melanoma was a metastasis, as the Armed Forces pathologists’ report suggested, it would be classified as Stage III. The reclassification would change his statistical odds for survival at 10 years from about 60 percent to 36 percent, according to a published study.

The greatest risk of recurrence of melanoma is in the first few years after detection. His age, his sex and the presence of the melanoma on his face increase the risk.

The fact that Mr. McCain has had no recurrence for eight years is in his favor. But cancer experts see the 10th anniversary as an important statistical benchmark, and that would not occur until 2010.

In May, his dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Suzanne M. Connolly, said in the teleconference that though there was no way to predict with certainty Mr. McCain’s chance of a recurrence, she judged it to be less than 10 percent. But melanoma is known to be quirkier than most cancers; doctors cite occasional cases in which melanomas come back after 15 or 20 years.

Melanomas can spread to various areas in the body, including the skin and any internal organ. In general, such spreading means the melanoma would not be curable. Treatment would depend in part on what organ or tissues are involved and could include additional surgery, chemotherapy, biologics, vaccines and radiation.

Many such treatments can be debilitating and impair an individual’s physical and mental stamina. If the patient was the president, the location of a recurrence and its treatment could raise the need to invoke the 25th Amendment, elevating the vice president to president, at least temporarily.

On the trail, Mr. McCain has played down concerns about his age by pointing to the vigor of his mother and her twin sister at age 96. Mr. McCain’s father died in 1981 at age 70 after a heart attack.

In the May teleconference, Dr. Eckstein said that he had not detected any memory deficits in Mr. McCain and that the senator had not reported any. Dr. Eckstein did not report whether Mr. McCain had taken any baseline cognitive tests.

Mr. McCain has kidney stones and takes a statin for high cholesterol but has no evidence of significant heart disease, his doctors said.

In making his medical information public, Mr. McCain released his confidentiality in the traditional patient-doctor relationship.

For its part, the Mayo Clinic says it agreed to yield control over all of Mr. McCain’s medical information to his campaign and to refer all questions to the campaign. Pool reporters inspected the records at a hotel near the clinic, which sent the records there under security. In the teleconference, the doctors answered questions by telephone at the clinic with no reporters present.

Dr. Eckstein, Mr. McCain’s doctor, said he understood that the campaign had released all the McCain records to the pool reporters. But a spokeswoman at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, asked if the institution could verify that the campaign had released all the records to the reporters, said she did not know whether the doctors had checked to be sure.

Last week, The Times contacted the McCain campaign to fill in gaps in the medical records. Ms. Hazelbaker, the McCain spokeswoman, wrote in an e-mail message: “As you know, we disclosed over 1,200 pages of Senator McCain’s medical history to Dr. Altman’s colleagues in the press earlier this year. We also arranged a Mayo Clinic briefing with three of Senator McCain’s physicians that Dr. Altman listened to by phone. Additionally, we released a detailed document outlining his most recent physical and lab test results. It was an unprecedented level of disclosure, and Dr. Altman can look at the public document on our Web site if he wishes to do so. It was certainly more significant than the one-page doctor’s note Obama released, though I have little hope The Times will report it that way.”

 
Barack Obama

Barack Obama, who started smoking at least two decades ago, has had trouble quitting. Mr. Obama says he quit last year but has “bummed” cigarettes.

Barack Obama, who started smoking at least two decades ago, has had trouble quitting. Mr. Obama says he quit last year but has “bummed” cigarettes.

On May 29, six days after the McCain campaign’s disclosures about his recent health, Mr. Obama’s campaign released an undated, single-page letter from his doctor in Chicago attesting to Mr. Obama’s “excellent health.”

The six-paragraph letter from Dr. David L. Scheiner said Mr. Obama had no known medical problems that would affect his ability to serve as president. Until the release of test results last week, the letter was the only information that Mr. Obama had made public about his health.

Dr. Scheiner’s assessment was based on regularly examining Mr. Obama since March 23, 1987. Mr. Obama’s last checkup was on Jan. 15, 2007, a day before he created a presidential exploratory committee and more than a year before his campaign released the letter from Dr. Scheiner, a general internist who practices at the University of Chicago Hospitals and the Rush University Medical Center.

The letter was short, the Obama campaign said, because Mr. Obama had not had any serious health problems. The campaign declined to make Dr. Scheiner available for an interview.

Mr. Obama has had a notable medical problem: a difficulty in stopping smoking. It is not known how heavily he smoked. Dr. Scheiner wrote that Mr. Obama began smoking at least two decades ago and had made several efforts to stop. Mr. Obama has used Nicorette gum “with success,” Dr. Scheiner wrote, without defining success.

Nicorette, which contains smaller amounts of nicotine than cigarettes do, is a replacement therapy intended to ease the craving for nicotine and other withdrawal effects of cigarette smoking.

Dr. Scheiner did not say when Mr. Obama had started using Nicorette, how much he had used or for how long he had used it. Reporters have often observed him chewing it.

Mr. Obama said he quit smoking in 2007 when he began his presidential campaign. But he has “bummed” cigarettes since then, he has said.

Also, Dr. Scheiner did not provide a standard measure of smoking risk. It is known as pack years — the number of packs smoked a day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked. The pack-year number is used to help determine a patient’s risk of developing lung cancer, heart disease and other tobacco-related ailments.

Information about Mr. Obama’s smoking is relevant because studies show that the risk of cancer and other tobacco-related serious diseases declines after an individual stops smoking, but not until then.

According to the newly released documents, in January 2007 Mr. Obama had a total cholesterol level of 173 (HDL 68 and LDL 96) and triglycerides of 44. Those levels were normal.

Sarah Palin

Nothing is known publicly about Sarah Palin’s medical history, aside from the birth of her child last April.

Nothing is known publicly about Sarah Palin’s medical history, aside from the birth of her child last April.

Nothing is known publicly about Ms. Palin’s medical history, aside from the much-discussed circumstances surrounding the birth of her fifth child last April. Ms. Palin has said that her water broke while she was at a conference in Dallas and that she flew to Anchorage, where she gave birth to her son Trig hours after landing.

Last week Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for Ms. Palin, said the governor declined to be interviewed or provide any health records.

Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 1988, after he had emergency surgery for an aneurysm in an artery in his brain.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 1988, after he had emergency surgery for an aneurysm in an artery in his brain.

In 1988, Mr. Biden was working out on a shoulder press weight machine in the Senate gym when a pain shot through his neck. On the train home to Wilmington, Del., the neck pain returned more severely. His head ached. The right side of his body went numb. A doctor later diagnosed a pinched nerve, and a pain clinic prescribed a neck brace.

Shortly thereafter, on a trip to Rochester, Mr. Biden was alone in his hotel room when he felt a sharp stab in the back of his neck and a lightning flash in his head. The rip of pain was like none he had ever experienced. Nothing Mr. Biden did, including curling up in the fetal position, relieved the pain. He lay unconscious on the floor for five hours, he wrote in his autobiography, “Promises to Keep” (Random House, 2007).

The next morning, he felt somewhat better and flew home. His wife, Jill, summoned from the school where she taught, immediately took him to a hospital. Doctors determined he had a berry-shaped bulge in an artery that was leaking blood into his brain. Such bulges, or aneurysms, can tear at any time. Ruptured aneurysms are fatal in about 50 percent of cases. Up to 20 percent of survivors remain severely disabled. A Roman Catholic priest gave Mr. Biden last rites.

After a harrowing ambulance trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, a team of neurosurgeons put a clip on the artery to stop the bleeding. While recuperating, he suffered a major complication: a blood clot lodged in his lung.

A few weeks later, surgeons operated on a second aneurysm on the opposite side of his brain. Though it had caused no symptoms, it still could have burst as the first one did.

Mr. Biden returned to the Senate after a seven-month absence.

Now, a question arises: Has Mr. Biden developed a new aneurysm over the last two decades that could burst?

Doctors, who long thought that berry aneurysms were a once-in-a-lifetime event, now generally believe that they can recur. About 5 percent or less of patients who have had a berry aneurysm develop new ones at the original site or elsewhere in the brain.

“Over the last two decades,” said Dr. Robert F. Spetzler of the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, “we have learned much more about aneurysms, and the fact is that when you have had one aneurysm, you are more likely to develop another one. Although the likelihood is very low, it does exist.”

Doctors’ views vary widely on what types of brain imaging tests to recommend to patients who have had a berry aneurysm and when to do them. Some conduct no tests. Others periodically conduct tests like magnetic resonance angiograms.

Mr. Biden has “recovered fully without continued effects” from the aneurysm, Dr. Eisold, the Capitol physician, said in a letter released by the campaign. Dr. Eisold, a specialist in internal medicine, has a longstanding policy not to talk to reporters about his patients, even with their permission.

The Obama-Biden campaign referred me to Dr. Matthew A. Parker, an internist in Washington, who reviewed Mr. Biden’s records and also spoke with Dr. Eisold about them. Dr. Parker said that Dr. Eisold told him that brain imaging tests were not needed now because Mr. Biden had done well for the 20 years after the aneurysm. “It is a nonissue,” Dr. Parker said Dr. Eisold told him.

Dr. Parker, who is associated with George Washington University Hospital and Sibley Memorial Hospital, said he had not treated or met with Mr. Biden and did not have a direct connection to the campaign. Federal Election Commission records show that Dr. Parker contributed the maximum, $2,300, to Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign on March 13, 2008.

The medical records released by the campaign contain a summary of Mr. Biden’s operation and hospital stay in 1988 but no notes from a neurologist or neurosurgeon since then. So it is not known whether Mr. Biden has had recent brain imaging scans or has been evaluated by a neurologist or neurosurgeon recently. Dr. Parker said he did not ask Dr. Eisold when a neurologist or neurosurgeon last examined Mr. Biden.

Four leading neurosurgeons interviewed separately in this country and Europe said that as a vice-presidential nominee, Mr. Biden should have had recent brain imaging studies to detect any new aneurysm, because if one is found he might face more neurosurgery and be out of work for weeks or longer.

“What would I do in this situation?” said Dr. Eugene S. Flamm, the chairman of the department of neurological surgery at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. “I would say, get an M.R.A. and check. You can’t just play the statistics.”

Doctors caring for political leaders and other prominent people often face difficulty in ordering tests that might clarify a situation for such patients but that are not recommended for all patients.

Dr. Parker said, “Some people will say, well, given the high-profile nature of the situation, we should do the test to be sure.” But, he added, “that is not necessarily wise.”

Among the reasons is a desire to avoid anxiety among patients and because doctors may not know what to do about an equivocal finding.

Dr. Parker said that even when he “pressed Dr. Eisold on the very same thing, given the circumstances” with Mr. Biden, Dr. Eisold “was very definitive about” not doing brain scan tests now.

The question of an aneurysm aside, the documents show Mr. Biden to have relatively minor health problems, including chronic sinusitis and allergies. He has an enlarged prostate, but a biopsy showed no evidence of cancer. With the help of a statin, he has normal cholesterol levels: 173 (HDL 47 and LDL 98) and triglycerides of 133.

In Summary

All in all, the gaps and paucity of information leave the electorate with insufficient information to fully judge the health of the nominees. The information that has been released is a retreat from the approach that most campaigns took over the last 10 elections.

In an earlier time, there was a kind of gentlemen’s agreement between officials and the news media that permitted serious health conditions to be played down or kept secret.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was crippled by polio more than a decade before he became president and, by his fourth term, he had developed serious heart disease, but the public was largely shielded from the profound effects. And while much was made of John F. Kennedy’s bad back and the rocking chair that gave him relief, it was only in the years after his assassination that his case of Addison’s disease, a hormonal disorder, became widely known.

What might be called the modern era of disclosure arguably began in 1972, when Mr. Eagleton had to step down as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee because he had not informed his running mate, Senator George McGovern, of his history of depression.

In 1992, Mr. Tsongas, who was seeking the Democratic nomination for president, spoke to me to assure the public that he was free of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, after a bone marrow transplant in 1986. In interviews, his doctors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute backed his assertion that he was cancer free. But in fact the cancer had recurred, and Mr. Tsongas eventually withdrew from the race. He died two days before his first term would have ended.

Other candidates who made themselves and their doctors available include the elder George Bush, Bob Dole, Al Gore and John Kerry. A leading example of openness was Ronald Reagan, whose age, 69, had become an issue in the 1980 election. Mr. Reagan authorized his doctors to be interviewed. He also agreed to an interview himself, against the wishes of his aides, answering all my questions, including what would he do if he became senile as president.

“Resign,” he said.

Obama spoke to a crowd estimated at 100,000 in St. Louis.

CONCORD, N.C.—Sen. John McCain opened a new attack on rival Barack Obama’s tax plan Saturday, suggesting it amounts to socialism.

He also accused Sen. Obama of wanting to turn the Internal Revenue Service into a welfare agency because his tax plan would give a tax credit to people who earn too little to owe federal income taxes.

“At least in Europe, the socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives,” the Republican presidential nominee said in a radio address. “Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut. It’s just another government giveaway.”

Sen. Obama would give a $500 tax refund to middle-class workers, even if they earn too little to owe federal income taxes. The Obama campaign says the money is meant to offset the payroll taxes that these workers pay.

At an afternoon McCain rally in Woodbridge, Va., a woman yelled out about Obama, “He’s a socialist!”

From St. Louis, Sen. Obama replied that both candidates want to cut taxes. But he said he would cut taxes for working Americans where Sen. McCain would favor corporations and wealthy taxpayers.

“John McCain is so out of touch with the struggles you are facing that he must be the first politician in history to call a tax cut for working people ‘welfare,'” he said.

The McCain attack came as he campaigned in a pair of Republican-leaning states: North Carolina, when polls show Sen. McCain in a tight race, and later in Virginia, where he is trailing. A sign at the Virginia rally expressed hope for a reversal. It showed a map of Virginia and said: “Red since 1964,” the last time a Democrat took this state.

“John McCain is so out of touch with the struggles you are facing that he must be the first politician in history to call a tax cut for working people ‘welfare,'” he said.

Underscoring Sen. Obama’s frontrunner status, the Illinois senator attracted a U.S. record crowd of 100,000 beneath the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Sen. McCain turned out a few thousand people at a community center in Concord, N.C. and about the same in Virginia.

The McCain campaign is tying the new attack to “Joe the Plumber,” a Holland, Ohio, man named Joe Wurzelbacher who met and told Sen. Obama that he fears his taxes could go up under his plan. At the North Carolina McCain rally on Saturday, handmade signs read “Let Joe Keep his Dough,” and “Fight for Joe the Plumber.”

The campaign’s Southeast regional campaign manager, Buzz Jacobs, said the campaign has launched “Joe the Plumber” coalitions of small business people worried about tax increases. The campaign already had small business coalitions in place, but the new ones are meant to emphasize the new theme.

And in a phone call Friday, Sen. McCain invited Mr. Wurzelbacher to campaign with him, possibly as soon as Sunday when he visits nearby Toledo.

“It’s time to give a tax cut to the teachers and janitors who work in our schools; to the cops and firefighters who keep us safe; to the waitress working double shifts, the nurses in the ER,” he said. “And yes, the plumbers, fighting for the American dream.”

Subsequent reporting has concluded that Mr. Wurzelbacher would likely see a tax cut, not an increase, under the Obama plan. But the McCain campaign has seized on part of Sen. Obama’s lengthy answer to him when they met last Sunday: “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” the Illinois senator said.

That encounter has been the centerpiece of Sen. McCain’s campaign ever since.

“We learned that Sen. Obama’s economic goal is, as he told Joe, is to quote `spread the wealth around.’ Spread the wealth around!” he told the North Carolina crowd, which replied with a chorus of boos. “We’ve seen that movie before in other countries and [in] attempts by the liberal left in this country before. Sen. Obama believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs and opportunities for all Americans.”

“We learned that Sen. Obama’s economic goal is, as he told Joe, is to quote `spread the wealth around.’ Spread the wealth around!” he told the North Carolina crowd, which replied with a chorus of boos.

Sen. Obama replied that it’s a matter of values. His plan values work, not just wealth, he said. And after largely dodging Joe the Plumber, Sen. Obama referred to him on Saturday as one of the working people who would receive a tax cut under his plan.

“It’s time to give a tax cut to the teachers and janitors who work in our schools; to the cops and firefighters who keep us safe; to the waitress working double shifts, the nurses in the ER,” he said. “And yes, the plumbers, fighting for the American dream.”

Underscoring Sen. Obama’s frontrunner status, the Illinois senator attracted a U.S. record crowd of 100,000 beneath the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Sen. McCain turned out a few thousand people at a community center in Concord, N.C.


Sen. John McCain speaks to supporters Saturday during a campaign rally in Concord, N.C.

Sen. Obama would give a $500 tax refund to middle-class workers, even if they earn too little to owe federal income taxes. The Obama campaign says the money is meant to offset the payroll taxes that these workers pay. Several other tax credits would also be refundable and therefore available even to those who do not pay income taxes. He plans to raise taxes on individuals earning over $200,000 and families who make more than $250,000. Most others, he said, would see a tax cut.

Sen. McCain rejected the notion of giving tax breaks to people who don’t pay income taxes. “Since you can’t reduce taxes on those who pay zero, the government will write them all checks called a tax credit. And the Treasury will have to cover those checks by taxing other people, including a lot of folks just like Joe. In other words, Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes on some in order to give checks to others it isn’t a tax cut; it’s just another government giveaway.”

He did not mention that his health care plan also uses refundable tax credits—$2,500 per person or $5,000 per family toward the purchase of health insurance. It, too, would be available to people who don’t owe income taxes.

A bumper sticker and a T-shirt made up by one of this supporters, read: “Support Joe the Plumber. Vote McCain Palin. Obama’s friends are terrorists & communists.”

The rhetoric in Sen. McCain’s radio address was even sharper than his words on the stump. He invoked the notion of socialism, a economic theory that typically refers to government ownership of what is now private enterprise.

“You see, [Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it,” Sen. McCain said. “Joe, in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism.” He added: “In other words, Barack Obama’s tax plan would convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington.”

Some of his supporters are picking up the attacks, and taking them even further. A bumper sticker and a T-shirt made up by one of this supporters, who declined to give his name, read: “Support Joe the Plumber. Vote McCain Palin. Obama’s friends are terrorists & communists.” The terrorist reference is likely a nod to the McCain campaign’s charge that Sen. Obama was closer than he has said to a 1960s era radical who is now a college professor.

They discovered that he (Joe) would probably qualify for a tax cut under the Obama plan, that he may not be properly registered to vote and is not a licensed plumber.

Sen. McCain also painted Mr. Wurzelbacher as a victim of attacks from the Obama campaign. “Joes didn’t ask Sen. Obama to come to his house, and Joe didn’t ask to be famous,” Sen. McCain said at his rallies. “He certainly … didn’t ask for the political attacks on him from the Obama campaign.”

The national media descended on Mr. Wurzelbacher after Sen. McCain repeatedly mentioned him in Wednesday’s debate. They discovered that he would probably qualify for a tax cut under the Obama plan, that he may not be properly registered to vote and is not a licensed plumber.

Asked for examples of attacks from the Obama campaign, a McCain spokesman offered several quotes from Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, where he said that he doesn’t know any plumbers who make more than $250,000 a yearand therefore would face higher taxes under Sen. Obama’s plan. He also said on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” that he was worried about “Joe the real plumber with a license.”

Source: WSJ

McCain calls the Obama tax cut for the middle class and lower income earners – a government handout – as his wife Cindy McCain made an incredible $4.2 million last year – and over paid her taxes by $900,000 without realizing it. This for most of us is like going into your pockets and realizing – you left some money in there – which is always a surprise – but finding anything like $900,000 – for most would be extraordinary.

As the economy tanks and 760,000 job losses this year alone (this figure only counts those actively seeking work and not the long term unemployed who have given up looking) – McCain adopts a risky strategy – by calling the Obama tax cuts – a government handout, welfare and even socialism.

McCain risks isolating even Joe the Plumber – his new ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ and ‘Plane on eBay’ – as Obama’s plan – offers a better deal for all the Joe Plumbers out there. Joe the Plumber realizes as much – he has told reporters he would not benefit from McCain’s plan because he makes less (far less) than $250,000 a year. His point is he is not sure Obama will lower taxes as promised (but with a Democratic House and Senate – this might be very likely) and he admires the fact that John McCain fought in the war and was a POW. Nothing to do with taxes.

While people face uncertainty or hardship – if they have already lost their jobs – or can’t afford health insurance – and have become unwell or are afraid of falling ill – as 1 million have lost their homes and up to 12 million are living in homes which are not worth as much as they paid for them – McCain has a choice between at least 7 homes – one a ranch and his wife earned a terrific $4.2 million in 2007, McCain still feels that to offer tax relief to the middle class – is wrong.

Conservatives have described Obama as being Robin Hood – but is a 3% tax increase – stealing from the rich – it’s no wonder people of the time liked Robin Hood and why he is still remembered today – he gave people relief when they needed it most.

To make a comparison – Cindy McCain spent $300,000 on a single outfit to attend the first day of the GOP Convention. A person making $30,000/yr would need to work for 10 long years to buy that dress and earrings. If you were making $50,000 it would take you 6 years – for what Cindy McCain spent for use on a single day. Most people wouldn’t buy a dress with $300,000 – they would buy a house or put it towards a dream home – or pay off their mortgage and invest the rest. Put it in a college fund so their kids can go to university or save it for their retirement.

McCain talks about spreading opportunity ‘around’ – but look at the opportunity he and his wife have – Cindy McCain had the opportunity to pay $300,000 for a single outfit – which because Hurricane Ike was only able to wear for a few minutes. With all this privilege and wealth why then would McCain – not wish to help the very poor with an opportunity to buy a needed new coat – or help a young person to have the opportunity to go to college (considered special needs area of low priority) – or help a family to gat adequate health care – not by giving them a credit with one hand and taking or increasing taxes on health benefits – with the other – while deregulating or placing no controls on insurance companies – as he did with the banking industry.

Why is McCain only focused on what the rich have and want to use his Presidency to unsure the rich have even more – and for the poor – fine words – and smoke and mirrors – and more war – for Big Oil.

Conservatives have described Obama as being Robin Hood – but is a 3% tax increase – stealing from the rich – it’s no wonder people of the time liked Robin Hood and why he is still remembered today – he gave people relief when they needed it most.

Go to Obama Optimization
Freedom is the greatest God’s gift to mankind.

Statement:

    We are an eight-member group; stepping towards finding justice and liberty and look for alterations.

    We all believe if America changes and persuades universal thoughts, the world will also change and turn to a better place to live. Exactly like all the other unique services such as television, internet and hygiene that Americans have presented to improve general conditions.

    And today this is Obama who speaks about these reformations.

    We found our passions for freedom of thinking in Obama and attempt and pray for him to reach his targets.

    Hope to see a day in which all human beings can feel sweet sensation of liberty all over the world.

Purpose:

    Effective guidance of thoughts matching with Obama’s thoughts toward decisive victory of alterations system in America election in the remained golden opportunity.

If you want to be the best, so change!

Biden: We Are All Patriotic

He is the competent, confident leader who represents the aspirations of the United States.

It is inherent in the American character to aspire to greatness, so it can be disorienting when the nation stumbles or loses confidence in bedrock principles or institutions. That’s where the United States is as it prepares to select a new president: We have seen the government take a stake in venerable private financial houses; we have witnessed eight years of executive branch power grabs and erosion of civil liberties; we are still recovering from a murderous attack by terrorists on our own soil and still struggling with how best to prevent a recurrence.

We need a leader who demonstrates thoughtful calm and grace under pressure, one not prone to volatile gesture or capricious pronouncement. We need a leader well-grounded in the intellectual and legal foundations of American freedom. Yet we ask that the same person also possess the spark and passion to inspire the best within us: creativity, generosity and a fierce defense of justice and liberty.

Our nation has never before had a candidate like Obama, a man born in the 1960s, of black African and white heritage, raised and educated abroad as well as in the United States, and bringing with him a personal narrative that encompasses much of the American story but that, until now, has been reflected in little of its elected leadership. The excitement of Obama’s early campaign was amplified by that newness. But as the presidential race draws to its conclusion, it is Obama’s character and temperament that come to the fore. It is his steadiness. His maturity.

These are qualities American leadership has sorely lacked for close to a decade. The U.S. Constitution, more than two centuries old, now offers the world one of its more mature and certainly most stable governments, but our political culture is still struggling to shake off a brash and unseemly adolescence. In George W. Bush, the executive branch turned its back on an adult role in the nation and the world and retreated into self-absorbed unilateralism.

John McCain distinguished himself through much of the Bush presidency by speaking out against reckless and self-defeating policies. He earned The Times’ respect, and our endorsement in the California Republican primary, for his denunciation of torture, his readiness to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and his willingness to buck his party on issues such as immigration reform. But the man known for his sense of honor and consistency has since announced that he wouldn’t vote for his own immigration bill, and he redefined “torture” in such a disingenuous way as to nearly embrace what he once abhorred.

Indeed, the presidential campaign has rendered McCain nearly unrecognizable. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory. The decision calls into question just what kind of thinking — if that’s the appropriate word — would drive the White House in a McCain presidency. Fortunately, the public has shown more discernment, and the early enthusiasm for Palin has given way to national ridicule of her candidacy and McCain’s judgment.

Obama’s selection also was telling. He might have scored a steeper bump in the polls by making a more dramatic choice than the capable and experienced Joe Biden. But for all the excitement of his own candidacy, Obama has offered more competence than drama.

He is no lone rider. He is a consensus builder, a leader. As a constitutional scholar, he has articulated a respect for the rule of law and the limited power of the executive that make him the best hope of restoring balance and process to the Justice Department. He is a Democrat, leaning further left than right, and that should be reflected in his nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a good thing; the court operates best when it is ideologically balanced. With its present alignment at seven justices named by Republicans and two by Democrats, it is due for a tug from the left.

We are not sanguine about Obama’s economic policies. He speaks with populist sweep about taxing oil companies to give middle-class families rebates that of course they would welcome, but would be far too small to stimulate the economy. His ideas on taxation do not stray far from those put forward by Democrats over the last several decades. His response to the most recent, and drastic, fallout of the sub- prime mortgage meltdown has been appropriately cautious; this is uncharted territory, and Obama is not a master of economic theory or practice.

And that’s fine. Obama inspires confidence not so much in his grasp of Wall Street finance, but in his acknowledgment of and comfort with his lack of expertise. He will not be one to forge far-reaching economic policy without sounding out the best thinkers and practitioners, and he has many at his disposal. He has won the backing of some on Wall Street not because he’s one of them, but because they recognize his talent for extracting from a broad range of proposals a coherent and workable program.

On paper, McCain presents the type of economic program The Times has repeatedly backed: One that would ease the tax burden on business and other high earners most likely to invest in the economy and hire new workers. But he has been disturbingly unfocused in his response to the current financial situation, rushing to “suspend” his campaign and take action (although just what action never became clear). Having little to contribute, he instead chose to exploit the crisis.

We may one day look back on this presidential campaign in wonder. We may marvel that Obama’s critics called him an elitist, as if an Ivy League education were a source of embarrassment, and belittled his eloquence, as if a gift with words were suddenly a defect. In fact, Obama is educated and eloquent, sober and exciting, steady and mature. He represents the nation as it is, and as it aspires to be.

Source: LATimes

At one point in the debate McCain says congratulations Joe – you’re rich. The embarrassing truth is that the man is far from that. He certainly doesn’t have 7 homes (or was that 8). McCain is clueless! And worst he is arrogant.

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden questioned whether Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher is a “real” plumber Thursday after the Ohio citizen vaulted to the front of campaign dialogue during the final presidential debate.

“John [McCain] continues to cling to the notion of this guy Joe the plumber,” Biden said on NBC’s “Today” show. “I don’t have any Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year.”

“The Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood, the Joe the cops in my neighborhood, the Joe the grocery store owners in my neighborhood, they make, like 98 percent of the small businesses, less than $250,000 a year.”

A video that shows Wurzelbacher telling Barack Obama earlier this week that the Democrat’s tax plan would prevent him from buying the business he currently works for became an instant YouTube sensation and popular fodder for conservatives.

Obama told the plumber that it was time to “spread the wealth around,” a phrase McCain and his campaign have been reciting frequently.

Biden said he isn’t worried that Wurzelbacher would not get a tax cut under Obama’s plan.

“We think we should give that to the real Joe the plumbers, who make $65,000, $70,000, $80,000 bucks a year,” Biden said on CBS’s “Early Show.”

Source: Politico

Some voters in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll were disappointed by John McCain’s attacks and running mate choice. The poll found Barack Obama was supported by majorities of men and independents.

Some voters in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll were disappointed by John McCain’s attacks and running mate choice. The poll found Barack Obama was supported by majorities of men and independents.

Backfired

The McCain campaign’s recent angry tone and sharply personal attacks on Senator Barack Obama appear to have backfired and tarnished Senator John McCain more than their intended target, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll has found.

McCain Campaign Attacks

After several weeks in which the McCain campaign unleashed a series of strong political attacks on Mr. Obama, trying to tie him to a former 1960s radical, among other things, the poll found that more voters see Mr. McCain as waging a negative campaign than Mr. Obama. Six in 10 voters surveyed said that Mr. McCain had spent more time attacking Mr. Obama than explaining what he would do as president; by about the same number, voters said Mr. Obama was spending more of his time explaining than attacking.

Election Supposition

Over all, the poll found that if the election were held today, 53 percent of those determined to be probable voters said they would vote for Mr. Obama and 39 percent said they would vote for Mr. McCain.

Debate

The findings come as the race enters its final three weeks, with the two candidates scheduled to hold their third and last debate on Wednesday night, and as separate polls in critical swing states that could decide the election give Mr. Obama a growing edge. But wide gaps in polls have historically tended to narrow in the closing weeks of the race.

Opinions

Voters who said their opinions of Mr. Obama had changed recently were twice as likely to say they had grown more favorable as to say they had worsened. And voters who said that their views of Mr. McCain had changed were three times more likely to say that they had worsened than to say they had improved.

Gov. Sarah Palin Choice

The top reasons cited by those who said they thought less of Mr. McCain were his recent attacks and his choice of Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate. (The vast majority said their opinions of Mr. Obama of Illinois, the Democratic nominee, and Mr. McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, had remained unchanged in recent weeks.) But in recent days, Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin have scaled back their attacks on Mr. Obama, although Mr. McCain suggested he might aggressively take on Mr. Obama in Wednesday’s debate.

Confidence

With the election unfolding against the backdrop of an extraordinary economic crisis, a lack of confidence in government, and two wars, the survey described a very inhospitable environment for any Republican to run for office. More than 8 in 10 Americans do not trust the government to do what is right, the highest ever recorded in a Times/CBS News poll. And Mr. McCain is trying to keep the White House in Republican hands at a time when President Bush’s job approval rating is at 24 percent, hovering near its historic low.

Obama vs. McCain

While the poll showed Mr. Obama with a 14 percentage-point lead among likely voters in a head-to-head matchup with Mr. McCain, when Ralph Nader and Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate, were included in the question, the race narrowed slightly, with 51 percent of those surveyed saying that they were supporting Mr. Obama and 39 percent supporting Mr. McCain, with Mr. Nader getting the support of 3 percent and Mr. Barr 1 percent. Other national polls have shown Mr. Obama ahead by a smaller margin.

Members of Congress

The poll suggested that the overwhelming anxiety about the economy and distrust of government have created a potentially poisonous atmosphere for members of Congress. Only 43 percent of those surveyed said that they approved of their own representative’s job performance, which is considerably lower than approval ratings have been at other times of historic discontent. By way of comparison, just before the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, 56 percent of those polled said that they approved of the job their representative was doing.

Republican vs. Democrat Rule

And after nearly eight years of increasingly unpopular Republican rule in the White House, 52 percent of those polled said that they held a favorable view of the Democratic Party, compared with 37 percent who said they held a favorable view of the Republican Party. Voters said they preferred Democrats to Republicans when it came to questions about who would better handle the issues that are of the greatest concern to voters — including the economy, health care and the war in Iraq.

Nationwide Telephone Poll

The nationwide telephone poll was conducted Friday through Monday with 1,070 adults, of whom 972 were registered voters, and it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points for both groups.

Past Associations

After several weeks in which the McCain campaign sought to tie Mr. Obama to William Ayers, a founder of the Weather Underground terrorism group, 64 percent of voters said that they had either read or heard something about the subject. But a majority said they were not bothered by Mr. Obama’s background or past associations. Several people said in follow-up interviews that they felt that Mr. McCain’s attacks on Mr. Obama were too rooted in the past, or too unconnected to the nation’s major problems.

Issues vs. Attacks

“What bothers me is that McCain initially talked about running a campaign on issues and I want to hear him talk about the issues,” said Flavio Lorenzoni, a 59-year-old independent from Manalapan, N.J. “But we’re being constantly bombarded with attacks that aren’t relevant to making a decision about what direction McCain would take the country. McCain hasn’t addressed the real issues. He’s only touched on them very narrowly. This is a time when we need to address issues much more clearly than they ever have been in the past.”

Independents

The poll found that Mr. Obama is now supported by majorities of men and independents, two groups that he has been fighting to win over. And the poll found, for the first time, that white voters are just about evenly divided between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama, who, if elected, would be the first black president. The poll found that Mr. Obama is supported by 45 percent of white voters — a greater percentage than has voted for Democrats in recent presidential elections, according to exit polls.

Favorability

Mr. McCain was viewed unfavorably by 41 percent of voters, and favorably by 36 percent. Ms. Palin’s favorability rating is now 32 percent, down 8 points from last month, and her unfavorable rating climbed nine percentage points to 41 percent. Mr. Obama’s favorability rating, by contrast, is now at 50 percent, the highest recorded for him thus far by The Times and CBS News.

Prepared

There were still some strong findings for Mr. McCain. Sixty-four percent of voters polled said Mr. McCain, 72, was well-prepared for the presidency, which has been a central theme of his campaign. Fifty-one percent said Mr. Obama, 47, was.

Temperament

But roughly 7 in 10 voters said Mr. Obama had the right kind of temperament and personality to be president; just over half said the same of Mr. McCain.

Enthusiasm

Mr. Obama’s supporters continued to be more enthusiastic about him than Mr. McCain’s supporters, the poll found, and more of those surveyed said they had confidence in Mr. Obama than in Mr. McCain to make the right decisions about the economy and health care. And while more than 6 in 10 said Mr. Obama understood the needs and problems of people like them, more than half said Mr. McCain did not.

Source: NYT

Biden on ‘The McCain I knew.’

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. was joined at an appearance on Sunday in Scranton, Pa., by Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

SCRANTON, Pa. — The Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., sharing a stage with Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the first time this year, said the campaign of Senator John McCain was stooping to stunts and “ugly inferences” because it was losing and was out of ideas.

Rousing a crowd estimated by the police at 6,000 on an otherwise quiet day on the campaign trail, Mr. Biden said Mr. McCain’s campaign had become erratic, a reference to Mr. McCain’s changing positions on the financial crisis and his decision two weeks ago to suspend his campaign briefly to deal with it.

“Presidents have to supply steady leadership,” Mr. Biden told the friendly crowd in this northeastern Pennsylvania city where he spent the first 10 years of his life. He said Mr. McCain had become increasingly desperate and negative because he saw the presidency “slipping from his grasp.”

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee dismissed Mr. Biden’s remarks as “standard stuff” from the Democratic ticket. He declined to comment further.

The Scranton event drew a larger-than-usual crowd for Mr. Biden because of the presence of the Clintons. Mr. Clinton remains popular in this heavily Democratic, blue-collar city, and Mrs. Clinton’s father grew up and is buried here. The Clintons were in Scranton on Sunday to attend the christening of her brother Tony’s newborn son, Simon Joseph Rodham.

“We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.” Hillary Clinton

In the Democratic primary in April, Mrs. Clinton trounced Senator Barack Obama 74 to 26 percent in Lackawanna County, which includes Scranton. Mr. Obama has deployed Mr. Biden here and in other white working-class enclaves to try to win those voters who preferred Mrs. Clinton by such huge margins.

Mr. Clinton, in brief remarks at the beginning of the program, spoke as much about his wife as about the Obama-Biden ticket. People close to Mr. Clinton say he remains bitter about suggestions by Mr. Obama’s supporters that he incited racial animosity during the primaries in support of his wife’s candidacy.

Mr. Obama has been sparing in his use of the former president as a campaign surrogate, although Mr. Clinton left Scranton immediately after speaking to campaign for Mr. Obama in Virginia, a state, Mr. Clinton noted, that had not gone Democratic in a presidential contest for 40 years.

Mr. Clinton said Mrs. Clinton had already made 50 appearances on behalf of Mr. Obama. “She has not only done more to support him than any runner-up in the Democratic primary process in my lifetime,” he said, “she has done more than all the other runners-up combined.”

He spoke warmly of Mr. Biden, whom he has known for more than two decades. He said the choice of vice president was more crucial this year than in the past because the next president would be consumed by the global financial emergency.

“I hope you know that the next vice president for the first two years will be relatively more important in the larger world than has ever been the case because the president is going to have to close the door to the Oval Office and get this country out of the ditch,” Mr. Clinton said.

But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

In her remarks, Mrs. Clinton offered an updated version of an applause line from her own campaign, saying: “It took a Democratic president to clean up after the last President Bush. It’s going to take a Democratic president to clean up after this President Bush.” (In the primaries, it was “It took a Clinton …”)

She then added a new coda: “We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. America will once again rise from the ashes of the Bushes.”

Mr. Biden barely mentioned his Republican vice-presidential rival, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. But he did say that in their televised debate 10 days ago Ms. Palin said she was not certain that global warming was caused by human activity.

“How in the hell — heck — are you going to change it,” Mr. Biden said, “unless you know what caused it?”

The Democratic ticket is leading in Pennsylvania, according to recent polls, although the McCain campaign is devoting a significant effort to trying to narrow the gap.

Source: NYT

What was not cleared up in this video – was that the Obama campaign paid a group called Citizen Services the $800,000 to register people to vote – who then subcontracted Acorn in a few States for around $80,000. You can see this here* when Bertha Lewis talks again about Acorn on CSPAN.

The trouble is that they have to submit every form regardless of whether or not they feel that the form was not filled out honestly. Their policy is to telephone or contact the voter at least 3 times to verify the registration.

When workers are paid to go out and get people registered – some people will sit home – or sit somewhere – and simply fraudulently fill out the forms. Acorn has taken action against people who have done just that – and if you’re working to get over 1M people registered – showing that there is a problem with 0.01% of these forms is not a bad feat – and many of these Acorn has flagged as fraudulent or suspicious themselves.

*CSPAN: Bertha Lewis, ACORN, interviewed by Alexander Burns, The Politico, & Chris Good, The Hill

The black guy can’t win. The black guy with the middle name “Hussein” can’t win. The black guy with the  middle name “Hussein” who has “most liberal voting record” in the Senate just can’t win. So if and when the terrorist-loving, radical ideology-embracing, “he doesn’t see America like you and I see America” skinny black guy from Chicago wins the presidency, the only logical explanation is that he stole it.

So goes the perverted “logic” of the panicked right these days, as the entire right-wing noise machine roars up into another faux frenzy this week regarding alleged “voter fraud.”

This was, after all, supposed to be the age of the “permanent Republican majority.”

As McCain’s numbers having nose-dived in the last week, some Republicans have dived head-first into the realm of conspiracy theories in order to sow the seeds of speculation that Democrats are going to “steal” this election. This week has provided some news items which they are using as kinder for their tinfoil bonfire.

ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), is an organization which has been registering voters in low-income areas. Volunteers at some chapters (who are paid per registration) have been found guilty of submitting to ACORN fake voter registrations. That, obviously, is a crime.

Indeed, as this screencap from John McCain’s “Strategy Briefing” demonstrates, the entire McCain campaign was premised on the idea that voters do not think Obama is “one of them”:

ACORN is obligated by law to turn over all voter registration forms, even the fake ones, but it flags those it believes are suspicious (Mickey Mouse, John Q. Public, etc.) While the why of the situation remains unclear, ACORN’s Nevada office was raided this week in connection with a voter registration fraud probe.

Ben Smith at Politico, like many others across the blogosphere, puts the ACORN story into perspective:

The key distinction here is between voter fraud and voter registration fraud, one of which is truly dangerous, the other a petty crime.

The former would be, say, voting the cemeteries or stuffing the ballot boxes. This has happened occasionally in American history, though I can think of recent instances only in rare local races. Practically speaking, this can most easily be done by whoever is actually administering the election, which is why partisan observers carefully oversee the vote-counting process.

The latter is putting the names of fake voters on the rolls, something that happens primarily when organizations, like Acorn, pay contractors for new voter registrations. That can be a crime, and it messes up the voter files, but there’s virtually no evidence these imaginary people then vote in November. The current stories about Acorn don’t even allege a plan to affect the November vote.

When the reporter calls him out on the distinction between “voter registration fraud” and “voter fraud,” Graham palinizes his response:

Asked to identify non-existent people who have voted in the presidential election, Graham said: “Have you been following the ACORN investigation out there? They’re registering people who don’t exist.” He said there are multiple registrations going on. “One lady registered 11 times. I’m saying that the dynamic out here of voter fraud is something we’re concerned about.”

Republicans are pushing the irrational theory that Democrats are “cheating” their way to the White House because for them, the real reason for a possible Republican defeat would be irrational.

In this atmosphere, maybe having a “liberal” president who favors reasonable regulation and stringent oversight isn’t a bad thing after all.

This was, after all, supposed to be the age of the “permanent Republican majority.” America is a “conservative country” we’ve been told. Indeed, as this screencap from John McCain’s “Strategy Briefing” demonstrates, the entire McCain campaign was premised on the idea that voters do not think Obama is “one of them”:

But that screencap is from many months ago, before the full brunt of the failure of conservative policies has come to the foreground with the resounding “thud” of a stock market collapse. In this atmosphere, maybe having a “liberal” president who favors reasonable regulation and stringent oversight isn’t a bad thing after all. And maybe, when voters are worried about how to pay for health care, voting for the Republican who touts the ability of the “market” to deal with the problem doesn’t seem that appealing anymore. 

And maybe, when voters are worried about how to pay for health care, voting for the Republican who touts the ability of the “market” to deal with the problem doesn’t seem that appealing anymore.

The middle class is being cheated. And they know–as much as Republicans would like for them to forget–which party has been in power for the last eight years. And as they flock to a candidate who promises them change from failed Republican policies, panicked Republicans flock to conspiracy theories.

Blaming a possible Democratic victory on “voter fraud” is much easier than acknowledging that a resounding Democratic victory would be a wholesale rejection of Republican governance. And it’s easier than admitting that voters–yes, Senator Graham, maybe even voters in Indiana and North Carolina–like what the liberal black guy from Chicago is saying about the middle class.

So let them wrap themselves in tin foil. Let them revel in nuttery now. They can use that tin foil to wipe their eyes if and when–as the polls suggest–they will be wallowing in defeat in November.

Source: Daily Kos

Karl Rove and President Bush in a moment of emotion in August 2007 after Mr. Rove announced that he was leaving the post of White House political adviser to Mr. Bush.

Karl Rove and President Bush in a moment of emotion in August 2007 after Mr. Rove announced that he was leaving the post of White House political adviser to Mr. Bush.

The boy who would be obsessed with the facts – while most of us would have been satisfied that we had blocks as a child – Karl Rove would have counted his — and moved to sorting them out into colors and levels of importance.

WASHINGTON — Karl Rove has inspired a generation of Republican imitators, Democratic vilifiers and, in this election, a term that has reached full-on political buzzword status: “Rovian.”As in, this presidential campaign has been rife with “Rovian tactics” in recent days. This essentially means aggressive tactics — or dirty, in the view of Democrats, who use the term often, and not lovingly.“John McCain has gone Karl Rovian,” Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. said at a recent campaign stop, a variation on a standard stump line from Senator Barack Obama’s running mate.

On Fox News after the presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers

Karl Rove, of course, is the revered and reviled Republican maestro who has become ubiquitous in his new career as a commentator, columnist and conversation-starter. He left the Bush administration 13 months ago, yet continues to loom over a campaign that has become the backdrop for his post-White House reinvention.

With Senator Barack Obama, in January 2005, when Mr. Obama and other newly elected members of Congress attended a reception in their honor in the East Room of the White House.

With Senator Barack Obama, in January 2005, when Mr. Obama and other newly elected members of Congress attended a reception in their honor in the East Room of the White House.

On Fox News after Tuesday’s presidential debate, Mr. Rove said Gov. Sarah Palin had done a “very good job” of bringing up Mr. Obama’s past associations to the 1960s-era radical William Ayers, a guilt-by-association tactic that many Democrats decried, naturally, as “Rovian.” Last weekend, Mr. Rove said on his Web site, Rove.com, that Mr. Obama, based on a compilation of recent polling, would win 273 electoral votes — enough to defeat Senator John McCain if the election were held then. While polls had shown the momentum swinging to Mr. Obama, to hear the so-called architect of the Bush presidency saying so was deemed a watershed development among political insiders.

“His name seems as pervasive now as it ever was,” Dan Bartlett, the former senior counselor to President Bush, said of Mr. Rove.

Indeed he does — even though the patron with whom Mr. Rove will always be tied, Mr. Bush, owns some of the lowest presidential-approval ratings ever; even though the “Republican realignment” Mr. Rove once envisioned seems a far-off fantasy.

But Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand, forming the basis of his lucrative post-White House career as a reported seven-figure author, six-figure television commentator and mid-five-figure speaker.

Mr. Rove with Senator John McCain, a bitter Bush rival in the 2000 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination who went on to campaign for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004.

Mr. Rove with Senator John McCain, a bitter Bush rival in the 2000 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination who went on to campaign for the Bush-Cheney ticket in 2004.

He was in Philadelphia on Monday for a “debate” with former Senator Max Cleland, the Georgia Democrat who lost an arm and two legs in Vietnam. Mr. Cleland lost his 2002 re-election bid after his Republican opponent, Saxby Chambliss, questioned his commitment to domestic security, running an advertisement featuring likenesses of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Many Democrats remain bitter over that defeat, for which Mr. Cleland still largely blames Mr. Rove.

“It’s a source of income for me,” Mr. Cleland said of the Monday joint appearance, sponsored by an insurance trade group, for which he said he was paid $15,000. (Mr. Rove’s speeches reportedly bring $40,000.)

Mr. Rove’s lingering impact, perceived power and even his bogyman status continue to place him in great demand

Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”

It can pay to be the devil himself, or at least thought of that way. “There is an incredible amount of interest in what Karl Rove has to say,” said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign, who appears with Mr. Rove on Fox News.

Mr. Wolfson said he was amazed by how often Democrats asked him what Mr. Rove was like off the air. “When I say he’s nice, people look at me like I’m nuts,” he said.

Mr. Rove declined an interview for this article, but engaged somewhat by e-mail. He said little on the record, ignored some questions and was dismissive of others. “Look,” he wrote, “I don’t mean to be rude but I have so much on my plate that my brain explodes when you ask questions like how much of my time I spend on each of my activities or how did I apply skills to my new chapter, et cetera. I can answer simple questions of fact but I am stretched through the election.”

But it clearly delights him, for instance, that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts went on about “the smears of Karl Rove” during his speech at the Democratic National Convention in August. Mr. Rove helpfully pasted a passage from Mr. Kerry’s speech on Rove.com, under the headline “The Losers Have Spoken.”

Going up against Mr. Rove, Mr. Cleland said, “is like going up against the devil himself.”

Two top McCain campaign aides, Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace, worked closely with Mr. Rove in the White House and are commonly referred to as “Rove protégés,” a designation that both dispute. Mr. McCain’s top advisers shudder at the perception that Mr. Rove is calling shots for their campaign — in part because his reputation is toxic among many swing voters, and perhaps the best-known victim of “Rovian” hardball tactics was Mr. McCain himself in the 2000 Republican primary campaign.

People close to Mr. Rove said he was determined to leave his mark on this race through public channels. He prepares diligently for his television appearances, and sprinkles his commentaries with the kind of wonkery that goes well beyond the repertoire of most talking heads. (“The Urban Institute and the Brookings Institutions did a study of the Obama tax plan,” Mr. Rove said on Fox’s “Hannity and Colmes” after the Tuesday debate. “The top 5 percent will pay $131 billion more in taxes.”)

Shortly after Mr. Rove left the Bush administration, the Washington lawyer Robert B. Barnett negotiated contracts for Mr. Rove — as a paid speaker, as an author, as a Fox News commentator and as a columnist for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal.

“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,”

Rove.com provides listings of Mr. Rove’s television appearances and columns, an outlet for Mr. Rove to respond to attacks against him in the news media and a place in which he links to articles about himself. “Karl tends to follow what is being said about him, somewhat obsessively I think,” said Scott McClellan, a former White House spokesman under Mr. Bush.

Likewise, Mr. Rove’s public words are closely scoured for hidden meaning. He recently said on Fox News that Mr. McCain’s campaign should be doing more to connect Mr. Obama to the former executives of the fallen lending giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The next day, Mr. McCain’s campaign released an advertisement doing just that.

“Is John McCain’s campaign taking political directives on how to handle the economic crisis from Karl Rove?” asked the columnist Sam Stein, writing for The Huffington Post.

Political strategists and analysts note the telltale “Rovian” influences on the McCain campaign, especially since Mr. Schmidt was given day-to-day authority in July. The campaign has taken a more aggressive tack against Mr. Obama and developed a sharper rapid-response apparatus, said Ed Rollins, a longtime Republican strategist. (“Very Rove,” Mr. Rollins said.)

Over the summer, the McCain campaign embarked on the classic Rovian strategy of taking an opponent’s perceived strength — in the case of Mr. Obama, his international popularity and ability to draw big crowds — and tried to turn it into a liability, likening Mr. Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

“Karl Rove might not be the architect anymore, but he certainly left a set of blueprints in the room,” said Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist and a friend of Mr. Rove, conveying a mixture of suspicion and admiration.

Source: NYT

Angelina Jolie won’t officially endorse a candidate, despite one being actively sought from both campaigns, but she had nice words for the Democratic nominee in the the German edition of Vanity Fair:

“Obama Would Be Great For My Family”

“Obama is fighting for international justice, he wants to intervene militarily in genocides abroad, and he wants to close down Guantanamo Bay. They are things which could move me to vote for him, not his roots. Of course, an American president like Barack Obama would be great for my family.”

But that isn’t “reason enough to vote for him.”

On being American:
“I am very proud of being American, and all my children have got American passports.

“For me, our family is just what America is – a melting pot, a mixture of many different races and nations,” she says. “My children should be proud of their Asian and African roots, but that in no way means [is] a lack of respect for the fact that they and their parents are Americans.”

Source: HP

Like leader – like follower. Many of those following the John McCain campaign are angry – with an added touch of Palin spitefulness – versus the Obama supporter who shows another frame of mind – with Obama its work hard – know what’s against you – whereas the McCain supporter which seems to be dependent on an old order and the assumption that this base of support will automatically be in place – and now we see the violent/angry reaction when it is not.

It is evident from the way Mr. McCain debates – that he is heavily reliant on this power-support or on a sense of supremacy – and when he stands alone in front of the world – with Barack Obama it appears he is reaching for it. The Republican Convention was a little like McCain at the Puerto Rican Craps table – where he becomes untouchable – because of who ‘I am’ – a former POW, and a Senator for 20 odd years. This is the kind of power-framework which he has placed himself in – and therefore he becomes untouchable by Barack Obama, and through that he wins the election – in his own mind.

While McCain is attached to past glories – we have a catastrophic economic crisis – not since the Great Depression and maybe never – as its fallout is not complete – this while McCain is trying to lock everyone into his frame of mind – which is – more than what I will do for you – its what I have done for you – or what I have did – that’s more important – so he’s running on past glories – but what he is offering and expects you to accept – is more of the same – almost the same as what Bush offered – tax cuts for the wealthy who don’t need them as much as the less well off especially in these times – and he is expecting you to accept this – not because they are rational choices – but purely because he was a war hero – and because he has been a Senator for more years than Obama.

With the information age – we can look at his military record (reckless/maverick/lucky), we can look at what he did and didn’t do in the Senate – and we can put that with his plan for the future – and we can look at the current economic state – and say we are going to need more than a touching story about a man who survived the horrors of being a POW. People have children to feed – and a tax cut for the top 5% of the wealthiest people in America – along with benefits for corporations – is not going to help my family – or most of the people I know.

Mr. McCain’s image is his world – it is what he looks at the world through – and when it is challenged, threatened or slighted in anyway – he defends it with his anger. By being behind in the polls – more than anything he sees it as a rejection of his image – of the POW who fought for his country, like so many others and the senator who served – senators make good and bad decisions – so therefore by rejecting his image – he turns to his anger in an attack directed at Obama’s image. But attacking a man who cares less about image – likely will not produce the results that were hoped for.

What we are seeing is a man leading people with this misplaced anger – and its no wonder his crowd is angry – as they also believe people should see McCain’s image. And no matter what he says or what he believes or what he is offering – the image of Mr. McCain should trump everything.

McCain’s image – like Palin’s image of a moose-hunting, polar bear-despising, extreme-anti-abortionist drill-baby-drill final-solution locks her appeal into too narrow a group – has not managed to multiply the women’s vote as expected – by putting a negative, dirty and hateful spin on it – will drive people away from their limited vision faster – and worst you’ll get the wrong types of people being attracted. Unfortunately that’s what has happened – Palin/McCain rallies are turning into Iran – Death to Obama – Obama’s the Great Evil – and WWII Country First/more Country Űber Alle. Signs of this emerged during the GOP convention – and now it is being played out on the stump. At one rally a black camera man was insulted (Palin’s husband and children are part Eskimo) – versus Barack Obama’s DNC Convention – which he not only said but you could see – this was one America – this is not a Black America or a White America this is the united States of America.

With McCain as President – we could expect a leader – who executes his power through his anger – not healthy. A leader who looks backwards – with an over reliance on an image – that has a place – but is no longer as relevant. With Obama as president – we could expect a healing – a thoughtful approach to the environment, to issues which concern women and families, both Wall Street and Main Street, and a forward lookingness to face some of the technological challenges America will face in the near future.

PRINCETON, NJ — The latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking report shows Barack Obama with a 52% to 41% lead over John McCain.

These results, based on Oct. 5-7 polling, are the best for Obama during the campaign, both in terms of his share of the vote and the size of his lead over McCain. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.)

Nearly all interviews in today’s report were conducted before Tuesday night’s town hall style debate in Nashville. Any movement in voter preferences as a result of this debate will be apparent in coming days.

Voter preferences seem to have stabilized for the moment, as Obama has held a double-digit lead over McCain in each of the last three individual nights of polling.

Concern about the economy seems to be playing to Obama’s advantage; he overtook McCain when the financial crisis worsened in the middle of September, and his strong showing today coincides with the worst rating of the economy this year (59% of Americans describe current economic conditions as “poor”). — Jeff Jones


(Click here to see how the race currently breaks down by demographic subgroup.)

Survey Methods

For the Gallup Poll Daily tracking survey, Gallup is interviewing no fewer than 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide each day during 2008.

The general-election results are based on combined data from Oct. 5-7, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,747 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Source: Gallup

Palin crackdown un unruly crowd ~
Yeah – right!
I’ll believe that when I see it.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden called out his GOP rivals for their attacks of late, accusing John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, of practicing the politics of “fear” in their attacks against Democratic candidate Barack Obama. But Biden stopping short of calling it racism.

Joe Biden arrives at Tampa International Airport to speak a rally at the University of South Florida
At a rally in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Biden had some harsh words for the Republican ticket. “They’re going to take the low road, the low road to the highest office in the land,” Biden said.

The Delaware senator, a long-time Senate colleague and friend of McCain, said the Arizona senator had filled his campaign with some of the “political manipulators” from President George W. Bush’s team in 2000. He brought up that year’s South Carolina primary, when rumors spread that the McCains’ adopted daughter was McCain’s child from an affair.

“The McCain campaign went out and hired some of the very political manipulators in the Republican primary who, in 2000, led those vicious attacks against John’s daughter and John’s lovely wife,” Biden said.

He continued: “They’re attacking Barack Obama in the ugliest of ways. Ladies and gentleman, this is beyond disappointing, this is beyond disappointing, this is wrong.”

As for McCain’s comment at a rally this week in New Mexico–when the Republican nominee asked “Who is the real Barack Obama?”–Biden said it was a “veiled” question and an “appeal to fear.” He also responded to Palin’s attacks of late, where she insinuated that Obama has a close relationship with 1960s-radical-turned-college-professor Bill Ayers. “To have a vice presidential candidate raise the most outrageous inferences, the ones that John McCain’s campaign is condoning, is simply wrong,” he said.

UPDATE: Responding to Biden’s comments, McCain campaign spokesman Ben Porritt did not defend the original attacks but instead lobbed another round at the Democrats. “What Barack Obama and his running mate fundamentally lack is a record of making change or reform and in turn the credibility to call for it,” he said. “Their ‘run with the herd’ mentality, radical associations, and partisan proposals have made them the most liberal ticket in political history.”

Source: WSJ

In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, John F. Kennedy’s nephew discusses Barack Obama’s leadership potential, why it’s difficult to compare the candidate with the former president and his gripe with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

'He's tempered, thoughtful and reflective -- important qualities to have in a leader.'

A campaign button worn by a supporter of US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama: 'He's tempered, thoughtful and reflective -- important qualities to have in a leader.'

SPIEGEL: Do you think that trust in American capitalism has been shattered by the finance crisis?

Anthony Kennedy Shriver: Over the course of time our country has faced enormous challenges, many far greater than this one — the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the riots in Chicago and Indianapolis and Watergate, which rocked confidence in the political system. The country will get through this, and we’ll be stronger and better than before. We have enormous resilience.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver, 43, is the fourth- youngest nephew of John F. Kennedy. He lives in Miami, where he runs Best Buddies, an international non- profit organization that serves the intellectually handicapped. So far he has stayed away from politics, but Shriver says he is still young and could change his mind.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver, 43, is the fourth- youngest nephew of John F. Kennedy. He lives in Miami, where he runs Best Buddies, an international non- profit organization that serves the intellectually handicapped. So far he has stayed away from politics, but Shriver says he is still young and could change his mind.

Shriver: Not at all. This is going to be our biggest and best year ever financially. We just held a huge bike ride fundraiser out in California with help from my brother-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger and my sister Maria Shriver, and it raised 30 percent more money this year than we did last year. The Best Buddies Ball is scheduled for October and we’ve increased revenue by 220 percent over last year. You’ve got to be more creative and work harder to appeal to people. There’s nothing I can do about the economy, obviously. You just have to realize there are obstacles in front of you and you have to figure out how to get over them and do better than in the past.

SPIEGEL: Who has the best plan to heal the economy, John McCain or Barack Obama?

Shriver: This is not about who has the best plan. Great challenges always bring people together, and this will do for the United States what we haven’t seen in many years. The World-War-II generation had a common bond — they fought together to overcome a great enemy during the war. That created a sense of respect and dignity in Congress. But a lot of people there now, many of whom are my age and younger, have never faced anything that’s really been that challenging. Sept. 11 was a great tragedy, but it didn’t make us work together as a nation. The economic challenge could bring the country together, including the White House and Congress, to rally behind something that is challenging the whole fabric of our society.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying it doesn’t matter who becomes the next president, that McCain or Obama will both be forced to bring the country together?

The crowd erupts moments after US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Victory Column at Tiergaten Park, July 24, 2008, in Berlin, Germany. Obama warned America could not quell violence in Afghanistan alone, and called on Europe for more troops and funding to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Obama in Berlin: The crowd erupts moments after US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama delivers a speech at the Victory Column at Tiergaten Park, July 24, 2008, in Berlin, Germany. Obama warned America could not quell violence in Afghanistan alone, and called on Europe for more troops and funding to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Shriver: No. It matters enormously who becomes president for many reasons other than the current economic crisis. It’s very important that Obama get elected because he would take the country in the right direction. There’s a huge difference in the way they view the role government plays in people’s lives in the US and the role Washington plays in the world.

SPIEGEL: Obama would likely be very different from McCain — he’d call for greater regulation of financial markets and increased international diplomacy. He’d be the antithesis of Bush.

Shriver: Bush totally blew it by not capitalizing on the international spirit of goodwill and the desire to help America after the tragedy of 9/11. He lost it, and I think you don’t get many opportunities like that your lifetime.

SPIEGEL: How do you feel about Obama’s lack of experience?

Shriver: I understand people’s concern about that. It is important to be out there in the world, meeting heads of state and traveling, and for this years of public service are certainly key. I don’t necessarily think you have to have held political office, but I think you do need to be informed and have engaged with people in a public way for a considerable period of time. That’s not a highlight of his resume, but he’s got many other things going for him. He’s got excellent judgment, and you can tell a lot about people based on the decisions they’ve made in their lives.

SPIEGEL: By judgment you mean that he spoke out against the Iraq War when it was still popular?

Shriver: Yeah. It gives you a sense that he’s tempered, thoughtful and reflective — important qualities to have in a leader.

SPIEGEL: Your uncle, John F. Kennedy, didn’t have a lot of experience when he came into office, either.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) near the Brandenburg Gate on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves in front of the Victory Column (Siegessaeule) near the Brandenburg Gate on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Shriver: He had quite a bit. He had been a Congressman and a Senator. He also gained a lot of experiencing fighting in World War II, which made him a hero. He wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book and traveled and lived abroad.

SPIEGEL: Granted, that is a bit more than Obama.

Shriver: But look at Sarah Palin. She seems like a nice enough woman, but it’s horrifying that people in the US would consider somebody who didn’t even have a passport until last year and oversees one of the smallest states by population in the whole union — someone who has little political and no worldly experience — as a serious candidate for vice president.

SPIEGEL: Your organization Best Buddies works with children with disabilities. Palin has a child with Down syndrome. You, like many Americans, must sympathize with her for that.

Shriver: She gets sympathy for it, but it doesn’t mean anything to me. I wrote to her before she had that baby, and she didn’t even pay attention to us. So now she’s a great hero because she has a baby with Down syndrome. That baby is going to be a great gift for her, but it doesn’t mean she’d make a good president.

SPIEGEL: What’s more important — for a president to inspire people or to have the best programs?

Shriver: The best scenario is to have the substance and the inspiration. That’s why President Kennedy was so effective and unique. Obama clearly has the ability to inspire, but it is difficult to compare him to someone like Kennedy, who had the chance to serve in the White House and had a record of delivering in really challenging times.

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivers his speech in front of the Siegessaeule on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will give a major speech on the historic U.S.-German partnership, and the need to strengthen Transatlantic relations to meet 21st century challenges in front of the Siegessaeule at the Grosser Stern in Tiergarten Park.

BERLIN - JULY 24: U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama delivers his speech in front of the Siegessaeule on July 24, 2008 in Berlin, Germany. Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will give a major speech on the historic U.S.-German partnership, and the need to strengthen Transatlantic relations to meet 21st century challenges in front of the Siegessaeule at the Grosser Stern in Tiergarten Park.

SPIEGEL: In the course of the campaign, did you get the feeling that Obama overdid it a little bit by comparing himself to your uncle all the time? His campaign chose a stadium for his nomination ceremony — emulating John F. Kennedy, who also accepted his nomination at a stadium in the 1960s — and often held events at schools that bear his name.

Shriver: It’s common in the United States for young, aspiring leaders as well as older ones to want to connect themselves to political leaders or individuals who are highly respected and admired. Obama’s not the first one, either. John Kerry tried to talk about President Kennedy, saying he was also from Massachusetts, had served as a Senator and had the same initials: John F. Kerry.

SPIEGEL: But if you overdo it you might come across as displaying too much hubris.

Shriver: It’s always risky to compare yourself with an iconic figure. You run the risk of coming out on the wrong end of the equation.

SPIEGEL: Your brother-in-law, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, talks very fondly of Obama. Could he end up in an Obama administration, even though he’s a Republican?

Shriver: He’s very open-minded, and in the end it would depend on the job and what kind of an impact he thought he could have. I think if it was the right opportunity, he’d do it. Many of the values and positions he holds are very much in line with the Democratic Party platform; he also has some from the Republican platform.

Source: Der Spiegel

Palin used to be clueless – now she’s cruel.

While the presidential campaign has taken a decidedly personal and vicious tilt these past few days, one individual who has generally been left out of the fray has been Sen. Joe Biden. That’s because the Delaware Democrat has been off the trail bereaving the loss of his mother-in-law to a heart attack.

As such an informal detente has been in place when it comes to attacking him. But on Tuesday, Sarah Palin broke the truce.

Speaking to a rabid crowd in Florida, the Alaska Governor was set to focus her ire primarily on Barack Obama. And, for the most part, she did, arguing that he was associated with domestic terrorists, tied to the heads of evil Fannie Mae and dangerously committed to hosting summits of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Then, however, she let loose. “Will [Obama] now claim that his ticket doesn’t define higher taxes as patriotic? Remember that’s what Joe Biden had said. Will he claim that he has just learned now that tax increases on small businesses kill jobs?”

Certainly the Biden dig was much softer than those aimed at the head of the ticket. But with the Senator having been off the trail for the past several days, Palin surely was aware of the elements behind his absence. Whether she slipped up or this was deliberate is another matter.

Source: HP

Bonny Jean Jacobs, 78, the mother-in-law of Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic vice presidential nominee, died this afternoon after a long illness, according to a spokesman for the Biden campaign.

Mr. Biden has canceled all campaign appearances Monday and Tuesday to be with his wife, Jill Jacobs Biden, and their families.

Source: NYT

At the vice presidential debate in St. Louis, the McCain campaign rented out a stadium to re-energize the conservative base in light of Sarah Palin’s recent gaffes. Despite the revival feel, zeal for Palin isn’t translating in the polls. While some would argue Palin exceeded expectations, unregistered voters seem unimpressed.

Source: ANP

On the eve of the penultimate presidential debate, a new TIME/CNN poll shows John McCain still struggling in states won by George W. Bush in 2004, a sign that last week’s vice presidential debate had little effect on voter opinion.

In North Carolina, which Bush won by more than 12 percentage points in both 2000 and 2004, McCain and Obama are locked in a dead heat, with each candidate garnering the support of 49% of likely voters. In Indiana, which Bush won by 21 points in 2004 and 16 points in 2000, McCain maintains a slight 5 point lead over Obama, with 51% of likely voters, compared to Obama’s 46%.

In the crucial swing state of Ohio, which Bush won by slight margins in both 2000 and 2004, McCain trails Obama by 3 points, with the support of 47% of voters, compared to Obama’s 50%. Obama also holds a statistically significant 8 point lead over McCain in New Hampshire and a 5 point lead in Wisconsin, two states that Democrat John Kerry was able to win in 2004.

As a result of the new survey, CNN now considers New Hampshire and Wisconsin to be Obama-leaning states, after previously being considered tossups. North Carolina is now considered a tossup, after previously being categorized as a McCain-leaning state.

The polls were conducted between October 3 and 6, after last Thursday’s debate. They have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 to 4 percentage points.

Last week, the McCain campaign reacted to a polling downturn by shuttering its operation in the state of Michigan and redistributing staff to Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Maine, where electoral votes are distributed by congressional district. In a conference call last week, Mike DuHaime, the McCain campaign’s political director, acknowledged that the national mood and Obama’s deep pockets had put previously solid Republican states like Indiana in play.

“I do think just the overall environment right now that we face is one of the worst environments for any Republican in probably 35 years,” DuHaime said. “Any time you have that, you have states move within that margin.”

After two grueling years, only two major events remain in the 2008 presidential campaign, a candidate town hall forum Tuesday in Tennessee, and a debate on October 15 in New York. In a nod to the dwindling window of opportunity, McCain again sharpened his attacks on Obama during a stump speech Monday in New Mexico, charging that Obama harbors a “back story” on every issue that needs to be explored.

“All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America?” McCain said. “In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? But ask such questions and all you get in response is another barrage of angry insults.”

Campaigning in North Carolina, Obama countered by charging that McCain and his aides were “gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance.”

Source: TIME

I’m of two minds about how to deal with the McCain campaign’s further descent into ugliness. Their strategy is simple: you throw crap against a wall and then giggle as the media try to analyze the putresence in a way that conveys a sense of balance: “Well, it is bull-pucky, but the splatter pattern is interesting…” which, of course, only serves to get your perverse message out. I really don’t want to be a part of that. But…every so often, we journalists have a duty to remind readers just how dingy the McCain campaign, and its right-wing acolytes in the media (I’m looking at you, Sean Hannity) have become–especially in their efforts to divert public attention from the economic crisis we’re facing. And so inept at it: other campaigns have decided that their only shot is going negative, but usually they don’t announce it, as several McCain aides have in recent days–there’s no way we can win on the economy, so we’re going to go sludge-diving.

But since we are dealing with manure here, I’ll put the rest of this post below the fold.

It is appropriate that the prime vessel for this assault is Sarah Palin, whose very presence on a national ticket is an insult to your intelligence. She now has “credibility,” we are told, because she managed to read talking points off notecards in the debate last week with unwitting enthusiasm.

Over the weekend, she picked up on an article in The New York Times, which essentially says that Barack Obama and the former terrorist Bill Ayers have crossed paths in Chicago, served on a couple of charitable boards together, but aren’t particularly close. To Palin–or her scriptwriters–this means that Obama has been “palling around” with terrorists. Now, I wish Ayers had done some serious jail time; he certainly needed to pay some penance for his youthful criminality–even if most people in Chicago, including the mayor, have decided that he has something of value to say about education. But I can also understand how Obama, who was a child when Ayers was cutting his idiot swath, would not quite understand the enormity of the professor’s background. (I got to know Alger Hiss twenty years after the fact–he was a printing salesman then, a friend of my father’s–and thought of him as a sweet old man, if a good deal more liberal than dad’s other friends.)

In any case, this is rather rich coming from Palin, who is married to a man who belonged to a political party–the Alaskan Independence Party–that wanted to secede from the union. (I should add here that the Times may have been overreacting to the McCain campaign’s attack on its fairness here: the Ayers story was a nothingburger, but it was placed prominently in the top left hand corner of page one–a position that would seem to indicate that it contained important news, which it didn’t.)

Then we have the ever-reliable Bill Kristol, in today’s New York Times, advising Palin to bring up the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Palin, of course, believes that’s a darn good idea:

“To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.”

So then, I’d guess, it would be appropriate to bring up some of the nuttiness that passes for godliness in Palin’s religious life. Leave aside the fact that The Embarracuda allowed herself to participate in a cermony that protected her from witchcraft, how about her presence–she didn’t “get up and leave”– at a sermon by the founder of Jews for Jesus, who argued that the Palestinian terrorist acts against Israel were God’s “judgment” on the Jews because they hadn’t accepted Jesus.

Speaking of Jews, the ever-execrable Sean Hannity has been having intercourse with a known Jew-hater named Andy Martin, who now wants to expose Barack Obama as a Muslim. According to the Washington Times:

In 1986, when Mr. Martin ran as a Democrat for Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District seat under the name “Anthony R. Martin-Trigona,” his campaign committee filed papers saying its purpose was to “exterminate Jew power in America and impeach U.S. District Court of Appeals judges in New York City.”

Calling all Podhoretzs! Where’s the outrage? I mean, don’t the hateful doings at Palin’s church and Hannity’s perfidy deserve a lengthy exegesis from Pete Wehner or Jennifer Rubin or one of the other empretzled ideologues over at Commentary?

As I said, I’m of two minds about this. I don’t want to give currency to this sewage, so it will remain below the fold. And I’ll try to devote the lion’s share of my time to the issues–the war, the economic crisis, the fraying health insurance system, the environment–that should define this campaign. But what a desperate empty embarrassment the McCain campaign has become.

Soure: TIME

NEW YORK – Wall Street suffered through another traumatic session Monday, with the Dow Jones industrials plunging as much as 800 points and setting a new record for a one-day point drop as investors despaired that the credit crisis would take a heavy toll around the world. The Dow also fell below 10,000 for the first time since 2004, and all the major indexes fell about 5 percent.

The catalyst for the selling was the growing realization that the Bush administration’s $700 billion rescue plan and steps taken by other governments won’t work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets. Moreover, investors are increasingly unnerved by the paralysis in the credit markets that has started to affect companies trying to borrow for acquisitions or just to conduct their daily operations.

That sent stocks spiraling downward in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and drove investors to sink money into the relative safety of U.S. government debt. Fears about a global recession also caused oil to drop below $90 a barrel.

“The fact is, people are scared and the only thing they’re doing is selling,” said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research. “Investors are cleaning out portfolios and getting rid of everything because nothing seems to be working.”

The selling was so extreme that only 107 stocks rose on the NYSE — and 3,121 dropped. That’s a telling sign considering the stock market is considered a leading economic indicator, with investors tending to buy and sell based on where they believe the economy will be in six to nine months.

When the McCain campaign announced this weekend that it would start attacking Sen. Barack Obama via guilt by association, peddling smears about people he barely knows, I thought the tack would lead to the Keating Five. But I didn’t know it would happen this quickly.

Obama’s campaign has never pushed the Keating button before, so this attack carries an original punch-and is clearly salient given the current financial crisis. Because the scandal involved McCain’s actions in public service, it is more likely to arise during the remaining two debates.

McCain’s dredging up of Bill Ayers, in contrast, is not only old news but has no link to anything Obama has done in public life. Patrick Ruffini, a Republican operative who worked on Bush’s reelection campaign, said today that McCain’s Ayers attacks are so old that airing them now “appears desperate.”

Source: HP

‘TURN THE PAGE’: Obama in Asheville. His poll ratings have risen recently, even in red states such as North Carolina.

John McCain wants to ‘distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance,’ the Democrat says in Asheville, N.C., a day after Sarah Palin claims Obama would ‘pal around with terrorists.’

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — One day after John McCain’s running mate escalated the vitriol of the presidential campaign by invoking a 1960s radical, Barack Obama accused Republicans of trying to distract voters from the sagging economy with “smears”

Speaking to thousands of voters Sunday afternoon at Asheville High School, the Democratic nominee argued that McCain shares President Bush’s economic philosophy.

“Sen. McCain and his operatives are gambling that they can distract you with smears rather than talk to you about substance,” Obama said. “They’d rather try to tear our campaign down than lift this country up. That’s what you do when you’re out of touch, out of ideas and running out of time.”

The dust-up comes as Obama’s poll numbers have risen in recent weeks, even in some traditionally Republican states, as Wall Street’s woes dominate the news. According to several polls, more voters see Obama as better able to handle the economy than McCain.

Source: latimes

Good article – one of the main points is Palin’s coldness or detachment from emotion. You can see an example of this in her answer here – when she was asked on abortion and what if her teenage daughter was raped and become pregnant – it is interesting to see the difference between her answer and the answer given by the others – responding to the same question.

This article makes reference to Palin’s answer in the VP debate – to what if the worst happened – to your respective – presidential running mates – when it was Palin’s turn – through the next two statements she was smiling – glee she seemed hard pressed to control – the writer calls it weird – I’m glad I’m not the only one who found it more than strange.

More when she was asked the question in the debate on what would be an acceptable trigger for use of a nuclear weapon – Palin was way to flippant for me — nervousness about Palin – might be the least of out problems.

See OFKR take on the VP Debate here.

SARAH PALIN’S post-Couric/Fey comeback at last week’s vice presidential debate was a turning point in the campaign. But if she “won,” as her indulgent partisans and press claque would have it, the loser was not Joe Biden. It was her running mate. With a month to go, the 2008 election is now an Obama-Palin race — about “the future,” as Palin kept saying Thursday night — and the only person who doesn’t seem to know it is Mr. Past, poor old John McCain.

To understand the meaning of Palin’s “victory,” it must be seen in the context of two ominous developments that directly preceded it. Just hours before the debate began, the McCain campaign pulled out of Michigan. That state is ground zero for the collapsed Main Street economy and for so-called Reagan Democrats, those white working-class voters who keep being told by the right that Barack Obama is a Muslim who hung with bomb-throwing radicals during his childhood in the late 1960s.

McCain surrendered Michigan despite having outspent his opponent on television advertising and despite Obama’s twin local handicaps, an unpopular Democratic governor and a felonious, now former, black Democratic Detroit mayor. If McCain can’t make it there, can he make it anywhere in the Rust Belt?

Not without an economic message. McCain’s most persistent attempt, his self-righteous crusade against earmarks, collapsed with his poll numbers. Next to a $700 billion bailout package, his incessant promise to eliminate all Washington pork — by comparison, a puny grand total of $16.5 billion in the 2008 federal budget — doesn’t bring home the bacon. Nor can McCain reconcile his I-will-veto-government-waste mantra with his support, however tardy, of the bailout bill. That bill’s $150 billion in fresh pork includes a boondoggle inserted by the Congressman Don Young, an Alaskan Republican no less.

The second bit of predebate news, percolating under the radar, involved the still-unanswered questions about McCain’s health. Back in May, you will recall, the McCain campaign allowed a select group of 20 reporters to spend a mere three hours examining (but not photocopying) 1,173 pages of the candidate’s health records on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Conspicuously uninvited was Lawrence Altman, a doctor who covers medicine for The New York Times. Altman instead canvassed melanoma experts to evaluate the sketchy data that did emerge. They found the information too “unclear” to determine McCain’s cancer prognosis.

There was, however, at least one doctor-journalist among those 20 reporters in May, the CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta. At the time, Gupta told Katie Couric on CBS that the medical records were “pretty comprehensive” and wrote on his CNN blog that he was “pretty convinced there was no ‘smoking gun’ about the senator’s health.” (Physical health, that is; Gupta wrote there was hardly any information on McCain’s mental health.)

That was then. Now McCain is looking increasingly shaky, whether he’s repeating his “Miss Congeniality” joke twice in the same debate or speaking from notecards even when reciting a line for (literally) the 17th time (“The fundamentals of our economy are strong”) or repeatedly confusing proper nouns that begin with S (Sunni, Shia, Sudan, Somalia, Spain). McCain’s “dismaying temperament,” as George Will labeled it, only thickens the concerns. His kamikaze mission into Washington during the bailout crisis seemed crazed. His seething, hostile debate countenance — a replay of Al Gore’s sarcastic sighing in 2000 — didn’t make the deferential Obama look weak (as many Democrats feared) but elevated him into looking like the sole presidential grown-up.

Though CNN and MSNBC wouldn’t run a political ad with doctors questioning McCain’s medical status, Gupta revisited the issue in an interview published last Tuesday by The Huffington Post. While maintaining a pretty upbeat take on the candidate’s health, the doctor-journalist told the reporter Sam Stein that he couldn’t vouch “by any means” for the completeness of the records the campaign showed him four months ago. “The pages weren’t numbered,” Gupta said, “so I had no way of knowing what was missing.” At least in Watergate we knew that the gap on Rose Mary Woods’s tape ran 18 and a half minutes.

It’s against this backdrop that Palin’s public pronouncements, culminating with her debate performance, have been so striking. The standard take has it that she’s either speaking utter ignorant gibberish (as to Couric) or reciting highly polished, campaign-written sound bites that she’s memorized (as at the convention and the debate). But there’s a steady unnerving undertone to Palin’s utterances, a consistent message of hubristic self-confidence and hyper-ambition. She wants to be president, she thinks she can be president, she thinks she will be president. And perhaps soon. She often sounds like someone who sees herself as half-a-heartbeat away from the presidency. Or who is seen that way by her own camp, the hard-right G.O.P. base that never liked McCain anyway and views him as, at best, a White House place holder.

This was first apparent when Palin extolled a “small town” vice president as a hero in her convention speech — and cited not one of the many Republican vice presidents who fit that bill but, bizarrely, Harry Truman, a Democrat who succeeded a president who died in office. A few weeks later came Charlie Gibson’s question about whether she thought she was “experienced enough” and “ready” when McCain invited her to join his ticket. Palin replied that she didn’t “hesitate” and didn’t “even blink” — a response that seemed jarring for its lack of any human modesty, even false modesty.

In the last of her Couric interview installments on Thursday, Palin was asked which vice president had most impressed her, and after paying tribute to Geraldine Ferraro, she chose “George Bush Sr.” Her criterion: she most admires vice presidents “who have gone on to the presidency.” Hours later, at the debate, she offered a discordant contrast to Biden when asked by Gwen Ifill how they would each govern “if the worst happened” and the president died in office. After Biden spoke of somber continuity, Palin was weirdly flip and chipper, eager to say that as a “maverick” she’d go her own way.

But the debate’s most telling passage arrived when Biden welled up in recounting his days as a single father after his first wife and one of his children were killed in a car crash. Palin’s perky response — she immediately started selling McCain as a “consummate maverick” again — was as emotionally disconnected as Michael Dukakis’s notoriously cerebral answer to the hypothetical 1988 debate question about his wife being “raped and murdered.” If, as some feel, Obama is cool, Palin is ice cold. She didn’t even acknowledge Biden’s devastating personal history.

After the debate, Republicans who had been bailing on Palin rushed back to the fold. They know her relentless ambition is the only hope for saving a ticket headed by a warrior who is out of juice and out of ideas. So what if she is preposterously unprepared to run the country in the midst of its greatest economic crisis in 70 years? She looks and sounds like a winner.

You can understand why they believe that. She has more testosterone than anyone else at the top of her party. McCain and his surrogates are forever blaming their travails on others, wailing about supposed sexist and journalistic biases around the clock. McCain even canceled an interview with Larry King, for heaven’s sake, in a fit of pique at a CNN anchor, Campbell Brown.

We are not a nation of whiners, as Phil Gramm would have it, but the G.O.P. is now the party of whiners. That rebranding became official when Republican House leaders moaned that a routine partisan speech by Nancy Pelosi had turned their members against the bailout bill. As the stock market fell nearly 778 points, Barney Frank taunted his G.O.P. peers with pitch-perfect mockery: “Somebody hurt my feelings, so I will punish the country!”

Talk about the world coming full circle. This is the same Democrat who had been slurred as “Barney Fag” in the mid-1990s by Dick Armey, a House leader of the government-bashing Gingrich revolution that helped lower us into this debacle. Now Frank was ridiculing the House G.O.P. as a bunch of sulking teenage girls. His wisecrack stung — and stuck.

Palin is an antidote to the whiny Republican image that Frank nailed. Alaska’s self-styled embodiment of Joe Sixpack is not a sulker, but a pistol-packing fighter. That’s why she draws the crowds and (as she puts it) “energy” that otherwise elude the angry McCain. But she is still the candidate for vice president, not president. Americans do not vote for vice president.

So how can a desperate G.O.P. save itself? As McCain continues to fade into incoherence and irrelevance, the last hope is that he’ll come up with some new game-changing stunt to match his initial pick of Palin or his ill-fated campaign “suspension.” Until Thursday night, more than a few Republicans were fantasizing that his final Hail Mary pass would be to ditch Palin so she can “spend more time” with her ever-growing family. But the debate reminded Republicans once again that it’s Palin, not McCain, who is their last hope for victory.

You have to wonder how long it will be before they plead with him to think of his health, get out of the way and pull the ultimate stunt of flipping the ticket. Palin, we can be certain, wouldn’t even blink.

How About A Train Metaphor …

“The question isn’t ‘Is America ready for Barack Obama;’ the question is, ‘Is America ready for a smart President.” Jon Lovitz

Source: Daily Kos

See earlier Sarah Palin Vlogs here

Source: 23/6

The fact that John McCain plans to the tax the insurance payment contributions that you get from your employers – fits right in with what one of his advisers on healthcare said – when he commented that if they had their way government would cease and desist from saying that anyone is not insured – but rather note where that person got their healthcare from – if a person receives their healthcare from a doctor – than this would be seen as one provider – whereas if a person got their healthcare from the emergency room (ER) – then this could also be seen as a healthcare provider – but the one of last resort. It would simply be noted.

Obama plans to work with employers to help lower insurance costs – not put a tax on it.

Under Obama’s plan it appears there is going to be some sort of insurance shake up – in order to get people insured at a reasonable rate – with a policy that looks similar to what John McCain and members of Congress already enjoy.

Here’s Obama’s new ad off the debate, touching, as we wrote last night, on the push the campaign had already begun on McCain’s healthcare plan.

This one’s airing on national cable. Obama has another ad — which I haven’t seen on line — also directly attacking McCain’s plan.

As Jonathan and I wrote:

    Obama’s aides said the campaign would key in not on something Palin said, but rather on what she didn’t: Her failure to offer a detailed defense of McCain’s plan to finance a $5,000 healthcare tax credit by
    treating employers’ healthcare payments as taxable – something Democrats relish hitting both as a “radical” healthcare scheme and a tax hike.

    The campaign had already decided to attack McCain’s healthcare plan, and the debate exchange will help drive that focus, they said.

    “We’re on a big offensive on John McCain’s healthcare plan,” said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. “I think Sen. Biden did a terrific job today of describing why middle class families should fear
    John McCain’s health care plan. She didn’t answer the attack.”

    Palin’s silence – she attacked Obama’s plan as “government run,” but didn’t return to McCain’s – was “a huge missed opportunity,” Plouffe said, “because I will assure you this: Every voter in every
    battleground state is going to know that John McCain is taxing healthcare for the very first time. Twenty-one million people lose their healthcare because small businesses will drop it.”

    Obama has already begun airing one ad that casts his plan as a commonsense alternative to McCain’s “extreme,” and aides said he would begin to push the issue much more intensely across battleground states.

    In Missouri, for example, it will be part of a broad push to raise voters’ doubts about McCain’s healthcare plan, Obama’s Missouri State Director Buffy Wicks said. Along with the ad, expected to begin airing here soon, the campaign has planned four pieces of direct mail attacking McCain’s plan.

Source: Politico

First of all we have to congratulate the moderator Gwen Ifill – for running a fluid VP debate – that encouraged more natural to and fro – almost seamlessly without the restrains of time.

Sportscaster Sarah Palin, who I suspected – would emerge today did – filled to the brim with all the notes that her minders could commit to the paper – pulled as many punches as she could – Joe Biden never missed one in return.

Hungry energy markets – as in hunger babies – getting fed at the pumps?

While Sarah Palin’s minders had it set up for her to smear Joe Biden and Obama’s records – Joe Biden was out to present the facts – any smears were easily put down – with a grace and a forcefulness that brought both men and women audience members in (if you were watching it from CNN – there was a line on screen that rated how viewers saw it. When Palin got nasty – with her winking and forced beauty queen – her ratings actually went down – it was clear both men and women were turned off by it.)

The VP in training – also tried her folksy tales to nowhere – but Biden instantly picked up on this with – what are you saying – I haven’t heard anything.

The part I liked was when Palin – compared the Obama Biden tax cut to 95% of Americans – to wealth redistribution (who told her to say that) – then follows that up with an example which counters this – of how she ‘fought’ the oil companies in the state of Alaska to see that some of the oil wealth was shared out among the people there. On the one hand McCain wants to specifically – set aside a part of his budget to give the oil companies – already making record profits – billions more – while on the other hand Palin is telling the American people – in Alaska I worked against this measure and saw to it that – the oil profits were shared out. Joe Biden seized the moment – nicely – by pointing out how Palin actually agrees with himself and Barack Obama’s plan.

Joe Biden’s ability to pick up detail was masterful. Very little gets by this guy. If he couldn’t be President – than he should be sitting next to the President – wise choice Obama!

When Palin spoke of going to war – one of the areas that is worrying a lot of people is her talk of Russia – Palin seemed to move into extreme when she needed to make her point – her voice became strange – which indicates – this lady’s eagerness to go to war – and perhaps there would be something a little too irrational and unmeasured about her consideration. And she was somewhat flippant on the trigger for the use of a nuclear weapon question. Palin frightening!

And in closing when asked if something should happen – God forbid – to John McCain – I thought can this woman contain her pleasure – she started smiling – through each of the statements that followed.

When asked Joe Biden role once he gets into the White House would be to sit in all meetings and to be an integral part of the Presidency – whereas under a McCain administration Palin would be given a souped-up title and moved to deal with energy issues – something perhaps we should be worried about – with her Drill Baby Drill ethos – it is unlikely that much of the energy budget will be devoted to new energy sources – in her debut statement at the GOP Convention Palin said we can drill our way out of our energy difficulties. Maybe this is another area her and John McCain disagree on (or do they) – besides drilling in ANWR. She also mentioned dealing with the needs of special needs children or families – strangely I thought I heard women’s issues – which would be so haram – but then she did not say women’s issues – and those issues on charging for rape kits – slashing funding for teen pregnancy and the women’s right to choose are still there. Also that John McCain voted against equal pay for equal work and the protection of women from spousal abuse.

Joe Biden came across as smooth as silk – where on listening to Palin debate a second time – begins to have a hacksaw quality about her voice or persona – I sure wish we don’t have to see this for the next four years.

Biden is gracefully intelligent – and seems to have a nothing to prove bottom line – he works from another place – which could have something to do with his own personal tragedy which he touched upon in this debate – but he has a wonderful way about him – that I am sure will serve the country well.

ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos reports: Stakes are high for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin going into tonight’s vice presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden, D-Dela., with the latest poll finding she has become a drag on the Republican ticket.

Any mistake or gaffe by Palin could be fatal with a new poll finding voters are now questioning their commitment to Republican presidential candidate John McCain because of her.

About one third of likely voters, 32 percent of likely voters now say Palin makes it less likely they’ll vote for McCain, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll released today.

Palin is beginning to have a big credibility problem: 60 percent of Americans are now doubting her qualifications for office, up 15 points from an ABC/Post poll last month.

The poll found a minority of likely voters, 35 percent, believe she is experience enough to be president.

The ABC poll also suggests that questions about Palin are reinforcing concerns about McCain’s age. Almost half of voters, 48 percent, now say the senator’s age is a worry — a new high — and 85 percent of that group say that Palin is not qualified to serve as President.

It hasn’t been an easy month for the Alaska governor. Palin initially boosted McCain’s poll numbers, but after refusing to speak to the media she gave a few select interviews where she gave muddled responses.

Contributing to her perception problem: more voters have likely seen the Saturday Night Live sketches making fun of her rather than hearing her speak on the campaign trail.

It’s all cementing in the minds of voters a preconceived notion that Palin is ill-prepared for the job.

Biden’s poll numbers contrast starkly with Palin’s with 75 percent of Americans saying he understands complex issues, 70 percent saying he has suitable experience to take over as president if necessary, and just 13 percent saying the Delaware senator makes them less apt to support Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In his debate against Palin tonight, Biden will try to show gracious restraint, and focus his attacks against McCain, Obama campaign aides tell ABC News.

Meanwhile McCain campaign aides say Palin will attempt to aggressively take the fight to Obama.

Source: ABC

NEW YORK — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin enters her debate Thursday with Joe Biden needing to make a strong positive impression on voters, many of whom are expressing serious doubts about her readiness.

A new AP-Gfk poll released Wednesday found that just 25 percent of likely voters believe Palin has the right experience to be president. That’s down from 41 percent just after the GOP convention, when the Alaska governor made her well-received debut on the national stage.

This photo provided by the Palin Campaign shows Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, preparing for her first and only debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Sedona, Ariz., ranch of her running-mate, Sen. John McCain, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. On the left is McCain-Palin campaign senior policy advisor Randall Scheunemann. The debate will take place Thursday in St. Louis, Mo. (AP Photo/Palin Campaign) (AP)

This photo provided by the Palin Campaign shows Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, right, preparing for her first and only debate with Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden at the Sedona, Ariz., ranch of her running-mate, Sen. John McCain, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2008. On the left is McCain-Palin campaign senior policy advisor Randall Scheunemann. The debate will take place Thursday in St. Louis, Mo. (AP Photo/Palin Campaign) (AP)

Thursday night’s debate in St. Louis gives her a chance to overcome the doubts in a 90-minute showcase, the first time most Americans outside Alaska will see her in a lengthy give-and-take session.

On the other hand, a poor performance against Biden, the Delaware senator, could cement a negative image for the rest of the campaign.

Palin has been preparing at Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s retreat in Sedona, Ariz

Source: Washington Post

Back to Palin’s folksy tales – if Sarah Palin is good at telling a story so is Joe Biden – the only difference is he actually thinks the facts matter. He would not tell a story to conceal the fact that he knows nothing about the issues – but besides oil – that’s all Palin has been doing.

For all the speculation over how Sarah Palin will fare in the vice-presidential debate Thursday night, her Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, faces a challenge of his own: taking on the Alaska governor without coming across as sexist or a bully.

Barack Obama’s campaign has assembled a team of top advisers, including several prominent female debaters, to help prepare the Delaware senator, known for his tough attacks and candor, to debate the Republicans’ first female vice-presidential nominee. Since Sunday, the team has been hunkered down at the Sheraton Suites hotel in Wilmington, Del.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been playing the role of Gov. Palin. “I want to beat him up a little, so he does well,” Gov. Granholm told reporters. One Biden aide said Gov. Granholm was chosen to portray Gov. Palin in the preparations because she ran as an outsider and reformer in Michigan in 2002 and 2006. Like Gov. Palin, Gov. Granholm is a former beauty queen and sports mom.

Sen. Biden also has received advice from Democratic primary opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, and a number of top campaign aides.

Aides say Sen. Biden will emphasize issues rather than attacks, and debate preparations have centered on making the case for Sen. Obama rather than tearing down Gov. Palin. “I think this will come down to bigger questions than who can throw a sharp elbow. This is a much bigger election” than that, says Patti Solis Doyle, Sen. Biden’s campaign chief of staff.

Sen. Biden recently said reporters are in a “time warp” if they think he will prepare any differently to debate a woman than a man. He cited debating Sens. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Olympia Snowe of Maine and other women in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Biden debated Sen. Clinton 12 times during the Democratic primaries.

“It seems like the only people in the room that think that debating a woman is going to be fundamentally different are people who don’t hang around with smart women,” Sen. Biden said aboard his campaign plane.

Sen. Biden’s 30-plus years in the Senate could open a line of attack from Gov. Palin, who left the campaign trail Monday to prepare for the debate at Sen. McCain’s ranch in Sedona, Ariz., McCain aides said. She could also use Sen. Biden’s experience to portray him as the Washington status quo.

While Biden aides insist gender isn’t an issue, it is rare for a woman to be on the ticket. The last time — and the first time — a woman was on a major-party ticket was in 1984, when Democrat Walter Mondale picked Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate.

Ms. Ferraro debated then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in an encounter that was widely interpreted as having sexist overtones. “Let me just say, first of all, that I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy,” Ms. Ferraro replied to one attack. At the same time, strategists say Sen. Biden can’t soften his approach or appear to be changing his tactics because he is debating a woman; that, too, could be perceived as sexist.

Aides say Sen. Biden can counter some of the Alaska governor’s down-home appeal by playing up his working-class roots in Scranton, Pa. Sen. Biden, consistently ranked as one of the least-wealthy senators, still lives in Wilmington and takes the train to work in Washington. “I think Biden should use his sense of humor and really turn this into a debate about who’s folksier,” says Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

Source: WSJ

Sarah Palin Vlog #1: Katie Couric Interview

Sarah Palin Vlog #2: Debate Prep

Sarah Palin Vlog #3: Cramming for the Economics Debate

Source: 23/6

Spilling the beans – Palin is quoted as saying – facts and figures don’t matter!

Monitor opinion editor Josh Burek talks with former Alaska state representative and gubenatorial candidate Andrew Halcro about Gov. Sarah Palin’s debating abilities.

Anchorage, Alaska – When he faces off against Sarah Palin Thursday night, Joe Biden will have his hands full.

I should know. I’ve debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she’s a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.

On paper, of course, the debate appears to be a mismatch.

In 2000, Palin was the mayor of an Alaskan town of 5,500 people, while Biden was serving his 28th year as a United States senator. Her major public policy concern was building a local ice rink and sports center. His major public policy concern was the State Department’s decision to grant an export license to allow sales of heavy-lift helicopters to Turkey, during tense UN-sponsored Cyprus peace talks.

On paper, the difference in experience on both domestic and foreign policy is like the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing a bullet. Unfortunately for Biden, if recent history is an indicator, experience or a grasp of the issues won’t matter when it comes to debating Palin.

On April 17, 2006, Palin and I participated in a debate at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks on agriculture issues. The next day, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner published this excerpt:

“Andrew Halcro, a declared independent candidate from Anchorage, came armed with statistics on agricultural productivity. Sarah Palin, a Republican from Wasilla, said the Matanuska Valley provides a positive example for other communities interested in agriculture to study.”

On April 18, 2006, Palin and I sat together in a hotel coffee shop comparing campaign trail notes. As we talked about the debates, Palin made a comment that highlights the phenomenon that Biden is up against.

“Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I’m amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, ‘Does any of this really matter?’ ” Palin said.

While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin’s knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn’t have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.

Palin is a master of the nonanswer. She can turn a 60-second response to a query about her specific solutions to healthcare challenges into a folksy story about how she’s met people on the campaign trail who face healthcare challenges. All without uttering a word about her public-policy solutions to healthcare challenges.

In one debate, a moderator asked the candidates to name a bill the legislature had recently passed that we didn’t like. I named one. Democratic candidate Tony Knowles named one. But Sarah Palin instead used her allotted time to criticize the incumbent governor, Frank Murkowski. Asked to name a bill we did like, the same pattern emerged: Palin didn’t name a bill.

And when she does answer the actual question asked, she has a canny ability to connect with the audience on a personal level. For example, asked to name a major issue that had been ignored during the campaign, I discussed the health of local communities, Mr. Knowles talked about affordable healthcare, and Palin talked about … the need to protect hunting and fishing rights.

So what does that mean for Biden? With shorter question-and-answer times and limited interaction between the two, he should simply ignore Palin in a respectful manner on the stage and answer the questions as though he were alone. Any attempt to flex his public-policy knowledge and show Palin is not ready for prime time will inevitably cast him in the role of the bully.

On the other side of the stage, if Palin is to be successful, she needs to do what she does best: fill the room with her presence and stick to the scripted sound bites.

Andrew Halcro served two terms as a Republican member of the Alaska State House of Representatives. He ran for governor as an Independent in 2006, debating Sarah Palin more than two dozen times. He blogs at http://www.andrewhalcro.com .

Will looking good be enough!! Without a teleprompter how will Palin communicate the facts?

She’s clearly good at making up a story or two – perhaps this might be one of her solutions.

But we should all look to getting behind Joe Biden – so far every reporter that Palin has had an interview with has been accused of beating her up – it’s the workman who blames his tools for the Republican spin artists.

Joe Biden when asked how would he deal with Palin – he said “respectful” – what more can she hope for – but this in no way should mean he should give her an easy ride.

The only easy ride she should get is from McCain!!

*

Not since Dan Quayle took the stage in 1988 have debate expectations for a major party candidate been as low as they will be on Thursday for Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska.

A newcomer to the national scene, Ms. Palin has given little indication that she has been engaged in a serious way in the pressing national and international issues of the day.

But a review of a handful of her debate performances in the race for governor in 2006 shows a somewhat different persona from the one that has emerged since Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, named Ms. Palin as the vice-presidential nominee a month ago.

Ms. Palin, a former mayor who had become a whistle-blower about ethical misconduct in state government, held her own in those debates. (There were almost two dozen in the general election alone; she skipped some, and not all were recorded.)

She staked out a populist stance against oil companies and projected a fresh, down-to-earth face at a time when voters wanted change. That helped her soundly defeat Frank H. Murkowski, the unpopular Republican governor, in the primary and former Gov. Tony Knowles in the general election.

Her debating style was rarely confrontational, and she appeared confident. In contrast to today, when she seems unversed on several important issues, she demonstrated fluency on certain subjects, particularly oil and gas development.

But just as she does now, Ms. Palin often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two. Her sentences were distinguished by their repetition of words, by the use of the phrase “here in Alaska” and for gaps. On paper, her sentences would have been difficult to diagram.

John Bitney, the policy director for her campaign for governor and the main person who helped prepare her for debates, said her repetition of words was “her way of running down the clock as her mind searches for where she wants to go.”

These tendencies could fuzz her meaning and lead her into linguistic cul-de-sacs. She often used less than her allotted time and ended her answers abruptly.

When questioned about the nuts and bolts of governing, Ms. Palin tended to avoid specifics and instead fell back on her core values: a broadly conservative philosophy and a can-do spirit.

“My attitude and my approaches towards dealing with the complexities of health care issues,” she said in an AARP debate in October 2006, “is a respectful and responsible approach, and it’s a positive approach. I don’t believe that the sky is falling here in Alaska.”

These patterns could help explain why the McCain campaign negotiated for less time for discussion in her debate Thursday with Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware than the presidential candidates had in their debate last week.

Ms. Palin was not always at her best when questioned by her opponents in the governor’s race.

In the AARP debate, Mr. Knowles and Andrew Halcro, an independent, double-teamed her to press her about how she would pay for health care.

In response to Mr. Knowles, she mentioned “certificates of need” and said they had been inflexible, “creating an environment where a lot of folks are lacking the receiving of their health care that is needed in some of the areas, especially in some of our larger markets.” She added, “The State of Alaska needs to be looking specifically at that inflexibility that exists today in order to fill some of the market needs that are out there in Alaska in our larger markets.”

She then added, “I can’t tell you how much that will reduce monetarily our health care costs, but competition makes everyone better, it makes us work harder, it does allow reduction in costs, so addressing that is going to be a priority.”

Mr. Knowles was nonplussed, saying that he did not understand her answer and that Ms. Palin had missed the point.

Mr. Halcro asked how she would pay for critical health care programs.

“Well, the point there, Andrew,” she said, “is that these are critical, and again it’s a matter of prioritizing and it’s a matter of government understanding its proper role in public safety, is health care, so it’s a matter of priorities.”

Mr. Halcro called her answer “political gibberish.”

But other times, she gave direct answers that appealed directly to her audience. The candidates were asked in a debate on Aug. 17, 2006, by a rural resident via video whether they would restore a longevity bonus for senior citizens, a payment intended to keep them from leaving the state.

“No,” Mr. Murkowski said gruffly. John Binkley, a third candidate, said yes. Ms. Palin’s response was filled with emotion.

“Yes, our precious, precious elders,” she said, looking into the camera. “For those who were prematurely lopped off, I am so sorry that that has happened to you.”

But generally, her voice carried surprisingly little affect.

“In tone, manner and sometimes even language, she treated every issue exactly the same,” Michael Carey, the former editorial page editor of The Anchorage Daily News, wrote in an essay about Ms. Palin. “She gave no suggestion that some issues are of higher priority than others. Her voice was cheerful, up-tempo, optimistic, never off key but always in the same key.”

Perhaps her strength in debating was coming across like an average person who understood the average person’s needs and would not be expected to have detailed policy prescriptions.

She also neutralized some of her conservative social views. She said intelligent design should be taught in schools — along with evolution. She said she favored the teaching of abstinence — along with the teaching of sex education. “Let the kids debate both sides,” she said.

She was not a particularly aggressive debater, and she rarely took an opportunity to challenge her opponents. But when pressed, she could be tough. In a roundtable discussion in October on the “Bob and Mark Show,” Mr. Halcro suggested that Ms. Palin had not attended enough debates.

“It’s been a year today that I’ve been on the campaign trail,” Ms. Palin responded, “attending many, many more forums, more debates, than either one of you, Tony and Andrew, because I had a primary opponent. You know, you got to have the balls to take it on in the early part of a campaign, and not just go right to the big show.”

Source: NYT

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