4 p.m. ET: Five hours to go, and the air is thick with anticipation: Will Sarah Palin talk in circles when she doesn't know the answer to a question? Will Joe Biden call Palin "little lady" or harken back to when the Lincoln-Douglas debates were on television? More seriously: Will this debate really be about Palin vs. Biden, or will the two VP candidates essentially ignore each other and argue over the relative strengths and weaknesses of John McCain and Barack Obama?
McCain now has one glaring weakness: Michigan, where the Republican's caampaign is pulling out its staff and resources to focus elsewhere. No, McCain doesn't have to win Michigan to win the whole enchilada, but it certainly would be helpful. Particularly since the latest polls have him trailing in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, among others.
The House second stab at the financial rescue bill now looks to happen around midday tomorrow. Reports are trickling in of at least a few members who are switching from no to yes on the measure, though other members are standing firm. Passage is expected this time around, though the markets -- down another few hundred points -- will believe it when they see it.
12:15 p.m. ET: Remember those halcyon days when Barack Obama and John McCain were working together on the financial rescue package and singing the praises of bipartisanship? Like, for example, yesterday?
Well, that's over now. Obama told attendees at a rally in Michigan this morning that when it comes to the economy, McCain "doesn't get it," a return to his pre-bipartisanship mantra. Recent polls suggest Obama has opened a wide lead in Michigan, where economic fears are particularly acute.
McCain heads to Denver today for a town hall meeting with women voters, a constituency that has been trending in the wrong direction for the Republican. Colorado is also not looking so good for McCain, though he remains within striking distance there.
Back in Washington, the Justice Department's case against Ted Stevens hit a roadblock today amid accusations by the defense that the prosecution withheld vital evidence. If the case gets thrown out, might Stevens be able to pull out his reelection race, or is the damage already done? And if the charges are dismissed, might Sarah Palin finally say whether she endorses Uncle Ted? Watch to see if this subject comes up tonight in St. Louis.
8 a.m. ET: It's D-Day in St. Louis, and mere hours from now, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden will meet on stage and do ... what? For all the ink spilled in recent days on both vice presidential candidates, the dynamic between the two -- charismatic but struggling Palin, experienced but gaffe-prone Biden -- seems impossible to predict.
Palin wakes up this morning to yet more bad polling news. In the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 60 percent believe she does not have the experience necessary to be an effective president. She does, however, have a lot of experience doing interviews with Katie Couric (will they never end?). The latest brouhaha is over Palin, like a nervous student in The Paper Chase, being unable to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagrees.
What other news is out there? Oh yes, so easy to forget -- the Senate yesterday approved the biggest government intervention in the economy since the Great Depression. Three-quarters of the chamber voted "aye," sending the measure back to the House with some momentum for Friday's vote. It's possible that by this weekend, the bill will essentially be out of the news and editors won't have to spend so much time changing "bailout" to "rescue."
Getting the rescue bill off the front page can't come soon enough for John McCain, who is now down nine points in the latest CBS poll and trailing in key swing states in other surveys. With just over a month to go, McCain needs a change of subject.
October 2, 2008; 8:00 AM ET
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