IN THE HEADLINES
Obama says better days are ahead, urges Americans to stay calm during economic woes ... McCain, Palin renew criticism of Obama's policies ... Speaker at McCain calls his rival 'Barack Hussein Obama' ... Biden ridicules McCain as "an angry man" who is Bush's sidekick ... NRA to run newspaper ad with Sen. Clinton criticism of Obama on guns ... Polls show debate viewers favoring Obama as winner
Obama urges Americans not to panic over economy
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama's campaign criticized John McCain's mortgage bailout plan Wednesday, saying it would cause the government to lose money by paying too much for bad loans.
McCain's proposal to spend $300 billion in federal funds to buy distressed mortgages was a highlight of Tuesday's presidential debate, and it seemed to catch Obama off guard. At first, Obama's campaign said he had made similar proposals and there was nothing new in McCain's remarks.
But after McCain aides offered more details Wednesday, Obama's campaign shifted gears.
The plan would cause the government "to massively overpay for mortgages in a plan that would guarantee taxpayers lose money, and put them at risk of losing even more if home values don't recover," Obama economic adviser Jason Furman said in a statement. "The biggest beneficiaries of this plan will be the same financial institutions that got us into this mess, some of whom even committed fraud."
The statement did not detail why the plan would fail. Some mortgage officials, however, say the great majority of bad loans are owned by large pools of investors who would sell them only at prices much higher than their current worth.
McCain renews harsh criticism of Obama over policy
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin questioned on Wednesday whether Barack Obama's record matched his rhetoric as they sought to sow doubt about the Democratic presidential candidate.
Speaking to a rowdy crowd of supporters in this eastern Pennsylvania town, McCain and Palin both challenged Obama's campaign claims. Dismissing Obama as just "a guy who's just tried to talk his way into the White House," vice presidential candidate Palin said the Democrats' ideas are stale and dangerous.
"He's not willing to drill for energy, but he's sure willing to drill for votes," Palin said, eliciting cheers of "Drill, baby, drill" from the crowd, which often interrupted the candidates during their joint appearance.
McCain's remarks about Obama were interrupted with shouts of "socialist," "terrorist" and "liar." At another time, a man in the bleaches shouted "No more ACORN," referring to a group that registers poor voters.
McCain rally speaker refers to Obama's middle name
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) - For the second time in three days, a rally for the Republican presidential ticket invoked Democrat Barack Obama's middle name, Hussein, in an attempt to add to doubts about his background, faith and campaign.
Before John McCain and running mate Sarah Palin arrived at their rally in eastern Pennsylvania, Lehigh County GOP Chairman Bill Platt twice used Obama's middle name. Neither McCain nor Palin referred to Platt's remarks when they spoke, but their campaign quickly issued a statement saying it did not condone "this inappropriate rhetoric."
McCain has called the use of Obama's middle name both improper and inappropriate and once apologized after a supporter warming up a rally used it. Referring to Hussein - a name Obama shares most famously with deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein - is widely viewed as an effort to link Obama to radical Islam even though he is a Christian with no such ties.
Shouts of "socialist," "terrorist" and "liar" from supporters followed McCain's references to Obama at Lehigh University.
Biden calls McCain a sidekick, not a maverick
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden called Republican John McCain an angry man making ugly attacks against the Democratic ticket to cover up his support for President Bush.
"You can't call yourself a maverick when all you've ever been is a sidekick," Biden said Wednesday of McCain. He credited Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey with first using the line.
Biden's attacks came during an appearance at the University of South Florida's Sun Dome, in the heart of the Tampa Bay area where the two tickets are in a tight race. Thousands waited in a line that wrapped along the Sun Dome basketball arena for a chance to hear Barack Obama's running mate.
Biden plans to continue this aggressive stance toward the Republican presidential candidate through Election Day, said his spokesman David Wade. Wade said Biden would be Obama's "defender in chief."
Biden also ridiculed McCain running mate Sarah Palin for her attacks on Obama. "Last week I had a debate, I think it was a debate, with Gov. Palin," Biden said. Palin and Biden both used the debate more for attacks on the opposing standard-bearer rather than direct answers to the questions.
NRA ad uses Clinton's words against Obama on guns
WASHINGTON (AP) - The National Rifle Association is turning to Hillary Rodham Clinton to bolster its criticism of Barack Obama's positions on gun issues.
The NRA's Political Victory Fund planned a national newspaper ad Thursday reviving a Clinton mailing that accused Obama of waffling on gun issues. Clinton's campaign sent the mailing when the New York senator was challenging Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. It accuses Obama of changing his statements on gun issues to try to fit the audience he was addressing.
"Hillary was right: You can't trust Obama with your guns," says the NRA political action committee's ad, scheduled to run in USA Today. The PAC has spent at least $2.3 million on anti-Obama efforts in the 2008 presidential race, including more than $100,000 on the new USA Today ad.
Post-debate polling favors Obama over McCain
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - John McCain dismissively called rival Barack Obama "that one," Obama mocked McCain's "Straight Talk Express," and both left the debate stage to return to the campaign trail Wednesday.
CNN's national poll of debate watchers found that 54 percent said Obama did the best job, compared to 30 percent who said McCain performed better. While 51 percent of those polled said they had a favorable opinion of McCain, unchanged from before the debate started, 64 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Obama, up 4 percentage points from before the debate.
By more than a 2-1 margin, 65 percent to 28 percent, more people said they found Obama more likable than McCain during the debate, according to the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey.
On the question of who won the debate, a CBS News/Knowledge Networks poll of uncommitted voters found a similar result. Forty percent said Obama won, 26 percent said McCain won, and 34 percent thought it was a tie.
Playing off the second debate, the Obama campaign released a TV ad Wednesday that continued the criticism that McCain's health care plan included taxing employer-based health care benefits. "Instead of fixing health care, he wants to tax it," the ad says.
McCain's campaign, in turn, put out a TV spot contending that Obama promises nearly $1 trillion in new spending in the wake of the $700 billion financial rescue plan Congress approved. "Sound crazy? the ad asks. "It is."
Democrat Barack Obama has an 11-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain - 52 percent to 41 percent - among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update.
Barack Obama campaigned in Indianapolis.
Joe Biden stops in the Florida cities of Tampa and Fort Myers.
John McCain and Sarah Palin talk to voters in Bethlehem, Pa., and Strongville, Ohio.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"This is a time for resolve and leadership. I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis." - Barack Obama.
STAT OF THE DAY:
A record 8.6 million people registered to vote in battleground Pennsylvania in the 2008 presidential election, according to the Pennsylvania's State Department. Last-minute registrations still have to be counted, but there are now almost 1,170,000 more Democrats than Republicans registered.