Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail, Oct. 15th


Final debate offers McCain another chance to shake up presidential race ... In her first New Hampshire trip, Palin highlights anti-tax sentiment shared by Alaskans ... Republican Party ends presidential ads in Wisconsin, Maine; increases budget for red states ... High turnout in Ga. early voting could be a promising sign for Obama

Stakes high as Obama, McCain head for final debate

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Republican John McCain is looking to turn around his fortunes in the final presidential debate with Democrat Barack Obama, a forum focused on pocketbook issues and domestic policy Wednesday night.

Both candidates released proposals this week designed to boost the economy as financial institutions wobble and voters feel the pinch of a faltering economy. The debate is at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., with the candidates seated at a table with moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS.

With the economic crisis fueling public unease, Obama has built leads nationally and in key states as the turmoil has returned the nation's focus to the policies of the unpopular President Bush. The burden now is on McCain to try to reverse his slide.

To that end, the Arizona senator took a new approach this week, positioning himself as a fighter for the American middle class and easing off his most direct attacks on Obama, an Illinois senator. McCain also took pains to separate himself from Bush.

Palin sees similarities between NH and Alaska

DOVER, N.H. (AP) - Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said Wednesday she feels a kinship with the moose-hunting, tax-hating voters of New Hampshire who gave John McCain his first primary victory.

At the first of three rallies, the Alaska governor said New Hampshire's state motto, "Live Free or Die," would be a good motto for her state.

"You're a lot like the people of Alaska. We all love good moose hunting, I know that. We both so enjoy our great lands, with clean water, fresh air and abundant wildlife and good fishing. We love being outdoors, and I know that is New Hampshire also," she said. "And we both take seriously your state's motto - I think it should be ours also - "Live Free or Die."

Alaska's state motto is "North to the Future."

Palin was making her first trip to the state that launched McCain to the GOP presidential nomination but where he now trails Obama in polls. About 1,000 people turned out for her first rally at Dover High School. More than 5,000 were expected at an evening rally in Salem.

RNC out of Wisconsin, Maine; focuses on red states

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republican National Committee is halting presidential ads in Wisconsin and Maine, turning its attention primarily to usually Republican states where GOP nominee John McCain shows signs of faltering.

The party's independent ad operation is doubling its budget to about $10 million and focusing on crucial states such as Colorado, Missouri, Indiana and Virginia where Democrat Barack Obama has established a foothold, according a Republican strategist familiar with presidential ad placements.

Florida and North Carolina have also been in the RNC ad mix, but Pennsylvania is the only Democratic leaning swing state apparently left in the party's ad campaign.

The shift in advertising resources suggests that the RNC has decided to focus on defending reliably Republican-voting states against Obama's onslaught of advertising. Flush with money, Obama is outspending the joint efforts of the Republican Party and the McCain campaign by more than 2-1.

While a pullout from Wisconsin is a significant strategic move, it does not represent a full GOP retreat from the state. McCain's campaign has notified Wisconsin stations that it planned to continue to buy air time through Oct. 26.

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High Ga. turnout as 540,000 cast ballots early

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - More than 540,000 ballots have already been cast in Georgia, including many from the Democratic strongholds of metropolitan Atlanta in what could be an encouraging sign for Barack Obama's presidential bid.

Black voters have made up a disproportionately high percentage of early voters, accounting for 37 percent of Georgia's early voters. Blacks represent 29 percent of the state's 5.6 million registered voters.

With three weeks to go until the Nov. 4 election, the number of ballots cast early in Georgia has already eclipsed the total number of early voters in advance of the 2004 presidential election.

Georgia elections officials say the number of early voters could ultimately top 1 million.


Democrat Barack Obama has a 7-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain - 50 percent to 43 percent - among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update.


Barack Obama participates in the final presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.

Joe Biden campaigns in Ohio.


John McCain also participates in the presidential debate in Hempstead, N.Y.

Sarah Palin campaigns in New Hampshire.


"Just be yourself." - Former Vice President Dan Quayle's advice to GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.


In a recent AP-GfK poll, 82 percent of independents said they worry the economic crisis will inflict a long-term toll on them, compared with 89 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of Republicans.

Compiled by Ann Sanner.