Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail, Oct. 17th


Public image of McCain grows sour while view of Obama stays steady in AP-Yahoo News poll ... McCain visiting Florida, North Carolina, Virginia as he tries to reclaim battleground states ... Financial woes melt McCain's lead, allow Obama to compete for Florida's 27 electoral votes ... Piano Man and The Boss - and some friends - team up to raise money for Obama

Poll: Voters souring on McCain, Obama stays steady

WASHINGTON (AP) - People's regard for John McCain has deteriorated across the board since September, an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll showed Friday, with the Republican presidential nominee losing ground in how favorably he's seen and in a long list of personal qualities voters seek in White House contenders.

Perceptions of Democrat Barack Obama have improved or remained steady. Beyond views of the two rivals' character traits, McCain faces another problem - Obama is more trusted on the economy, including a 15 percentage-point edge for better grasping how the raging financial crisis is affecting people.

Negative campaigning and a month of intense public focus on collapsing global economic and financial markets have not been kind to McCain. The new AP-Yahoo News poll of likely voters, conducted this month by Knowledge Networks, shows more people viewing him favorably than unfavorably by just 5 percentage points, down from a 21-point difference in mid-September.

During the same period, Obama went the other way, increasing a 5 percentage-point net favorable rating to 15 points. Now, Obama is seen favorably by 57 percent and McCain by 52 percent - a close margin that masks the opposite direction the two rivals' ratings are heading.

McCain tries to reclaim 3 battleground states

NEW YORK (AP) - Energized by his final debate performance, John McCain set out Friday to try to reclaim three battleground states that had been his until the nation's financial crisis.

The Republican presidential contender was scheduled to make two stops in Florida, then move on to North Carolina and Virginia on Saturday. He lost his lead in polls in all three states during the past month.

In Florida, McCain was getting a boost from Sen. Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee who now is a political independent and ardent McCain backer. Lieberman, the first Jewish candidate on a major-party ticket, still has a strong following among Jews living in Florida and was to introduce McCain at stops in Miami and Melbourne.

Recent surveys have shown Democrat Barack Obama opening as much as a 5-point lead in the pivotal state. The two are essentially tied in North Carolina, but Obama has opened a nearly double-digit lead in Virginia.

Florida turns into tossup after financial meltdown

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama poured millions of dollars into Florida over the summer but couldn't close in on John McCain's comfortable lead. The Republican didn't flinch, confident the state was trending toward the GOP eight years after it gave George W. Bush the White House.

Then the mortgage crisis hit, jolting the high-foreclosure state - and its presidential politics.

Now, the coveted state with 27 electoral votes is a tossup.

Florida is critical to McCain's strategy of winning the requisite 270 Electoral College votes; Bush won twice, though in a disputed election the first time, and McCain is trying hard to defend Florida against Obama's onslaught lest he has to make up the 27 electoral votes he would lose. Obama could lose Florida and still be in a stronger position to cobble together wins in enough states for victory.

Joel, Springsteen team up to aid Obama campaign

NEW YORK (AP) - It was "Born to Run" meets "New York State of Mind" - with a little bit of "Hail to the Chief" thrown in for good measure.

Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel joined forces in a concert to raise money for Barack Obama's presidential campaign and the Democratic Party on Thursday night. They got a little help from India.Arie, John Legend and Springsteen's wife, Patti Scialfa, as they tore through the rock legends' long list of hits at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

As the show concluded, Obama made an appearance onstage. He warned supporters not to get overconfident because he leads in the polls.

"Don't underestimate the capacity of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Don't underestimate our ability to screw it up," Obama said. "I want everybody running scared."

Nearly 2,000 people attended the "Change Rocks" concert. The cheap seats were $500, but big spenders could shell out $25,000 each.


Barack Obama holds a rally in Roanoke, Va.

Joe Biden campaigns in Mesilla, N.M., and Henderson, Nev.


John McCain talks to voters in Miami and Melbourne, Fla.

Sarah Palin stops in West Chester, Ohio, and Noblesville, Ind.


"What they don't know is that Joe the Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses." - John McCain, in a joke referencing his property holdings, at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner on Thursday night.


Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to win Nevada in a presidential election. He beat Republican Bob Dole in 1996 by just 4,730 votes.

Compiled by Ann Sanner.