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US election briefing: McCain needs a knockout blow

As tonight's final presidential debate approaches, it's getting harder and harder to see how John McCain For McCain's grandfather and father, see John S. McCain, Sr. and John S. McCain, Jr., respectively
John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936 in Panama Canal Zone) is an American politician, war veteran, and currently the Republican Senior U.S. Senator from Arizona.
 can still win the election. To do so, given his current performance in the polls, would require a turnaround unprecedented in modern history. He needs a knockout blow, which means tonight's confrontation could get personal, Ewen MacAskill writes in today's Guardian. Barack Obama has seemed to taunt him for not mentioning Bill Ayers Bill Ayers (born 1944) is a former member of the Weather Underground who is now a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Biography
Ayers was a 1960s-era political activist and Weather Underground member.
 to his face during the last debate; McCain, his pride apparently wounded, told a radio interviewer yesterday he'd been "astonished a·ston·ish  
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise.
" by that remark, and probably would mention Ayers tonight.

After several days of confusion over whether McCain was planning to announce new economic proposals, he did that too yesterday, promising $53bn in tax breaks targeted at senior citizens. But negative campaigning Negative campaigning is trying to win an advantage by referring to negative aspects of an opponent or of a policy rather than emphasizing one's own positive attributes or preferred policies.  dominated much of the day, partly thanks to the elder Republican statesman John Danforth John Claggett "Jack" Danforth (born September 5, 1936) is a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and former Republican United States Senator from Missouri. He is an ordained Episcopal priest. Danforth is married to Sally D. Danforth and has five adult children. , who dramatically escalated the charges of voter fraud some McCain aides have been making against Barack Obama and the community organisation Acorn, says Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian today. Danforth said that fraudulent voter registrations had already "tainted taint  
v. taint·ed, taint·ing, taints
1. To affect with or as if with a disease.

2. To affect with decay or putrefaction; spoil. See Synonyms at contaminate.

" November's election. There's evidence of some fraudulent registrations, but it's important to point out - as Danforth didn't - that fraudulent registrations don't lead to fraudulent votes being cast; the imaginary people registering as "Mickey Mouse Mickey Mouse

Famous character of Walt Disney's animated cartoons. He was introduced in Steamboat Willie (1928), the first animated cartoon with sound. Mickey was created by Disney, who also provided his high-pitched voice, and was usually drawn by the studio's head animator,
" can't turn up at the polls. (The motive for the fraud seems more likely to have been financial, since some community groups pay staff to register people.) Still, the charges will carry some political sting, and the growing likelihood that McCain will lose next month only seems to guarantee an increasingly aggressive fight.

What to watch for

Both candidates are in Hempstead, on Long Island, for the final debate, on the campus of Hofstra University Hofstra University (hŏf`strə, hôf`–), at Hempstead, N.Y.; coeducational. Founded as a division of New York Univ. in 1935, it became independent in 1940, and its name was changed to Hofstra College. . I'll be liveblogging it here.

Latest polls

A new CBS/New York Times poll gives Obama a truly commanding lead - 53% to 39% among likely voters, compared to 48%-45% in the equivalent poll early this month. McCain's negative campaigning seems to have backfired: six in 10 voters say he has spent more time attacking his rival than explaining his plans for his presidency. The main tracking polls were unchanged.

Quote of the day

"For this debate, for part of this next debate, do what I did for part of the last two debates. Literally, turn the sound off ... I'm not joking now. Literally, turn the sound off. And just watch. Watch the body language of both men. You can sense it folks. You know it, when there's a command[ing] presence. You know it when someone has the confidence and the certitude cer·ti·tude  
1. The state of being certain; complete assurance; confidence.

2. Sureness of occurrence or result; inevitability.

 about himself and what he believes in." Joe Biden This article is about the United States Senator from Delaware, for other uses of the name, see Biden.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. (born November 20, 1942) is an American lawyer and politician from Wilmington, Delaware.
 on the campaign trail yesterday, recommending the same "no-volume" approach that Sarah Palin Sarah Louise Heath Palin (born February 11 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho) is the current Governor of Alaska. She is the youngest governor in Alaskan history (forty-two years old upon taking office), as well as the first woman to hold the office in Alaska.  said she'd used to watch Tina Fey's spoofs

"I'm done ... And by 'I'm done', I mean I'm leaving Earth." The aforementioned Tina Fey Elizabeth Stamatina "Tina" Fey (born May 18, 1970) is an Emmy-winning American writer, comedian and actress. Fey currently co-produces, writes and stars in the television program 30 Rock, a sitcom loosely based on her experiences at Saturday Night Live. , explaining what she'll do if Palin wins.


·McCain needs 'knockout blow' in final debate as poll ratings collapse

·Obama's new advertising pitch: video games

·Tomasky Talk: Obama and McCain's final debate

·Forgotten war that's only mentioned on the graves at Arlington cemetery

·Roanoke voices: 'We need God back'

Best of the rest

·NY Times: Poll Says Attacks Backfire on McCain

·Salon: Which John McCain will show up to debate?

·Chicago Tribune: White pride in voting for Obama

·Washington Post: How Palin Can Save Mainstream Media

·Wall Street Journal: My Friend Bill Ayers, by Thomas Frank

Scathing commentary of the day

John Cleese “Cleese” redirects here. For the actress and daughter of John Cleese, see Cynthia Cleese.

John Marwood Cleese (IPA: /ˈkliːz/ 
 weighs in on the US election, here. "I'm sorry, Michael Palin Michael Edward Palin, CBE (born 5 May 1943) is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries. , but you're not the funniest Palin anymore ..."
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Date:Oct 15, 2008
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