16 sep 08Media and US elections analysis

By Daniel Politi, Slate Magazine

The Wall Street mess has become fodder for the presidential candidates on the trail. The WP notes that after two weeks where Sarah Palin dominated the news, “the campaign may be heading back to fundamentals.” John McCain “faces the bigger challenge” because he must find a way to separate himself from the current administration. But that doesn’t mean Obama will have an easy time since he has “struggled through much of the year to develop a compelling economic message.”

Neither candidate brought any fresh ideas to the table yesterday, but there was plenty of back-and-forth after McCain declared in his first event of the day that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” His tone quickly changed as the day wore on, but Obama was quick to challenge his opponent, not only for what he said but also by tying him to an economic worldview that opposes tougher regulations.

In a Page One piece, the NYT essentially says that Obama’s portrayal of McCain is accurate because he has always “been in his party’s mainstream on the issue” and has often championed deregulation. Now he’s trying to talk more positively about government regulation even as some of his closest financial advisers include some of the most prominent deregulators. As much as all this may seem to be good news for Obama, the Democratic nominee can win from this only if he manages “to convince voters he’s going to change their lives,” writes Slate‘s John Dickerson. “He can’t use it as merely another opportunity to paint McCain as out of touch.”

In other election news, the NYT points out that after lots of talk on the issue it seems independent groups are gearing up for a comeback in the presidential race. These groups have so far been on the sidelines but are starting to take on a more prominent role as the campaign enters its final weeks. Although both candidates once tried to discourage these groups from operating, they now seem to be more willing to look the other way. Now that the groups can campaign until Election Day, it’s predicted that many of these ads will seemingly come out of nowhere and overwhelm voters in battleground states, even if it’s unlikely they’ll reach the same levels of activity as in 2004.

 

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