• First presidential debate centres on economy and Iraq; McCain suspends campaign due to financial crunch; Obama and McCain participate in bailout talks with President Bush; McCain campaign alleges New York Times of favouring Obama
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  • Amidst clouds of uncertainties in the prevailing economic crisis, the first in the series of presidential debates took place in Oxford, Mississippi on September 26. The two candidates focused on issues related to the financial crackdown, future prospects of the US role in Iraq and also on the question of engaging Iran1. Senator McCain had earlier suspended his campaign in view of the financial situation which he termed as “historic crisis2.”

    Meanwhile, Senator Obama continued to be placed ahead of his rival. His position in Michigan doubled the margin of his lead as noted by a Detroit Free Press-Local 4 Michigan Poll conducted from September 22-243. A poll conducted in Indiana by Rasmussen Reports however gave a slight edge to McCain of 2 per cent over his Democrat contender. In another poll taken by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, McCain managed a four-point lead over Obama4. According to a survey published in the Jerusalem Post on September 26, Obama was popular amongst the members of the Jewish community and was ahead of McCain by over 27 points5.

    The Washington Post-ABC News poll was subject to criticism by Republican supporters who alleged that Obama was placed 9 points ahead of McCain wrongly6. The McCain campaign also accused the New York Times as “an organization that is completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate, which is their prerogative to be7.”

    In other developments, both presidential candidates met President Bush to discuss the proposed $700 billion bailout plan in Washington on September 258. Senator McCain was reportedly more critical and called for a greater insight on the issues involved. Obama urged the administration to “work quickly, in a bipartisan fashion, to resolve the immediate crisis and avert an even broader economic catastrophe9.”