By Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic congressman John Lewis, a veteran civil rights leader, accused Republican John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin on Saturday of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" and said it reminded him of the segregationist era of Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
McCain, trailing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in the polls in an increasingly tense campaign, quickly hit back, branding Lewis's remarks "shocking and beyond the pale" and calling on Obama to immediately repudiate them.
The Obama campaign said while Lewis was right to condemn "hateful rhetoric" the Illinois senator did not believe McCain or his policy criticism were comparable to Wallace or his segregationist policies as governor of Alabama in the 1960s.
The issue of race has mostly been an undercurrent in the presidential contest between McCain and Obama, who would be America's first black president, and it remains unknown how much of a factor it will play in the Nov. 4 vote.
Lewis's comments, posted on his re-election website, follow widely reported outbursts of anger against Obama at McCain campaign events. McCain on Friday urged his supporters to be respectful of his Democratic rival.
"I am deeply disturbed by the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign," said Lewis, an Obama supporter, civil rights icon and Georgia Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives....(Click here for remainder).
By BBC News
Bill and Hillary Clinton have made their first joint campaign stop in support of Democrat Barack Obama's bid for the US presidency.
The appearance of the former first couple in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is seen as an attempt to boost Mr Obama's vote in the US blue-collar heartland.
Mr Obama's Republican opponent, John McCain, will try to revive flagging poll ratings in a key state, Virginia.
He has signalled a change in tactics after some harsh attacks on Mr Obama.
Aides say Mr McCain will unveil a new strategy for reviving the US economy, with tax cuts likely to be on the menu.
But he said he would "whip" Mr Obama's "you know what" in the last TV debate between the two candidates on Wednesday.
Election 'too important'
The Clintons joined vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden in his birthplace, the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to call on voters to make Mr Obama president.
This was their first campaign appearance together since Mr Obama narrowly defeated Mrs Clinton in the Democratic primaries earlier this year.
"This election is too important to sit on the sidelines of history," said Mrs Clinton, who defeated Mr. Obama in the Pennsylvania primary by 10 percentage points....(Click here for remainder).
By Mark Z. Barabak & Dan Morain
Los Angeles Times
Barack Obama's recent surge in the presidential race has been credited to a rise in voters' concerns about their money. It helps that Obama himself has a lot of money.
Spurning federal funds -- and the spending restrictions that go with them -- the Democratic nominee has racked up an enormous cash advantage that he is using to dominate the television airwaves.
The week before last, Obama outspent Republican nominee John McCain in all of the most competitive states, save for Iowa and Minnesota, where he has a comfortable lead in recent polls.
More significantly, Obama has used his financial edge to turn once-reliable GOP states into hard-fought battlegrounds. In that same week, according to an independent study, Obama outspent McCain by more than 8 to 1 in North Carolina and 3 to 1 in Indiana. No Democrat has won either state in more than three decades.
Obama has "stretched the playing field," said Edward Carmines, who teaches political science at Indiana University. "Now, in the last month of the campaign, Sen. McCain is having to make very tough decisions where to spend his money."
Obama's financial edge results from his decision to become the first candidate to forgo public funding since the federal system was adopted in 1976 after the Watergate scandal. McCain accepted $84.1 million from Washington, and that is all he can spend. But the Illinois senator rejected the taxpayer money, betting he could raise a lot more. And he has....(Click here for remainder).
By Chris Cillizza
The Washington Post's 'The Fix'
It was deja vu all over again for John McCain last week.
The rapid drop of the Dow Jones Industrial Average kept the economy front and center, playing into the hands of Barack Obama and Democrats up and down the ballot.
The McCain campaign still seemed divided over how hard to push the character issue against Obama -- one minute claiming the Illinois senator's ties to Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko were fair game and the next calling for civility and lessening of hostility. (For more on McCain's divided mind on the issue, check out this Fix post from earlier in the week.)
Couple those factors with a massive spending edge for Obama on television, and it's not hard to understand why the Illinois senator sits above 300 electoral votes for the second week of Fix picks in a row.
And, even this map may undersell Obama's strength somewhat as his heavy advertising in places like Florida, North Carolina and Indiana -- 53 total electoral votes -- have turned all three states into true tossups. If Obama were to sweep those three states, he would stand at 364 electoral votes -- the most since Bill Clinton won re-election over former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole with 379 electoral votes in 1996.
McCain's options are far more limited. Ohio remains a crucial battleground that he must hold if he wants to win the presidency -- new polling out Sunday showed McCain with a statistically insignificant 48 percent to 46 percent edge -- a four point gain for Obama since the last poll three week ago....(Click here for remainder).
Posted by Bret M-C at 1:03 PM