LAME: Palin Bails On Debate Watch Party; McCain Travels Thru Time, Wins Debate Before It Happens

LIVE FROM THE WASILLA WITCH TRIAL: Obama supporters vastly outnumber Palin supporters out front of the Irish Pub, Philadelphia, 6:41 PM [Photos by KEVIN C. BROWN]

BOSTON HERALD: Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is scheduled to appear at a tavern near Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square — but to leave before the presidential debate.The Irish Pub is to welcome ticketed guests at 5 p.m. Friday. One of the owners, Mark O’Connor, tells The Philadelphia Inquirer that Palin is expected to show up between 7 and 7:30 p.m. and greet people. O’Connor says she should leave around 8:30 p.m., half an hour before the debate is scheduled to start. People without tickets can enter starting at 9 p.m. MORE

mccainwinsdebate_1.jpgED SCHULTZ: Capitol Hill sources are telling me that senior McCain people are more than concerned about Palin.The campaign has held a mock debate and a mock press conference; both are being described as “disastrous.” One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, “What are we going to do?” The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is “clueless.”

THE FIX: Although the fate of tonight’s presidential debate in Mississippi remains very much up in the air, John McCain has apparently already won it — if you believe an Internet ad an astute reader spotted next to this piece in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal this morning. “McCain Wins Debate!” declares the ad which features a headshot of a smiling McCain with an American flag background. Another ad spotted by our eagle-eyed observer featured a quote from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis declaring: “McCain won the debate– hands down.” MORE

Obama_Street.jpgUPDATE: CNN Post-Debate Poll Numbers

Who Did the Best Job In the Debate?
Obama 51%
McCain 38%

Who Would Better Handle Economy?
Obama 58%
McCain 37%

Who Would Better Handle Iraq?
Obama 52%
McCain 47%

NEW YORKER: What a contrast yesterday. First, out comes McCain, looking drawn, jittery, and (to my admittedly jaundiced eye) guilty, with his announcement that he doesn’t want to debate on Friday because the financial crisis is too awful for a thing like politics to occur. He reads his statement and exits quickly. A couple of hours later, Obama appears. He looks and sounds like a President of the United States. He is preternaturally calm. He explains the chronology of the day: he called McCain at 8:30, the call was returned at 2:30, they discussed the idea of putting out a joint statement about the crisis. He says not a word about postponing the debate.Then, unlike McCain, Obama takes questions. […]

Barack_ObamaCROPPED.1_1.jpgObama handled the situation perfectly. He didn’t have to point out that McCain’s cheap gambit was a cheap gambit. Surrogates, supporters, and, perhaps, the press would do that for him. And by treating the debate-postponement ploy as a detail, he slipped the trap McCain had set for him: either be bullied into obeying McCain’s order or be seen as putting politics above country. […]

A couple of hours later, Katie Couric, whose evening news program on CBS is reliably reported to have become the best of the big three, shows a few minutes of the interview she had taped that morning with Sarah Palin. Couric is both pleasanter and tougher than Charlie Gibson had been during the only other non-Fox interview the lady has condescended to give. For Palin, the interview excerpt begins badly. Couric asks about the campaign manager and the Fannie Mae payroll. Palin gives her answer, something about how her “understanding” is that the campaign Barack_ObamaCROPPED.1_1.jpgmanager had “recused himself.” Couric rephrases the question. Palin gives her answer again. It is nearly word for word the same as the first time. Chilling. The interview excerpt ends badly, too. Couric asks what, besides suggesting two years ago that there ought to be more oversight of the mortgage giants, McCain has ever done in his twenty-six years in Congress to change the way Wall Street does business. Palin points to McCain’s call for more oversight of the mortgage giants. Couric asks again. Palin says fondly that McCain is a maverick. Politely, a third time, Couric asks for specific examples. Pertly, Palin says, “I’ll try to find some and I’ll bring ‘em to ya.” MORE

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