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McCain Faces Tough Task in Final Presidential Debate

At least 15 national polls conducted in recent days show Obama leading McCain by an average of 8 percentage points. The New York Times/CBS poll gave Obama the largest lead. A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted Oct. 8-11 showed Obama with a 10-point lead.

On the issue of which candidate voters trust more to handle the economy, Obama came out ahead by 53 percent to 37 percent in the Post-ABC poll. In response to questions on who better understands the nation's economic problems and would do more to bring needed change to Washington, voters favored Obama by more than two to one.

In another joint interview on CBS's "Early Show," Wallace said she wished there were more three weeks remaining until Election Day. "We need a little more time," she said. Asked what McCain needs to do tonight to "make a difference" with Nov. 4 approaching, Wallace apparently sought to lower expectations somewhat.

"No one can outtalk Barack Obama," Wallace said. "I mean, he's brilliant. He is [an] absolutely brilliant speaker. . . . He's the most gifted political communicator of our generation."

But Americans are "looking for is a fighter," she said. "We're in . . . more than just an economic downturn. We are in a major national crisis. And in an hour of crisis, John McCain is someone who has actually . . . reached across the aisle, worked with Democrats to take on big, entrenched special interests, and has a record of reform that is the best indicator yet that he's the only one can shake up the broken institutions in Washington and Wall Street."

Gibbs said it was unclear which John McCain would show up at tonight's debate. "Do we get the John McCain who we've seen that's erratic in this economic crisis, that's gone from one bad solution to the next?" he asked. "Or do we see the John McCain that is more interested in personal attacks than he is in talking about how we get this economy moving again and creating jobs for working people."

Unlike the two previous presidential debates, tonight's encounter will feature the two candidates seated at a table with the moderator. In the first debate on Sept. 26 in Oxford, Miss., the two men stood at lecterns on a stage. In the second, a town hall-style event in Nashville, they walked around and interacted with the audience.

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