Morning Brief: McCain’s last stand

Top Story Heading into the U.S. presidential campaign’s closing weekend, John McCain’s team continues to point to polls showing a tightening race, and is making an aggressive final push to define Barack Obama as an untested leader with questionable associations and socialist leanings. As Peter Baker describes it, “[T]he missiles have all been launched and ...

591778_081031_mccain5.jpg
591778_081031_mccain5.jpg

Top Story

Heading into the U.S. presidential campaign's closing weekend, John McCain's team continues to point to polls showing a tightening race, and is making an aggressive final push to define Barack Obama as an untested leader with questionable associations and socialist leanings.

As Peter Baker describes it, "[T]he missiles have all been launched and it's just a matter of waiting to see if any hit the target." But the Republican nominee said today on ABC News, "We're going to fight it out on the economic grounds," and the predominant McCain message is that Obama will raise taxes (the Illinois senator promises that 95 percent of Americans will get a tax cut if he is elected).

Top Story

Heading into the U.S. presidential campaign’s closing weekend, John McCain’s team continues to point to polls showing a tightening race, and is making an aggressive final push to define Barack Obama as an untested leader with questionable associations and socialist leanings.

As Peter Baker describes it, “[T]he missiles have all been launched and it’s just a matter of waiting to see if any hit the target.” But the Republican nominee said today on ABC News, “We’re going to fight it out on the economic grounds,” and the predominant McCain message is that Obama will raise taxes (the Illinois senator promises that 95 percent of Americans will get a tax cut if he is elected).

McCain is counting on a come-from-behind victory in Ohio, a state George W. Bush won narrowly in 2004 and where the Republican Party has a sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation. RealClearPolitics still estimates that Obama has a 311-142 lead in the electoral college, but has moved neighboring Pennslvania from the “solid Obama” to the “lean Obama” category. Politico sees a “dead heat” in Missouri and North Carolina.

Economy

Stock markets in Asia and Europe appear to be headed for their worst month of all time, according to Reuters.

Japan’s central bank cut a key interest rate for the first time in seven years.

Barclays, the British bank, is soliciting funds from Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

Americas

The American auto industry is increasingly seeking government support.

A U.S. judge has ordered that Argentine pension funds’ investments in the United States be frozen to meet that country’s sovereign debt obligations.

Protests over the distribution of mining revenues have wracked parts of Peru for three days.

Asia

Indian officials blamed Islamic militants for the blasts that killed 77 people in Assam state Thursday.

Kim Jong Il skipped an important funeral, fueling speculation that the North Korean leader is in poor health.

South Koreans are losing confidence in President Lee Myung-bak.

Middle East and Africa

Iraq’s defense minister is requring ministry employees to be politically neutral.

Zambia’s opposition leader is ahead in the vote count.

Refugees are fleeing Congo by the thousands, despite a cease-fire.

Europe

Russia denies that some of its nuclear weapons have gone missing.

Today’s Agenda

Gen. David Petraeus officially takes charge at U.S. Central Command.

Beijing resumes talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

Indonesia executes three militants for the 2002 bombing in Bali.

Obama is campaigning in Iowa, Indiana, and Illinois; McCain is in four towns in Ohio; Joe Biden is Delaware and Ohio; Sarah Palin is in Pennsylvania.

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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