¢ Sen. Joe Biden has emerged as the favorite among Democrats to be Barack Obama's running mate for his understanding of foreign policy in grave global times and his fighting spirit against the rival Republican ticket. Obama is expected to announce his decision by Saturday.
¢ Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention next month and Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Joe Lieberman also will take center stage at the GOP gathering.
Washington Republican presidential candidate John McCain chided his Democratic rival on Wednesday for getting "a little testy" as Barack Obama sharpened his tone amid a tightening White House race that gets nastier by the day.
"I honor his service. I don't honor his policies. I don't honor his politics," Obama said, taking on his GOP opponent with renewed vigor while some Democrats fret that their candidate has not been aggressive enough.
Both candidates also unveiled fresh attack advertisements ahead of their back-to-back national conventions.
Trying anew to tie McCain to the unpopular President Bush, Obama's TV commercial asks: "Can we really afford more of the same?" It slams McCain's tax plan as a giveaway for big corporations and oil companies. McCain's radio ad claims: "Celebrities like to spend their millions. Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend."
Democrats are questioning whether Obama has a second act beyond his message of change and wondering whether he can throw an effective punch against a Republican Party willing to play hardball.
Obama was confronted by those concerns at a town hall meeting in Virginia on Wednesday, when a woman told him McCain was running a lot of negative ads in the state.
"You think you can win by taking the higher ground? I worry about you," the woman said, but Obama insisted he was up for the fight.
"I'm skinny but I'm tough. We will hit back with the truth," the Illinois senator said. "We intend to win this election."
Republicans, in turn, are emboldened by improving poll numbers: Even ardent critics of McCain's campaign see a way he could win although Bush's unpopularity remains a drag and war and economic distress have created a dreadful political environment for the GOP.
New national polls show McCain starting to close a summerlong Obama edge.
The Pew Research Center's latest survey found Obama at 46 percent and McCain at 43 percent, tighter than the 8-percentage-point gap just two months ago. The survey found that McCain has solidified his base support, particularly among whites, men, Republicans and evangelicals.