The Note: Now Batting, No. 44

"Turmoil in the financial industry and growing pessimism about the economy have altered the shape of the presidential race, giving Democratic nominee Barack Obama the first clear lead of the general-election campaign over Republican John McCain," Dan Balz and Jon Cohen write in The Washington Post.

Palin popped? "In the face of bad economic news, the two candidates now run about evenly among white women, and Obama has narrowed the overall gap among white voters to five percentage points," they write. "Two weeks ago, when those surveyed were asked who they trusted to deal with a major unexpected crisis, McCain led 54 percent to 37 percent. That lead is gone."

What does McCain do? Pressure from Newt: "dead loser on Election Day," is how former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., describes the bailout bill, per ABC's Teddy Davis. He tells Davis: "I don't know how [McCain] can vote for this and with a straight face go around and say that he's for real change and he's the reform candidate."

If McCain opposes it . . . "You'll have 'Bush-Obama ads' on the one side and 'taking on the Bush-Obama establishment' on the other side, and that will be, frankly, one of the more amazing elections," Gingrich said.

Careful -- who's the elitist now?

"The McCain campaign wants to cast Sen. Barack Obama as an arugula-munching, Hawaii-vacationing, Ivy League-educated limousine liberal who's eager to raise your taxes and outlaw your guns in cahoots with his effete intellectual friends," per ABC News. "But such a message -- similar to ones that have been driven by GOP campaigns for decades -- is getting lost, perhaps somewhere in Sen. John McCain's seven homes and 13 cars. In a reversal from recent presidential campaigns, this year's race features a Democrat who is portraying the Republican as an elitist who can't relate to the concerns of ordinary Americans."

And a widening Fannie and Freddie problem for McCain: "One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager from the end of 2005 through last month, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement," Jackie Calmes and David D. Kirkpatrick write in The New York Times.

"The disclosure contradicts a statement Sunday night by Mr. McCain that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had no involvement with the company for the last several years," Calmes and Kirkpatrick write. "Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis & Manafort for the duration of the campaign, but as a partner and equity-holder continues to share in its profits."

They've been warning us about The New York Times (who might be the scarier McCain enemy in New York this week -- Bill Keller, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?)

"The New York Times is trying to fill an ideological niche. It is a business decision, and one made under economic duress, as the New York Times is a failing business. But the paper's reporting on Senator McCain, his campaign, and his staff should be clearly understood by the American people for what it is: a partisan assault aimed at promoting that paper's preferred candidate, Barack Obama," Michael Goldfarb blogs for the McCain campaign.

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