The Note: The Gambler

"If McCain actually boycotts the Oxford debate, Obama may score a public-relations coup while his Republican rival looks weak and evasive," Salon's Walter Shapiro writes. "Or the Democratic nominee may appear too political while McCain puts on his mantle as statesman."

Team McCain wouldn't mind a second delay, either: "The McCain campaign told ABC News on Wednesday that John McCain wants to postpone Friday's presidential debate until Thursday, Oct. 2," per ABC's Teddy Davis and Rigel Anderson. "The Arizona senator would like the vice presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, which is currently scheduled to take place on Thursday, Oct. 2 in St. Louis, Missouri, to be scheduled for a later unspecified date."

As for the legislative prospects: "How close anyone is to a real bipartisan deal acceptable to Treasury is open to question. But Frank and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D- Conn.) are slated to meet Thursday morning with their Republican counterparts on the two committees, and the two Democrats have an agreement among themselves of what they would like added to the Treasury proposal," Politico's David Rogers and Amie Parnes write.

"A joint call from presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) for a financial rescue package Wednesday isolated House rank-and-file Republicans who have yet to sign on and are critical to its passage," Roll Call's Emily Pierce and Steven T. Dennis write.

Thanks, but no thanks: "It appears to me John McCain is trying to divert attention to his failing campaign," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., per ABC's Jake Tapper.

But didn't he sort of ask for this? "Democrats had dared Sen. John McCain to show leadership on the Wall Street crisis and he stepped up," Stephen Dinan and Christina Bellantoni write in the Washington Times.

As for the blame -- don't look over here, says the president. "President Bush offered a bunch of explanations but held Washington completely blameless, painting a picture of a government standing innocently on the sidelines as the economy went off the rails," per the AP's Terence Hunt. "Somehow, under Bush's scenario, the country wound up at the precipice of 'a long and painful recession' at a time when, apparently, the Congress, the White House, the regulators and the Fed were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing."

New numbers for our backdrop: Obama 49, McCain 45 in the Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll.

"Obama continues to lead McCain across the board on domestic issues, which a majority of voters consider the most important factor in their choice of candidate," Bloomberg's Heidi Przybyla writes. "The Illinois senator beats McCain by 14 points on who has better ideas for strengthening the nation's economy."

Still tight: "The crisis in the financial markets and increasing anxiety about the economy are playing to Barack Obama's political strengths, but they have not given him a substantial lead in the presidential contest," Janet Hook writes for the Los Angeles Times. "Obama's lead shrinks to 46% to 44% if all registered voters are counted -- not much different than the result of a Times/Bloomberg poll in August, which also showed Obama holding a 2-percentage-point margin."

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