McCain: "Americans will care" about Ayers

ABC News' Charles Gibson sat down with John McCain today in Milwaukee, WI and the Republican nominee acknowledged that he is trailing Barack Obama in the race for the White House but said he is used to being an underdog.

"This is a tough campaign," McCain told Gibson in an exclusive interview. "I'm the underdog. I've always been the underdog from the beginning."

Gibson met up with McCain in Wisconsin as the World News "Great American Battleground Bus Tour" continued through the Midwest. The interview will air tonight at 6:30pm ET on World News.

Read the full transcript of the interview here: LINK

And watch video clips here: LINK

Gibson asked McCain about the economy, his campaigns repeated references to William Ayers and whether Obama's character makes him unqualified to be president.

McCain did not give an inch when Gibson asked if Ayers is "critical issue or factor in this campaign."

"I think it's a factor about Senator Obama's candor and truthfulness with the American people," McCain said. "I don't care about Mr. Ayers, who on September 11, 2001 said he wished he'd have bombed more. I don't care about that. I care about [Obama] being truthful about his relationship with him. And Americans will care."

"Does he have the experience and the knowledge and judgment and has he made the right decisions?" McCain asked later, "And has he told -- been candid with the American people? I think that's important."

Troopergate developments
ABC News' Justin Rood reports that the major phase of the Alaska Troopergate scandal is expected to wrap up tomorrow, when the state legislature is expected to release the findings of its investigation.

The AK Supreme Court ruled today to allow the probe to continue, setting the stage for the 14-member bi-partisan Legislative Council to meet tomorrow morning and vote on whether to release the report. Rood reports that the special counsel, Stephen Branchflower, has kept a very tight lid on his work and only tidbits -- subpoena lists, some witnesses' names, interrogatories -- have been public.

More from Rood:
A second investigation still looms -- that by the state Personnel Board, conducted by a respected Anchorage lawyer, Tim Petumenos. Gov. Palin and her husband, Todd, will reportedly both speak with Petumenos. Neither of the Palins spoke with Branchflower, although Todd was subpoenaed; he eventually provided written responses to questions via his lawyer.

The Palins and the campaign have long sough to portray the Personnel Board probe as the only legitimate one. The main difference between that probe at the Legislature's effort? The legislature started its probe in July, while the Personnel Board probe just started (at Palin's prompting) last month -- so its findings won't be ready until after the election.

Bush remarks on the economy
The White House announced that President Bush will make a statement at 10am ET in the Rose Garden on Friday (note that it is after the opening bell). Per spokeswoman Dana Perino, the President will "assure the American people that they should be confident that economic officials are aggressively taking every action to stabilize our financial system."

"The Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve and the FDIC all have the necessary tools to address the problems we are facing in our markets. The Treasury Department is moving quickly to use new tools to improve liquidity, which is the root cause of the issue," Perino said in a statement late Thursday. "Americans should be confident that every effort is being taken to stabilize our financial system."

ABC News' Lisa Chinn reports that President Bush has spoken publicly nine times since news of the bailout plan first surfaced on Sept. 19. "Of those nine times, the market has ended the day on an upturn twice - on Sept. 19 and Sept. 30. Once he spoke on a weekend when there was no market activity, but every other time the President has gone before cameras, the market has gone down."

Obama in Prime Time
ABC News' John Berman confirms that the Obama campaign has purchase half-hour blocks of time on network television in the final week of the campaign, according to television industry sources. The Obama campaign bought 30 minutes of air time at 8pm ET on Oct. 29 on at least NBC, CBS and MSNBC and possibly other networks. Ad spending guru Evan Tracey of Campaign Media Analysis Group tells ABC News' Tahman Bradley that 30 minutes of primetimes network television would cost about $500,000 per network. The buy was first reported by the Hollywood Reporter.

Tivo Alert! Live from New York it's...Thursday Night! Saturday Night Live jumps the gun by two days and will air a special a live political edition of Weekend Update at 9:30pm ET. Obama continues his bus tour through Ohio on Friday with stops in Chillicothe and Columbus. Joe Biden is in Missouri.

McCain stays in Wisconsin while Sarah Palin has no public events.

The Kicker:
"Where is my soundman? I am gonna have my soundman come out here, so everyone knows who messed up the sound."
--Barack Obama expressing frustration over audio failures in Dayton, Ohio

On the campaign front. . .

JOHN McCAIN
-- 9:45 am ET: Holds Rally in La Crosse, WI.

SARAH PALIN
-- No Public Events.

BARACK OBAMA
-- 9:40 am ET: Holds Rally in Chillicothe, OH.
-- 1:20 pm ET: Holds Rally in Columbus, OH.

JOE BIDEN
-- 11:30 am ET: Holds Rally in Springfield, MO.

At the White House. . .

PRESIDENT BUSH
-- 6:20 pm ET: Photo opportunity with the 2008 Little League Softball World Series Champions.

POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM

ABC News' Mark Mooney: Bush Forced Into 'Diminished Role' in Economic Crisis LINK

ABC News' John Berman, Sunlen Miller, and Ursula Fahy: Obama Attacks McCain As 'Risky,' 'Erratic' LINK

ABC News' Teddy Davis and Hope Ditto: Richardson: Bill Clinton 'Wants to Keep A Grudge' LINK

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: Biden Accuses McCain of Waffling on Homeowner Help Plan LINK

ABC News' John Berman, Sunlen Miller, and Ursula Fahy: Obama Attacks McCain As 'Risky,' 'Erratic' LINK

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe: Oh, That Joe! (No. 23 in a Series) -- Biden Tells Looney Gym his Grandkids Better Get him a Room with a View LINK

ABC News' Jan Crawford Greenburg: Pandora's Box LINK

ABC News' Ben Jones: Wisconsin's Paper Industry Woes Shape Race LINK

POLITICAL VIDEO ON ABCNEWS.COM

War of Words
Will the candidates' verbal fodder make a difference on November 4? LINK

Obama Coins McCain as 'Risky' and 'Erratic'
Sen. Obama blasts his GOP counterpart for changing his mind on bailout policy. LINK

Hasselbeck Tells Obama to 'Wake Up'
"View" co-host says the senator isn't being truthful about ties to Bill Ayers. LINK

'W' Cast Roots Against Sarah Palin
Oliver Stone and the stars of his movie share their opinions of the governor. LINK

Paris Hilton Wants Washington Gig
The reality star and Martin Sheen appear in video promoting her mock candidacy. LINK

Campaign Advisers Debate Attacks
McCain and Obama advisers discuss the candidates' personal attacks. LINK

Presidential Race Gets Ugly
Entering the home stretch Republicans are increasing personal attacks. LINK

Obama Speaks on Market Turmoil
Charles Gibson asks the Democratic candidate about his economic plan. LINK

George on Debate Frustration
Both candidates' camps express frustration over the Town Hall format. LINK

Obama's Take on McCain's Jabs
Barack Obama addresses the new line of personal attacks by McCain's campaign. LINK