Candidates Prep for Final Debate

Going into Wednesday's debate, John McCain seems miffed by Barack Obama's recent suggestion that McCain does not have the guts to raise Bill Ayers to his face.

"I was astonished to hear him say that he was surprised for me to have the guts to do that," McCain told a St. Louis radio station on Tuesday. "Because the fact is that the question did not come up in that fashion so--you know--I think he's probably ensured that it will come up this time."

Listen to McCain's KMOX radio interview here

McCain's indignation was provoked by comments Obama made last week to ABC News' Charlie Gibson.

"Well, I am surprised that, you know, we've been seeing some pretty over-the-top attacks coming out of the McCain campaign over the last several days that he wasn't willing to say it to my face," said Obama.

Watch the ABC News interview here

McCain will get his final chance to raise Ayers to Obama's face at 9:00 pm ET on Wednesday when the presidential candidates hold their third 90-minute debate.

The debate, which will take place at Hofstra University on Long Island, will be moderated by CBS' Bob Schieffer.

The debate's focus will be domestic policy. It comes at a time in which Obama seems to be improving his standing both nationally and in key battleground states.

A CBS News/New York Times national poll released on Tuesday showed Obama 53, McCain 39.

Similar to the first debate, questions will be followed by two-minute responses from each candidate and then five minute open discussion.

In contrast to the first debate, which was focused on foreign policy, the candidates will be seated and there will be 90-second closing statements.

Michelle Obama's debate guest will be Lilibet Hagel, wife of Chuck Hagel, the GOP senator and Vietnam veteran who backed McCain in 2000 but did not endorse his fellow Republican this time.

The Kicker:
"They do want me to sit down and shut up, but that's not gonna happen."
--Sarah Palin agreeing with Rush Limbaugh's allegation that the mainstream media wants to silence her.

On the campaign front. . .

JOHN McCAIN
-- 9:00 pm ET: Participates in debate in Hempstead, NY.

SARAH PALIN
-- 2:00 pm ET: Holds rally in Laconia, NH.

BARACK OBAMA
-- 9:00 pm ET: Participates in debate in Hempstead, NY.

JOE BIDEN
-- 10:30 am ET: Holds community gathering Athens, OH.
-- 2:00 pm ET: Holds community gathering Lancaster, OH.
-- 6:00 pm ET: Holds community gathering Newark, OH.

At the White House. . .

PRESIDENT BUSH
-- 9:50 am ET: Participates in a video teleconference with Iraq Provincial Reconstruction team leaders and brigade commanders.
-- 12:45 pm ET: Meets with business leaders. Grand Rapids, MI.

On the congressional front . . .

--Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announces a new lame duck initiative to help consumers deal with the financial crisis, Las Vegas, NV

POLITICAL NEWS STORIES ON ABCNEWS.COM

ABC News' Ron Claiborne, Teddy Davis and Arnab Datta: McCain to Obama: I Have 'Guts' to Bring Up Ayers LINK

ABC News' Alex Green and Rick Klein: Democrats Aim for Super Majority in Congress as Economic Crisis Hits Home LINK

ABC News' Jennifer Parker: Early Voting a Growing Trend in U.S. LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama Advertising Within a Video Game LINK

ABC News' Jen Duck, Kate Barrett, Betsy Stark, Bianna Golodryga and Jason Ryan: U.S. Will Invest $250B to Bail Out Banks LINK

ABC News' Sam Donaldson: Economic Socialism LINK

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