The Note: Plumb Broke

Yes, the plumber will be part of them: "Sen. John McCain, with his back against the wall, used the Ohio blue-collar worker as a symbol of how Sen. Barack Obama's policies represented a form of class warfare and efforts to redistribute the nation's wealth," the Washington Times' Joseph Curl writes.

Guess who wants him on the trail? "We are going to certainly extend an invitation for him to join and see if he is willing to come along and talk about what is clearly a metaphor for what will exist if Barack Obama is president," McCain campaign manager Rick Davis tells ABC's Ron Claiborne.

Could this all have mattered much more three weeks ago? "Obama mostly remained calm in the face of McCain's onslaught, sometimes even laughing at him. But the Democratic nominee was forced to spend time defending and explaining his plans, his policies, his supporters and even himself," Jill Zuckman and John McCormick write in the Chicago Tribune.

"McCain's problem at Hofstra University was clear -- he needed a solid performance like this to win over voters in the first debate, not the last, when Obama is showing signs of pulling away from McCain in the national polls," Newsday's Craig Gordon writes. "In short, it just looked like too little, too late."

But some things are bigger than the candidates: "It was John McCain's last big chance to tame the massive headwinds buffeting his fading campaign. He gave it his Navy blue-and-gold all, but a feisty showing couldn't reverse a national psyche weary of the Republican brand," Thomas M. DeFrank writes in the New York Daily News.

After not doing enough, was he doing too much, and therefore getting nothing done?

"No obvious reason for McCain to be optimistic that he has turned his troubled campaign in a new direction," write Politico's John F. Harris and Jim VandeHei. "To the contrary, what McCain offered at Hofstra University was simply a more intense, more glaring version of his campaign in familiar light -- an edgy, even angry performance that in many ways seemed like a metaphor for his unfocused, wildly improvisational campaign."

Bill Ayers and ACORN look like McCain's best shots -- alas, probably not enough: "In all, a lot said, a lot not changed," Lynn Sweet writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Four mentions of anger in the first two minutes. And McCain was barely warmed up," Newsweek's Richard Wolffe writes.

"John McCain brought his best -- and also his worst -- to his final debate with Barack Obama Wednesday night, arguably his best and last chance to change the landscape of the presidential campaign and overtake Obama," McClatchy's Steven Thomma writes.

"McCain had some good sound bites, but what he really needed was a sound strategy - several months ago," GOP strategist Todd Domke writes in his Boston Globe op-ed.

The throw-it-all-out-there campaign threw it all out there: "There was no single moment that was likely to reverberate in the minds of American voters and change the course of an election that has moved dramatically toward Obama in the last several weeks. But the 90-minute debate was a perfect distillation of McCain's general election campaign, with all of its inconsistent messages," Cathleen Decker writes in the Los Angeles Times.

"The clouds did not part. Heavenly choirs were not heard. Instead, the American public heard angry attacks from McCain," Politico's Roger Simon writes.

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