Obama, Palin Fight for Campaign Momentum

Rival presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain took a break from partisan attacks Thursday, appearing together briefly at a Sept. 11 event at ground zero in New York.

However, the spotlight rests on Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, who sits down with ABC News' Charles Gibson for a series of interviews airing Thursday and Friday -- her first national television one-on-one since becoming the GOP VP candidate.

Watch Charles Gibson's exclusive interviews with Gov. Sarah Palin tonight on "Nightline." Tune in Friday for more on "Good Morning America" at 7 a.m. ET. See more on "World News" and "20/20," which will broadcast a one-hour special edition at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.

It's been only 13 days since Palin burst onto the national stage as Republican presidential candidate John McCain's ticket mate.

Yet the woman who was Alaska's governor for 21 months has reset the 2008 presidential election campaign, creating a McCain surge in the polls and making inroads in the enthusiasm gap once enjoyed by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"The initiative has gone to the Republican side at this point," argued Republican pollster David Winston. "The question will be whether Palin can keep it going."

Palin has re-energized McCain's campaign, which has made sudden strides in gaining support from white women who are attracted to Palin's "hockey mom" persona, according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

She has been working with a team of Republican advisers to cram for the interviews and the debates, including many who worked for President Bush, such as Nicolle Wallace, Tucker Eskew and Tracey Schmitt.

She has started carrying index cards with talking points, and briefing books on energy, foreign relations and the budget, reported The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

Meanwhile, Obama this week was put on the defensive after Republicans launched a series of negative attacks against him, accusing him of calling Palin "a pig" after he characterized the McCain-Palin policies as "lipstick on a pig" -- a common phrase McCain once used to describe Sen. Hillary Clinton's policies.

Democratic strategists argue that Obama needs to try to get the momentum back by focusing on one central message, and cementing his support among blue-collar workers and women in key battlegrounds states.

"This election will be a battle for the hearts of the Wal-Mart moms -- working women with kids in the exurbs and rural America," said Chris Lehane, a former Democratic strategist who worked on Al Gore's 2000 presidential bid.

"The McCain campaign's entire last three weeks -- the Palin pick, the convention and this week have been focused on this Wal-Mart Mom electoral strategy -- all about speaking directly into the living rooms of these key swing voters," Lehane said.

Bill Clinton to Campaign for Obama

Obama has tapped former President Bill Clinton to campaign for him over the next eight weeks.

The former president was used to rally rural Americans and blue-collar workers to his wife's primary campaign earlier this year.

Obama met with Clinton Thursday for lunch at his New York office, putting aside reported tensions between the two men after a bitterly fought Democratic primary.

"I'm going out this month," Clinton told reporters Thursday, "as soon as my Global Initiative is over, I'm going out."

"We're putting him to work," Obama said.

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