Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
Joined at the Hip?
Barack Obama says John McCain represents a third Bush term and that he has voted with the president 90 percent of the time.
But senior research scientist John Lott at the University of Maryland writes in The Philadelphia Inquirer "the 90 percent figure from Congressional Quarterly is nonsensical" and says most of those votes were just procedural. He adds, "Obama might want to be a little careful with these attacks, as the same measure has him voting with Democrats 97 percent of the time."
He cites research from the right-leaning American Conservative Union, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action and the non-partisan National Journal. It indicates that from 2001 to 2007, McCain voted to the left of most Republican senators and to the right of most of his Democratic colleagues. Americans for Democratic Action even says McCain voted liberally 24 percent of the time — twice as much as the average Republican.
Third party presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Bob Barr will be on nearly all state ballots for the November general election and could play the role of spoiler in a tight race.
The Politico newspaper reports Nader — who is running as an Independent — is on the ballot in 45 states and the District of Columbia. That is two more states than in 2000 when he won just over 2.5 percent of the vote as the Green Party candidate. He was blamed by some Democrats for taking votes away from Al Gore and tilting the election in favor of George W. Bush.
Barr is the Libertarian Party candidate. He has made the ballot in at least 44 states. He is currently challenging decisions to leave him off in five others.
The paper reports Nader and Barr together are drawing about 3.3 percent support in recent polls.
Tightening the Reins
A new USA Today/Gallup poll taken Wednesday finds that 43 percent of respondents said the collapse of major financial institutions and the market rollercoaster this week will have no effect on them when they go to the polls November 4. Those who did say the bailouts will affect their vote favor Obama slightly 29 to 23 percent.
Meanwhile, the survey says Americans don't give either candidate a significant edge when it comes to handling Wall Street's problems. Obama is favored by just one percentage point, 43 to 42 percent. And about six in 10 Americans in this poll say they favor greater regulation of Wall Street.
Earlier this week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez reveled in the Lehman Brothers collapse, mocking it as a sign of capitalism's demise.
"They were always producing negative reports about Venezuela. They forgot about themselves... and boom! They were bankrupt... rest in peace."
But the Wall Street Journal reports Venezuela could become a victim of the investment bank's failure. You see, the Venezuelan government holds about $300 million in debt instruments that Lehman had agreed to cash. Now that Lehman is in bankruptcy, Venezuela will likely have a very hard time selling the debt.
Senior economist at Barclay's Capital Alejandro Grisantisays, "The government will likely have to assume a steep loss." How much depends on the bankruptcy proceedings.
— FOX News Channel's Zachary Kenworthy contributed to this report.