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222 Days to the Election: A look at the race for 2008 on Thursday

IN THE HEADLINES

McCain's daughter offers offbeat, sometimes intimate view of father on Internet blog ... Rushville, Ind., woman chosen to have dinner with Barack Obama ... Poll: Voters split over Obama's speech on race

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Meghan McCain has offbeat campaign blog

WASHINGTON (AP) - "McCain Blogette" seems an oxymoron: a senior citizen and his presidential campaign chronicled by the Facebook generation.

This is the goal of John McCain's daughter Meghan and her Internet diary, www.mccainblogette.com. Meghan, 23, offers an insider's view, offbeat and sometimes surprisingly intimate.

While the Web site is about a campaign, it is not about issues and rarely mentions other candidates. Rather, it is intended to make her parents, and politics, seem more real.

There is a message for anyone worried her 71-year-old father is too old: "I have yet to see Dad take a nap on the trail," Meghan writes under a picture of herself napping.

A different photo shows Meghan demanding, arm outstretched, that her father hand over the candy bar he wants to eat for dinner.

Meghan uses backstage images to spotlight her father's sense of humor: cracking up with former President Bush just before Bush endorses him and snapping tongs at the camera as he grills for journalists at home in Sedona, Ariz.

There is a photograph of her mother, Cindy, barefoot in pink polka-dotted pajamas, having her hair taken down the night McCain clinched the nomination in Dallas. Meghan also reveals that her mother, chairwoman of a family beer company, knows if a beer is fresh "depending on the taste."

Meghan decided to blog about the campaign, with help from a couple of friends, after graduating last year from Columbia University.

Her Web site mixes behind-the-scenes photos and videos from the campaign trail with iPod music playlists, designer fashion, even makeup tips.

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Indiana woman to have dinner with Obama

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Bonnie Locchetta has a lot to say to Barack Obama, and she'll soon get her chance.

The 44-year-old Rushville, Ind., woman was chosen to have dinner with the Democratic presidential candidate after she donated $25 to his campaign.

"I want to ask him what he plans to do to help people like me send their kids to college and help people like me to retire who have no savings and to help people like my mother who's struggling to afford her medication when she's also struggling to pay her housing and all her bills," she said Wednesday.

The single mother of three said she has followed Obama since his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and was inspired to "put a little money where my mouth was" on Monday to support him. She said his policies on the economy, the Iraq war and education make him the best candidate.

"He says a lot of things that make sense to me and he's coming at things from such an angle that I think he can change things," Locchetta said.

Locchetta, who manages a church in Rushville, a farming community about 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis, said she'll use the opportunity to bend the Illinois senator's ear about the problems facing average Americans.

Obama's campaign is offering an "intimate dinner with Barack" to four supporters who donate money to his campaign by Monday. A date and location for the dinner, along with the three other guests, were still to be determined.

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Poll: Voters split over Obama speech

WASHINGTON (AP) - Barack Obama 's speech on race has left the public divided on whether he has sufficiently put the issue behind him, a poll shows.

Even so, The Wall Street Journal-NBC News survey released Wednesday showed that Obama's remarks and the attention paid to comments by his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, so far have had little effect on his race with Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Videos of Wright sermons include one in which he shouts "God damn America" for its treatment of minorities. He also has said the U.S. government invented AIDS to destroy "people of color" and has suggested U.S. policies were to blame for the 9/11 attacks.

In a speech last week, Obama rejected Wright's divisive comments but stood by him otherwise and said it is time for the country to address its racial schism.

By 55 percent to 32 percent, more who had seen or heard about Obama's speech said they were satisfied with his explanation of his association with Wright than said they were dissatisfied.

Yet people familiar with Obama's remarks were about evenly split between those who said they felt reassured about his feelings on race, and those who said they still had doubts. Slightly more said Obama has said enough about race than said he needs to address it further.

In all instances, whites were more dubious than blacks about whether Obama had handled the issue successfully. Democrats were far more supportive than Republicans, while independents were likelier to be divided.
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THE DEMOCRATS
Hillary Rodham Clinton holds campaign events in North Carolina.
Barack Obama gives a speech on the economy in New York.

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THE REPUBLICANS
John McCain stops in Colorado.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"I like to think I'm my mother's most enthusiastic supporter, but there might be a few rivals in the crowd tonight." Chelsea Clinton at a fundraiser for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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STAT OF THE DAY:
Fifty-one percent of Democrat Barack Obama's supporters are college graduates, compared with 42 percent of rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's, according to exit polls taken through the Mississippi primary on March 11.

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Compiled by Ann Sanner and Jerry Estill.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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