En route to Hempstead, New York

Tuesday, October 14th 2008, 4:32 pm
By: News 9

October 14, 2008

By Samantha Hayes, for NEWS 9

WASHINGTON -- After three debates on the campaign trail, the presidential ticket is gearing up for New York. John McCain and Barack Obama meet Wednesday night for perhaps the final big curtain call of the campaign.

Barring any major news event, the debates offer the candidates opportunities to either change the game in their favor, or pile up strikes against them. So far, collective analysis suggests viewer's impressions of Obama have been more positive in the debates than those of McCain. But the debates have been lackluster for the most part, and the candidates' answers often seemed rehearsed, or at the very least, repetitive. If voters have been watching in hopes of seeing the candidates lay out either a detailed plan, or speaking off the stump, it just hasn't happened.

Over the weekend, a statement by McCain suggested he would continue with strong attack lines similar to those heard in Nashville last week.  After doing some debate preparation and a few interviews at his campaign headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, McCain addressed a group of Virginia volunteers who had been working the phone lines and said, "After I whip his you-know-what in this debate, we're going to be going out 24/7." He added that he respects his opponent and will conduct a respectful race.

Of course, the stakes are higher for John McCain. He is going into this debate now several points behind Obama in recent national polls and has been acknowledging that on the campaign trail.  McCain likes to fight political battles as the underdog, but many are wondering if he needs a different approach in order to build momentum heading into the last few weeks before election day.

It's a different story for Obama.  His game plan may be to simply not mess up, or say anything that creates last-minute controversy.

Surely the subject matter once again will be the economy, and this week both candidates have talked about their plans to help out struggling Americans.  The format of the debate (if they stick to it) is similar to the first matchup in Mississippi when the candidates had more time to engage each other after answering each question themselves. So if there are more fireworks left in this campaign, Wednesday night could be the launching pad. It's up to you, New York.