US election diary: Veep dumped; Pain over Spain; All in the genes

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The Independent Online

Veep dumped

Organisers of an anti-Iran rally next week have dropped Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin from the event, days after Democrat Hillary Clinton pulled out. The National Coalition to Stop Iran Now said it will put on a rally without "American political personalities" and Mrs Palin won't be there. The move angered the Republican presidential nominee John McCain, who accused Democratic rivals of having his running-mate disinvited. All Americans should agree on the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he said. "Governor Palin was pleased to accept an invitation to address this rally and show her resolve on this grave national security issue," Mr McCain said in a statement. He blamed "Democratic partisans" and Barack Obama's campaign for pressing organisers to dump Mrs Palin.

Pain over Spain

John McCain doesn't really believe Spain's Jose Luis Zapatero (inset, right) is an enemy who runs an unknown Latin American country. He was tired and distracted and probably couldn't understand the thick Spanish accent of the questioner. It was more likely a senior moment. But what shocks is the way the campaign risked damaging relations with a major Nato ally by asserting that Mr McCain was simply repeating the standard neo-con anti-Zapatero line. Mr McCain's foreign policy adviser, Randy Sheunemann, said his answer was intentional. The truth may be that the campaign fears any suggestion that the 72-year-old candidate is flagging.

All in the genes

It seems whether you back Mr McCain or Mr Obama is decided by your DNA. Issues such as gun control, capital punishment and war are linked to physiological traits at birth, say researchers. The key is the amount of fear people feel. A study looked at 46 people, liberals who hate war, like foreign aid and immigration and want to ban guns; and conservatives who like arms spending, executions, patriotism and the Iraq war. Republicans were three times more scared than Democrats.