The campaign week: Lipstick rows, truces, lunches and skirmishes

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The Independent US

Sunday: A poor week for Barack Obama starts with a performance on ABC's 'This Week' talk show so laid-back it was almost listless, in which he passed up many occasions to attack John McCain. Democratic fears grow that their candidate lacks fight and is letting Republicans set the agenda.

Monday: Polls show McCain has at least caught up, and may be leading, in large part thanks to the Palin effect. The media continues to probe the Alaska Governor's record, in particular her support for the "Bridge to Nowhere", which would have wasted $230m of taxpayers' money.

Tuesday: Obama attacks McCain's claim to be an agent of change with the now celebrated "lipstick on a pig" line. The Republicans make a show of outrage – and hit back with a blatantly misleading TV ad claiming Obama wants kindergarteners to be given sex education before they learn to read and write.

Wednesday: The increasingly puerile "lipstick" row rumbles on, with no clear winner. Palin flies home to Alaska, but not before polls show the Republican ticket has surged among women.

Thursday: A truce for the 9/11 anniversary, with the two candidates appearing at a ceremony in New York. That evening, ABC airs portions of Palin's first post-nomination media interview. Obama seeks Bill Clinton's counsel over a two-hour lunch.

Friday: Maybe better times beckon for Democrats. Palin's interview gets decidedly mixed reviews, McCain stumbles during a TV interview, while the Obama campaign releases tough new ads on the economy, the Democrats' best issue, and vows in future to react with "speed and ferocity" to Republican attacks.

Saturday: Hurricane Ike imposes another political truce; Obama cancels an appearance on the skit show 'Saturday Night Live'.

Rupert Cornwell