US election diary

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The Independent US

* Sarah Palin was a keen basketball player at high school. The Los Angeles Times tracked down her old basketball coach to see if he had any insights to share. Not always happy with playing a supporting role, was how Don Teeguarden, the man who coached her for four years, recalled.

The teenage Sarah was, he said, "excellent" on defence, a strong free-throw shooter but a bit "foul-prone." "She was very competitive. Very hard-working, intelligent. She had the kind of qualities you'd like your players to have. A good teammate. She had a strong will; still does." Nobody, as far as we know has tracked down John McCain's high school coach.

* The markets are in meltdown and Main Street is hurting, but Obama and McCain's economic advisers Austan Goolsbee and Douglas Holtz-Eakin found time on MSNBC to discuss the issue of doggie bags and under what circumstances one should abandon an expensive dinner.

Goolsbee: "Wait – when they came to a deal [on the bailout] John McCain was out to dinner at one of the fanciest restaurants in Washington on a double date with his wife, Joe Lieberman and Joe Lieberman's wife. They were having a meal."

Holtz-Eakin: "What, does Obama eat at McDonald's every night or something?"

Goolsbee: "If you're having a meal where there are $35 hamburgers... and you get a 3am phone call, it's time to ask for a doggie bag and get back to work. That's what John McCain was not doing.

Holtz-Eakin: That's ridiculous. I mean, you know, that's – that's ridiculous.

Goolsbee: "It's what happened."

* The last of Sarah Palin's interviews with CBS news anchor Katie Couric aired on Tuesday, and Couric took the opportunity to probe Palin on her reading habits. Not the most demanding topic, you might assume, but the moose hunting Governor of Alaska bizarrely refused to name a single, specific publication which she perused. When pressed on this, the Republican vice presidential candidate said: "I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, 'Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, DC, may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?' Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America."

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