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For the Candidates, a Last Weekend to Make Their Case to Americans

Some examples of recent Obama and McCain campaign advertisements, including robocalls and the Democrat's infomercial. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

The American presidential candidates are in the final weekend of campaigning for the elections on Tuesday. Barack Obama's lead has narrowed but most opinion polls still point his way.

The Democrat hopes to win states that voted for President Bush. These include big states like Ohio and Florida that John McCain must win if he has any chance for victory.

Both candidates have campaign workers and volunteers making calls and going door-to-door in neighborhoods to spread their message. In political campaigns this is called the ground war. Broadcast advertising is the air war.

Another kind of advertising, and one that is often criticized, especially during mealtimes, is the robocall. Robocalls are recorded telephone messages -- like this one paid for by the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee.

CALLER: "Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the R.N.C. because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. ... "

Barack Obama and the Democrats have their own robocalls. The Campaign for Change, a project of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, paid for this one:

CALLER: "Hi, this is Jeri Watermolen, calling for the Campaign for Change. I live in Green Bay and, like you, I've been getting sleazy phone calls and mail from John McCain and his supporters viciously -- and falsely -- attacking Barack Obama. I used to support John McCain because he honorably served our country. But this year he's running a dishonorable campaign. We know McCain will continue many of Bush's policies, and now he's using George Bush's divisive tactics. ... "

Barack Obama has heavily outspent John McCain on local television ads in battleground states. His campaign also bought thirty minutes on seven national broadcast and cable networks Wednesday night. The program included stories of families struggling in difficult times, and Senator Obama talking about his proposals.

BARACK OBAMA: "I believe we need to usher in a new era of responsibility. Families are tightening their belts and so should Washington."

Nielsen Media Research estimated that almost thirty-four million people watched the Obama infomercial, or information commercial. That was more than the number that watched last season's final show on "American Idol."

The presidential campaign has also produced the highest ratings in years for the NBC comedy show "Saturday Night Live." Tina Fey has gotten big laughs playing Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican candidate for vice president.

Two weeks ago, the real Sarah Palin was on the show. She came on stage while the fake one was giving a "news conference."

TINA FEY: "To answer your question, you know, I don't worry about the polls. Polls are just a fancy way of systematically predicting what's going to happen. The only poll I care about is the North Pole and that is melting, it's not great ... What? The real one? Bye!"


SARAH PALIN: "Thank you, thank you. Now, I'm not going to take any of your questions, but I do want to take this opportunity to say: Live from New York, it's Saturday night!"

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I’m Steve Ember.