Presidential Debate Nears, State Parties Try To Sway Voters

By Jon Kalahar - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - The first ever presidential debate in Mississippi will take place in two weeks. And with the election just six weeks away, the state parties are really pushing the positives of their candidate, or in some cases, the negatives of their opponent.

A spirited group of Senator Barack Obama supporters gathered at the state capitol Monday to cheer on their candidate, and call out his opponent.

"John McCain offers no tangible solution to ease the rise of gasoline prices that plague all of us," said Paul Winfield, Mississippi Democratic Party Treasurer.

Members of the state democratic party say McCain has surrounded himself with almost 200 lobbyists for oil, insurance and pharmaceutical corporations who influence his decision making.

"He's deeply vested with Washington lobbyists and I think it's critical to the state of Mississippi that we address these issues for all of the hard working, honest Mississippians," said Winfield.

They point to a report compiled by the Democratic National Committee as proof of their claims. But that's not good enough for everyone.

"This is something the democratic party put together, so obviously it's gonna have their slant to it. It's nothing but propaganda," said Brad White, Mississippi Republican Party Chairman.

White says McCain is now topping several polls and the democrats are worried.

"I think they're grasping at straws," said White.

Never the less, both parties are excited about the upcoming debate at Ole Miss.

"Unlike McCain, Barack Obama is not in the pockets of D.C. lobbyists," said Winfield.

"Any time we can lay out who we are, and this is what we believe in, and the direction we feel like the country should go, and the democratic party does the same, we win," said White.

That decision will ultimately be left up to voters.

State democrats say Sarah Palin has been a distraction for voters away from the "more of the same" policies McCain will use if elected.

State republicans say since the Republican National Convention they've received more requests for volunteers, and can't keep the McCain/Palin signs in stock.