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The traditionally Republican Heartland has become a battleground between John McCain and Barack Obama.  Are so-called "values voters" more worried about the economy? Are the suburbs and exurbs absorbing small-town and rural America, with lasting political consequences? Also, the US economy contracts, and Obama's 30 minute commercial.  What did it say about his vision of America and his possible role in the White House?

Banner image: detail of Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus

Making News The US Economy Contracts 5 MIN, 33 SEC

The US economy grew by 2.8 percent in the second quarter of this year. In the third quarter, the Commerce Department said today, it shrank by .3 percent with contractions in domestic spending and business investment. Kevin Hall is national economics correspondent for McClatchy newspapers.

Kevin Hall, McClatchy Newspapers (@KevinGHall)

America by the Numbers

William Frey, Bill Abresch and Jonathan Yeasting

Main Topic Will 'Values Voters' Turn to the Economy? 34 MIN, 34 SEC

To upset Barack Obama next Tuesday, John McCain is counting on a conservative base in small towns, energized by running-mate Sarah Palin. It's the so-called "values vote," focused on social issues -- abortion, gay marriage and gun rights -- as well as cutting the size of government.  Four years ago, Thomas Frank published What's the Matter with Kansas?, raising a question about the so-called "values voters" who were crucial to the election and re-election of George W. Bush.  This year, big parts of America's "Heartland" have become battlegrounds between McCain and Obama.  Is that a temporary phenomenon or will there be lasting political consequences? Is the economy trumping the culture wars?  Has the population changed in the past eight years?

Joe Bageant, journalist
William Frey, Brookings Institution
Anna Greenberg, Vice President, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
John McLaughlin, Republican strategist, John McLaughlin and Associates

Reporter's Notebook Obama Takes Over America's TV's 8 MIN, 24 SEC

For 30 minutes of prime time on broadcast and cable outlets last night, Barack Obama made what was inevitably called the "closing argument" of his presidential campaign. It featured a retiree cheated out of his pension, an elderly couple faced with high medical bills, a widow concerned with her kids’ education and a couple looking at layoffs from a Ford automobile factory. Obama promised to help them all. What did it say about his view of the country and possible role in the White House? Michael Lind, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, is author of The American Way of Strategy.

Michael Lind, New America Foundation (@NewAmerica)

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