Is the pressure on McCain again to figure out a way to change the subject this week? The Washington Post's Balz and Murray write, "The burden now falls on Sen. John McCain to reverse the effects of the focus on the economy, and to keep the contest close enough so that a dominant debate performance, a gaffe by Obama or some outside event can shift the momentum back to him. Although Friday's debate in Oxford, Miss., produced no outright winner, strategists in both parties said the coming weeks, which will include three more debates -- two between McCain and Obama and the third between vice presidential candidates Gov. Sarah Palin and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. -- could be decisive in determining whether the election remains on a trajectory favorable to Obama or shifts back toward too-close-to-call status."
More: "'The first lesson of this campaign, going back to 2007, is not to be panicky or reactive to poll numbers,' said McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt. 'A few weeks back, we had a clear lead, albeit a narrow one, and there were a lot of people on the Democratic side haranguing the Obama campaign in the sense of panic. We always understood not only would that lead dissipate but bounce back the other way and then bounce back again.'"
Also: "Schmidt said the campaign will press two arguments as forcefully as possible in the coming days. One is that Obama is not ready to be commander in chief and that, in a time of two wars, 'his policies will make the world more dangerous and America less secure.' Second, he said, McCain will argue that, in a time of economic crisis, Obama will raise taxes and spending and 'will make our economy worse.'"
Los Angeles Times also wonders how McCain gets back on track. "McCain returns to the trail today after a dramatic but rocky four-day detour that upended his campaign, upset supporters and gave new ammunition to critics who question his judgment. McCain will appear at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, in hopes of regaining the momentum he lost when he abruptly canceled campaign events and returned here Thursday to try to broker a $700-billion bailout of the crippled financial industry."
McCain friend Bill Kristol writes that McCain appears headed for defeat in November. "He has a chance. But only if he overrules those of his aides who are trapped by conventional wisdom, huddled in a defensive crouch and overcome by ideological timidity. Among his suggestions, Kristol recommends that McCain go after Obama for being a liberal and that he play the Jeremiah Wright card.
CBN's Brody reports on the DNC's efforts to take advantage on the Sunday New York Times story about McCain's ties to the gaming industry.
Here's that Times story: "Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as "birds of prey." Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests -- including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors."