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McCain vies with Obama over ‘change’

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The ferocity of the fight over who is the better champion of change is one more indication that 2008 could be one of those rare defining elections that ushers in a new era in American politics.

“This is a critical election and it could be a realigning one as far as the [nation’s] agenda and the nature of the electorate,” says Doug Muzzio, a political analyst at Baruch College of the City University of New York. “The election will ultimately turn on which electorate comes out to vote – the one that’s existed in the last two elections [of older conservatives] or a new generation, an electorate of younger voters, the Obama voters.”

Different definitions of ‘change’

Change is a simple word, but it has many different meanings. Each candidate is championing his own definition. McCain is casting himself as a reformer of the Washington status quo – a man who can clean up corruption and bring more competent leadership to what already exists inside the Beltway, according to Barbara True-Weber, a political analyst at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C.

“McCain is appealing for greater competency in foreign affairs, in particular military policy, and that is certainly his strong suit,” says Professor True-Weber. “The idea is that Washington is fundamentally sound.... all it needs is some tinkering and reform and to get back to basic principles.”

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