Barack Obama is set to meet Bill Clinton at the former president’s foundation headquarters in Harlem on Thursday in their first face-to-face meeting since Mr Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in the primary elections in June.
By Edward Luce in Washington
The meeting comes as John McCain, the Republican candidate, moved into the lead in the polls for the first time in the campaign.
Mr Clinton, the former two-term president, will offer advice to the Democratic nominee about how to deal with the coming 57 days before the election, amid Democratic worries about Mr Obama’s shaky numbers in the polls.
On Monday a Gallup-USA Today poll gave Mr McCain a double-digit lead at 54 per cent to Mr Obama’s 44 per cent among “likely voters”. But the more closely watched Gallup tracking poll, which takes a larger sample of voters and provides a three-day rolling average, showed the gap at 48 per cent to 43 per cent. This was more in line with other polls.
A poll by ABC-Washington Post on Tuesday shows the two level.
Most analysts attributed Mr McCain’s improving numbers to his selection of Sarah Palin, which has proved popular with voters well beyond the Republican Party’s social conservative base.
According to Gallup’s tracking poll, Mr McCain got a five point “bounce” from the Republican convention in St Paul last week, which was the same as Mr Obama’s short-lived bounce from the Democratic convention in Denver the previous week.
They went into the conventions level on 45 per cent. “My guess is that it will take another 10 days for the numbers to settle down at which point they will probably be neck and neck again,” said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report in Washington. “The difference between the two “bounces” is that Mr Obama’s was cut short by Sarah Palin’s announcement.”
Monday’s polls also picked up a surge in enthusiasm among Republican voters over the past few days which might prove a more durable underlying trend, say analysts. Until last week, Mr Obama comfort- ably outstripped Mr McCain in the intensity of support that he was generating.
Ms Palin’s inclusion on the Republican ticket seems to have changed that.