Democrat Barack Obama called Republican rival John McCain out of touch with middle-class Americans a day after they clashed in their first presidential debate over who could best lead the US out of its financial crisis while waging wars on two fronts.
Both presidential contenders turned their attention on aturday to the negotiations under way in Washington to broker a deal to bail out failing financial firms before the markets open on Monday.
McCain placed phone calls to President George W Bush, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Republican congressional leaders to help steer a bailout deal. Obama also found time to speak by phone to Paulson, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Rep Barney Frank about the congressional negotiations.
In their first 90-minute televised debate, the two candidates sparred over foreign policy and the economy - including the USD 700 billion proposal to stabilise US markets being considered by Congress.
Neither candidate decisively won the debate at the University of Mississippi nor committed any game-changing gaffe. But that did not prevent each campaign from proclaiming victory and spending much of yesterday trying to shape the perception of the debate in the days going forward.
Obama's campaign quickly produced an advertisement criticising McCain for never uttering the term "middle class" in the debate. Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, held a conference call with reporters where he called McCain's efforts to paint Obama as inexperienced on foreign affairs "sophomoric".