US Election Will Be Won on the Trading Floor of Wall Street; the Race to the White House Has Been Transformed by the Economic Hurricane Hitting Wall Street and Devastating Some of the Famous Names in Capitalism. in These Testing Times, Writes David Williamson, It Is the Presidential Candidate Who Wins the Trust of an Electorate Living in Dread of Recession Who Will Be Handed the Keys to the Oval Office
Byline: David Williamson
THE destruction of the twin towers of the WorldTrade Center and the spectre of further terrorist attacks defined the 2004 presidential election.
Today, the financial chaos on Wall Street - a short walk from Ground Zero - is the backdrop to the battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of the White House.
In 2004 President Bush convinced the electorate he was a truer commander-in-chief than Senator John Kerry. Now, Democratic challenger Barack Obama is telling a shell-shocked nation he will prove a stronger guardian of the economy than John McCain.
Obama supporters this week received an e-mail from the man himself.
It read: "The economy hit a new low this week, and in every part of the country, people like you are feeling it.
"The recent financial disasters - from the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the historic drop in the stock market - are not just a string of bad luck.
Theyare the result of years of bad decisions made in favour of big corporate special interests instead of America's working families...
"John McCain's campaign is doing everything it can to focus attention on false personal attacks and distractions - but there's too much at stake for that kind of politics. I need your help to get the conversation back on track."
Personalisede-mails and promises of change electrified Democrats and sped his campaign for the nomination to victory. In the coming weeks Americans will learn whether such techniques will win him the trust of thewider, worried, electorate.
Patrick Minford, a champion of Margaret Thatcher's economic polices and now a professor at Cardiff Business School, is not impressed by Mr Obama's populist rhetoric.
He said: "I think Obama's economic policies are fallacious in the extreme. He doesn't understand free trade. He thinks he can tax enterprise and higher earning individuals and not affect the economic environment. He wants to give unions more privileges...
"It's almost as if he's stuck ina socialist time-warp. Even New Labour have moved on from these sorts of things."
But Mr McCain has not impressed pundits with his transformation from a regulations lasher into a foe of the "casino culture" on Wall St who wants the Bush-appointed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission sacked.
Gail Collin of New York Times wrote: "Really, if McCain is going to keep changing into new people, the campaign should send out notices. (Come to a rally for the next president of the United States. Today he's a vegetarian!)."
However, Prof Minford believes Republicans will not be alarmed at their candidate's support for a stricter financial rule-book. …