With every twist and turn in the prolonged "primary circus" grabbing media attention, critics have accused the 2008 campaign of being long on personality and short on policy debate. Here’s a look at the issues confronting the candidates and where they stand.

Economy

As the financial crisis worsened in early Sept. 2008, polls showed McCain’s edge over Obama slipping as more Americans believed the Democratic candidate was better placed to handle the crisis.

Obama was quick to fault McCain’s stated economic "philosophy" that regulations were "unnecessary."

Pledges to provide a tax cut for working families and to simplify tax filings for middle class Americans.

Promises to repeal Bush tax cuts for affluent rich households earning more than $250,000 per year.
Before the Lehmann Brothers collapse and the era of government bailouts, McCain declared he was "always for less regulation." But the Republican candidate has since backtracked, saying he now favours stricter regulations.

While attempting to distance himself from Bush’s economic policies, McCain has gone on the economic offensive, accusing Obama of receiving campaign contributions from troubled mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Promises "pro-growth and competitive" taxes.

Pledges to keep Bush tax cuts, arguing that they encourage enterprise, which in turn drives economic growth. Pledges to cut corporate taxes from 35 to 25 percent.