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Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

US election special

The White House

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Washington on Thursday 30 October for a US election special edition.

The panel included adviser to Barack Obama, Elizabeth Edwards, executive director of John McCain's campaign in New York, Christopher Nixon Cox ,author and journalist Clarence Page, historian Simon Schama and political consultant Cheri Jacobus.

As well as BBC One, the programme can also be seen on BBC World News. See TV schedules.


Elizabeth Edwards

Career: Elizabeth Edwards is a senior adviser on health care to the Barack Obama campaign.

She is the wife of former senator John Edwards who was the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 and who was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination this year.

She worked as a bankruptcy lawyer in North Carolina and, following the death of her son in a car crash in 1996, subsequently devoted much of her time to running the charitable foundation set up in his name.

She campaigned with her husband when he successfully ran for the Senate in 1998 and was seen as an influential voice in the failed Kerry/Edwards campaign that lost out to President Bush in 2004.

The day after John Kerry conceded defeat in November 2004, Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has since campaigned enthusiastically for health care reform in the US, arguing for mandatory health insurance to help the 47 million Americans who are not covered at present.

She clashed publicly with the McCain campaign earlier this year when it criticised her health care plans, saying: "He has not spent a single day not protected by a federal health plan, not a single day of his entire life, and yet he denigrates this care."

After news broke of her husband's extramarital affair, she criticised the media coverage saying: "Our family has been through a lot, some caused by nature, some caused by human weakness, and some - most recently - caused by the desire for sensationalism and profit without any regard for the human consequences."


Christopher Nixon Cox

Career: Christopher Nixon Cox is the executive director of Senator McCain's presidential campaign in New York, and has been heavily involved in campaigning in the neighbouring key swing state of Pennsylvania.

He is the grandson of former Republican President Richard Nixon, and took an early interest in Republican politics, volunteering for the presidential campaigns of Bob Dole and George W Bush.

He is a co-founder and managing partner of OC Global Partners, a financial advisory company that specialises in assisting business transactions in the Middle East and throughout eastern Asia.

He says he believes that the Republican Party is reinventing itself from within, and he has been pleased to recruit a lot of young people, women and people from ethnic minorities to his team. He says he has been "highly impressed by the character" of John McCain: "He's served his country honourably. He says what he means and he speaks the truth. He's a real leader and he's prepared to lead this country from day one."


Clarence Page

Career: Clarence Page is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author.

He currently writes a nationally syndicated political column for the Chicago Tribune and has covered the presidential race extensively.

He joined the Tribune in 1969 and was subsequently drafted to serve as an army journalist in the Vietnam War, where he served until 1971. He went on to take part in a Pulitzer-winning investigation into voter fraud in Chicago, as well as being honoured by the American Civil Liberties Union for his columns on constitutional rights. He received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1989. His first book Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity became a bestseller.

Commenting on the unique nature of this year's presidential race, Page said at the weekend: "Obviously these days the economic crisis on Wall Street and Main Street has eclipsed all other issues. As one friend put it, when your house is on fire, you don't care about the race or religion of the firefighter who shows up to put it out."


Simon Schama

Career: Simon Schama is a professor of history and art history at Columbia University in New York, and the author and presenter of numerous television series.

He has been resident in the USA since 1980, when he took up a post at Harvard University.

He wrote and presented the BBC series A History of Britain as part of the millennium celebrations which ran to 15 episodes and three spin-off books.

His latest project is the BBC series The American Future: a History, which looks at the 2008 presidential race from a historical perspective.

He has been outspoken in his support for Barack Obama and wrote in the Daily Mail recently: "What Obama offers is the rarity of a leader who understands the moment as a rebirth of the nation. In his strongest speeches he says the people can re-invent America without losing its imperishable virtues. This can happen and must happen."

He criticised John McCain's threat to withdraw from the first presidential debate last month, writing: "He evidently thinks that the American people will believe the worthiness of debate is a sign of weak government. He has it exactly wrong. Explaining to the American people what has gone amiss and, much more importantly, what can be done to repair the disaster is precisely what the candidates should be doing."


Cheri Jacobus

Career: Cheri Jacobus is a Republican political consultant and strategist based in Washington D.C.

She graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism and founded her own consultancy in 1998.

She has worked across numerous Congressional campaigns and was a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee during the Clinton era.

She has echoed the criticism of the media by Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, writing last week: "The electorate has been largely duped by a liberal activist media - far worse than mere left-wing bias - and the consequences could be disastrous."

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