WEEK IN A NUTSHELL
Barack Obama is forced to defend himself against allegations of elitism, after footage emerges of him at a fundraiser in which he says that small-town Americans are "bitter" and "clinging" to guns and religion. He and Hillary Clinton go head-to-head in the first televised debate for 50 days. John McCain unveils a platform of economic proposals, including a scheme to give Americans a fuel-tax holiday during the summer months.
"You know, my dad took me out behind the cottage... and taught me how to shoot when I was a little girl... It's part of culture. It's part of a way of life. People enjoy hunting and shooting because it's an important part of who they are. Not because they are bitter."
Hillary Clinton reminisces
"I think those comments are elitist. I think that anybody who disparages people who are hard-working, honest, dedicated people who have cherished the Second Amendment and the right to hunt and the right to observe that and their values and their culture that they value.. it's a fundamental contradiction of what I believe America is all about."
John McCain enters the "Bittergate" row
"I expected this out of John McCain, but... I'm a little disappointed when I start hearing the exact same talking points coming out of my Democratic colleague, Hillary Clinton. She knows better. Shame on her."
"Along with its various derivatives, 'misspeak' has become one of the signature verbal workhorses of this interminable political season. It is a word that is apparently thought capable of isolating a palpable, possibly toxic untruth, sealing it up in an airtight bag, and disposing of it harmlessly."
Hendrik Hertzberg, New Yorker
"I don't want to be, don't intend to be, won't be on [John McCain's] ticket."
Condoleezza Rice puts an end to the speculation.
"He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years."
Bruce Springsteen endorses Barack Obama.
Pennsylvanians appear not to have turned against Barack Obama en masse in response to his comments about "bitter" small-town voters, at least if the opinion polls are to be believed.
Hillary Clinton is in the lead, but except for SurveyUSA (which gives her a 14-point lead), most of the pollsters put her lead in the low single digits - just as it was before Mr Obama's remarks were made public.
The polls indicate that a number of voters still remain undecided, and in previous contests voters who made their minds up on the day before the vote have tended to opt for Mrs Clinton - so she could increase her lead on polling day.
Surveys of voters in contests scheduled to be held in the coming weeks indicate that Mr Obama might be heading for slightly more fertile territory after the Pennsylvania primary is over.
An LA Times/Bloomberg poll in Indiana gives him a five point lead over Mrs Clinton; previous Indiana polls all suggested that Mrs Clinton led in the state.
And several polls in North Carolina all showed Mr Obama with a commanding double-digit lead.
At the Democratic debate in Pennsylvania on April 16, Hillary Clinton attacked Barack Obama for his comments about "bitter" small-town Americans