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Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Monday, 29 September 2008 19:16 UK

BBC election bus video diary

As part of its election coverage, the BBC is sending a specially designed bus across the States, to cover the final weeks of presidential campaigning.

Travelling from Los Angeles to New York, the bus will cover over 4,000 kilometres and pass through 15 states.

The BBC's journalists on board, from radio, tv and online, aim to build up a detailed and unique picture of America ahead of the election.

World News America's online producer

Jennifer Copestake is on the bus and is keeping a video diary of her trip.


October 14

We've made it to New York City, the final stop on our tour of America. The last few weeks Americans have been focused on the financial crisis gripping the country and we have now arrived in the heart of the American market.

The problems on Wall Street can be felt throughout the city. This New York Times article details how community groups in Harlem may be affected by losing funding they rely on from banks, who are obligated to donate a percentage of profits to charity. I wanted to see if this will present too large an obstacle to overcome.

New York has the distinction of being home to the poorest and richest congressional districts in the country in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the South Bronx respectively.

An unlikely champion of the South Bronx is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. His state's Citgo petroleum company is part of a plan to invest in cooperatives and community programming in the Bronx until 2010. Venezuela also provides cheap oil to heat several housing projects in the area, money and resources that are greatly received by people I spoke to here.

One of the beneficiaries of Citgo's investment is 'Rocking the Boat' an ambitious project that teaches children how to build and sail their own boats. Working on the polluted Bronx River children also learn how to maintain ecosystems and clean up waste. The Bolivarian Republic aren't the only ones to donate money - investment banks do too. I went to meet their executive director Adam Green to see if they are worried losing some of their Wall Street funding. We also talked about the issues facing voters and children in the Bronx that other Americans may not have to face.


Sailing in the Bronx


October 11

We're in Akron, Ohio. The city where Alcoholic's Anonymous was founded, the home of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the site of the annual All American Soap Box Derby. And it was once the rubber capital of the world - with tire giants B.F. Goodrich, General Tire, Firestone and Goodyear all based here.

I drove around the town with John Menches who is the great grandson of Charles Menches - a man he claims invented the hamburger, popcorn and ice cream cones. He took me to some of the now abandoned tire factories. On one corner I saw some half demolished buildings and he explained this is where the Goodyear's new world headquarters will be built, across from the iconic clock tower of the old premises.

And while Akron's downtown core has some abandoned buildings and neglected space there are many other signs it's successfully being revitalized. I spoke to Mayor Don Plusquellic at a pee wee American football game about this and where he hopes the new president will take his city and the country.


Jennifer Copestake interviews the mayor of Akron, Ohio

October 8

I'm at Keeneland Thoroughbred race track in Lexington Kentucky. It was gloomy when we left Tennessee this morning and is still overcast here.

Indeed, autumn has snuck up on the bus. I hadn't noticed it until now. In the forests I can see green tree leaves turned to supple golds and glowing reds - the colour John McCain hopes Kentucky will stay on November 4.

He has the support of most people I spoke to at the racetrack though many are worried he won't be able to handle America's economic crisis.


Spectators at a Kentucky race horse event give their views on the election



October 6

We've arrived in Nashville for the second presidential debate. Tonight I went to an event called Music Row for McCain, a country music fundraiser.

I arrived at the Douglas Corner Cafe a small bar which was completely indistinguishable from the outside save for a giant McCain/Palin sign leaning against the window and a volunteer directing people in from the sidewalk. It looked almost derelict but inside the dark room was packed with supporters.


Music row for McCain



October 2

Vice-presidential 'debate watch' parties are taking place across the city tonight and I've ended up here - the Royale Tavern in south St Louis.

The owner Steve Smith, a former boxing promoter and sharply dressed man, unashamedly supports Barack Obama. All of the patrons I meet except for one tell me the same.

The atmosphere was quiet through most of the debate.

Here's what Steve and some of the voters had to say when it was all over.


Revellers in Missouri give their reaction to the vice-presidential debate


September 30


Voters in Missouri react to the failed bail-out plan


September 29


People in Tennessee give their views on the bailout package

September 28


Jennifer Copestake takes a tour of Memphis

September 24
We're on our way to the first presidential debate in Oxford, Mississippi. Mississippi is the poorest state in America. Driving through we passed a few trailer and pre-fabricated housing parks. We stopped at one in Vicksburg.

Like the rest of the places we've been I met some people who are apathetic and uninspired by the election. As elsewhere, the struggling economy is a heavy weight to bear with utility bills and mortgage payments high. Some people have had their homes repossessed and others are trying to sell their trailers because they can't afford them. It's not clear where neighbours have gone who have lost their homes, or where they would go if they managed to sell.

I was very impressed by the politically engaged children I met at the park. Tobias Wilson, 15, his friend who he called 'Peanut', 13, and a six-year old boy named Landon. Landon told me he knows his family worries about the high costs of living and household bills. Tobias is following the election closely.


Children at a Mississippi trailer park

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