A key narrative in last week's campaign focused not on Barack Obama and John McCain themselves, but on two people whose public roles reflect crucial challenges facing the candidates—Michelle Obama and George Bush.
Since Obama is a relatively unknown quantity to many Americans, his wife, Michelle, is virtually certain to be scrutinized for clues to his character and philosophy. She may come to represent a proxy for whether Obama can establish a comfort factor with enough voters to win the White House.
For McCain, the challenge is whether he is too closely tied to an unpopular incumbent President in George W. Bush.
Both of those storylines were evident last week in the coverage. The role of Michelle Obama filled 9% of the campaign newshole, according to PEJ's Campaign Coverage Index for June 16-22. And President Bush's relationship with the GOP hopeful filled another 7% of the newshole.
Read the full report The Spouse and the President Get Their Media Close-up on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.