The debate raises moral and ethical questions that lie at the heart of end-of-life care, including what constitutes living, what medical care is normal and what is extraordinary, and who decides how and when life should end.
The attack ads arrive in the mailboxes of Florida voters and pierce the television airwaves with the rapidity of tracer bullets. Politicos have a shorthand for the chatter: Medi-Scare.
The dueling messages are designed to stoke financial fears in the swing state with one of the biggest senior populations in the country. And even campaigns for the state House and Senate, which do not have any control over Medicare, are being hit with the attacks.
Edible crops in California's Central Valley are grown without genetic engineering, but farmers here still fear a ballot initiative aimed at labeling food that has been genetically modified, saying it could make it harder to sell their products.
A Washington state Elway poll in early September found 50 percent in favor of I-502, 38 percent opposed and 12 percent undecided. In a SurveyUSA poll conducted about the same time, 57 percent of likely voters said they would vote yes. That puts marijuana advocates on the verge of landmark legislation, something they've been unable to accomplish despite 40 years of effort that began with the first California Proposition 19 campaign in 1972.
When it hosted a vice presidential debate in 2000, Danville, a city of about 15,500 was the smallest to do so. When Danville hosts the 2012 vice presidential debate Thursday night, the city of about 16,200 still will be the smallest to host the nationally televised event.
Instead of relying on large state-run institutions that house hundreds of people, the Quinn administration wants to allow people with developmental disabilities to live more independently with the help of caretakers.