(CNN) - She's been at times a lightning rod for criticism from some Republicans over the course of the presidential campaign, and a new poll out Wednesday suggests more Americans hold a negative view toward Michelle Obama than a positive one.
The new Associated Press-Yahoo poll shows 30 percent of Americans view the outspoken wife of Barack Obama favorably while 35 percent view her unfavorably. That compares to the 27 percent of Americans who view John McCain's wife, Cindy, favorably and the 17 percent who hold an unfavorable view of her. Mrs. McCain is clearly less known than Mrs. Obama - 56 percent said they don't know enough about the Arizona senator's wife to render an opinion while only 34 percent said the same for Mrs. Obama.
Watch: Cindy McCain discusses Obama
White Americans appear particularly suspect of Mrs. Obama. The poll shows those voters hold an unfavorable view of her by nearly 20 points while about 80 percent of black voters reported positive feelings about Mrs. Obama.
Those numbers are reversed for Cindy McCain: whites view her favorably by a margin of 17 points while only 10 percent of blacks like her.
In a similar trend line her husband faced during the primary season, Mrs. Obama's favorability ratings are higher among unmarried people and college graduates while her ratings are particularly low among senior voters.
(CNN) - A Japanese cell phone company has pulled one of its television ads that used a monkey that appears to portray Sen. Barack Obama.
The commercial opens with a crowd rallying behind a well-dressed monkey speaking from a podium. The supporters are cheering and waving signs that say “Change.” In the ad, the monkey was encouraging users to change providers.
Watch: Cell phone company pulls ad
The company behind the ad, eMobile Ltd., insists it had no idea of any racial undertones and says the ad was just a nod at Obama’s worldwide popularity.
Eric Gan, president of eMobile, points out that their company’s mascot is a monkey – an animal revered in Japan - and has been used in previous ads.
“When we saw the idea for the first time, it was ‘Hey, you're copying the idea from the presidential election in the U.S.’ Yes, but, you know, that's how you make a presentation. How you make an impact. We thought it quite was interesting,” he said.
Bloggers immediately voiced their disapproval of the ad and accused the company of being racist.
Gan says the company was unaware of how the ad might be interpreted, but “now, of course, we know.”
(CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday unveiled a plan to create volunteer and service opportunities to help tackle some of the nation's most pressing issues, part of his weeklong focus on patriotism and national service.
"This won't be a call issued in one speech or one program - I want this to be a central cause of my presidency," Obama said in a speech at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.
"We will ask Americans to serve. We will create new opportunities for Americans to serve. And we will direct that service to our most pressing national challenges."
He added, "When you choose to serve - whether it's your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood - you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That's why it's called the American dream."
Obama highlighted his time as a community organizer on Chicago's South Side and his stint heading Project Vote, a group that helped register 150,000 new African-American voters in the Illinois city, according to his campaign.
"I wasn't just helping other people. Through service, I found a community that embraced me; citizenship that was meaningful; the direction I'd been seeking. Through service, I discovered how my own improbable story fit into the larger story of America," he said.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also touched on the "spirit" of service witnessed after the September 11, 2001, attacks and take aim at the Bush administration's failure to capitalize on this opportunity to call Americans to service.
(CNN) - Is Obama ditching his signature fist bump?
According to Tuesday's press pool report, the Illinois senator refused to bump fists with a boy as he was touring the Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville, Ohio.
As the boy outstretched his first, Obama said no and added, "If I start that ..."
His voice then trailed off.
The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate popularized the move last month when he and his wife Michelle bumped fists on the night he formally captured the party's presidential nomination.
Watch: The famous fist bump
Video of the duo fist bumping became widely popular on the internet, leading the Washington Post to declare it “the first bump heard ‘round the world.'”
(CNN) - Former Vice President Dan Quayle didn’t think John McCain would make it this far in his quest for the White House – and he’s pessimistic about his fall chances against Barack Obama.
"Polls show most people want change and change wins a lot of the time," Quayle said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday to promote his participation in a golf tournament later this month. "I hope McCain wins, but to be very fair, he has an uphill battle."
He said he expected New York senator Hillary Clinton and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would face off this fall – and respected Obama for doing something he couldn’t 16 years ago.
"I have a lot of grudging respect for what he did because he beat the Clintons, something we couldn't do in 1992. The Clintons were very convincing in the campaign they ran. So I thought she would be the candidate,” said Quayle, who lost his bid for a second vice presidential term to the Democratic ticket of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in 1992.
"I think she made obviously some very tactical mistakes. One, underestimating Obama. And, two, the whole inevitability that `I am entitled to the nomination' ended up hurting her quite dramatically,” he said while acknowledging that "I don't think anyone saw, including myself, the Barack Obama movement."
(CNN) - As Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama battle over who has the best approach to national security, a new CNN poll finds Americans' concerns about terrorism have hit an all-time low for the post-September 11 era.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday, 35 percent of Americans believe a terrorist attack somewhere in the United States is likely over the next several weeks. The figure is the lowest in a CNN poll since the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
Between 2002 and 2006, summertime polls typically showed that a majority of Americans believed that a terrorist attack was likely. Last summer, that figure dropped to 41 percent. This summer, it dropped another six points.
The new CNN poll also indicates that the war in Iraq remains deeply unpopular. Only three in ten voters favor the war, while 68 percent oppose it.
Similarly, only a third of voters would like to see the next president keep the same number of troops in Iraq that are currently stationed there.
For McCain, who is seeking to highlight his national security credentials and has staunchly defended the U.S. presence in Iraq, the latest poll results may not be viewed in a positive light.
"Senator McCain's greatest strength is in foreign policy, particularly his reputation as the candidate best able to fight the war on terror," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas
CNN Washington Bureau
CNNMoney.com: Americans say they'll vote with their wallets
The battered economy is the top issue for voters, and that isn't expected to change by November.
CNN: Obama focuses on faith; McCain slams earmarks in crime speech
Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday that Washington needs to draw on faith-based groups to solve the challenges the country is facing, "from saving our planet to ending poverty."
Washington Times: Candidates urged to cut non-career ambassadors
A group of former diplomats whose ranks include all living ex-secretaries of state has urged Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain to commit to reducing significantly the number of political ambassadorial appointments if either of them becomes president.
WSJ: Backers Fault Obama On His Web Site
The unprecedented online network that has driven Barack Obama's fund-raising and organizing success may be a double-edged presence in the campaign, as his support for a domestic-spying bill has spawned a challenge from his Internet-savvy liberal base - on his own campaign Web site.
Washington Times: McCain told to 'calm down' over service
Sen. Jim Webb on Tuesday became the third high-ranking Obama supporter to question Sen. John McCain's military service, but Sen. Barack Obama's campaign said it was not part of an orchestrated effort conceived or approved by the Democratic presidential candidate.
Compiled by Mary Grace Lucas, CNN Washington Bureau
* Sen. John McCain visits the Colombian Naval Academy. Later he meets with business leaders in Old City and then flies to Mexico City.
* Sen. Barack Obama gives speech about 'A New Era of Service' in Colorado Springs, CO.