Who's the “change” candidate now? asked The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. Barack Obama wants Americans to believe that a McCain presidency would be a third George W. Bush term, but the Republican nominee used his convention acceptance speech (video from The New York Times) to remind voters that he is the one with a history of pushing reform even when it’s unpopular with his party.

If McCain is such a maverick, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial, why didn’t he mention immigration reform or his “renunciation of the torture of suspected terrorists”? A true agent of change wouldn’t downplay real examples of his independence just because they make “conservative true believers” uncomfortable.

“In McCain's attempt to fire up the Republican base without losing his ‘maverick’ image,” said Jonathan Weisman in The Washington Post, “calls for reform have come to mean a pledge to ‘change’ Washington.” Amid a war, a sour economy, and an unpopular presidency, it’s clear that both candidates are “scrambling for the reformist mantle” to win over a “disaffected middle” that could tip the election.