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Obama lashes McCain as Bush 'clone'

 Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, talks on the phone with a potential voter at his campaign office in Brighton, Col...

Obama 2008

Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., left, talks on the phone with a potential voter at his campaign office in Brighton, Col...

Democrat Barack Obama began the final week of America's extended presidential campaign in battleground Ohio on Monday, lashing Republican John McCain in a "closing argument" as little more than a clone of unpopular President George W. Bush.
Promising a comeback victory, McCain also was in Ohio, repeating his charge that Obama was a tax-and-spend liberal. He later was traveling to neighboring Pennsylvania, where Obama leads but McCain is bidding for an upset.

With the U.S. economic decline accelerating, national and state polls showed McCain's route to victory narrowing, forcing him to defend states like Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida _ regions once seen as solidly Republican but now shading toward Obama.

Obama, a first-term Illinois senator, is projected as near or above the 270 electoral votes needed to become the 44th U.S. president and the first African-American to hold the job. The presidency is won state-by-state, with a state's number of electoral votes roughly tied to its population.

In his Canton, Ohio, summing-up, Obama will make a pitch for national unity in a time of extreme partisanship.

"In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope," Obama planned to say, according speech excerpts released by his campaign.

But partisanship holds its place in the message, as Obama hits McCain as a candidate of the past.

"After twenty-one months and three debates, Senator McCain still has not been able to tell the American people a single major thing he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy," the 47-year-old Democrat says. "Senator McCain says that we can't spend the next four years waiting for our luck to change, but you understand that the biggest gamble we can take is embracing the same old Bush-McCain policies that have failed us for the last eight years."

Obama _ widely favored in the polls as best qualified to cope with America's boiling economic crisis _ planned the bold summing up after drawing huge crowds Sunday in Colorado, a state that voted twice for Bush but where most polls now show Obama with a lead. On Wednesday, he will air a 30-minute commercial on national broadcast networks in a bid to sway independent voters, an estimated 25 percent of the American electorate.

Discounting Obama as overly confident, McCain said in an NBC television interview Sunday, that his campaign had picked up strength last week and that "we'll continue to be very competitive in many of the battleground states."

The former Navy pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war dismissed troubling poll numbers, declaring he could "guarantee you that two weeks from now you will see this has been a very close race. And I believe that I'm going to win it."

Even so, Obama drew huge crowds the same day. More than 100,000 people turned out in Denver, the capital of Colorado, a traditionally Republican bastion, where Obama seized on McCain's statement that he and Bush _ as fellow Republicans _ shared some aspects of economic philosophy.

"We know what the Bush-McCain philosophy looks like," Obama said. "It's a philosophy that says we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that it trickles down."

McCain began Sunday in Iowa, a Midwestern state where he is looking to make up lost ground. His aides argue the state is closer than the public polling shows. At a noisy rally before 2,000 people in Cedar Falls, McCain argued that voters should elect him president to create a check on a Democratic Congress that he says is determined to increase taxes and the size of government.

"That's what's going to happen if the Democrats have total control of Washington," McCain said, speaking of higher taxes and a bloated federal bureaucracy. "We can't let that happen."

Monday's focus on Ohio, where a poll by Ohio's eight largest newspapers now shows Obama leading McCain there by 3 percentage points, 49-46, shone a bright light on McCain's troubles. Last month, McCain held a 6-point lead in the state that voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004, according to the same poll.

Since Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860, no Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying Ohio, where voters have selected the eventual winner in the past 11 presidential elections.

In an NBC television interview, McCain rejected the notion that his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, is unqualified to be president and is hurting the campaign.

"I don't defend her. I praise her. She is exactly what Washington needs," he said.

He also dismissed criticism about the Republican Party spending $150,000 on her wardrobe at high-end retailers.

"She lives a frugal life. She and her family are not wealthy. She and her family were thrust into this, and there was some _ and some third of that money is given back, the rest will be donated to charity," he said.

Palin, meanwhile, was campaigning in the battleground state of Florida, where polls show McCain narrowly trailing Obama in the fight for the state's 27 electoral votes. Bush captured Florida to win the disputed 2000 election and carried the state again in 2004.

Florida, like Ohio, is critically important to both candidates as a populous swing state.


Updated : 2021-04-13 12:48 GMT+08:00