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McCain fights for upset in Pennsylvania

McCain fights for upset in Pennsylvania

Fading in the polls, Republican John McCain was pinning his hopes for a comeback victory over rival Barack Obama in next week's presidential election on Pennsylvania, the only major Democratic-leaning state that he is still aggressively contesting.
Both campaigns were converging Tuesday on Pennsylvania, where the Democratic nominee is ahead by double digits in some polls. McCain's only path to an electoral victory runs through the industrial state which he hopes to steal from the Democratic column.
Though he trails Democrat Obama in the polls nationally and in key battleground states, McCain was sounding increasingly scrappy, referring to his rival as "the most liberal candidate to ever seek the presidency."
McCain, who also campaigned in Pennsylvania on Monday, and running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were holding rallies Tuesday in largely conservative Hershey and Quakertown, before going their separate ways _ McCain to North Carolina, another contested state, while Palin continues the campaign's focus on Pennsylvania.
"If I'm elected, I'll fight to shake up Washington," McCain told a noisy rally in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on Monday night, previewing the closing argument he'll make to voters as the long march to the Nov. 4 election draws to a close. "I'm not afraid of the fight, you're not afraid of the fight and we're ready for the fight."
The Arizona senator labeled Obama a tax-and-spend liberal and warned of what he said are the dangers of having a White House and Congress in Democratic hands. He urged that he be elected to serve as a counterweight to Democrats who are expected to increase their majorities in both the House and Senate.
"Sen. Obama is running to spread the wealth. I'm running to create more wealth," said McCain, who promises tax cuts to spur job growth. "Sen. Obama is running to punish the successful. I'm running to make everyone a success."
But with just a week remaining in the campaign, McCain remained largely pinned down in traditionally Republican states, trying to eke out a majority.
Obama has almost exclusively been targeting tossup states that trend Republican. But his return to Pennsylvania on Monday marked the first time in more than a week that he had bothered to visit a state fellow Democrat John Kerry won four years ago.
The Illinois senator was starting off Wednesday with a rally in the Philadelphia suburb of Chester. The event amounts to a bookend to his cross-state appearance on Monday in Pittsburgh, where he pledged to cut taxes for the middle class and help the factory worker as much as the company owner.
Obama then heads later in the day to Virginia, where he has jumped into the lead in polls of the southern state that a Democratic presidential candidate last won in 1964.
Obama's campaign exudes an air of calm and confidence. He plans to plug for votes in North Carolina, Florida and Missouri in the coming days, which like Virginia all went for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.
With the election just a week away, Republicans looked and sounded increasingly like a party anticipating defeat, and possibly a substantial one.
On Monday, McCain and Obama both battled for support in economically hard-hit Ohio, each man pledging to right the economy and turn the page on the Bush era in a state with an impressive record for picking presidents.
Referring to Obama, McCain said, "We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high."
Obama, running to become the nation's first black president, countered that when it comes to the economy, "John McCain has stood with this president every step of the way."
He added, "The question in this election is not 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' We know the answer to that. The real question is, 'Will this country be better off four years from now?'"
Ohio has voted with the winner in each presidential election since 1964, and Bush's victory there sealed his second White House term four years ago. But the state turned Democratic two years later when Ted Strickland was elected governor, and Sherrod Brown unseated a Republican incumbent to win his Senate seat.
Now public and private polls rate Obama the favorite, and dreary monthly jobless statistics show a statewide economy in trouble. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state has lost 92,000 jobs since February, and Ohio's unemployment, 7.2 percent of its work force, is well above the national rate of 6.1 percent.
In Ohio, Obama begin delivering what he called his campaign's "closing argument" in the soaring rhetoric that marked the start of his long-shot White House run nearly two years ago.
Obama tacked back toward his theme of change and hope in his Ohio speeches.
"In one week, we can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo," Obama said. "We can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history. That's what's at stake."
Hours after Obama told Ohio voters, "We are one week away from changing America," federal agents reported breaking up a plot to assassinate the Illinois senator and shoot or decapitate 88 black people in a Tennessee murder spree.
An Obama spokeswoman traveling with the candidate had no immediate comment on the plot, which involved two young men, one from Tennessee and the second from Arkansas _ both southern states.
In an attempt to blunt Obama in pivotal states, the National Republican Trust PAC, a conservative political action committee, planned to air ads in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida showing clips of controversial sermons by Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The group aimed to spend about $1 million in the final six days of the campaign, its executive director, Scott Wheeler said.
Whatever doubt remained about the presidential race, only the size of Democratic gains seemed to be in question in the campaign for control of Congress.
Republican Sen. Ted Stevens' conviction in a corruption trial in Washington gave fresh momentum to the Democrats' drive for a 60-seat Senate majority that would strengthen their ability to overcome Republican filibusters to block votes on key legislation.
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Associated Press writers David Espo and Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington, Mike Glover in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Ben Feller in St. David's, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.
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On the Net:
http://www.johnmccain.com
http://www.barackobama.com


Updated : 2020-12-05 11:11 GMT+08:00