Archbishop in abortion remarks against Obama

A US Roman Catholic Archbishop has labelled Barack Obama the “most committed” abortion-rights candidate from a major party in 35 years while accusing Democratic-friendly Catholic groups of doing a “disservice to the church”.

Denver archbishop Charles Chaput, one of America’s most politically outspoken Catholic leaders, delivered the remarks last night at a dinner of a Catholic women’s group.

His comments were among the sharpest in a debate over abortion and Catholic political responsibility in a campaign in which Catholics represent a key swing vote.

Mr Chaput has won praise from traditionalist Catholics for stressing opposition to abortion as a fundamental voting issue.

Meanwhile, in an outbreak of class warfare, Republican John McCain last night likened Mr Obama to European socialists who advocate redistributing wealth as he desperately tried to reverse his declining poll numbers.

With just over two weeks remaining to Election Day, the campaign heated up as Mr Obama countered by accusing his rival of being “out of touch” with the struggles of middle-class Americans who need “a break”.

The presidential candidates swapped sharply-worded charges over tax cuts, each accusing the other of short-changing middle-income Americans at a time of economic hardship for millions.

Mr McCain has become increasingly aggressive in debates, personal appearances and – in the past few days – automated phone calls as the polls showed him falling behind nationally as well as in several key battleground states.

Both campaigns will be closely watching what former Secretary of State Colin Powell has to say about his presidential choice when the retired four-star general gives an exclusive interview to NBC television’s “Meet the Press” today.

An Obama endorsement by the widely respected Mr Powell would represent a severe blow to Mr McCain’s chances for a comeback victory by undercutting the Republican’s argument that Mr Obama is a risky choice for a commander-in-chief.

Anxiety over the teetering US economy, uncertainty over the wisdom of McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, and the Republicans’ character attacks against Mr Obama in the last month all have been cited as possible reasons for Mr McCain’s drop in the polls.

The differences between the two men on taxes have been present from the early days of the campaign, but lately they have attained greater prominence in the wake of a credit crunch, deep declines in the stock markets and rising joblessness.

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