Republicans begin to turn on McCain

Republicans begin to turn on McCain

Frustrated Republicans voiced concern with their own presidential candidate, John McCain, as he continued to blast frontrunner Barack Obama as harmful to the middle class.

The Democrat left the campaign trail to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.

The meltdown in financial markets and the national economic downturn have helped undermine Mr McCain’s standing in the polls because Mr Obama is viewed more favourably than Mr McCain on handling economic issues.

New surveys have shown Mr Obama’s lead growing in battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania that are the key to victory. The winner of the election will be determined by a state-by-state tally of electoral votes, not the national total.

As Mr McCain’s prospects dimmed, two Republicans openly took issue with the veteran senator’s handling of the race in separate interviews, little more than a week before election day.

“I would have done things differently the last few weeks,” Representative Paul Ryan told a newspaper in his home state of Wisconsin.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge told a different newspaper, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that the race would have been different in his state, which has 21 electoral votes, if Mr McCain had chosen him as running mate instead of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

“I think we’d be foolish not to admit it publicly,” he said, although he added that in selecting Mrs Palin, Mr McCain had made a bold choice.

Mr Ridge later released a written statement saying his remarks had been taken out of context and that he had often praised Mrs Palin.

At the same time, he added that the race in Florida would have been different if that state’s governor had been placed on the ticket, or similarly in Minnesota. Florida has 27 electoral votes and Minnesota, 10. Alaska has three.

Mrs Palin has been a divisive figure in the race, but her conservative politics and folksy persona have helped Mr McCain shore up support among the Republican base.

Mr McCain warned that the middle class will “get put through the wringer” if Mr Obama wins the White House, telling a noisy rally in Denver: “The answer to a slowing economy is not higher taxes, but that is exactly what is going to happen when the Democrats have total control in Washington.”

Mr Obama has proposed a tax increase on the 5% of taxpayers who make more than $250,000 (€197,000) a year and advocates tax cuts for those who make less.

Meanwhile, Mr McCain appears to be narrowing Mr Obama’s lead in campaign finances as the Democrat’s torrid fundraising pace slowed.

Newly released figures show Mr Obama had nearly $66m (€52m) in the bank at the end of the first two weeks in October.

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