REPUBLICAN presidential nominee Senator John McCain hammered Democrat Barack Obama on taxes and national security yesterday on a bus tour across parts of Florida crucial to his hopes of winning on November 4.
Trailing in opinion polls, both nationally and in many key states, McCain is facing an increasingly difficult path to victory and finds himself racing to defend states that have voted Republican in recent elections.
With less than two weeks before the election, Obama leads McCain 52% to 40% among likely voters in the latest three-day poll by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby.
McCain is resting his hopes on instigating a “Joe the Plumber” voter uprising against the better-funded Obama by whipping up populist sentiment over Obama’s comment to Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher that raising taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year would allow Washington to “spread the wealth around”.
McCain called that redistribution of income and said it would hurt small businesses responsible for much of the country’s jobs. Some people at his rally were waving “Joe the Plumber” T-shirts.
“He’s more concerned about using taxes to spread the wealth than creating a tax plan that creates jobs and grows our economy,” McCain told a cheering throng at an Ormond Beach lumber yard.
“Sen Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of pie than he is in growing the pie,” McCain said.
Obama says his tax plan would give 95% of Americans a tax break.
Obama was taking a one-day break from the presidential race to make a personal journey to see his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, ceding a day of campaigning to McCain less than two weeks before the election.
McCain was on a bus tour across a 12-county section of Central Florida in which he needs a large voter turnout on November 4 to save a state that Republicans have taken in the last two presidential elections. Polls show a neck-and-neck race in Florida.
McCain strongly supported his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, whom it emerged this week spent $150,000 on her wardrobe.
“My friends, I am so proud of Sarah Palin and what she represents; reform and family and all of the things we value. I’m very proud of her and I know that you are too,” he said.
McCain was sharply critical of a remark by Obama’s vice presidential running mate, Joe Biden, that Obama is bound to face an early international crisis if elected. Obama shrugged the statement off on Wednesday as one of Biden’s “rhetorical flourishes”.
“We don’t want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars,” McCain thundered.
As for Obama’s comment that Biden was using a rhetorical flourish, McCain chuckled: “That’s another way of saying that he accidentally delivered straight talk to America.”
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