Obama returns to change mantra in closing pitch

AN impassioned Barack Obama has delivered the closing argument in his 21-month bid for the presidency by returning to the mantra that launched him — hope and change.

He told a rally in Ohio in seven days’ time voters had the opportunity to “turn the page” on a divided America.

And he pleaded with supporters to ignore polls that predict he will win by a large margin. Instead he asked them to continue knocking on the doors of potential voters.

“Don’t believe for a second this election is over. Don’t think for a minute power concedes. We have to work like our future depends on this week.

“In one week you can choose hope over fear and unity over division. In one week we can come together as a people,” he said.

Obama did not use his so-called closing argument to hammer his rival, John McCain, and instead promised the electorate he would deliver a more prosperous future.

And as Obama returned to his fundamental message in his closing pitch, both sides prepared for a final onslaught based on the classic political debate between the left and right wings.

Yesterday the business-based Republicans continued to zero-in on Obama’s suggestion he would “spread the wealth around”. Also in Ohio, McCain said as president he would concentrate on improving the prospects for employers so they could hire more people.

He said his opponent “believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs”. Obama, representing the pro-trade union Democrats, did not back down and reiterated his belief that an American resurgence must first empower workers.

“The choice in this election isn’t between tax cuts and no tax cuts. It is about whether you believe we should only reward wealth, or whether we should also reward the work and workers who create it.

“That’s how we’ve always grown the American economy — from the bottom up. John McCain calls this socialism. I call it opportunity,” he said.

The Republicans are desperately trying to characterise Obama as a closet socialist who will undermine personal freedoms.

Campaigning in Fredricksberg, Virginia, McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin asked supporters to reject “Obama the wealth spreader”.

And she returned to the plight of Joe the Plumber, the Ohio man who shot to prominence by surprising Obama with a question on taxation during a walkabout two weeks ago.

She said anybody who wanted to keep their earnings instead of losing them through taxation should sympathise with Joe the Plumber. Behind her the crowd held “I am Joe” signs. But before Palin arrived the state delivered more bad news for the campaign. A new poll in the Washington Post revealed Obama now leads in the fierce contest for Virginia’s 13 electoral college votes by eight points.

And in the northern part of the state, close to Washington DC, the Democrat is trumping his rival by two to one. Obama will visit the same region this morning following up on a blitz of visits he has made to what was once a staunchly Republican state.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that US federal agents have reportedly broken up a plot by two neo-Nazi skinheads to attempt to assassinate Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) said yesterday. The ATF’s Nashville office said the men also sought to go on a national killing spree, with Obama as its final target.

An Obama spokeswoman travelling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment.

The investigation is continuing.


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