With 48 days left before election day, rival presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are trying to convince voters that they have the best plan to fix what is being called the worst economic crisis the nation has faced since the Great Depression.
Obama and McCain released fresh television ads today looking straight into the camera, appealing to Americans to trust them to fix the staggering economy as Wall Street reeled this week with stock prices plummeting, investment banks collapsing, and the Federal Reserve rescuing an insurance giant from bankruptcy.
"This isn't just a string of bad luck," Obama says in his latest two-minute ad. "The truth is that while you've been living up to your responsibilities, Washington has not."
"Enough is enough," McCain declared in his 30-second ad. "New rules for fairness and honesty, I won't tolerate a system that puts you and your family at risk. Your savings, your jobs -- I'll keep them safe."
While both candidates have made the economy the centerpiece of their campaigns in recent days, neither has been able to capture the issue -- which voter say is their No. 1 concern -- like Bill Clinton did in 1992 with the slogan, "It's the economy, stupid."
And while McCain and Obama offer starkly different plans to fix the economy rooted in their basic philosophies about the role of government in the nation's economy, the details of those plans have been lost in a swirl of slogans and political accusations.
Obama's plan focuses on revamping the nation's regulatory oversight system, immediate relief for homeowners hit by the housing crisis, and a middle-class tax cut to stimulate the economy.
Obama, who was raised for a time by a single mother and whose first job was as an advocate for a public housing project in Chicago, proposes a greater government role in driving an economy that creates good jobs for working families.
"He believes that the test of a successful economy is how that economy works for people and what it does for workers," Obama's senior economics adviser Jason Furman told ABC News recently. "Does it give them job security, does it give them good wages, does it give them good benefits?"
Advisers said Obama's roots as a community organizer in Chicago are reflected in his economic agenda, which proposes to scrap President George Bush's tax cuts for families making more than $250,000. Obama would use that tax revenue money to give low- and middle-class families a $1,000 tax cut that would effectively give 95 percent of working families a tax cut.
Obama also advocates spending $21 billion per year on alternative energy and infrastructure projects, and supporting a second stimulus package worth $50 billion in an attempt to spur job growth.
Obama's plan to combat the subprime mortgage crisis that has led many homeowners into foreclosure proposes a $10 billion fund to help lenders rework existing subprime loans into 30-year, fixed loans and crack down on mortgage fraud and predatory lenders.
Obama has suggested he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to add environmental and labor protections. McCain traveled to Canada during the campaign to reaffirm his commitment to NAFTA.
McCain's economic plan has been less specific, though rooted in his philosophy that government shouldn't play a big role in the economy.