McCain Hammers Away at Economic Issue

McCain's attacks on Obama's economic plan may help him close the gap.

ByMARK MOONEY
October 28, 2008, 9:53 AM

Oct. 28, 2008— -- Sen. John McCain called in a famous handyman today to tighten up his message that Sen. Barack Obama's proposed tax policies would hurt small businesses and middle-class families.

Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, today made a cameo appearance on the campaign trail for McCain in Ohio.

Wurzelbacher, arguably the most famous plumber in the country, campaigned with McCain surrogate former congressmen Rob Portman as McCain invokes Joe's name in campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Wurzelbacher has been a mainstay of McCain's economic argument since the plumber met Obama earlier this month and complained about Obama's plans to increase taxes on families and businesses earning more than $250,000.

Ever since that meeting, McCain has been hammering away at Obama's answer to Joe that Obama wants to "spread the wealth."

McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin have used Obama's remark to compare his economic plans to socialism, to say Obama wants to "punish" hard work and that Obama is likely to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for what McCain estimates is $1 trillion in proposed new spending.

The Republican also launched a new ad today that hits Obama with the phrases "for higher taxes," "spread your income," " a trillion in new spending," " pain for small business" and "risky."

The images and words are interspersed with pictures of McCain and the words "for workin' Joes," "keep what's yours," "freeze spending, eliminate waste," "economic growth" and "proven."

McCain's aggressive assault on Obama's economic plans appears to be helping him creep closer to Obama, particularly on the economy, an issue for which McCain has polled poorly.

The latest ABCNews/Washington Post tracking poll indicates that McCain has closed the overall gap with Obama from 11 points to seven points.

Obama's lead over McCain on who would be best at handling the economy has slipped from 18 points to 10 points. Voters now say they trust Obama over McCain, 52 percent to 42 percent, on economic issues, according to the latest ABC/Post tracking poll. Last week Obama's lead on that issue was 56-38.

Campaign Shifts to Florida Wednesday

McCain told a crowd of supporters in Hershey, Pa., that he expects to win and that "it's wonderful to fool the pundits."

"Nothing is inevitable, we never give up," said McCain told the rally.

With seven days left before the election, the two campaigns are going full throttle, both concentrating on a handful of crucial states.

McCain will be in Pennsylvania today with Palin. McCain then splits for North Carolina while Palin will continue to stump in Pennsylvania.

The Keystone State has become key to the Republicans' presidential hopes, and Obama will also be working the state today.

The two campaigns are running virtually parallel schedules in the final days. McCain and Obama both held rallies in Ohio Monday, and both are working Pennsylvania today.

That focus shifts to Florida Wednesday, where McCain is expected to broaden his attack on Obama to include the issues of experience and leadership. McCain, who was stung last week when former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed Obama, will appear in Florida with four former secretaries of state and a phalanx of retired generals who have endorsed him.

Even with such firepower, McCain will have a hard time keeping the spotlight because Obama has bought 30 minutes of prime-time on several TV networks to air a personal appeal to voters Wednesday night.

The prospect of seeing Obama nearly everywhere apparently alarmed Obama's two young daughters more than it did McCain.

On hearing that their father would be on multiple channels prompted Malia, 10, to ask him, "Are you going to interrupt my TV?" her mother Michelle Obama told Jay Leno Monday night. "And he said, no we didn't buy time on Disney and Nick, and she said, 'Oh, good.'"

Not satisfied with buying his own air time, Obama will also appear on "The Daily Show" Wednesday night.

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