WASHINGTON -- As the presidential campaign heads into its final three weeks, Republican John McCain plans to stress anew tax cuts as a way to fight the sluggish economy that has threatened global credit markets and hampered his candidacy.
Campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds declined to say whether the Republican nominee would make any new economic proposals during an event today in Virginia Beach. McCain ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday that McCain is looking at ways to "jump-start" the economy with tax cuts to encourage investment.
"Now is the time to lower tax rates for investors," Graham said on CBS' Face the Nation. He said cuts in the capital gains and dividend tax rates could be part of a "very comprehensive approach."
Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis said Sunday that the economy has put McCain on the defensive. The latest Gallup daily tracking poll has Democrat Barack Obama leading McCain, 50%-43%. "We've got some strong messages that aren't connecting with people, and Obama seems to be Teflon-like," said Anuzis, who represents a state where McCain has stopped campaigning. "That's what's creating the frustration."
For his part, McCain told supporters at a GOP phone bank in a Virginia suburb that "we're right in this game." He said the financial credit crisis "has hurt us a little bit," but predicted a comeback because voters "want experience."
McCain also alluded to Wednesday's third and final debate with Obama, saying he will "whip his you-know-what." They meet at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.
McCain's economic plan already proposes a cut of the corporate tax rate and making permanent the Bush tax cuts that are scheduled to expire in 2010.
Obama spent part of Sunday knocking on doors in an Ohio neighborhood. The Democratic nominee also got some high-profile help from former primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. The Clintons were in Scranton, where Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden was born and Hillary Clinton has family ties.
"Sending the Republicans to clean up this financial crisis is like sending the bull to clean up the china closet," the former first lady said, adding that Obama and Biden would clean up the mess left behind by President Bush.
The two campaigns again traded charges over the tone at some Republican rallies last week. A few of McCain supporters yelled "terrorist" and "traitor" at the mention of Obama's name. McCain rebuked the crowds.
On Fox News Sunday, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said a statement by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights leader, was "reprehensible." Lewis accused the GOP on Saturday of "sowing the seeds of hatred and division" and appeared to imply that McCain was in line with segregationist George Wallace. He later said that was not his intent.
Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, also on Fox, said "parameters have been crossed" and cited Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's remark that Obama "is not a man who sees America like you and I see America" as one example.