Obama, McCain each campaign in other's stronghold areas

— -- Presidential contenders John McCain and Barack Obama each stumped in their rival's traditional strongholds Tuesday, hammering away at economic issues with only two weeks before Election Day.

McCain, shrugging off Democratic efforts to paint the economy as a losing issue for Republicans, called Obama's tax policies an attempt to take money away from one group of taxpayers and give it to another.

McCain, quoting Obama as saying he wanted to "spread the wealth around," criticized the Illinois Democrat as favoring socialist economic policies.

Obama, he told a rally in Bensalem, Pa., is "more interested in controlling who gets your piece of pie than in growing the pie."

For their part, the Democrats have hammered away at a comment by a top McCain strategist in an interview with the New York Daily News that "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."

McCain challenged that depiction during an interview on CBS' The Early Show on Tuesday. "We're focusing on the economy," McCain said. "Listen to me. I'm the candidate, and this campaign is about the economy."

In Florida, Obama shot back at McCain during a second day of campaigning in the voter-rich southern state.

"After eight years of Bush-McCain economics, the pie is shrinking, it's not growing," Obama said at a jobs summit he hosted with the participation by the governors of Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico and Colorado, states that went Republican four years ago.

"We've seen what happens with their policies," he said.

Also attending the summit in Lake Worth, Fla., were Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, an Obama campaign adviser.

In other developments:

•Obama will leave the campaign trail Thursday and Friday to visit his ailing 85-year-old grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, in Hawaii. Her brother, Charles Payne, said Tuesday that Dunham broke her hip recently and is "gravely ill."

Obama told CBS News earlier this month that he had only able to visit his grandmother, who helped raise him, once during 19 months of campaigning.

Obama's wife, Michelle, will fill in for the nominee, who will resume campaigning on Saturday.

•Cindy McCain, the wife of the GOP candidate, told Fox News that she has been "really stunned" by what she called the "kind of viciousness of the media on occasion."

"Look, this is politics today, unfortunately," she told Fox's Greta Van Susteren. "I'm not saying it's right. But it is politics today and it seems to be the nature of the beast now. All I can say is that my husband and I are doing the best we can."

•Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin says she supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, a break with John McCain who has said he believes states should be left to define what marriage is.

In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network, the Alaska governor said she had voted in 1998 for a state amendment banning same sex marriage and hoped to see a federal ban on such unions.

• Palin campaigned Tuesday in Nevada while Sen. Joe Biden, of Delaware, the vice presidential nominee, was stumping in Colorado.

•CNN quotes two top McCain strategists and advisers as saying the situation for the campaign in Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado look "increasingly bleak" and that the campaign is moving toward defending traditional Republican states and hoping to pick off Pennsylvania as the key to winning the needed 270 electoral votes.

McCain campaign communications director Jill Hazelbaker disputed the sources' accounts, CNN reported.

"We see the race tightening both internally and in public polling," she told the network.

"We are within striking distance in the key battleground states we need to win," she said.

On the campaign trail, McCain, for the second day, raised questions of Obama's readiness to lead by seizing on a statement by Biden at a weekend fundraiser that within six months of a Obama presidency "we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

"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 said in Pennsylvania.

Biden, however, drew a far different conclusion than McCain about a "testing." He compared Obama to President John Kennedy and said, "They're going to find out this guy's got steel in his spine."

Readiness has been a topic off and off in the campaigns in recent months.

On Sunday, Obama picked up the endorsement of Colin Powell, a retired four-star general and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who attested to Obama's readiness to be president.

The attacks on Obama come two weeks before Election Day, and as Obama maintains a lead in national polling as well as in surveys conducted in key battleground states.

The Democratic presidential candidate heads to more GOP states, Virginia and Indiana, on Wednesday and Thursday before leaving for Hawaii.

Contributing: Douglas Stanglin in Mclean, Va.; The Associated Press