McCain, Obama slam economic plans

LEESBURG, Va. -- Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain critiqued each other's economic proposals Wednesday as the two men barnstormed through crucial states that Obama hopes to win and McCain is trying to defend.

Visiting a Northern Virginia county that President Bush won by more than 13,000 votes in 2004, Obama drew a crowd — estimated at 35,000 by the township parks department — that stretched across the rolling hills of a local park. "Is this Woodstock?" marveled Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat who introduced Obama.

The Illinois senator was equally exultant. "Look at this! Look at this!" Obama said. "Looks like real Virginia to me!" The reference was to a comment by McCain senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer that her boss is strong in "the real Virginia," the more conservative areas downstate.

It was Obama's second stop of the day in Virginia, a state that last voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 1964.

Polls show Obama with a lead ranging from 1 point to double digits, and he urged caution. "Make sure you don't let up," he told an overflow crowd outside a Richmond hockey arena.

McCain held rallies in New Hampshire and in Ohio. At Saint Anselm College in Manchester, McCain recalled that New Hampshire revived his bid for the nomination by giving him a come-from-behind win in the crucial first-in-the-nation primary. He predicted that he'll confound the pollsters again Nov. 4. "I can't think of any place I'd rather be as Election Day draws close than running an underdog campaign in New Hampshire," he said.

The Arizona senator mocked Obama for saying he wants to "spread the wealth around."

"Before the government can redistribute wealth, it has to confiscate wealth," McCain said.

In Ohio, McCain continued to hammer away at Obama's economic policies during a rally at a high school football stadium about 50 miles south of Cleveland. "I will not raise your taxes, my friends," McCain said.

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin introduced McCain, telling supporters it isn't negative campaigning to point out Obama's record and "his agenda to redistribute your hard-earned income."

In Richmond, Va., Obama insisted that his economic tax plan would result in lower taxes for 95% of taxpayers, expand health care coverage and reduce the cost of higher education.

He accused Republicans of engaging in "say-anything, do-anything politics," an apparent reference to statements that Palin and several Republican candidates have made questioning their opponents' patriotism.

Obama told his Richmond audience the attacks reveal Republicans' misplaced priorities. "With the economy in turmoil … the American people don't want to hear politicians attack each other — you want to hear about how we're going to attack the challenges facing middle-class families," he said.

McCain campaigns in Florida today; Obama will be in Indianapolis before going to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother.

Jackson reported from Washington