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Obama Visits Grandmother in Hawaii as Campaign Battle Continues Across U.S.

October 24, 2008 at 6:40 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Michelle Obama stepped in for her husband at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, today, while the Democratic presidential nominee was in Hawaii visiting his gravely ill grandmother.

Obama gave the crowd an update on the woman her husband refers to as “Toot,” short for “tutu,” the Hawaiian word for “grandparent.”

MICHELLE OBAMA, Wife of Sen. Barack Obama: As many of you may know, Barack is off the campaign trail today. He flew to Hawaii last night to see his grandmother, who he calls “Toot.” She’s doing OK, and…

JUDY WOODRUFF: She then turned her attention to the campaign.

MICHELLE OBAMA: There are still people who are undecided, people figuring it out. And for me — I know I’m biased…

… but I think that the choice is clear. And I am speaking not as the wife, but as the mother, as the daughter, as the worker, as the citizen. The choice is clear.

See, because there’s only one candidate in this race who is talking at all about a plan that seems to get it, that understands that an economic policy has to be built around middle-class folks, creating tax cuts for 95 percent of families that are hurting out here.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin began her day in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, where she delivered her first major policy address detailing the McCain campaign’s special needs agenda.

Palin said the issue was a personal one for her, because her 6-month-old son, Trig, was born with Down syndrome.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-Alaska): I want to put a new face on this issue. And I would ask, too, those advocates who have — you’ve worked on this issue a lot longer than I have, more than the decade that I have worked on it. Your heart has been in this, also.

I want you to know: Families, caregivers, who have that gift of working with special needs students, children, adults, I want them to know — and children all across this country — that, yes, John McCain and I do have a message for you, for you advocates, for you families, that I realize that, for years, you’ve sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters.

And I pledge to you that, if we’re elected, you will have a friend and an advocate in the White House.

Final days see battleground focus

JUDY WOODRUFF: John McCain, meanwhile, focused on the battleground state of Colorado. At a morning rally in Denver, he challenged the Bush administration's handling of the economic crisis.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.): While Washington has been bailing out banks, I've been arguing that we need to focus on fixing the underlying problem: foreclosures on bad mortgages and the collapse of our housing market. We need to allow Americans to realize the American dream of owning their own home and staying in their homes.

So, without fixing this fundamental problem, our economy will not get back on track. Yesterday, we learned that the number of foreclosures spiked by 71 percent last quarter. And finally, finally, the Congress and the administration are putting together a plan to address the problem. Let me say: It's about time.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, campaigned this morning in Charleston, West Virginia. He said it was disingenuous for McCain to distance himself from the president's economic policies.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-Del.): John McCain voted with George Bush, as he proudly pointed out, 90 percent of the time. And, until recently, he used to brag about that.

Literally, you remember, when he was -- that's how he got the nomination, the Republican nomination, saying that he was closest to George W. Bush.

And he said, as recently as Sept. 15, as the market was falling out, collapsing in America, he said, quote, "We've made great economic progress under the Bush administration," that the fundamentals of our economy are sound.

Well, look, I know Halloween is coming, but John McCain as the candidate of change? Whoa. Come on. John McCain and change, he needs a costume for that.

Folks, the American people aren't going to buy this. They're not going to buy this.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Biden will campaign in Virginia tomorrow. Obama returns to the trail in Nevada. McCain stumps in New Mexico, while Palin holds events in Iowa.