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Candidates Focus on Battlegrounds, Spar on Tax Plans

October 22, 2008 at 6:25 PM EST
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Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama campaigned in key swing states Wednesday, including Virginia and Ohio, as the race for the presidency enters its final weeks and the global stock market remains tumultuous. Spencer Michels reports on the latest news from the campaign trail.
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SPENCER MICHELS, NewsHour Correspondent: John McCain campaigned in New Hampshire today, hoping to stage a comeback in the state where he turned around his primary campaign earlier this year.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: I can’t think of any place I’d rather be as Election Day draws close than running an underdog campaign in the state of New Hampshire.

SPENCER MICHELS: McCain stepped up his criticism of Barack Obama’s tax plan at a morning rally near Manchester.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: My opponent has spoken about the reluctance of citizens and business owners to part with their earnings. He understands that, when it’s time to “spread the wealth” around, quote, they’re not going to give up those profits easily.

And readers of his book, “The Audacity of Hope,” might recall that he wrote about the need to “spread the wealth around” there, too. He writes of the need for “labor laws and tax laws that restore some balance to the distribution of the nation’s wealth.”

He’s talked elsewhere about how, in our day, “The distribution of wealth is even more skewed and levels of inequity are now higher.” What are really skewed in all of this are my opponent’s priorities.

He talks about our economy in a detached and academic way, forgetting that the goal is not to redistribute wealth, but to create it.

SPENCER MICHELS: Obama started the day in Richmond, Virginia, another battleground state, where he met with his national security advisers.

Afterwards, he took questions from reporters, including one about McCain’s charge that Obama intends to redistribute wealth. Obama responded that he would give 95 percent of working families a tax cut and only raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: Now, given that every time I go to a rally and I ask how many people are making $250,000 a year or more, not many hands go up.

And the overwhelming majority of Americans — bus drivers, teachers, social workers, small-business people — make less than $250,000 a year. They don’t have a very good argument on their side.

So what they’re trying to do is to fabricate an argument and to try to suggest that somehow what I’m proposing would hit the middle class or small businesses. Factually, it’s just not correct. I mean, Senator McCain is running a campaign against somebody else, not me, because he’s not speaking to my plan.

Joe the plumber emerges again

SPENCER MICHELS: Both campaigns' vice presidential nominees were also out rallying supporters today. Sarah Palin stumped this morning in Findlay, Ohio, where she, too, swiped at the Democrats' tax plan, citing Joe the plumber, an Ohio man who confronted Obama on the issue at a recent campaign stop.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), Alaska: I guess if you work hard and you want to get ahead, and if you believe America is the land of possibilities, then you don't want your dreams dashed by the Obama tax increase.

And if you don't like the way our opponents have treated a guy who just asked a simple question, then we're all Joe the plumber, too. So do we have any Joe the plumbers in the house?

So, here, it doesn't sound like you're supporting "Barack the wealth-spreader" in this election.

SPENCER MICHELS: Not to be outdone, Obama brought up his encounter with Joe the plumber at a Richmond rally this afternoon.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: Look, I had a nice conversation the other day with Joe the plumber. Joe's cool. Joe's cool. I got no problems with Joe. All I want to do is give Joe a tax cut.

But let's be clear who Senator McCain is fighting for. He's not fighting for Joe the plumber; he's fighting for Joe the hedge fund manager.

SPENCER MICHELS: Joe Biden, meanwhile, campaigned in Colorado Springs, where he criticized the McCain campaign for resisting another stimulus package, which recently gained the support of Fed Chair Ben Bernanke.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), Delaware: John McCain has been saying -- and I want to quote him -- we cannot spend the next four years as we spent much of the last eight years waiting for our luck to change.

And just yesterday, John McCain's chief spokesman on the economy said, with regard to the need for an economic stimulus package, he said, quote, "We have to wait and see." Wait and see.

John's still betting on luck. I'm betting on Barack Obama.

SPENCER MICHELS: Biden will campaign tomorrow in North Carolina. McCain will be in Florida. Obama holds a rally in Indiana, before flying to Hawaii to be with his ailing grandmother.