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Candidates Make Appeals in Campaigns’ Home Stretch

October 28, 2008 at 6:10 PM EDT
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Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama spoke in different parts of Pennsylvania Tuesday, each focusing on the economy and their plans to help struggling Americans, reaching out to undecided voters in the battleground state. Gwen Ifill reports on the latest.

GWEN IFILL: Hatless and shunning an umbrella in the steady rain, Barack Obama appealed to thousands of drenched supporters to stick with him for the campaign’s final week.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-Ill.): This is an unbelievable crowd for this kind of weather.

Thank you so much. And I just want all of you to know that, if we are — if we see this kind of dedication on Election Day, there is no way that we’re not going to bring change to America.

GWEN IFILL: Appearing in Chester, Pennsylvania, as part of a final tour of battleground states, Obama recalled another intemperate campaign day.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: You know, we began this journey on a day that was actually a little worse than today. It was seven degrees outside. Twenty-two months ago, on the steps of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois.

Back then, we didn’t have much money and we didn’t have many endorsements. We weren’t given much of a chance in the polls or by the pundits. We knew how steep this climb was going to be.

But I also knew this: I knew that the size of our challenges had outgrown the smallness of our politics. I believe that Democrats and Republicans and Americans of every political stripe, they were hungry, they were desperate for new ideas, and new leadership, and a new kind of politics, one that favors common sense over ideology, one that focuses on those values and ideals that we hold in common as Americans.

And 21 months later, my faith in the American people has been vindicated. That’s how we’ve come so far, so close, because of you. That’s how we’re going to change this country, because of you.

And that’s why, in this last week, we cannot afford to slow down or to sit back or to let up. Whether it’s rain or sleet or snow, we are going to go out and we are going to vote because it’s too much at stake.

GWEN IFILL: As part of his closing arguments, Obama is also devoting time to defending his tax plan, one that John McCain has criticized as wealth redistribution.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA: If you make less than $250,000 a year — how many make $250,000 a year? Raise your hands. Actually, just about everybody here, but you want to keep your hands in your pocket. It’s too cold.

If you make less than $250,000 a year — and that includes, by the way, 98 percent of small businesses and 99.9 percent of plumbers — you will not see your taxes increase one single dime, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains tax, not your income tax, no tax, because the last thing you need is higher taxes when we’re in a recession like this. And you won’t get one under an Obama administration.

Let me tell you: In the end, the choice isn’t between tax cuts or no tax cuts. Both John McCain and I want to give tax cuts. The question is who we’re going to give it to.

Whether you believe we should just reward wealth or whether we should also reward work and the workers who create wealth. It’s about whether you believe in an America where opportunity and success is open to all people and not just some people, everybody who’s willing to work for it.

And that’s the kind of America that I want to build when I’m president of the United States of America.

GWEN IFILL: Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, found sunnier weather in Ocala, Florida, where he stressed the importance of strengthening the middle class.

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-Del.): Barack Obama and I recognize that, when the American middle class does well, the rich do just fine, and the poor do better. Everyone is better off.

And so we want to rebuild the middle class. And here’s what we’ll do: Cut taxes for working people. Cut taxes for small businesses. Encourage and lay out a clear plan to end our dependence on foreign oil.

Invest in rebuilding America, its roads, its bridges, its water systems, creating right here in the state of Florida over that period 121,000 new high-paying jobs.

McCain focuses on taxes in Pa.

GWEN IFILL: Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin focused their combined firepower on Hershey, Pa., in the heart of a state McCain has pledged to win.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.): It's wonderful to be back in Pennsylvania, and it's wonderful to fool the pundits, because we're going to win the state of Pennsylvania. We're going to win it on November 4th. You're going to get out the vote, and we're going to win.

GWEN IFILL: Both McCain and Palin took aim at the Obama tax plan.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-Alaska): Now, you have to really listen to our opponent's words through all of this. Listen to what he's saying, because, now, he had been hiding behind his real agenda of redistributing your hard-earned money.

He says that he's for a tax credit, which is when government takes more of your money and gives it away to someone else according to a politician's priorities.

Now, that's as opposed to John McCain, who is for a real tax cut, which means when government takes less of your earnings in the first place.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: After months of campaign trail eloquence, we finally learned what Senator Obama's economic goal is: spread the wealth. In a radio interview revealed this week, he said the same thing, that one of the, quote, "tragedies" of the civil rights movement is that it didn't bring about redistributive change. Can you imagine?

You see, Senator Obama believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs. He said that, even though lower taxes on investment help our economy, he favors higher taxes on investment for, quote, "fairness."

There's nothing fair about driving our economy into the ground. We all suffer when that happens.

And that's the problem with Senator Obama's approach to our economy: He's more interested in controlling wealth than creating it in redistributing money instead of spreading opportunity. I'm going to create wealth for all Americans by creating opportunity for all Americans.

Senator Obama is running to be redistributionist-in-chief. I'm running to be commander-in-chief.

Senator Obama is running to spread the wealth. I'm running to create wealth.

Senator Obama is running to punish the successful. I'm running to make everyone successful.

GWEN IFILL: McCain also accused Obama of taking a victory lap before the election is decided, mocking the Democrats' plan to deliver a primetime national address tomorrow night.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN: Now, my friends, let me give you the state of the race today. There's one week to go. We're a few points down. The pundits wrote us off, as they have several times before. My opponent is out working out the details with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid on their plans...

... to raise your taxes, raise your taxes, increase spending, and concede defeat in Iraq. He's measuring the drapes, and he's planned his first address to the nation before the election.

By the way, no one will delay the World Series game with an infomercial when I'm president.

I guess I'm old-fashioned about these things. I'd prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome.

GWEN IFILL: The GOP's ticket canceled another afternoon appearance in Pennsylvania because of the inclement weather. McCain said he has come from behind before, even when popular opinion appears to turn against him.

According to Editor and Publisher, a news industry magazine, Obama has been endorsed by 222 newspapers, McCain by 93. At least 43 of those publications endorsed President Bush in 2004.