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Economy Returns to Center Stage of Campaign Trail

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama focused their campaigns on the sluggish U.S. economy this week amid voter concerns over economic troubles and a looming record budget deficit. Campaign advisers debate the effectiveness of the rivals' plans.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    With most recent indicators showing a hurting U.S. economy, both presidential candidates are publicly focusing more attention on it. Republican John McCain campaigned today in Nevada, where he slammed Barack Obama's approach to energy.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: Sen. Obama says he wants energy independence, but he's opposed to new drilling at home. He's opposed to nuclear power. He's opposed to encouraging the invention of an affordable electric car that can run 100 miles or more before it needs to be recharged.

    He has said the high cost of gasoline doesn't bother him, only it rose too quickly. I think it bothers you.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In recent days, McCain has tried to connect the pain people are feeling at the gas pump directly to the country's broader economic troubles. He's also airing a new television ad blaming Obama for high gas prices, noting his rival's opposition to off-shore drilling.

  • COMMERCIAL NARRATOR:

    Gas prices, $4, $5, no end in sight, because some in Washington are still saying "no" to drilling in America, "no" to independence from foreign oil. Who can you thank for rising prices at the pump?

  • CROWD:

    Obama! Obama! Obama!

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Meanwhile, Obama met privately today with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and had a phone conversation with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Those talks follow Obama's meeting in Washington yesterday with his top economic advisers, a group that included Republicans, as well as Democrats.

    SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois: The economic emergency is growing more severe. Jobs are down. Wages are falling. The financial markets threaten to be engaged in a protracted credit crunch with long-lasting ramifications for investment, job creation, and family incomes.

    And this is an emergency that you feel not only just from reading the Wall Street Journal, but from traveling across Ohio, and Michigan, and New Mexico, and Nevada, where you meet people day after day who are one foreclosure notice, or one illness, or one pink slip away from economic disaster.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Obama said he would convene the group periodically over the coming months to address the country's changing economic situation.

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