Three weeks from the presidential vote, Democratic candidate Barack Obama unveils an economic plan for Main Street rather than Wall Street; Republican John McCain drops attacks on his rival and goes for another round of "straight talk".
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Republican White House hopeful John McCain on Monday rushed to the defense of some of his rowdier supporters, saying it was "insulting" to categorize them as anything but patriotic Americans.
McCain and his campaign -- struggling to stay competitive in a US presidential race in which polls show support growing for his rival Barack Obama -- have come under fire in the past week as vociferous supporters at rallies have shouted abusive rhetoric against the Democrat, including calls of "terrorist" and "kill him."
The Republican, in an interview on CNN, insisted that "the overwhelming majority of the people that come to my rallies are good and decent and patriotic Americans" who are worried about the country's future.
"And to somehow intimate that the overwhelming majority of those people, with rare exception, are somehow not good Americans or are motivated by anything but the most patriotic motives is insulting. And I won't accept that insult," McCain added.
But he also stressed that similar catcalls had been made by Obama supporters.
"I've heard the same thing, unfortunately, at Senator Obama's rallies being said about me," he said, without elaborating.
"I'm proud of my supporters," McCain said. "I'm proud of those veterans who have served their country, that come to my rallies and fire me up. I love them."
McCain was asked about a Time magazine report that Virginia state Republican Party chairman Jeffrey Frederick reminded campaign volunteers preparing to canvas in the state of a connection between Barack Obama and Osama bin Laden.
"Both have friends that bombed the Pentagon," Time quoted Frederick as saying, referring to William Ayers, a 1960s leftist who co-founded a radical group which bombed the Capitol and Pentagon in protest but who has reinvented himself as a college professor.
McCain told CNN that such attacks were wrong.
"I have repudiated every time there has been a statement about Senator Obama made that I felt was inappropriate and unfair."
The Arizona senator last week told his supporters that he wanted a "respectful" campaign after he had to intervene at a rally to tone down abusive rhetoric against Obama.
But with just over three weeks left before the November 4 election the campaign has taken on a harder, more personal tone.
Date created : 2008-10-14