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Invoking ‘Joe the plumber’ again, McCain slams Obama in Florida

Video by Fiona CAMERON , Pauline PACCARD

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-10-24

Campaigning in the critical state of Florida, John McCain repeatedly brought up “Joe the plumber” in his latest broadside against Barack Obama’s economic platform as Obama took a break to visit his grandmother.

 
  
Republican presidential nominee John McCain took his "Joe the Plumber" economic message on a bus ride across Florida on Thursday, accusing Democrat Barack Obama of backing a tax plan that would endanger the teetering U.S. economy.

McCain's broadside, delivered at stops throughout central Florida, prompted Obama to fire back that McCain's economic proposals would give corporations a tax break for shipping jobs overseas -- a "Wall Street first, Main Street last" strategy.

McCain is resting his hopes on instigating a "Joe the Plumber" voter uprising against the better-funded Obama by whipping up populist sentiment over Obama's comment to Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher that raising taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year would allow Washington to "spread the wealth around."

Trailing in opinion polls both nationally and in many key states, McCain, an Arizona senator, is facing an increasingly difficult path to victory and finds himself racing to defend states that have voted Republican in recent elections.

 With less than two weeks before the Nov. 4 election, Obama leads McCain 52 percent to 40 percent among likely voters in the latest three-day tracking poll by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby. Other polls showed some signs of a tightening race.

McCain called Obama's plan a redistribution of income and said it would hurt small businesses that he said have been doing some of the only hiring at a time when claims for jobless benefits rose by a larger than expected 15,000 last week.

"Senator Obama may say he's going to soak the rich but it's the middle class who are going to get wet," McCain said in Sarasota.

McCain strongly supported his vice presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who has energized the party's base but has had a difficult introduction to the national scene, getting mixed reviews for a couple of national television interviews.

A story on the Politico Web site on Wednesday that the Republican National Committee spent $150,000 on her wardrobe only added to the negative picture surrounding the self-styled hockey mom Palin.

"Can you believe the way she's being attacked? It's really remarkable," McCain said to raucous cheers at a rally in Sarasota. "I can tell you what, she's far more qualified than Joe the Biden" -- a reference to Obama's vice presidential running mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

Asked about the clothes, McCain told a group of Florida reporters on his bus that she needed clothes at the time and that they would be donated to charity, according to WFLA television.

In Ormond Beach, McCain said it was critical to keep people facing foreclosure in their homes.

He criticized the Bush administration for not buying troubled mortgages to allow homeowners facing foreclosure to get a better interest rate on their loans as part of a $700 billion Wall Street bailout. He complained particularly about Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

"Why isn't the secretary of the Treasury ordering them to do that?" he said.

The New York Times on Thursday endorsed Obama, saying he "had drawn in legions of new voters with powerful messages of hope and possibility and calls for shared sacrifice and social responsibility."
Obama was taking a one-day break from the presidential race to visit his ailing grandmother in Hawaii, ceding a day of campaigning to McCain less than two weeks before the election.

PRIVATE TIME

Obama will spend private time in Honolulu on Friday visiting Madelyn Dunham, the woman who helped raise him and who he affectionately calls "Toot" -- short for "tutu," the Hawaiian word for grandmother.

But before he left, he criticized McCain's proposal to cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent at a rally in Indianapolis that drew an estimated 35,000 people.

"Well, Indiana, my opponent may call that 'fundamental economics,' but we know that's just another name for the Wall Street first, Main Street last kind of economic philosophy we've had for the past eight years -- and that's fundamentally wrong," Obama said.

 Illinois Sen. Obama says his tax plan would give 95 percent of Americans a tax break.

McCain was on a bus tour across Florida's "Interstate 4 corridor," a 12-county section of Central Florida in which he needs a large voter turnout on Nov. 4 to save a state that Republicans have taken in the last two presidential elections. Polls show a neck-and-neck race in Florida.

The tour took him from a lumberyard in Ormond Beach to a dentist office in Altamonte Springs, to a Puerto Rican restaurant in Orlando and a strawberry produce store in Plant City.

 

Date created : 2008-10-24

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