With only a week to go until polling, Barack Obama outlined a "closing argument" to voters in Ohio, hammering rival John McCain on the economy. Meanwhile, McCain branded Obama a "socialist" during a speech in this key battleground state.
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White House front-runner Barack Obama traded blows with John McCain over how to repair the stricken US economy as the presidential campaign entered its final full week on Monday.
With just eight days to go until polling, Obama urged voters to draw a line under "eight years of failed policies" of President George W. Bush as McCain attempted to reignite fears that his rival planned a socialist administration.
Away from the campaign trail Monday, federal justice authorities said two men had been arrested in Tennessee for threatening to assassinate Obama as part of a racist killing targeting African-Americans.
The candidates' sparring over the economy came as both Obama and McCain campaigned aggressively through the rust-belt states of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"In one week, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class and create new jobs and grow this economy so that everyone has a chance to succeed," Obama, 47 told supporters in Pittsburgh.
The Illinois senator, vying to become the country's first African-American president, hammered McCain on the November 4 election's defining issue -- the economy -- but also appealed to voters to choose "hope over fear."
"In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, and Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope," Obama said to raucous cheers.
McCain, 72, meanwhile, ramped up his attacks on Obama, accusing him of secretly plotting to raise taxes across the board that he warned would lead to a "deeper and more painful recession."
"Today he claims he'll tax the rich; but we've seen in the past that he's been willing to hit people squarely in the middle class," McCain said.
McCain later seized on a 2001 Obama interview where he appeared to lament the failure of the civil rights movement to bring about greater financial equality, saying it proved his opponent was determined to redistribute wealth.
"That is what change means for Barack the Redistributor: It means taking your money and giving it to someone else," he told a crowd of around 2,000 at a sports hall in Dayton, Ohio.
Obama's camp responded swiftly, rejecting McCain's comment as a "false, desperate attack."
McCain's electoral map is shrinking as he battles to hold on to states won by Bush in 2004 such as Iowa, where Sunday he shrugged off national and pivotal state polls that suggest Obama will triumph a week from Tuesday.
Monday's Gallup tracking poll of likely voters nationwide gave Obama a lead of 50 percent to 45 percent over McCain. Broader polls of registered voters give the Democrat a double-digit margin.
McCain began the final full week of campaigning in Cleveland before heading later to Pennsylvania, where white working-class voters proved resistant to Obama during his primary battle with Hillary Clinton. But surveys show McCain trailing in the state.
The White House contenders flew east after sparring in the western states of Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, which could seal victory for Obama if he can win all the states that Democrat John Kerry captured against Bush in 2004.
But the Democrat is also pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to keep the Arizona senator on the ropes in Republican bastions out east including Virginia and North Carolina.
The strategy appears to be bearing fruit. A new Washington Post survey said Obama now leads McCain in Virginia by 52 percent to 44 percent. The state has not backed a Democrat for the White House since 1964.
However the Republican brand suffered another body blow on Monday when veteran Alaska senator Ted Stevens was Monday found guilty of corruption, a week before he is up for re-election in the narrowly-divided US Senate.
Meanwhile Monday, authorities announced the arrest of two white supremacists who had threatened to kill Obama during a racist rampage that would have targeted more than 100 African-Americans.
The two men, aged 20 and 18, were arrested in Tennessee on Wednesday. Justice officials said the men had stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt.
Despite the bizarre details of the plot, Tennessee officials said they viewed the allegations as "serious."
Date created : 2008-10-28