Arizona Sen. John McCain on Tuesday gave a nod to the Pennsylvania primary, even as the presumptive Republican nominee for president spent the day campaigning in Ohio.
While Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton are still fighting a state-by-state battle for the Democratic nomination, McCain told attendees at a town hall meeting at Youngstown State University that he has the freedom to look ahead to the November election and to court voters in swing states such as Ohio.
"It's a big news day in politics, with the Pennsylvania primary and all," McCain said. " And I've been left recently in the unfamiliar position of facing no opposition within my own party,"
McCain locked up the Republican nomination in March, after a remarkable comeback. "It was a different story last year," he said. "I could claim the unqualified support of [his wife] Cindy and my mother — and Mom was starting to keep her options open."
The Arizona senator suggested that Youngstown and other financially distressed parts of the country are due for a similar comeback, which he promised to fuel with "pro-growth policies," including sizable tax cuts.
McCain promises to balance those tax cuts with deep cuts in government spending. Independent observers are skeptical and warn the tax cuts are likely to widen the federal deficit.
McCain also stressed the need for better job training to help displaced workers adapt to a changing economy. "Our workers will be given options, and training relevant to need, and at every turn treated with the respect and consideration they deserve," he said.
McCain's Youngstown visit is part of a week-long tour of America's "forgotten areas," where he primarily courted voters in Alabama and Louisiana. In Youngstown, about 1 in 4 residents lives below the poverty line, and 1 in 13 is unemployed.