As the stock market hits a five-year low, the presidential candidates are offering up competing plans to revive the sputtering economy.
Republican Sen. John McCain is promoting his idea for relieving the mortgage mess, while Democratic Sen. Barack Obama is talking jobs.
Polls show more Americans trust Obama when it comes to dealing with the economy, but McCain is doing what he can to undermine that trust.
At campaign rallies and town hall meetings this week, McCain has been trumpeting his proposal to help struggling homeowners by having the federal government buy their risky mortgages and replace them with cheaper, fixed-rate loans.
Obama has criticized the plan as a taxpayer giveaway to irresponsible lenders. But McCain defended the idea Thursday in Waukesha, Wis.
"Sen. Obama was happy to bail out Bear Stearns, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, his pals there, and the Democrats in Congress that refused to reform Freddie Mac and enact legislation to stop this crisis," McCain said. "But he's opposed to us helping the homeowners of America. Do you want to help homeowners of America or Wall Street? That's the question here."
In fact, Obama was saying before McCain that any government rescue plan should include help for homeowners. His beef with McCain's plan is that the government might overpay for mortgages.
So far, McCain has been unable to score many political points for his economic platform, so he is also targeting Obama's character. On Thursday, his campaign released a Web video spotlighting Obama's association with William Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, a radical Vietnam-era group that bombed government buildings.
"When Obama just says, 'This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood,' Americans say, 'Where's the truth, Barack?' " the advertisement says. "Barack Obama: Too risky for America."
Obama has denounced Ayers' violent actions of 40 years ago. And while the two men served together on two nonprofit boards, news organizations have concluded that they are not close.
Still, McCain promises to keep attacking Obama over what one McCain supporter called the "shady characters" in his orbit, even as the Republican also tries to present a positive economic message.