McCain: Democrats In Total Control Is A Bad Idea

Republican presidential nominee John McCain says he isn't worried about polls that show him trailing Democrat Barack Obama by double-digits. McCain is making the case that voters should elect him to ensure a check on the Democratic Congress. McCain says a Democratic takeover of Washington would spell economic disaster.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

John McCain is also campaigning in Ohio. He also campaigned over the weekend in New Mexico and Iowa. All states that President Bush won in 2004 that McCain is trying to keep. He told NBC's "Meet the Press" over the weekend, a win for him is guaranteed, even though some polls show him trailing by double-digit margins. NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.

(Soundbite of song "Gonna Fly Now")

INA JAFFE: In case you were wondering whether McCain feels like the underdog, his campaign continues to use the theme from "Rocky" as its unofficial theme song. Some of the rally speakers even acknowledged that the Republican candidate's got a lot of ground to cover and doesn't have a lot of time or money, at least not compared to the hundreds of millions raised by Barack Obama. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham practically pleaded with supporters in Albuquerque.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Senator LINDSEY GRAHAM (Republican, South Carolina): Don't let Barack Obama buy New Mexico.

(Soundbite of crowd shouting)

Senator GRAHAM: Don't let him buy it.

JAFFE: In the face of his many challenges, McCain has adopted a seemingly spontaneous rhetorical twist to demonstrate his self-confidence. Sometimes it comes when he is talking about energy policy, sometimes when he's talking about the economy. But it always sounds like this.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Republican Presidential Candidate): If I'm elected - when I'm elected president.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

JAFFE: McCain does not draw the mammoth crowds that Obama does. On Saturday in Albuquerque, for example, McCain had a morning event that drew hundreds of people. Obama had an evening rally in the same city that drew tens of thousands. But Karen Grant(ph) was glad to be one of the hundreds there for McCain, for so many reasons.

Ms. KAREN GRANT: I think he's tried and experienced, again has good core values. He's just not scary.

JAFFE: In McCain's speeches Barack Obama is the scary guy, along with his fellow Democrats in Congress who could become a lot more numerous after next week. A Democratic takeover of Washington, says McCain, would spell economic disaster.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Denver, Colorado)

Senator MCCAIN: Senator Obama's tax increases would put even more people out of work. The answer to a slowing economy is not higher taxes, but that's exactly what's going to happen when the Democrats have total control of Washington. We can't let that happen.

(Soundbite of crowd shouting)

JAFFE: At a rally at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls yesterday, McCain touted his energy plan, with emphasis on offshore drilling and nuclear power, while ridiculing Obama's more cautious comments during the third debate.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Cedar Falls, Iowa)

Senator MCCAIN: We talked about offshore drilling, and he said he would, quote, "consider offshore drilling." We talked about nuclear power. Well, it has to be safe environment, blah, blah, blah. And the fact is...

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Senator MCCAIN: And the fact is...

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

JAFFE: And remember Joe the Plumber? McCain's begun talking about another Joe now, too.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally)

Senator MCCAIN: Senator Joe the Biden…

JAFFE: The Democratic vice presidential nominee who recently said that the new president would be tested with an international crisis early in his administration. McCain maintains no one would have to worry about that if he's president.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Senator MCCAIN: They may want to test Obama - Senator Obama. I've been tested. I'm going to test them. They're not going to test me.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

JAFFE: McCain mocked Obama for being overconfident, in his view, for taking a, quote, "victory lap," and for the half-hour speech he's scheduled to deliver to the nation on Wednesday on his own paid time.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Zanesville, Ohio)

Senator MCCAIN: I guess I'm a little old-fashioned about these things. I prefer to let the voters weigh in before presuming the outcome.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

JAFFE: But it wasn't enough to blast Obama. McCain needed to ensure that his supporters do not lose hope that he can pull this thing out.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Albuquerque, New Mexico)

Senator MCCAIN: My friends, we got him just where we want him. We love being the underdog. We're going to win.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

JAFFE: Stand and fight, he tells them. Nothing is inevitable. Ina Jaffe, NPR News, traveling with the McCain campaign.

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