McCain Says He Wants To Create Opportunities

The GOP presidential ticket campaigned Monday in the battleground state of Pennsylvania. While continuing his argument that his opponent would redistribute wealth, John McCain said he would create opportunity for all Americans. McCain's plan relies heavily on tax cuts.

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Senator McCain will be in Pennsylvania also today, along with his running mate Sarah Palin. The GOP ticket has been spending a lot of time and money trying to turn the keystone state from blue to red. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Ever since John McCain discovered Joe the Plumber two weeks ago, there has been a steady drip, drip, drip to his campaign message. It goes like this. Barack Obama wants to raise taxes on some Americans in order to give more money to others. Yesterday in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, McCain turned up the pressure.

(Soundbite of Republican campaign rally, Pottsville, Pennsylvania)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Republican Presidential Candidate): That's the problem with Senator Obama's approach to our economy. He's more interested in controlling wealth than creating it.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator MCCAIN: In redistributing money instead of spreading opportunity, I'm going to create wealth for all Americans by creating opportunity for all Americans.

HORSLEY: McCain's plan for creating opportunity relies heavily on tax cuts. He wants to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent while making deeper cuts in capital gains taxes. He discussed those plans yesterday with a panel of economic advisers, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Congressman and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, and former eBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman.

Senator MCCAIN: As president I will bring enormous talent, like these great leaders here from outside of Washington, to shake up the government and get it working to promote economic growth and jobs for the American people.

HORSLEY: Tax cuts have also been the centerpiece of President Bush's economic agenda, but McCain insists his platform is not, as Obama alleges, simply continuation of the last eight years.

Senator MCCAIN: We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think - and I think that spending has been too high. My approach is to get spending under control and cut taxes and encourage individuals to invest in our markets or buy a home, and to encourage businesses to hire more workers.

HORSLEY: Even if McCain did offer more of the same economic medicine, that would be OK with Kelly Biajani(ph). She works for a medical supply company and attended last night's rally at a packed gymnasium at Pottsville Middle School.

Ms. KELLY BIAJANI: The Democrats seem to think we need some kind of change. And people are essentially doing just as well, if not better, than they were eight years ago. Under Obama's policies the only people that are going to get help are those that aren't working. And they are going to take from us that do work to give to those people. That's a problem.

HORSLEY: In fact most of Obama's tax relief is aimed to people who do work, and he has promised not to raise taxes on families or small businesses making less than a quarter-million dollars a year. That's still worrisome to Mike Burnett(ph). Income at the stainless steel business he owns is right around that threshold.

Mr. MIKE BURNETT (Business Owner): That's the problem. Yeah, we're right at that. You know, we will be taxed. Like I say, it's a struggle now.

HORSLEY: Republicans see Pennsylvania as one of their only chances to snatch a state away from the Democratic column in this year's presidential race. That's why McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, are holding two joint campaign rallies here today. Pennsylvania has voted for a Democrat in the last four presidential elections, but McCain insists the state is not out of reach.

Senator MCCAIN: What America needs now is someone who will finish the race before starting the victory lap, someone who will fight till the end, and not for himself, but for his country. I have fought for you most of my life.

HORSLEY: And McCain added he has fought in places where defeat meant more than simply returning to the Senate. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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