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McCain, Obama: Two Takes On U.S. Economic Woes

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McCain, Obama: Two Takes On U.S. Economic Woes

Election 2008: Issues

McCain, Obama: Two Takes On U.S. Economic Woes

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John McCain and Barack Obama are both taking some credit for helping to pass the bailout bill, but the presidential candidates part company on what else is needed to revive the ailing economy. We've got two reports now from the campaign trail, beginning with NPR's Scott Horsley.

SCOTT HORSLEY: John McCain offered a sobering picture of the U.S. economy during a town hall meeting in Colorado yesterday. But before turning to the latest unemployment news, which showed a ninth straight month of job losses, McCain took a moment to savor his running mate Sarah Palin's performance in a high stakes debate on Thursday night.

(Soundbite of Republican town hall meeting in Colorado)

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Republican Presidential Nominee): I almost felt a little sorry last night for my old friend Joe Biden.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: McCain chuckled at a T-shirt someone was wearing in the town hall audience that played off Palin's nickname and said "Viva la barracuda." He promised the GOP ticket will add some sharp teeth to the rhetoric of reform.

Senator MCCAIN: We've got a message, Sarah Palin and I, and that's change is coming. Change is coming to Washington and to Wall Street.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator MCCAIN: And change is coming, and they're not going to like it.

HORSLEY: McCain blames the nation's economic woes on personal character flaws - corrupt politicians or greedy bankers - not failures of policy, like Barack Obama does. That's why the solution McCain proposes is a kind of moral housecleaning rather than a more progressive tax code or big government investments like Obama wants.

Senator MCCAIN: And that's the difference between myself and Senator Obama, is he wants higher taxes, more government, higher spending. And frankly, that record is not something which has been good for America, and we won't let it happen.

HORSLEY: McCain says the rescue plan approved yesterday will help stop the bleeding in the financial system and free up badly needed credit. But he says it will take more to get the nation's economy moving. He called for extending President Bush's tax cuts, reducing other taxes, and for deep cuts in federal spending. McCain will spend part of this weekend honing those arguments for his second debate with Obama on Tuesday. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Flagstaff, Arizona.

AUDIE CORNISH: And I'm Audie Cornish traveling with the Barack Obama campaign in Pennsylvania. Obama opened the day with a rally at a suburban Philadelphia high school praising his running mate, Joe Biden, on his debate performance. The Illinois senator immediately followed that up with an attack on the Republican ticket.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Nominee): When Senator McCain and his running mate talk about job killing, that's something they know a thing or two about, because the policies they've supported and are supporting are killing jobs in America every single day. And Abington, I am here to tell you that we can't afford four more years of this.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

CORNISH: Then Obama went on to defend his tax proposal, which took the most heat from Governor Sarah Palin in the vice presidential debate Thursday night.

Senator OBAMA: Under my plan, tax rates will actually be less than they were under Ronald Reagan. We give three times the amount of tax relief than John McCain does to middle-class families. That's what will work. And that's the kind of change that Joe Biden and I are going to bring to Washington.

CORNISH: But soon after, the senator had to put politics aside, at least for the night. The campaign bus pulled over at Penny's Flowers in the town of Glenside so Obama could pick up a gift for his wife Michelle for their 16th wedding anniversary.

Senator OBAMA: Oh, what do you think?

Unidentified Woman #1: Beautiful.

Senator OBAMA: What do you think, guys?

Unidentified Man #1: Beautiful.

Unidentified Woman #1: Beautiful

Senator OBAMA: Do you approve?

CORNISH: Afterwards, Obama crossed the street to shake hands with the supporters who'd staked out the shop hoping to catch a glimpse of him.

Unidentified Man #2: Good luck.

Senator OBAMA: Thank you guys.

Unidentified Woman #2: Good luck. Good luck.

CORNISH: As Obama reached out to shake their hands, one man yelled out, you're going to give Michelle a rose garden next January. For now, Obama was heading home with a white rose bouquet instead. Audie Cornish, NPR News.

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