Stakes High As Obama, McCain Head For Final Debate

Falling behind in the polls, Republican candidate John McCain hopes to shake up the presidential race in his final debate with Democrat Barack Obama, who will be looking to close the deal with voters unhappy with the country's direction.

Both are likely to emphasize pocketbook issues, a burning concern as financial institutions wobble and voters feel the pinch of a faltering economy. Each released proposals this week for how to boost the economy.

Wednesday night's debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., is slated to focus entirely on the economy and domestic policy. The candidates will be seated at a table with moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS.

With the economic crisis fueling public unease, Obama has built leads nationally and in key states as the turmoil has returned the nation's focus to the policies of the unpopular President Bush. The burden now is on McCain to try to reverse his slide.

To that end, the Arizona senator took a new approach this week, positioning himself as a fighter for the American middle class and easing off his most direct attacks on Obama, an Illinois senator. McCain also took pains to separate himself from Bush.

"We cannot spend the next four years as we have spent much of the last eight: waiting for our luck to change. ... As president I intend to act, quickly and decisively," McCain said Tuesday in battleground Pennsylvania.

He announced a $52.5 billion economic plan Tuesday that calls for halving the tax rate on capital gains and reducing the tax on withdrawals from retirement accounts, among other measures. A day earlier, Obama unveiled a $60 billion proposal that includes an extension of unemployment benefits, a 90-day freeze on home foreclosures, penalty-free withdrawals from retirement funds and a $3,000 tax credit for each new job.

Both candidates call for doing away with the tax on unemployment benefits.

McCain has suggested that he is likely to bring up Obama's links to William Ayers, a radical during the Vietnam War era. Ayers was a member of the violent Weather Underground group but later became a university professor in Chicago and an expert on education. He and Obama both worked with some of the same charity foundations in Chicago, and Ayers hosted a reception for Obama when he first ran for the Illinois state Senate.

"We're always prepared for him to be hyperaggressive in his attacks," Obama campaign aide Robert Gibbs said of McCain. "I just think that doesn't work in an environment where so many people are concerned about the issues in front of them, not scare tactics they don't see as helping to pay the bills."

He said Obama will try to project an aura of calm leadership during the debate, which Gibbs said he achieved in two previous debates with McCain.

Obama's campaign also has taken some shots at McCain, increasingly labeling him "erratic" and "lurching" for solutions to the economic crisis. The words suggest unsteadiness by the four-term senator, who is 72.

Polls conducted after the earlier debates found that more people thought Obama had won both.

Meanwhile, McCain has had trouble finding support among swing voters. A recent Associated Press-GfK Poll showed independents about evenly divided between the two candidates, which is problematic for McCain because registered Democrats decisively outnumber registered Republicans this year.

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  • by ??? Location: NC on Oct 15, 2008 at 07:43 PM
    Add another name to Obama's long list of liars. Whoopi Goldberg.She went into a rant on the View today defending Obamas relationship with Ayers.She dredged up lies about the KKK and said that they had hung hundreds of thousands of blacks.Im not saying that some lynchings didnt happen, but these numbers seem very high. Where do her numbers come from? These Dumbocrats need to get thier lies straight before getting on national TV and making fools out of themselves.
  • by ??? Location: NC on Oct 15, 2008 at 03:21 PM
    Why did Obama slip up and refer to his Muslin faith during the interview with George Stephenopoulos? True colors are coming out little by little.
  • by WOLFGANG Location: CHOCOWINITY on Oct 15, 2008 at 03:07 PM
    Any of you people who are voting for Obama from Planet Earth? Or are you all aliens form another Planet , Solar System, or Galaxy?
  • by WOLFGANG Location: CHOCOWINITY on Oct 15, 2008 at 03:00 PM
    Anyone who is voting for Obama. Are any of you from Planet Earth? Or are you all aliens from another Planet, Solar System or Galaxy?
  • by Anonymous on Oct 15, 2008 at 01:57 PM
    EVERYONE hear the real voice of the people. Obama/Biden 08.
  • by Leigh Location: Williamston on Oct 15, 2008 at 01:38 PM
    McCain/Palin '08!!! You are the voice of the people...make sure EVERYONE hears you!!!
  • by Ed Location: Pitt County on Oct 15, 2008 at 12:01 PM
    Why is it if McCain wants to bring up all of Obama's links to liberal ideas and Socialism he is called hyperaggressive? Its time the American people wake up and see what Obama really stands for. He wants the people who have worked hard making a decent living to pay the way for the lazy and the thugs to sit on there rears and draw a check. His plan doesn't bring low income families up to a higher lifestyle, it just brings down the hard working American to a lower level! This is Socialism 101! I'm all for the wealthy paying their SHARE of taxes but why should the wealthy and the working people pay the way for someone who's never paid in a dime!Americans need to wake up and realize this man is a sheep in wolves clothing. This isn't a race issue or a political party issue, it's a common sence issue. If we don't take a stand, our American way of life will be gone and replaced by a Socialist dictatorship under Obama.
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Oct 15, 2008 at 11:11 AM
    Albert you are correct in too many areas in your post. The one clarification was based on a poll of undecided voters. The story above says Obama is ahead just like most. Not much different when Kerry ran or even Mondale. The fear factor poll says that 80% of voters were afraid of Obama and 14% were afraid of McCain. As more information comes out of McCains organization, I think you will see polls equal to better for McCain. I think you will see more about Wright, Ayers and Rezko in the future. Its like Herpes, once you get the disease you have it forever. It can disappear, but always comes back when you don't want it. Obama associations are scary. Posters on this board that tell you they will vote fore Obama and Bush have heard the party drill, don't have a clue who this guy is or their blinders are on too tight. Jessie Jackson doesn't like Obama, it over yet, he has a lot to say on him.
  • by Sherri on Oct 15, 2008 at 10:34 AM
    Please God, let McCain do so well tonight that he picks it up enough to win this election. I am absolutely horrified by things I have been reading about Obama.
  • by cody Location: winterville on Oct 15, 2008 at 10:09 AM
    Sen. Mccain needs to rattle Obama and push his buttons. BHO has something to hide everytime I watch him answer any non- political question. He is not truthful when it comes to his associations of past and present. I do not trust his judgement. He needs to stay in the senate and prove his worth for future elections. We will be sacrificing so much for so little if BHO wins. Wake Up America!!!
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