In the U.S. presidential election campaign, Democratic candidate Barack Obama focused on national security Wednesday, while his Republican counterpart, John McCain, spent time discussing education. Some new public opinion polls show Obama with a lead over McCain, and VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
Senator Obama spoke at a meeting in Indiana that dealt with a range of national security threats including nuclear proliferation as well as cyber and bio-terrorism.
Obama said his intention to wind down the U.S. involvement in Iraq would allow the United States to take the lead in securing nuclear materials around the world.
"For the amount of money that we are spending in Iraq in one month, if that same amount of money was spent over the course of the next four years, we could lock up all the loose nuclear material that exists out there," said Barack Obama. "That strikes me as a good investment to make."
Obama's Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, focused on education reform during a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a leading civil rights organization.
McCain said if elected he would make it easier for parents in low income areas to send their children to better performing private schools as an alternative to public education.
McCain also spoke about the weakened domestic economy, which public opinion polls indicate is the top issue in the election campaign for voters.
The presumptive Republican nominee reiterated his commitment to cutting taxes.
"I believe that in a troubled economy where folks are struggling to afford the necessities of life, higher taxes are the last thing we need," said John McCain. "The economy is not hurting because workers and businesses are under-taxed."
Three new public opinion polls give Senator Obama a lead over Senator McCain of between six and nine points. The surveys were conducted by CBS News and the New York Times, ABC News and the Washington Post, and Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.
The CBS News-New York Times poll also suggests a racial divide remains among American voters. That survey found that 55 percent of white voters believe race relations in the country are good at the present time, while only 29 percent of African-Americans feel the same way.
However, majorities of both blacks and whites did agree that the country is ready for an African-American president.