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McCain Offers New Economic Plan


Republican presidential candidate John McCain has unveiled a new economic plan. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports from Washington.

Senator John McCain announced a series of steps he would take if elected that are intended to help middle-class Americans cope with the ongoing financial crisis.

McCain said he would eliminate taxes on unemployment benefits and would have the government take additional steps to protect against bank failures.

"On my orders, the Department of the Treasury will guarantee 100 percent of all savings accounts for a period of six months," McCain said. "This will calm the understandable fears of widespread bank failure, while also restoring rational judgment to the choices of the market."

Behind in public-opinion polls with three weeks to go until election day, McCain is trying to find ways to address voter concerns about the economy, the number-one issue in the campaign.

In his latest speeches, McCain has backed off from some of the personal attacks aimed at Senator Obama.

Instead, McCain recalls his experience as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and urges voters to fight for their beliefs.

"I know what fear feels like," McCain said. "It's a thief in the night who robs your strength. I know what hopelessness feels like. It is an enemy who defeats your will. I felt those things once before. I will never let them in again. I'm an American and I choose to fight!"

McCain's focus on the economy came one day after Senator Obama outlined his own plan to help Middle America.

Obama would also suspend taxes on unemployment benefits and would place a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures.

Obama also said he would provide tax breaks for businesses to create new jobs.

"It is a plan that begins with one word that is on everybody's mind, and it's easy to spell. J-O-B-S, jobs! Senator McCain may be worried about losing an election, but I am worried about you losing your jobs," Obama said. "I am worried about you losing your homes. I am worried about you losing your life savings."

Obama took the day off to prepare for the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday. The economy will be the focus of the debate, which will be held at Hofstra University in New York.

The debate may present one of the last opportunities to change the trajectory of the presidential race.

Recent national polls give Obama a lead of between six and 10 points over McCain.

In addition, polling by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut shows Obama pulling away from McCain in key battleground states including Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Polling experts say historically it can be difficult for candidates trailing this late in a presidential campaign to come from behind and win on Election Day.

But Gallup pollster Frank Newport told MSNBC television that Senator McCain could take encouragement from the 1980 election race between President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.

"Another example, however, is in 1980 when our polling showed Jimmy Carter, the incumbent, ahead by as much as six points just a week or two before the election," Newport said. "Then they had a debate, the dust settled, and Reagan won the popular vote by 10 points."

Recent polls also show that voters regard the economy as the top issue in the campaign by a large margin over other topics such as national security, the war in Iraq, and health care.



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