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Obama, McCain Make Appeals to Undecided Voters


Democrat Barack Obama is trying to hold his lead in the U.S. presidential race in the final days, while Republican John McCain is looking for anything that might give him a last-minute bump in the polls. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone reports on a presidential campaign that has only five days remaining.

As the 2008 presidential campaign begins to draw to a close, most of the battles are being fought in states that have generally voted Republican in recent years, and that is an advantage for Senator Barack Obama.

Obama campaigned Thursday in Florida, where polls show he is in a close race with Senator McCain.

Republicans generally count on Florida as a must-win state in the state-by-state battle to accumulate the 270 electoral votes necessary to claim the White House.

Obama told a rally that President Bush has driven the U.S. economy into a ditch, and that Republican John McCain would keep it there if he won.

Obama also accused McCain of offering little more than attacks in the final days of the campaign.

If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as somebody people should be afraid of," Obama said. "You make big elections about small things. Well, Florida, we are here to say, not this time. Not this year. Not with so much at stake. John McCain might be worried about losing an election, but I'm worried about you losing your job and losing your house!"

Obama was back on the campaign trail one day after campaigning with former President Bill Clinton, and after spending millions of dollars to air a 30-minute prime time ad on several national TV networks.

Republican John McCain meanwhile is running short of time, money and possibly support in the final days of the campaign.

McCain looked for a pre-election revival at a rally Thursday in the appropriately named town of Defiance, Ohio. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio, going back to Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Like Obama, McCain kept his focus on the economy and continued his attack on Obama's tax plan, which he said would amount to a redistribution of wealth from rich to poor.

"Senator Obama is running to be 'redistributionist in chief'," McCain said. "I'm running to be commander in chief! Senator Obama is running to spread the wealth. I'm running to create more wealth!"

McCain also attacked Obama on foreign policy, saying the Illinois senator lacks what it takes to protect the country from terrorists.

McCain continues to trail Obama by an average of about six points in national polls. Obama also leads McCain or is tied with him in several key states that will provide the margin of victory on Tuesday.

However, Obama's lead in some states like Virginia and Indiana may be narrowing.

American University presidential historian Allan Lichtman says McCain could help himself with undecided voters by returning to the more moderate tone of his first presidential campaign eight years ago.

"I think he can make some headway," Lichtman said. "I don't think he can turn around the election. But my advice to Senator McCain is fire the consultants, fire the handlers, fire the speechwriters. Get rid of them all and spend the rest of the campaign being the McCain you were in 2000."

Meanwhile, McCain's vice presidential running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, is hinting that she intends to remain active in national politics win or lose on Election Day.

Palin was asked on ABC's Good Morning America if she was bothered by the sharp criticism she has received from the Democrats.

"I think that if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we have taken, I'm not doing this for naught! No, we are going to progress," Palin said. "We are going to keep going forward. So, it is all worth it and I'm not complaining about any of it."

Palin has energized social conservatives but alienated some moderates who question her readiness to be president should something happen to John McCain, who is 72, and would be the oldest person ever elected to a first term as president.

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