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Presidential Candidates Make Appeals in Key States


The major U.S. presidential candidates are making last-minute appeals in hotly contested states in advance of Tuesday's election. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are focusing on a handful of states that could determine the winner.

In Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Florida, John McCain targeted the tax plan of his Democratic opponent, who McCain says aims to redistribute wealth and stifle economic growth.

McCain, a former Navy pilot and senator from Arizona, told voters in Scranton, Pennsylvania, they have a choice.

"Senator Obama is running to be re-distributionist in chief," he said. "I'm running to be commander in chief."

Barack Obama campaigned Sunday in major cities in the key Midwestern state of Ohio, which has backed the winning candidate in each of the last 11 presidential races. Public opinion surveys show a tight race in Ohio. Most give Obama a narrow lead.

The Democrat focused on the economy and the anxiety that many Americans feel because of the nation's financial crisis. Obama says his tax plan would offer relief to nearly all U.S. workers and small business owners.

National polls show Obama leading over McCain, aided partly by concerns over the economy. But the race is close in the half dozen or so key states that could decide the election. The U.S. president is chosen on a tally of electoral votes from individual states, not the national popular vote count.

Ohio has 20 electoral votes of the 270 that are needed to win the election. In Cleveland on Sunday, Obama urged his supporters to be sure they cast their ballots.

"At this defining moment in history, all of you can give this country the change we need, and it starts right here in Ohio," he said. "It starts right here in Cleveland."

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin campaigned in several smaller Ohio cities, while Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was in another key state, Florida.

As Obama and McCain near the end of a nearly two year campaign, their political parties are mobilizing supporters in a massive get-out-the-vote drive. Early voting is underway in 34 U.S. states.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis says the key states of Ohio, Florida and Virginia, which voted Republican in 2004, are still in play.

Speaking on the Fox News Sunday program, Davis said McCain made a comeback in his fight for his party's nomination, and is doing it again.

"He has been counted out before and won these kinds of states," Davis said. "And we are in the process of winning them right now."

On the same program, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said Democrats are focusing their final efforts on voters who have not made up their minds.

"There are still undecided voters out there, so in these last 48 hours we are continuing to talk about the economy, Barack Obama's plans for the middle class, and we are just trying to turn out every single supporter we have so we have historic turn-out on Tuesday," said Plouffe.

John McCain will visit seven states on Monday, ending the marathon effort in his home state of Arizona. Barack Obama will make campaign stops in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, then spend election day in his home city of Chicago.

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