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Obama Calls for $1,000 Tax Rebate, McCain Focus on Education

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has focused Friday on rising energy costs, while Republican John McCain touted his plan for education reform.

Senator Obama told a town hall meeting Friday in St. Petersburg, in the southeastern state of Florida that families are struggling and need relief now.

He is calling for a $1,000 emergency tax rebate to help taxpayers offset rising energy costs.

The presumptive Democratic nominee proposed paying for the rebate with the windfall profits of oil companies.

Meanwhile, McCain, the presumed Republican nominee, criticized Obama's education policies during a speech to an African-American community-based group, the National Urban League.

Senator McCain told the Orlando, Florida, meeting that Obama is wrong to oppose public support for vouchers that would help pay for private schools. McCain said Obama's stance went over well with the teachers union, while children remain in failing public schools.

McCain called for education reform that includes more choices for those who want to become teachers, bonuses to teachers who work in troubled schools, and allowing public school principals to have spending discretion.

The veteran Arizona lawmaker also slammed his fellow members of Congress for taking their month-long summer break without action on legislation on lifting a ban on offshore oil drilling.

Obama's speech was interrupted by three African-American men who shouted and held up a banner asking, "What about the Black community, Obama?"

Later, Obama took a question from one of the men, and he accused Obama of failing to speak out on a various issues affecting African-Americans, such as subprime mortgages.

Obama replied he had spoken out on each of the issues, but "I may not have spoken out the way you would have wanted me to speak out."

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.