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Obama, McCain Spar on Economy

The two major party presidential candidates in the United States say they are both likely to back the controversial $700 billion financial rescue plan pending in the U.S. Congress. But as VOA's Paula Wolfson reports, they are continuing to battle over economic policy and other issues.

Two days after their first debate, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama were still sparring about the economy on national television.

In separate broadcast interviews, both indicated they will support the rescue plan. But their contrasting styles in dealing with the fiscal crisis were on display.

Speaking on ABC's This Week, Senator McCain defended his decision to suspend active campaigning and return to Washington during the negotiations on the rescue bill.

"I am never going to not get engaged when the taxpayers of middle-class America are in danger of losing everything, literally, that they worked all their lives for," he said.

But Barack Obama says John McCain's presence may have been more of a hindrance than a help because it brought the politics of the presidential campaign into the negotiating process on Capitol Hill.

He appeared on the CBS program Face the Nation.

"For two weeks, I was on the phone every day with [Treasury] Secretary Paulson and the Congressional leaders, making sure that the principles that were ultimately adopted were incorporated into the bill," he said.

Senator McCain said he felt making calls was not enough.

"I did the best that I could," he said. "I came back because I was not going to phone it in."

McCain said he will be back on the campaign trail full time starting Monday. Obama, meanwhile, spent Sunday in Michigan - one of the key states in the race for the White House.

They will meet in the second of their three presidential debates on October 7. But before then - on October 2 - their running mates will face off in the only vice presidential debate of the campaign.

Interest in the debate between Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Joe Biden is high and a large television audience is expected.

Palin, the governor of Alaska, has galvanized the conservative base of her party, but questions have been raised about her knowledge of foreign affairs. John McCain came to her defense on ABC, saying he is proud to have her on the Republican ticket.

"I am so excited about the reaction that Sarah Palin has gotten across this country, huge turnouts, enthusiasm, and excitement," he said. "She knows how to communicate directly with people. They respond in a way I have seldom seen."

On CBS, Barack Obama was asked if he thinks Palin is qualified to lead the country. He declined to answer directly.

"I think it is important for the American people to make a judgment based on what they hear from Sarah Palin herself," he said.

Obama said the bigger question is whether John McCain is ready to deal with the 21st century challenges now facing America.