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As Election Day Approaches, US Presidential Contenders Trade Charges in TV Ads

As Election Day draws closer, both major-party White House candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, are filling the airwaves with TV ads. In some of these political commercials, one candidate will portray the other as unfit to be president. VOA's Jeffrey Young reports.

For months, American voters have been bombarded with presidential campaign theme words such as "change," and "maverick."

A growing number of TV attack ads are also filling the airwaves with the U.S. election less then four weeks away. As some pundit put it, "If you can't persuade, then try to dissuade."

A TV ad by Republican nominee John McCain claims Democratic nominee Barack Obama does not tell the truth about his positions.

"Obama's social security attack [on McCain's position] was called a 'falsehood.' His health care attack [is] 'misleading.' Obama's stem cell [research] attack [is] not true," the ad claims.

But then, Obama portrays McCain as desperate.

"John McCain wants to tear Barack Obama down with smears that have been proven false," the ad asserts. "Why? McCain's own campaign admits that if the election is going to be about the economy, he is going to lose."

With many Americans worried that taxes may have to go up to pay for massive government spending, the Obama camp is portraying some McCain proposals as fiscally irresponsible.

"McCain's tax plan means another three trillion [dollars] in debt," an Obama ad claims. "His plan to privatize social security - another trillion. [1.4 trillion shown on screen.] Tax credits sent to insurance companies - another trillion. [1.3 trillion shown on screen]

McCain hammers back by painting Obama as a "tax-and-spend" politician.

[Ad voiceover] "Who is Barack Obama?"
[Obama] "I'm a tax cutter!"
[Ad voiceover] "Really? Senator Obama voted 94 times for higher taxes. 94 times. He's not truthful on taxes."

It is a claim Obama has repeatedly said is not true.

Some candidates' TV ads pick and choose a few words from their opponents.

"The fundamentals, the fundamentals of our economy are strong," according to McCain in an Obama television ad.

This is what Barack Obama said about U.S. troops in Afghanistan in August 2007 during a New Hampshire campaign stop: "We have got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan]. And, that requires us have enough troops that we are not just air raiding villages and killing civilians."

This recent McCain campaign omitted key words, to say this:

[Ad voiceover] "He says our troops in Afghanistan areā€¦"
[Obama] "just air raiding villages and bombing civilians."
[Ad voiceover] "How dishonorable!"

With Election Day approaching, and both senators reaching for those still undecided votes, analysts say both are throwing mud each promised months ago not to sling.