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McCain, Obama Campaign in West, 10 Days Before Election

Ten days before the election, U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama were campaigning Saturday in the American West, where the race for the White House could be decided. VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington.

An average of the latest public opinion polls shows that Senator Obama, the Democratic candidate, has increased his lead over Republican Senator McCain to eight percentage points.

The polls also show that the economic crisis has helped push Obama ahead of McCain. Both candidates emphasized the economy in their speeches Saturday.

In the Southwestern city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, McCain said Obama will raise taxes.

"Whether it is Joe the Plumber in Ohio or the working men and women of New Mexico, we should not be taxing our small businesses more, as Senator Obama wants to do," he said. "We need to be helping them expand their businesses. Create jobs!"

Obama has said he will cut taxes for most Americans.

Despite trailing in the polls, McCain encouraged his supporters to keep fighting.

"Stand up! Stand up! Stand up and fight! America is worth fighting for! Nothing is inevitable here! We never give up! We never quit! We never hide from history, we make history," he said. "Now let's go win this election and get this country moving again! Thank you and God bless you and God bless America! Thank you! Thank you!"

Obama campaigned in the Western city of Reno, Nevada, and continued to tie McCain to the economic policies of his fellow Republican, U.S. President George Bush. Obama told the crowd that Mr. Bush had cast an early ballot Friday for McCain.

"John McCain has been with George Bush every step of the way. Every step of the way. Fortunately, President Bush does not seem to be all that offended. Because yesterday he cast his vote early, for, guess who? John McCain! And that is no surprise, because when it comes to the policies that matter for middle-class families, there is not an inch of daylight between George Bush and John McCain," he said.

Obama returned to the campaign Saturday, after visiting his ailing grandmother in Hawaii.

The two vice presidential candidates were also campaigning on Saturday. Republican Sarah Palin spoke in the central state of Iowa, recalling Obama's recent pledge to "spread the wealth."

"It is the choice between a politician who wants to redistribute your hard-earned money according to his priorities and a true reformer who will lower taxes and create jobs and get this economy back on track," she said.

And Democrat Joe Biden campaigned in the Eastern state of Virginia, where no Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of the vote since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Biden criticized Palin for implying that people in mostly-Republican states are more patriotic than those in heavily-Democratic states.

"Look, folks, I was just in North Carolina, and I am going back to North Carolina. We think we are in play there. But ladies and gentlemen, it is a deeply patriotic state," he said. "So is my state of Delaware. So is Pennsylvania! So is California! So is Texas! So is Montana! So is Illinois! All Americans are patriotic!"

Meanwhile, Senator Obama's wife Michelle was featured in the Democratic Party's weekly radio address. She urged Americans to vote, either on November 4, or in early voting, and to vote for her husband.

"His leadership and his policies are the change we need in the White House. But first, we have got to send him there. That is why your vote is so important. Because if you do not vote, you are saying that you are fine with the way things are, and you cast an equally powerful ballot for four more years that look just like the last eight," she said.

Senator Obama has recorded a two-minute television commercial, to begin airing on Sunday. In it, he asks, "Will our country be better off four years from now?".