Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has thanked his opponent, Republican John McCain, for asking his supporters to control their angry outbursts at McCain campaign rallies.  VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington. 

The U.S. presidential election is about three weeks away, and some of John McCain's supporters are growing anxious about Barack Obama's widening lead in public opinion polls.  At McCain's rallies, some supporters have been telling the Arizona Republican to become more aggressive in attacking Obama.

"We would like you to remain a true American hero.  We want you to fight," said one man.

McCain replied, "I will fight.  But we will be respectful.  I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments, I will respect him, and I want, everyone to be respectful."

At a rally in Philadelphia on Saturday, Obama acknowledged McCain's requests to his supporters, and said he appreciates the reminder that political opponents can disagree, while still being respectful of each other.  But the Democrat said McCain's economic plans are wrong for the country.

Obama has built a lead of between five and 10 percentage points in recent public opinion polls.  McCain was booed at a rally in the North Central state of Minnesota on Friday, when he tried to reassure one man about Obama's character.

"We are scared.  We are scared of an Obama presidency," said one man.

"I want to be president of the United States, and obviously, I do not want Senator Obama to be," McCain said.  "But, I have to tell you, he is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as President of the United States."

At the same rally, McCain took the microphone away from a woman who had implied that Obama was un-American.

"I cannot trust Obama.  I have read about him, and....he is an Arab," she said.

"No, ma'am.  No, ma'am.  He is a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues," McCain said.

As the candidates urged their supporters to focus on the issues, they also continued to emphasize their differences.  Obama said on Saturday McCain "still does not get it," regarding the economic crisis.

And McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, criticized Obama Saturday at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for comments he had made earlier in the campaign.

"You know, we still do not quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then, though, talks about how bitterly they 'cling to their religion and their guns' when they are not listening. I do not know what to make of a candidate who would say that.  We tend to prefer candidates who do not talk about us one way in Johnstown and another way in San Francisco," she said.

Meanwhile, a bi-partisan state legislative panel ruled Friday that Palin put pressure on a subordinate to fire her former brother-in-law from his job as a state police officer.  But the report also concluded that Palin was within her rights to fire the subordinate.