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Presidential Candidates Take Aim At Each Other


From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel. And first, politics, the presidential candidates worked the Halloween crowds today with a little help from their friends, such as Al Gore and Rudy Giuliani. And dare we say it the spooky state of the economy was issue number one. We go first to NPR's Ina Jaffe.

INA JAFFE: This is the second day in a row with that John McCain spent on Ohio. It's a state that George Bush won four years ago. And that McCain must hang on to it if he's going to win this election. Polls late this week give Obama an edge there. So in a packed high school gym in the town of Hanoverton, McCain warned supporters that Barack Obama's economic policies were from the far left of the political spectrum.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona, 2008 Presidential Nominee): It's not an accident but he's the most liberal senator in the United State's Senate, more liberal than a senator who used to call himself a socialist. You know, we both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is Senator Obama thinks taxes have been to low, and I think the spending has been too high.

(Soundbite of applause)

JAFFE: McCain maintained that Obama will raise taxes on the middle class, and on small businesses, which the Obama campaign denies. And McCain repeated its charge that Obama wants to spread the wealth around or redistribute it.

Senator McCain: Now my friends, Senator Obama is running to be redistributionist in chief. I am running to be commander in chief.

JAFFE: Barack Obama returned to the scene of his early success today addressing a crowd in a park in De Moines, Iowa. He argued that John McCain offers retreads of the Bush administration policies that have made a mess of the economy.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois, 2008 Presidential Candidate): I challenge you. You've seen some of the ads. If you can - if anybody here can name a single thing that John McCain says that he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy, I'd be interested. He spends all his time talking about me, in not very flattering terms.

JAFFE: Obama told supporters that they played a crucial role in his presidential campaign, but his victory in the caucuses in Iowa, put a stamp of approval on the ideas he's been taking across the nation.

Senator OBAMA: A whole new way of doing democracy, started right here in Iowa, and it's all across the country now.

JAFFE: Obama got a boost today from Former Vice President Al Gore, who made his first return trip to Florida, a state that's haunted Democrats since Gore lost it by a few hundred votes and one Supreme Court decision eight years ago. Gore said the economy has been going down hill ever since.

Mr. AL GORE (Former Vice President, United States of America): When it started on January 20 of 2001, I know I was the first one laid off.

(Soundbite of laughter)

JAFFE: Both campaigns held conference calls with reporters today describing where they see the race at this point. McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, said the campaign was jazzed up, that the polls were tightening and McCain was in the midst of a come back.

Mr. RICK DAVIS (McCain's Campaign Manager): Look, we're banking on a very close race. I mean, we think this is going to be a tight like Electoral College year. We think this is going to be a tight popular vote year. There's no indications otherwise today. I mean, if you look back two weeks from now, you see a different race, guess what? Polling isn't accumulative. It's whatever it is today. And we see a very, very tight race today. And so, it really doesn't matter where it was ten says ago.

JAFFE: But David Plouffe, Obama's Campaign Manager, said we like where we are. Incited a Democratic advantage in ballots already cast.

Mr. DAVID PLOUSFFE (Obama's Campaign Manager): And obviously in states like Colorado and Nevada, North Carolina, you know, the dye is being cast as we speak. And so, we built up advantage in all of those states. So, Senator McCain on Election Day is going to have to not just carry the day but carry it convincingly.

JAFFE: Plouffe also said, the Obama campaign would now use some of its enormous war chest to advertise in three traditionally red states, Georgia, North Dakota, and for the first time John McCain's home state of Arizona. All three he said were now in, quote, the realm of possibility. Ina Jaffe, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Ina Jaffe is a veteran NPR correspondent covering the aging of America. Her stories on Morning Edition and All Things Considered have focused on older adults' involvement in politics and elections, dating and divorce, work and retirement, fashion and sports, as well as issues affecting long term care and end of life choices. In 2015, she was named one of the nation's top "Influencers in Aging" by PBS publication Next Avenue, which wrote "Jaffe has reinvented reporting on aging."