McCain kicks off tour, talks economics

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday he would infuse new life into the lagging economy by slashing taxes, building nuclear power plants, supporting free trade, and encouraging renewable energy programs that would create jobs across the country.

His appearance in Denver kicked off a week of visits to battleground states including Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where the Arizona senator will continue to talk about the issue “Americans worry the most about – the economy,” he said.

“I have a plan to grow this economy, create more and better jobs, and get America moving again,” he told roughly 400 people gathered at a town hall meeting in Denver. “I believe the role of government is to unleash the creativity, ingenuity and hard work of the American people.”

Much of McCain's speech centered on comparing his ideas, most of which had been unveiled before, to those of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

McCain said he would cut estate taxes to 15 percent, while Obama would raise them to 45 percent. He proposes giving Americans a gas-tax holiday, while Obama has dismissed that idea. McCain said he would also double the child tax deduction from $3,500 to $7,000 for each dependent.

“If you believe you should pay more taxes, I am the wrong candidate for you. Sen. Obama is your man,” he said.

He also criticized Obama for seeking millions in congressional earmarks and supporting an agricultural subsidy bill that McCain said was filled with $300 billion in pork.

“I have never asked for a single earmark in my entire career,” said McCain, who has served in the Senate for 22 years.

On energy, McCain said he wanted to build 45 new nuclear plants that would create “700,000 good jobs.”

He also said he would encourage more clean-coal technology and develop wind and solar power.

Many of McCain's ideas are similar to or even identical to President Bush's, notably his support for continuing key elements of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, which are scheduled for repeal during the next administration. Asked to list three ways that Bush and McCain differed on the economy, adviser Carly Fiorina struggled and listed only one, better job training for displaced workers. McClatchy Newspapers contributed.