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McCain cast as middle-class guardian

Evoking “Joe the Plumber” in this pivotal state, Republican John McCain on Sunday cast himself as the guardian of middle-class workers and small-business owners who fuel the economy.

“If I'm elected president, I won't raise taxes on small businesses, as Sen. (Barack) Obama proposes, and force them to cut jobs,” McCain said during a rally at the convention center. “I will keep small business taxes where they are, help them keep their costs low and let them spend their earnings to create more jobs not send to Washington.”

McCain flew to Toledo, near where “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher lives, from the state capital of Columbus amid the GOP's push for this swing state and its 20 electoral votes.

The Holland, Ohio, plumber was in New York making the media rounds with his family, but McCain has been evoking his spirit after making him the focal point of the final presidential debate between McCain and Obama.

While some analyses showed Wurzelbacher faring better under Obama's plan than McCain's, McCain has lashed out at Obama for saying that while his policies may force some to pay higher taxes, they were designed to “spread the wealth around” by targeting only families making more than $250,000 annually.

“Sen. Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than he is growing the pie,” McCain told a crowd of several thousand.

During an earlier rally at Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio, McCain drew cheers when he proclaimed he was campaigning “on behalf of Joe the Plumber and Rose the Teacher and Phil the Bricklayer and Wendy the Waitress.”

McCain complained during a nationally televised interview that the vast sums of money Obama is raising risk the post-Watergate financing reforms.

McCain said the overall sum his Democratic rival has raised – $605 million – showed the “dam has broken” for future White House races.

McCain also complained that the identities of people who contributed more than $200 million of Obama's total take have not been reported, although that is allowable under federal law because the individual donations fall under the $200 reporting limit.

The Arizona senator has been limited to spending $84 million for the general election campaign after he accepted federal funds under a program created after the Watergate scandal.

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