With polls showing him losing ground, Republican John McCain on Tuesday raised the specter of nuclear war to cast doubt on Democrat Barack Obama's readiness to be president. Obama, meanwhile, campaigned for a second straight day in another battleground, Florida, where he's edged ahead in polls by 2 points, on average.
At a rally in Pennsylvania's capital, McCain recalled how as a naval aviator he was poised for a bombing run during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
“I sat in the cockpit on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise off of Cuba. I had a target,” he said. “My friends, you know how close we came to a nuclear war. America will not have a president who needs to be tested. I've been tested, my friends.”
As McCain barnstormed through three stops in suburban Philadelphia and Harrisburg, he also accused Obama of flip-flopping on his favorite team in the World Series.
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McCain's new line of attack on his opponent, a first-term senator who hasn't served in the military, came as McCain spent a full day on an uphill effort to overtake Obama in a battleground state.
Obama spent Tuesday morning focusing on the economy. He convened an economic summit at a community college campus in Lake Worth to showcase his middle-class tax cut and small-business tax credit proposals.
The economic panel included former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker; Google chief executive Eric Schmidt; Democratic governors of Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico and Michigan; and a small-business owner who told the audience, “I'm not Joe the Plumber.”
Obama told the audience that McCain's desire to continue tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations rather than redirect tax cuts to middle- and lower-income workers would continue a decline in family incomes and home values.
“I heard Sen. McCain say that I'm more concerned with who gets your piece of the pie than with growing the pie,” Obama said. “But make no mistake about it, after eight years of Bush-McCain economics, the pie is now shrinking. … It is time to try something new.”
McCain said Obama had flip-flopped on who he's rooting for in the World Series.
Last weekend in Philadelphia Obama said “since the White Sox are out of it, I'll root for the Phillies now.” But Monday in Tampa, introduced by a Rays pitcher, Obama said he's the “unity candidate” and “so when you see a White Sox fan showing the love to the Rays – and the Rays showing some love back – you know we're on to something here.”
McCain argued that might be symbolic of Obama telling voters whatever they want to hear, then switching commitments.
With polls showing McCain falling behind in battleground states such as North Carolina, Colorado, Wisconsin and Virginia, his campaign is pushing for a comeback in Pennsylvania. McCain's wife, Cindy, made four stops in Pennsylvania on Monday, and his running mate, Sarah Palin, has made multiple visits.