Palin: ‘Barack the wealth-spreader'

John McCain's campaign continued to hammer away at Barack Obama's economic plan Wednesday, with Sarah Palin calling him “Barack the wealth-spreader,” while Obama said their attacks smelled of desperation.

Again invoking “Joe the Plumber,” McCain and Palin reminded a rally of perhaps 15,000 people at a high school football field in Green that Obama had told the Toledo plumber he wants to spread the wealth around.

“Knowing that there are a lot of representatives of Joe the Plumber around here, it doesn't sound like many of you are going to be supporting Barack the wealth-spreader in this election,” Palin said. “And that's because you understand that his plan to redistribute wealth will ultimately punish hard work, and it discourages productivity, and it will stifle the entrepreneurial spirit that made this the greatest country on earth.”

Palin's remarks continued a Republican strategy in the closing days of the campaign to portray Obama's tax and economic plans as akin to socialism.

Obama, campaigning in Richmond, Va., said remarks such as Palin's signified a losing campaign that was running out of time.

“They have been trying to throw whatever they can up against the wall to see what sticks,” he said. “They have run out of ideas.”

Obama told about 13,000 supporters at the Richmond Coliseum that “in the final days of campaigns, the say-anything, do-anything politics too often takes over.”

“We've seen it before, and we're seeing it again today. The ugly phone calls. The misleading mail and TV ads. The careless, outrageous comments. All aimed at keeping us from working together, all aimed at stopping change.”

Obama leads in Virginia by an average of 7 percentage points in public polls, but his lead has narrowed in the past week.

While Obama was in Richmond, he worked to assure Americans that he'll strive hard as president to protect the country from attack. He met for more than an hour with national security advisers, talking at length about rising violence in Afghanistan and how to guard against the kind of crisis or “test” that running mate Joe Biden warned this week would confront him as a new president.

McCain and Palin accused Obama of being dangerously inexperienced in international affairs, using Biden's remarks as Exhibit A.

Obama shrugged off Biden's comments. “Joe sometimes engages in rhetorical flourishes,” he said. “But I think that his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested regardless of who it is.”

Earlier in the day, McCain stumped in New Hampshire hoping that a state that salvaged his White House aspirations in 2000 and earlier this year can come through for him again on Election Day.

“I know one thing for certain: It doesn't matter what the pundits said or how confident my opponent is,” the Arizona senator told supporters who packed the college hockey arena. “The people of New Hampshire make their own decisions, and more than once, they've ignored the polls and the pundits and brought me across the finish line first.”

Obama leads McCain in the Granite State by 9.4 points, according to an average of recent polls by