Video: McCain to unveil 'jobs first' economic plan

updated 7/7/2008 2:30:49 PM ET 2008-07-07T18:30:49

Republican John McCain on Monday promoted his plan for reviving the stumbling U.S. economy, looking to deflect criticism from Democrat Barack Obama that he would offer no change from the unpopular policies of President George W. Bush.

The economy, and especially its impact on the middle class, has emerged as the focus of the presidential campaign, given skyrocketing gas prices, high job losses and rising food costs. It is a tough issue for Republicans, with Bush's approval ratings at low levels.

Both candidates were launching weeklong efforts to highlight their differences.

McCain acknowledged the steep drop in U.S. jobs in remarks prepared for an event in Denver later Monday, and tried to confront the issue with a can-do spirit, pledging to lower taxes.

He also restated his support of free trade, while acknowledging it "is not a positive for everyone." He promised to retrain workers who lose their jobs to overseas plants, and repeated his call to build at least 45 new nuclear plants, which he said "will create over 700,000 good jobs to construct and operate them."

The economy is not seen as a strong point for McCain, who is stronger on national security issues. Adding to his obstacles is that he must strike a delicate balance between attracting centrist voters while not alienating Republicans who have been skeptical of his conservative credentials.

National polls vary widely, but they have one common point: Nearly all show Obama ahead of McCain.

But a poll released Monday shows that Obama has not capitalized on his party's far stronger popularity than the Republican Party, while McCain is more popular than his party. Obama is viewed less positively than the Democratic Party by 5 percentage points, while McCain's favorable image is 9 points better than the Republican Party's.

That suggests a lost opportunity so far for Obama, and that McCain has had some success distinguishing himself from a Republican Party that only four in 10 think of positively, according to the Associated Press-Yahoo News poll. The survey, conducted from June 13-23, has an overall margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

On Monday, Obama took a swing at McCain and Bush, lumping the two Republicans together as he blamed Washington for the country's economic woes.

"If you are satisfied with the way things are going now, then you should vote for John McCain," Obama told North Carolina supporters by telephone from Missouri. "If you think that we need a fundamental change ... then we have a clear choice in this election and we've got to seize it."

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The Illinois senator made the comments in a telephone call to nearly 300 people gathered at an event he was to have held in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had to postpone that event until a later date, yet to be determined, after his campaign plane made an unscheduled stop in St. Louis to deal with a mechanical flight control problem.

Still, he hit the high points of his economic arguments in a 10-minute phone call to the event site. Obama said he and his opponent have different economic philosophies.

"The central premise of this campaign has been when the economy works for everybody when it grows from the bottom up, that's not just good for individual Americans it's also good for the economy as a whole," Obama said. "John McCain wants to continue the same policies that George Bush made the cornerstone of his administration. They haven't worked."

Doug Holtz-Eakin, a McCain senior policy adviser, responded to Obama's criticism, saying in a statement: "While Barack Obama campaigns on a promise of no tax hikes for anyone but the rich, we once again find that his words are empty when it comes time to act."

Obama had planned to give lengthy remarks hitting on economic themes in North Carolina. But his unexpected detour meant he would, instead, make the comments before his traveling press corps while in Missouri, a pivotal swing state in the November election.

The Democrat also planned to make campaign stops this week in Georgia and Virginia and possibly North Carolina, all southern states that have been largely dominated by Republicans. Obama's campaign hopes he can make a dent in McCain's support in the South by appealing to the region's large black populations and moderates unhappy with the Bush administration.

 

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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