Obama, McCain focus on economy

YOUNGSTOWN, OH McCain was to spend Friday, his second straight day, rumbling across Ohio by bus, telling voters he feels their economic pain and hoping to lay claim to its 20 electoral votes. Aides say the campaign believes he probably has to win Ohio to be elected, and they didn't rule out returning to the state before Tuesday.

McCain was campaigning in Hanoverton, and then in Columbus with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Obama was scheduled to spend Friday on a campaign crush across the Midwest, with a quick stop home in Chicago to see his kids. He makes his first stop back where his run began, in Des Moines, Iowa, where he upset Hillary Rodham Clinton in the first electoral test of the year.

Independent polling in Iowa shows Obama consistently ahead in the race for the state's seven electoral votes, but McCain's campaign maintains the race is actually tighter than it appears.

After stopping at home for Halloween, Obama heads for a rally in Gary, Ind., where Republicans are dominant but polls show the race tight.

Sprinting into the weekend, Obama was headed West, hoping to claim Colorado and maybe more. McCain was flying to Virginia, usually friendly country for the GOP but another place where polls give Obama the edge. McCain aides said the Arizona senator was likely to swing West also, to play to his base. A recent poll from McCain's home state showed the two candidates in a statistical dead heat.

There was nothing complicated about their closing arguments to voters, with the economy the top concern. Obama focused Thursday on linking McCain to an unpopular President Bush and blaming them both for the nation's economic woes.

"John McCain has been right next to George Bush," Obama argued. "He's been sitting there in the passenger seat ready to take over every step of the way."

McCain had hoped the election would turn on issues like the Iraq war, where he could use his military background to convince voters he's the best choice as commander in chief. But he effectively has conceded that it's all about the economy and people's financial struggles.

"Ohio is hurting," McCain said. "People in Ohio are having trouble staying in their homes, keeping their jobs. We have to get this economy out of the ditch."

McCain was missing few tricks, campaigning with Joe the Plumber, the Ohio man McCain has made central to his stump speech since the plumber confronted Obama over raising taxes. The plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher, of Toledo, Ohio, has joined McCain for the final push.

"Vote for a real American -- John McCain," Wurzelbacher told backers at campaign rallies Thursday.

Obama has an edge in most polling, both nationally and in key states. His closing schedule reflected that, including a swing through Missouri and another full day in Ohio on Sunday. Ohio provided the margin of victory four years ago, giving Bush a second term.

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