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Obama warns against panic as stocks tumble

OHIO, October 10 – Democratic White House front-runner Barack Obama warned against "fear or panic" and called for quick action on the Wall Street bailout after world stocks went into free-fall.

The Illinois senator sought to show leadership in the eye of a widening financial storm and shrugged off a searing character attack by Republican rival John McCain that showed no sign of halting his momentum.

Just three-and-a-half weeks before election day on November 4, latest polls show Obama has built a solid lead in key battleground states and nationally, and time is running short for McCain to turn around his campaign.

The Democratic nominee made a fresh appeal for calm following another brutal day on Wall Street, which triggered global stock market contagion, inflicting massive losses on Asian and European investments soon after those markets opened.

"Now is not the time for fear or panic, now is the time for resolve, for leadership," Obama Thursday told thousands of people packed into an outdoor rally during a two-day bus tour of critical midwestern swing state Ohio.

"Now is the time to come together with the determination that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis and restore confidence in the American economy," Obama said.

Obama also urged the prompt implementation of the 700 billion dollar US financial rescue plan signed into law last week, designed to ease the credit crisis.

"As millions of Americans lost more of their investments and hard-earned retirement savings today, it is critical that the Treasury Department move as quickly as possible to implement the rescue plan that passed Congress," Obama said.

Asian and European stock markets were hit by massive losses Friday, following another day of carnage on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 678.91 points (7.33 percent), a seventh straight loss, and ended below 9,000 for the first time since 2003.

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Reports emerged meanwhile that Obama is buying up half-hour chunks of prime-time television time on top US networks for a pre-election broadcast.

Campaign sources confirmed an exclusive story in the Hollywood Reporter that said the Democratic nominee was snapping up airtime for a pre-election special on CBS, NBC and Fox News.

The Hollywood trade paper said Obama\’s move was not unprecedented, as third-party independent candidate Ross Perot adopted a similar tactic before the 1992 election.

The move will underline Obama\’s emerging financial advantage over his rival as the campaign enters its financial stretch, as reports and academic studies show him swamping McCain\’s advertising buys in key battleground states.

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