WILMINGTON, October 14 – In a career littered with comebacks, Republican John McCain is now vowing one more Herculean effort to overhaul Barack Obama’s commanding poll lead and restore his White House dream.,
While the Democratic hopeful for the November 4 election was Monday rolling out a costly new plan to kick-start the US economy, McCain went back to basics in extolling his own record of heroism and service to a crisis-torn nation.
"I have been written off on so many occasions by political pundits that it’s hard for me to count," he told CNN after delivering a retooled stump speech that portrayed Obama as dangerously inexperienced for the challenges at hand.
"I think it is more lives than a cat. But the point is, we are doing fine. I’m happy with where we are. We are fighting the good fight. That’s what it is all about. That’s what I love," McCain said.
Ahead of Wednesday’s third and final presidential debate, the latest clutch of polls suggested McCain’s all-out offensive on Obama’s character has flopped with the Democrat now sitting on a double-digit lead overall.
The latest iteration of McCain’s campaign address, delivered in the suddenly at-risk Republican strongholds of North Carolina and Virginia, dropped some of the more inflammatory attacks on Obama of recent days.
Instead, he said, Obama was being presumptuous in already "measuring the drapes" for the White House.
"But they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we’ve got them just where we want them," McCain insisted, having already come back once after his campaign for the Republican nomination looked dead and buried in mid-2007.
"I come from a long line of McCains who believed that to love America is to fight for her," the former Vietnam prisoner of war added.
"I have fought for you most of my life. There are other ways to love this country, but I’ve never been the kind to do it from the sidelines."
However, the Republican’s campaign was again forced on the back foot after reports that the chairman of the Virginia Republican Party had compared Obama to Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden.
Obama and bin Laden "both have friends that bombed the Pentagon," state lawmaker Jeffrey Frederick told Virginia campaign volunteers, according to Time magazine, in a reference to 1960s radical William Ayers.
McCain, giving a pep talk to campaign workers in Washington’s Virginia suburbs, also vowed to "whip" Obama’s "you know what" in Wednesday’s final presidential debate.
Obama said he would not be distracted from the issues as he laid out a plan costing up to 175 billion dollars over two years to right the tottering US economy.
The Democrat welcomed spectacular gains by global stock markets after New York’s Dow index staged its biggest rally in 75 years in response to western governments pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into credit-starved banks.
But he added in a statement: "We have not yet solved the financial crisis, and we have barely even begun to solve the crisis facing middle-class families struggling to pay their bills and stay in their homes.
"So we must move forward, quickly and aggressively, with a middle-class rescue plan that will create jobs, provide relief to families, help homeowners and restore our financial system," Obama said.
In Toledo, Ohio, the Illinois senator proposed a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures, a new lending facility for US states and cities, and penalty-free withdrawals from savers’ retirement accounts.
He also rolled out a 3,000 dollar tax credit for every job created by a company in the United States, hitting populist buttons in a state where the NAFTA free-trade agreement for North America has become a four-letter word.
In Pennsylvania, Obama’s vanquished primary rival Hillary Clinton said his election as president combined with a bigger lock on Congress by the Democrats was essential to restoring middle-class prosperity.
"It comes down to this: jobs, baby, jobs," the former first lady said, riffing on the Republican chant of "drill baby drill" as an answer to America’s energy crisis.
But McCain’s economic adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin said Obama’s latest proposals were rife with "hypocrisy."
The Democrat was still pushing "tax increases, explosive spending proposals, expensive health mandates, a weak energy policy and protectionist trade inclinations," he told reporters.