White House race turns to economy

ARLINGTON - The US presidential campaign has settled into a straight fight on the economy as the global financial turmoil focused both candidates on how to help Americans worried about their future.

ARLINGTON - The US presidential campaign has settled into a straight fight on the economy as the global financial turmoil focused both candidates on how to help Americans worried about their future.

Republican nominee John McCain is working on a new economic plan based on lowering taxation for investors and refinancing mortgage debt for ordinary homeowners in a bid to remove negative equity, an adviser announced.

"I think it goes along the lines that now is the time to lower tax rates for investors, capital gains tax, dividend tax rates, to make sure that we can get the economy jump-started," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of McCain, told CBS's Face the Nation programme yesterday.

He said the McCain plan would include measures to help homeowners - saying that under the plan, Americans would not owe to banks more than their home is worth now and would be given a fixed mortgage rate to help them make monthly payments.

Meanwhile, McCain himself vowed to "whip" Barack Obama in tomorrow's final presidential debate, defying doom-laden assessments of his campaign.

McCain on Sunday gave a pep talk to campaign workers in Washington's Virginia suburbs, as he plotted a comeback in the presidential race against Obama, just over three weeks from the election on November 4.

McCain and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin were criss-crossing battleground states and would intensify their efforts after the debate in New York state tomorrow.

"So we're spending a lot of time and after I whip his you-know-what in this debate, we're going to be going out," McCain said.

McCain spoke after several conservative pundits on Sunday television talk shows gave unflattering assessments of his campaign. Some key Republicans in battleground states were also quoted in a New York Times article as lambasting his performance, with Obama enjoying leads in national and battleground polls.

McCain also told his supporters that he wanted a "respectful" campaign after he had to intervene at a rally last week to tone down abusive rhetoric against Obama.

Opinion polls conducted by television networks after the first two debates have suggested that a majority of voters believe Obama won both encounters, putting even more pressure on McCain tomorrow. - Sapa-AFP

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