McCain, Obama refocus on economy

July 28, 2008 4:52:10 PM PDT
Both U.S. presidential candidates turned their focus back to America's wobbly economy and ripped the Bush administration as the White House projected the next chief executive would take office facing a staggering $482 billion national budget deficit. The administration said on Monday the red ink was being driven to the all-time high by the sagging economy and tax rebates to 130 million households in an effort to put a floor under the economic skid. The deficit could climb even higher if the economy performs worse than the White House predicts.

The new deficit projection only underlined the deep troubles facing the American economy, the No. 1 issue with voters who are facing rising mortgage foreclosures, falling home prices, skyrocketing gasoline and energy costs and the loss of nearly 500,000 jobs so far this year.

At a Washington meeting with more than a dozen economic advisers, Democrat Barack Obama said the ballooning debt "was not an accident or a normal part of the business cycle that led us to this situation. There were some irresponsible decisions that were made on Wall Street and in Washington."

Republican John McCain, who is fighting the perception that his election would mean a continuation of the economic policies of a highly unpopular President George W. Bush, blamed wasteful spending by the current White House.

"There is no more striking reminder of the need to reverse the profligate spending that has characterized this administration's fiscal policy," ic advisers routinely through the campaign to get advice. It's also a way of putting the focus on domestic issues, where polls show him running strongly against four-term Arizona Sen. McCain.

"I've laid out an economic strategy in this campaign that I think will provide short-term relief and long-term growth," Obama said. He planned to focus on the economy this week. He also was heading to Missouri and Iowa later in the week, and raising money in Texas before heading to Florida.

On Monday, Obama held an eight-point lead nationally over McCain - 48 percent to 40 percent - among registered voters in the presidential race, according to the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking update. A day earlier, Obama held a nine-point lead in the poll, his largest margin over McCain since Gallup began tracking the general election race in March.

Despite slipping in the poll after Obama's flashy foray overseas last week, McCain stuck with his favorite campaign format, small gatherings where he is at ease with an informal give-and-take with voters.

McCain had lunch with supporters in Bakersfield, California, where he pressed for lifting the quarter-century ban on drilling in U.S. coastal waters as a means of reducing American dependence on imported oil. Obama opposes offshore drilling.

And he revealed to reporters that he had a small patch of skin removed from his face and checked for cancer cells as part of a regular checkup with his dermatologist.

"She said that I was doing fine," McCain, a three-time melanoma survivor, said at a presidential campaign visit to an oil rig where he spoke briefly about his proposed energy plan. "She took a small little nick from my cheek, as she does regularly, and that will be biopsied just to make sure everything is fine."

The Arizona senator underwent the procedure in Phoenix during a checkup he undergoes every three months. He sported a small bandage on his upper right cheek on his campaign plane but had removed it by the time he spoke with reporters. A small, dark spot stood out on his face.

The fair-skinned Arizona senator, who suffered severe sun damage from his 5 1/2 years in Vietnamese prison camps, gets an in-depth skin cancer check every few months because of a medical history of dangerous melanomas.