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McCain, Obama Campaign After Conventions

Now that the U.S. political conventions are over, the candidates for President and Vice President have begun the final two months of intense campaigning. VOA's Kent Klein reports from Washington.

One day after their party's convention concluded, the Republican presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, and his vice presidential running mate, Alaska state Governor Sarah Palin, started campaigning together in so-called "battleground" states, which will be critical for victory in the November election.

At a rally in the small town of Cedarburg, in the north central state of Wisconsin, Palin praised McCain for consistently supporting the U.S. troop surge in Iraq. Palin called the Democratic presidential nominee, Senator Barack Obama, "wrong on a vital national security issue," and said McCain was one of very few people in Washington who initially believed the surge would succeed.

"It seems to me there was one leader in Washington who did predict success, who refused to call retreat, and risked his own career for the sake of the surge and victory in Iraq, and ladies and gentlemen, that man is standing right next to me, Senator John McCain," she said.

Later, McCain told the crowd he acknowledges that the U.S economy is in trouble, but said his economic plan is better than Obama's.

"I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can," he said. "My opponent will raise your taxes. I will open new markets to our goods and services. My opponent will close them. I'll cut government spending. He wants to increase it. Look at his record. My tax cuts will create jobs. His tax increases, increases. He wants to increase your taxes, and he will eliminate them."

The emphasis on the economy took on greater urgency Friday, with news that the United States lost 84,000 jobs in August, driving the nation's unemployment rate to a five-year high of 6.1 percent.

Senator Obama campaigned in a factory in the small town of Duryea, Pennsylvania, and promoted his economic plan, while trying to tie McCain to the economic problems during the Bush administration.

"I just think he doesn't get it," he said. "I don't think they have a sense of what people are going through. Because otherwise, why would you be. Well, let me take that back. There may be another reason why you [the Republicans] are not talking about it, and that is, if you've got the kind of record they've got over the last eight years, then, of course, you don't want to spend a lot of time talking about issues."

Obama's running mate, Senator Joe Biden, campaigned in a different part of Pennsylvania Friday. At a union hall in Philadelphia, Biden also discussed the Democrats' economic plan, and talked about the importance of this year's election.

"Literally, the future of the country for the next 20 years is going to be decided in the next 60 days," he said.

Post-convention polls show the race either even, or Obama with a slight lead. Election Day is November 4.