Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail, Sep. 29th


McCain says race for presidency comes down to 'country first or Obama first' ... Obama says McCain-backed deregulation helped create economic mess ... Barr asks Supreme Court to ensure he is on ballot in Louisiana ... State, federal courts allow new voters to register and vote on same day in Ohio this week

McCain says Obama policies will deepen recession

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Lagging in the polls, Republican presidential candidate John McCain unleashed a blistering attack Monday on his Democratic rival, saying the race comes down to a simple question: "Country first or Obama first?"

In his first public appearance since Friday night's debate, McCain said Democrat Barack Obama advocates tax-and-spend policies that "will deepen our recession," and voted against funding for equipment needed by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"That is not putting the men and women of our military first," he said.

McCain stressed his own record of opposing Republicans on key issues, and said, "When it comes time to reach across the aisle and work with members of both parties to get things done for the American people - my opponent can't name a single occasion in which he fought against his party's leadership to get something done for the country. That is not putting the interests of the country first."

Obama's campaign issued a swift rebuttal that accused McCain of an "angry diatribe" that it said "won't make up for his erratic response to the greatest financial crisis of our time."

Obama: McCain's deregulation too risky for economy

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama said Republican John McCain's long advocacy of deregulation contributed to the current financial crisis and letting his GOP rival continue those policies as president would be a gamble "we can't afford."

After the House defeated a bill Monday to bail out the financial industry but also impose new federal controls on it, Obama said that McCain has "fought against commonsense regulations for decades, he's called for less regulation 20 times just this year, and he said in a recent interview that he thought deregulation has actually helped grow our economy."

"Senator, what economy are you talking about?" Obama asked.

Speaking to a packed gymnasium at Mountain Range High School, Obama associated McCain's economic views with a news report about the six-term Arizona senator's closeness to the gambling industry, without ever mentioning the news story itself.

The New York Times reported in its Sunday editions that McCain, a lifelong gambler, has had a close and complicated relationship with the industry and its lobbyists during his nearly three decades in Congress. The story raised questions about whether gambling interests seeking an edge benefited by courting McCain or hiring individuals close to him.

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Barr asks high court for help in Louisiana

WASHINGTON (AP) - Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr is asking the Supreme Court to help him get on the ballot in Louisiana, where he says Hurricane Gustav made his party miss the filing deadline.

In a plea directed to Justice Antonin Scalia, who oversees matters that come to the court from Louisiana, Barr says the high court is his last chance to get on the state's ballot.

A federal judge initially agreed with Barr and the party that he should be on the ballot, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said the state probably was correct in keeping him off.

The original deadline was Sept. 2, but Gustav hit the state the day before and forced the closure of the Louisiana Secretary of State's office, which runs elections, from Sept 2 to Sept. 7.

The deadline was extended until Sept. 8, although a separate executive order by Gov. Bobby Jindal waived all deadlines until Sept. 12. The Libertarians submitted their ballot application on Sept. 11.

Barr is on the ballot in 43, though court challenges could change that.

Three courts clear way for early voting in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - In a defeat for Republican challenges, state and federal courts on Monday cleared the way for a weeklong period in which new voters can register and cast an absentee ballot on the same day in Ohio.

The early voting begins Tuesday and runs through Oct. 6.

The Ohio Supreme Court and a federal judge in Cleveland on Monday upheld the weeklong voting period. Later in the day, U.S. District Court Judge George Smith in Columbus declined to rule, deferring to the state Supreme Court decision.

But Smith ruled that counties must allow party poll observers during early voting.

The decisions were a victory for Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat. Republicans had accused her of interpreting state law to benefit her own party.


Democrat Barack Obama has an 8-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain - he has 50 percent to McCain's 42 percent - among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update.


Barack Obama campaigned in Colorado.

Joe Biden had no public schedule.


John McCain and Sarah Palin held a rally in Columbus, Ohio.


"Democrats, Republicans, step up to the plate, get it done." - Barack Obama, on the financial bailout bill.


Fewer than four in 10 Republicans, three in 10 Democrats and one in 10 independents said in AP-Knowledge Networks poll that they support President Bush's $700 billion federal rescue plan for the financial industry.

Compiled by Ann Sanner.