Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail, Oct. 6th


Obama says McCain should be more specific about economic crisis ... Palin expands criticism of Obama to include Rev. Wright; tones down description of Ayers ... Palin, Democrats cite old events to hurl new campaign attacks ... McCain, Obama campaigns woo new Hispanic citizens as key bloc in swing states ... GOP to file fundraising complaint against Obama, ask for audit of campaign funds

Obama says McCain should focus on economy

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Barack Obama said Monday that John McCain is trying to shift attention from the troubled economy because the issue is bad for the Republican presidential nominee's campaign.

The Democratic presidential candidate told reporters in Asheville, N.C., that he "cannot imagine anything more important to talk about" than Americans' losing their jobs, health care and homes.

In published reports, an aide to McCain recently said his campaign would like to shift the presidential race's focus away from the economy, which has been a better issue for Democrats than Republicans. Since then, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, has been questioning Obama's character based on his association with an incendiary pastor and a 1960s radical turned college professor.

McCain continues to discuss economic conditions, but Obama says he needs to offer better and more specific remedies.

Palin criticizes Obama's ties to Wright, Ayers

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin expanded her attack on Democrat Barack Obama's character Monday to include his relationship with an incendiary former pastor as well as his ties to 1960s-era radical Bill Ayers.

In the process, Palin toned down her description of the Obama-Ayers relationship after her weekend remarks were criticized as exaggerated, but at the same time she embarked on a discussion of Obama's relationship with his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., which Republican John McCain had signaled he did not want to be a part of his campaign.

In an interview with conservative The New York Times columnist William Kristol published Monday, the Alaska governor said there should be more discussion about Wright, Obama's pastor of 20 years at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

Obama denounced Wright and severed ties with the church last spring after videotapes surfaced showing Wright making anti-American and anti-Semitic comments from the pulpit.

At a morning rally in Florida, Palin kept up her criticism of Obama's ties to Ayers, a founder of the violent Weather Underground group blamed for several bombings during the Vietnam War era, when Obama was a child.

The Illinois senator has denounced Ayers' radical views and activities.

"This is someone who sees America as 'imperfect enough' to work with a former domestic terrorist who targeted his own country," Palin said of Obama. Over the weekend, she had said Obama "pals around with terrorists."

Old events fuel new campaign attacks

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - The McCain and Obama presidential campaigns traded accusations of mudslinging Monday in the wake of new ads dredging up infamous events from 20, 30, even 40 years ago.

Nancy Pfotenhauer, an adviser to the McCain campaign, said it's "absolutely essential" that Americans hear not only about his plans for the future but also "about the decision they have to make about these two individuals." She said she thought that commercials that raise new questions about Obama's associations "have struck a nerve" with the Democrat.

Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs, countered that the new McCain offensive - including GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's allegation that Obama "pals around with terrorists" _is happening because Republicans want to talk about something other than the struggling economy.

Gibbs, who appeared with Pfotenhauer on ABC's "Good Morning America" Monday, charged that the McCain campaign is resorting to "a despicable smear campaign."

Democrats on Sunday had denounced Palin's charge and warned that it would trigger reexaminations of McCain's past. Sure enough, Obama's campaign released a Web video and a letter about McCain's role in the Keating Five scandal from the early 1990s.

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Campaigns woo new Hispanic citizens as key bloc

MIAMI (AP) - Supporters of Barack Obama and John McCain are fighting for every voter this campaign, and naturalized citizens of Hispanic descent are a growing target.

In 2004, there were 4 million foreign-born Hispanics citizens of voting age. Today, that number is more than 5 million, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the nonprofit Pew Hispanic Center.

These new voters are especially important in swing states like Florida and New Mexico, said Jeffrey Passel, the center's senior demographer.

Voter registration data, polls and Associated Press interviews with new citizens in a half-dozen key states suggest Obama has the most to gain by reaching out to these new citizens.

Obama campaign spokesman Federico de Jesus said the Democratic presidential candidate is devoting more money to bilingual advertising than any previous campaign, and spending roughly $20 million on Hispanic outreach, including voter registration efforts.

Ana Navarro, McCain's adviser on Hispanic affairs, said Republicans aren't investing the same amount of money as Democrats on registering new citizens. She also allows that the party lost support among new Hispanic citizens because of some Republican lawmakers' remarks during the recent congressional debate over proposed immigration reforms.

GOP to file fundraising complaint against Obama

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Republican National Committee plans to file a fundraising complaint against Democrat Barack Obama's presidential campaign Monday, alleging it has accepted donations that exceed federal limits as well as illegal contributions from foreigners.

RNC officials acknowledged Sunday that they do not have a list of foreign donors to Obama's campaign. Instead, the complaint is based largely on media reports, including one from the conservative Web site Newsmax.

The complaint asks the Federal Elections Commission to audit Obama's campaign fund, RNC chief counsel Sean Cairncross said in a conference call with reporters.


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


Barack Obama and Joe Biden have no public events.


John McCain holds a rally in Albuquerque, N.M.

Sarah Palin campaigns in Florida.


"The notion that we would want to brush that aside and engage in the usual political shenanigans and smear tactics that have come to characterize too many political campaigns is not what the American people are looking for." - Barack Obama, referring to economic turmoil.


In 2004, there were 4 million foreign-born Hispanics citizens of voting age. Today, that number is more than 5 million, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data by the nonprofit Pew Hispanic Center.

Compiled by Ann Sanner.