IN THE HEADLINES
Obama proposes tax breaks, loans for small business; McCain wants to halt retiree stock sales ... McCain hammers Obama in ad over his links to 1960s radical ... Obama says McCain stokes anger and division to 'rile up' people ... Alaska lawmakers discuss report on Palin abuse-of-power investigation ... Biden says McCain trying to distract voters with 'baseless' accusations
McCain, Obama offer dueling ideas to save economy
WASHINGTON (AP) - John McCain and Barack Obama outlined steps to counter the faltering economy and plummeting stock market on Friday, fresh evidence of the dominant role of pocketbook issues in their race for the White House.
McCain, lagging in the polls, called for legislation suspending a requirement that investors age 70 1/2 begin to liquidate their retirement accounts. "To spare investors from being forced to sell their stocks at just the time when the market is hurting the most, these rules should be suspended," the Republican presidential candidate said in a speech in LaCrosse, Wis.
It was the Republican's second proposal in three days to deal with economic woes, following his call for the government to buy bad home-loan mortgages and renegotiate them at a reduced price.
Obama, who was campaigning in Chillicothe, Ohio, said he favors a temporary extension in an expiring tax break to let small businesses write off the cost of many new investments immediately, rather than over several years. He said he was making the proposal "because it's time to protect the jobs we have and to create the jobs of tomorrow by unlocking the drive, and ingenuity, and innovation of the American people."
The presidential rivals outlined their proposals as retirement accounts continued to lose value and businesses struggled to obtain loans necessary to operate or expand.
Recent polling indicates Obama has surged to a lead in the campaign in the three weeks since the simmering credit crisis boiled over, and McCain has struggled to regain his footing. Surveys also show voters make the economy their top issue.
McCain TV ad raises Obama's links to ex-radical
WASHINGTON (AP) - Republican John McCain, trailing in polls and searching for a way to gain ground, assailed Democratic rival Barack Obama on Friday in a sharply worded TV ad that said: "When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers. When discovered, he lied."
It's McCain's toughest commercial yet using Obama's association with Ayers, a Chicago college professor who was an anti-Vietnam war radical in the 1960s, to assert that Obama has "blind ambition" and "bad judgment," and, thus, can't be trusted during an economic catastrophe. "In crisis, we need leadership" - the ad says and implies that Obama doesn't offer any.
With little more than three weeks before the election, the GOP presidential candidate is seeking to turn his campaign around by steadily escalating his attacks on his Democratic foe and raising questions about his associations with Ayers, who in 1969 helped found the violent Weather Underground group blamed for bombing government buildings in the early 1970s
The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported that Obama and Ayers are not close but that they live in the same Chicago neighborhood and worked together on two nonprofit organization boards from the mid-1990s to 2002. Ayers also hosted a small meet-the-candidate event for Obama in 1995 as he first ran for the state Senate.
During the campaign, Obama has denounced Ayers' radical actions and views.
Obama accuses McCain of trying to divide Americans
CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (AP) - Presidential candidate Barack Obama on Friday accused Republican John McCain of trying to divide the country, but he let fellow Democrats handle harsher attacks while he kept his message mostly upbeat.
Speaking to an outdoor audience, Obama said "it's not hard to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division." He said Americans want "someone who can lead this country" with a steady hand in a time of economic crisis, not divide it.
Echoing McCain's "country first" motto, Obama said, "Now more than ever it is time to put country ahead of politics."
Polls show Obama leading McCain in Ohio and several other battleground states, and he seems eager to keep his campaign on a steady, non-controversial course. As he has done for days, Obama criticized McCain's economic plans and urged Americans to stay calm and confident amid the dramatic drop in the stock market.
The Illinois senator again did not mention McCain's attacks for associating with a former 1960s radical, William Ayers. When asked on a radio talk show, however, Obama said he thought Ayers, now a college professor and neighbor in Chicago with whom he worked on community projects several years ago, was rehabilitated.
Lawmakers meeting secretly on Palin ethics report
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska lawmakers met behind closed doors Friday to discuss a politically charged ethics report into Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her state public safety commissioner.
The Republican vice presidential nominee has been accused of firing a state commissioner to settle a family dispute. But the report, to be released Friday afternoon, is also expected to touch on whether Palin's husband meddled in state affairs and whether her administration inappropriately accessed employee medical records.
Sensitive to accusations of political bias, lawmakers ordered the report be held under the utmost secrecy. Members of a legislative committee were forced to sign a confidentiality agreement before reading it, and each page contained a special watermark and a unique number to trace it if it was leaked.
The inquiry, approved by a bipartisan vote, began before Republican presidential nominee John McCain named Palin his running mate.
Since then, however, the case has been dogged by accusations of political influence, particularly after the Democrat overseeing the case, Sen. Hollis French, predicted an "October surprise" for the McCain campaign.
Biden says McCain trying to distract voters
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden on Friday said Republican John McCain is trying to distract voters from the nation's financial problems.
McCain's campaign launched a TV ad Friday that questions Barack Obama's ties to anti-Vietnam War radical William Ayers. Ayers helped found the Weather Underground, which took credit for bombing government buildings in the early 1970s.
Ayers hosted a small meet-the-candidate event for Obama in 1995, when he first ran for the state Senate.
Biden never specifically mentioned Ayers during a speech Friday in Springfield, Mo. But the Delaware senator accused the McCain of ignoring a financial crisis to launch what he called "baseless" accusations against Obama.
Democrat Barack Obama has a 10-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain - 51 percent to 41 percent - among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update.
Barack Obama campaigns in the Ohio cities of Chillicothe and Columbus.
Joe Biden talked to voters in Springfield, Mo.
John McCain held a rally in La Crosse, Wis.
Sarah Palin raises campaign cash in Ohio.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"This election is going to be decided when a husband and wife sit at a kitchen table, or a single parent sits at the kitchen table, looks at their bills and figures out who is most likely to help them with their financial condition." - Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.
STAT OF THE DAY:
An AP survey of election officials nationwide found that as of Oct. 1, the number of registered Democrats had grown by nearly 5 percent since 2004 - outpacing overall population growth in the 28 states where information on voter registration by party was available for 2004 and 2008. During the same time, the GOP lost more than 2 percent of its registered voters
Compiled by Ann Sanner.