McCain seeks to revive campaign

The Republican US presidential nominee will assure supporters today that he will bounce back even though his rival is already "measuring the drapes" at the White House.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., kisses 9-month old Abri Thompson during a rally, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008, in Davenport, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)   *** Local Caption ***  IACN107_McCain_2008.jpg
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WASHINGTON // The Republican US presidential nominee John McCain, scrambling to overcome Barack Obama's lead in the polls, will assure supporters today that he will bounce back even though his Democratic rival is already "measuring the drapes" at the White House. "My friends, we've got them just where we want them," Mr McCain will tell a rally in the battleground state of Virginia, as he tries to revitalise his faltering campaign in the final stretch to the Nov 4 election.

With the clock ticking down on his chance to narrow the gap, Mr McCain unveiled a new speech that a campaign aide said would mark a "more forceful tone" by the Arizona senator in his run for the presidency. Mr McCain's new rhetoric comes amid a growing sense of urgency as he and top advisers consider new economic proposals to address a deepening US financial crisis sweeping markets worldwide. The list of ideas has been narrowed and the first could be rolled out later this week, the campaign source said.

Mr McCain has been hurt by the perception of many voters that Mr Obama would be better at handling the economic upheaval, a view so widely held that even fellow Republicans are increasingly concerned about his ability to mount a comeback. A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll released today showed Obama with a 4-point lead among likely voters. A new Washington Post-ABC News survey had Obama leading McCain 53 per cent to 43 per cent among likely voters.

Seeking to counter the impression of a campaign adrift and unfocused, Mr McCain will try to rally supporters by mocking Mr Obama as overconfident and insisting he has beaten the odds before. "We have 22 days to go. We're six points down. The national media has written us off. Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and Senator [Harry] Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labour elections, and concede defeat in Iraq," Mr McCain will say. "But they forgot to let you decide," he will add. "What America needs in this hour is a fighter, someone who puts all his cards on the table," Mr McCain, a former Navy pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war, will tell his audience. Other than exhorting the Republican faithful, it remained unclear, however, whether Mr McCain's new speech will include any new specific policy ideas that some critics say have been notably lacking so far. And Mr McCain intends to keep up attacks on Mr Obama's character, the campaign source said, despite signs the tactic has not gained much traction. The aide said in today's appearances in Virginia and North Carolina, another key swing state, Mr McCain would give the economic crisis the same attention he has in other recent speeches, despite criticism he has not focused enough on it. The new plan under consideration would be designed to help Mr McCain show his concern for millions of Americans seeing their savings vanish in the Wall Street meltdown. "I think it goes along the lines that now is the time to lower tax rates for investors, capital gains tax, dividend tax rates, to make sure that we can get the economy jump-started," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of Mr McCain's closest supporters, said yesterday. The campaign source said, however, that the timing of Mr McCain's announcement will depend on related developments not only in the United States but also in Europe, where financial leaders are trying to co-ordinate efforts. Mr Obama has criticised Mr McCain as being erratic on his earlier proposals for dealing with the financial turmoil, jumping from one idea to another. * Reuters