(CNN) - John McCain held a campaign event in Wilmington, North Carolina earlier Monday.
Earlier he and Sarah Palin stumped in Virginia.
(CNN) - John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning Monday in two states that haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades, a clear indication the GOP ticket is scrambling to defend longtime Republican strongholds with only three weeks until Election Day.
But at a time when the McCain campaign had hoped to have shored up its support in the traditional red states, a string of new surveys show Obama has made significant gains there as voters become increasingly worried about the nation's financial woes.
McCain and Palin held a joint rally in Virginia Beach Monday morning before the two candidates split up, as the Republican nominee heads down to North Carolina as his running mate stays behind for more events in Virginia. It’s only the second time McCain has made visits to either state in more than four months, and comes as a series of battleground surveys suggest his playing field is increasingly shrinking.
Watch: McCain on defense
But while McCain has largely been absent from both states all summer, the Obama campaign has aggressively built up on the ground organizations there, outspent their GOP rival considerably on staff and television commercials, and worked to register tens of thousands of new voters. The Arizona senator has also been badly out-campaigned in the two states. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Democratic ticket has made nine visits to Virginia and seven stops in North Carolina. That compares to just one visit in Virginia and two in North Carolina on the Republican side.
And in a sign of just how seriously the McCain campaign is worried about both states, the Arizona senator unveiled a re-vamped stump speech there that an aide says is a "frank assessment" of where the race for the White House stands.
"We have 22 days to go. We're 6 points down," he said. "The national media has written us off…. But they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."
A loss in either state could prove devastating to the Arizona senator's presidential hopes, given his campaign’s recent pullout from competing in Michigan and sagging poll numbers in many of the other key battleground states. Should Virginia or North Carolina tilt Obama's way, the Arizona senator would have to compensate by taking a state such as Pennsylvania that appears solidly leaning in Obama's direction.
(CNN) – Sarah Palin will campaign in Indiana for the first time Friday, the latest sign this once solidly-red state could be up for grabs this year.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain has already visited the state once, speaking at a law enforcement conference in Indianapolis this summer. Palin’s visit will also be in the Indianapolis area, the McCain-Palin campaign confirmed.
The Democratic ticket has visited the state half a dozen times. Last week, Barack Obama drew an estimated crowd of more than 20,000 at the state fairgrounds.
McCain held a 47 to 45 percent advantage over Obama in the most recent CNN poll of polls out of Indiana, which has only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once since 1936: the state supported Lyndon Johnson for president in 1964.
The Republican ticket is spending Monday stumping in two other traditionally-Republican states turned battlegrounds: Virginia and North Carolina.
ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) – Shortly before John McCain set to lay out his new stump speech Monday morning, Joe Biden said it looked like the address would be “attack, attack, attack, attack” in contrast with Barack Obama’s plans to lay out his vision for the economy later in the day.
“Barack is going to make a major speech on economic policy, going to further outline what he’s going to do and how he’s going to deal with it,” said the Democratic vice presidential nominee. “It looks like John McCain’s entire speech is going to be attack, attack, attack, attack.”
“It couldn’t be clearer to me what’s going on here. John McCain wants to attack Barack Obama, and Barack Obama wants to [attack] the problems that face America today,” he said.
The McCain campaign shot back, calling Obama’s economic plan "plagiarism" of President Herbert Hoover’s during the Great Depression and championing their own “bold” proposal.
"The Obama-Biden ticket’s call for higher taxes on American businesses and isolationist trade policies mirrors the proposals that President Hoover implemented at the onset of the Great Depression, spurring a complete economic collapse," McCain spokesman Ben Porritt wrote in an e-mail. "It's plagiarism of the very worst economic policies in American history."
The Delaware senator said McCain had an advantage in the campaign has a war hero and people assumed that as a result, he would have “certain hands” in a crisis.
“We need more than a war hero, we need more than a great soldier, we need a wise leader,” said Biden. “John's hands have been anything but certain in the last year. They've been uncertain. And the McCain administration would be uncertain, clinging to the past, lurching from one bad idea to another.”
(CNN) – Barack Obama plans to propose a series of temporary tax credits and suspensions of tax penalties Monday afternoon as part of his new economic plan.
The Democratic nominee will propose a temporary tax credit for firms that create new jobs in the United States over the next two years, and penalty-free withdrawals from IRAs and 401Ks in 2008 and 2009. He will call for new legislation that would give families the option of withdrawing as much as 15 percent of their retirement savings –- up to a maximum of $10,000 –- without facing a tax penalty this year or next, and a temporary lifting of taxes on unemployment insurance benefits.
Watch: Obama pledges tax cuts
The Illinois senator will also call for a 90 day foreclosure moratorium for homeowners acting in good faith, and a new effort to address the growing credit crisis at the state and local level. Under the Obama plan, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury would provide much the same kind of backing to state and municipal governments as the recent federal bailout did to the commercial credit market.
“We can’t wait to help workers and families and communities who are struggling right now – who don’t know if their job or their retirement will be there tomorrow; who don’t know if next week’s paycheck will cover this month’s bills,” Obama will say. “We need to pass an economic rescue plan for the middle-class and we need to do it now.”
Listen: Obama's economic policy director gives reporters the details on a Monday conference call
The new plan, which will be laid out at an Ohio campaign event this afternoon, comes as McCain aides say the Republican nominee will likely wait until Treasury issues a report or recommendations on what to do with the bailout before laying out any further plans. Advisors downplayed weekend reports the Arizona senator would be unveiling several economic proposals over the final three weeks of the campaign, saying it was likely he would lay out one or two new ideas, but not the swarm that had been rumored.
Watch Monday's episode of CNN=Politics Daily, The Best Political Podcast from The Best Political Team.
(CNN)— John McCain is continuing his campaign trail attacks on Sen. Barack Obama, but his tone has shifted a bit in the past few days. In the latest installment of CNN=Politics Daily, CNN’s Jim Acosta has the details how well McCain’s attack rhetoric is being received.
Plus: The troubled economy has been dominating presidential politics for the past few weeks. We have a complete report on the latest push by both presidential candidates to appear strong on the economy, while CNN’s Alina Cho has the details on the recent changes CNN has made to its electoral map in critical battleground states.
Meanwhile: Elderly voters could be once again prove decisive this election cycle. CNN’s John Zarella reports from Florida on the push for the senior vote.
Finally: While the presidential candidates focused on the economy, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sharpened her attack on Obama over abortion. CNN’s Kelli Arena takes a look at how the presidential election could shape the Supreme Court.
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(CNN) - John McCain and Sarah Palin held a campaign rally in Virginia Beach this hour.
The Arizona senator is unveiled a revamped stump speech.
"Let me give you the state of the race today. We have 22 days to go. We're 6 points down. The national media has written us off," he said. "Senator Obama is measuring the drapes, and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending, take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections, and concede defeat in Iraq. But they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."
Read McCain's prepared remarks