HARRISBURG, Pa. — With polls showing him losing ground, Republican John McCain on Tuesday raised the specter of nuclear war to cast doubt on Democrat Barack Obama's readiness to be president.
At a rally in Pennsylvania's capital, McCain recalled how as a naval aviator he was poised for a bombing run during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
"I sat in the cockpit on the flight deck of the USS Enterprise off of Cuba. I had a target," he said. "My friends, you know how close we came to a nuclear war. America will not have a president who needs to be tested. I've been tested, my friends."
McCain barnstormed through three stops in suburban Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
McCain's new line of attack on his opponent, a first-term senator who hasn't served in the military, came as McCain spent a full day on an uphill effort to overtake Obama in a battleground state. Obama campaigned for a second straight day in another battleground, Florida, where he's edged ahead in polls by 2 points, on average.
Obama spent the morning focusing on the economy. He convened an economic summit at a community college campus in Lake Worth to showcase his middle-class tax cut and small-business tax credit proposals.
The economic panel included former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker; Google chief executive Eric Schmidt; the Democratic governors of Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico and Michigan; and a small-business owner who told the audience, "I'm not Joe the Plumber."
Obama told the audience that McCain's desire to continue tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations rather than redirect tax cuts to middle- and lower-income workers would continue a decline in family incomes and home values.
"I heard Senator McCain say that I'm more concerned with who gets your piece of the pie than with growing the pie," Obama said. "But make no mistake about it, after eight years of Bush-McCain economics, the pie is now shrinking ... It is time to try something new."
With polls showing McCain falling behind in battleground states such as Colorado, Wisconsin and Virginia, his campaign is pushing for a comeback in Pennsylvania, which has 21 electoral votes. McCain's wife, Cindy, made four stops in Pennsylvania Monday, and his running mate, Sarah Palin, has made multiple visits.
McCain still faces a daunting task. Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost 1.2 million in Pennsylvania. Obama has opened his substantial campaign war chest to flood the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh media markets with radio and television ads.
Obama leads McCain in Pennsylvania by 11 points, according to an average of recent polls published by RealClearPolitics.com.
A new national Ipsos/McClatchy poll Tuesday put Obama up by 8 points, with voters' preference for him strengthening on a range of domestic issues. A new national Pew Research Center poll put Obama up by 14 points. It found voters losing confidence in McCain's judgment, more confident about Obama's qualifications, and Palin's unfavorability increasing to 60 percent.