Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

McCain and Obama hit key states

Barack Obama attacks John McCain's tax cut proposals

The rival candidates for the US presidential election have begun their final week of campaigning with rallies in the key state of Pennsylvania.

Republican John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin said they would surprise pundits by winning the state.

Democrat Barack Obama told supporters in Chester that it was "time to come together" as Americans.

The latest opinion polls suggest Mr Obama is still ahead but by a slightly smaller margin than last week.

While Senator McCain and Mrs Palin both appeared in Hershey, a conservative town, two other rallies at Allentown and Quakertown had to be cancelled because of bad weather.

It was the running mates' first appearance together since reports of infighting within the Republican camp.

Sarah Palin and John McCain in Hershey, Pennsylvania - 28/10/2008
It's wonderful to fool the pundits, we're going to win in the state of Pennsylvania
John McCain

Mr McCain, 72, said: "When two mavericks join up they don't agree on everything but that's a lot of fun."

The Arizona senator then went to North Carolina, a state which has not voted Democrat since 1976, but where Mr McCain and Mr Obama are now neck-and-neck in the polls.

Alaska Governor Palin, 44, stayed in Pennsylvania for other rallies.

Illinois Senator Obama, 47, went on to campaign in Virginia, which has not voted Democrat since 1964, but where the race is also tight.

Opinion polls show a healthy lead for Mr Obama in Pennsylvania but Mr McCain sees the industrial state - with its disaffected white working-class voters - as a key target on the road to the White House.

The Republican repeated his promise to "clean up Washington", saying that his running mate would "show them what reform is all about".

'Wealth spreader'

And Mr McCain said professional pollsters were wrong about Mr Obama's lead in the Rust Belt state.

John McCain attacks Barack Obama's economic plans

"It's wonderful to fool the pundits, we're going to win in the state of Pennsylvania," said Mr McCain.

McCain advisors have been suggesting the race in some battleground states may be closer than it seems, says the BBC's North America editor Justin Webb, on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania.

Mrs Palin said Mr Obama had not been candid with voters about his tax plans.

"It doesn't sound like too many of you are supporting Barack the wealth spreader," she said.

She was briefly booed by some in the crowd who appeared to support Mr Obama.

'Over a cliff'

Meanwhile, in Chester, Pennsylvania, Mr Obama spoke to a crowd of about 9,000 people who braved cold and rain to attend an outdoor rally.

John McCain has ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy toward a cliff, and now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas
Barack Obama

He repeated his campaign pledge that taxes would not be raised on Americans who earn under $250,000 and once again asserted that Mr McCain would continue the economic policies of unpopular incumbent George W Bush.

"He's supported four of the five Bush budgets that have taken us from the surpluses of the Clinton years to the largest deficits in history," Mr Obama said of his rival.

"John McCain has ridden shotgun as George Bush has driven our economy toward a cliff, and now he wants to take the wheel and step on the gas."

He closed by saying it was "time to come together" as Americans.

The BBC's Kevin Connolly in Washington says with seven days to go, the problems for Mr McCain remain pretty much as they have been all along.

He is the first Republican in many years to find himself outgunned financially and outmuscled on the ground, our correspondent says.

As if to hammer home the point, Mr Obama has bought a costly 30-minute "infomercial" due to be shown on leading US networks on Wednesday evening.

Electoral College votes

Winning post 270
Obama - Democrat
McCain - Republican
Select from the list below to view state level results.

New York Times Candidates Battle for Pennsylvania - 39 hrs ago
Reuters CORRECTED: McCain, Palin tangle with Obama - 39 hrs ago
New York Times Candidates Battle for Vote-Rich Pennsylvania - 40 hrs ago
The Times McCain and Palin come out fighting - after Alaska governor labelled 'whack job' - 42 hrs ago
The Times McCain and 'whack job' Palin come out fighting - 43 hrs ago

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