John McCain has warned voters that his rival Barack Obama was a shifty, job-killing socialist who wasn't ready to take on the challenges facing the next US president.
Trailing in the polls with just two weeks left before the November 4 election, McCain kept up his attack on Obama's economic policies, while vowing to fight to take the country in a new direction.
The fate of small business owners was central to McCain's attack, as the Arizona senator capitalised on a recent encounter Obama had with an Ohio plumber, the now-famous Joe Wurzelbacher, who was worried he would not be able to realise his dream of owning his own business if Obama raised taxes.
"After months of campaign trail eloquence... We finally learned what Senator Obama's economic goal is. As he told Joe, he wants to 'spread the wealth around," McCain told a boistrous crowd gathered on a high school football field in Belton, Missouri on Monday.
"If I'm elected president, I won't raise taxes on anyone, especially small businesses. Senator Obama will and that will force them to cut jobs."
McCain surrounded himself with small business owners at a barbecue restaurant in Columbia, Missouri whom he called "the backbone of America's economy."
"They don't want their taxes increased," McCain told reporters. "They don't want checks given away to people that don't pay taxes because Senator Obama wants to take the money from somebody and give it to somebody else."
The tactic does not appear to be doing much to help rouse support for McCain, who was down 11 points in Gallup's national tracking poll on Monday.