Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Democratic rival Barack Obama continued their last-ditch attempts to appeal to wavering voters in swing states Thursday as the US economy took another step toward recession.
Obama planned stops in Florida, Virginia and Missouri and jumped on new government figures that showed the economy contracted 0.3 per cent in the third quarter as proof that a change in approach was needed.
At a rally in Sarasota, Florida, Obama labelled the growth figures a "direct result of eight years of the trickle down, Wall Street first, Main Street last policies that have driven our economy into a ditch."
With only five days to go before Tuesday's election, McCain hammered Obama's plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans as a threat to a wider economy and questioned Obama's experience to lead a country in a time of crisis.
"Senator Obama is running to spread the wealth. I'm running to create more wealth," McCain said in Ohio. He appeared on stage for the first time with Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher, who has become a celebrity of sorts since challenging Obama on his tax policy earlier this month.
The Obama campaign also released two new "closing argument" television advertisements that slammed McCain's links with the administration of President George W Bush, as opinion polls showed the race narrowing slightly.
Opinion polls by Rasmussen and Gallup gave Obama a 5 percentage point lead over McCain, while a Fox News poll put the gap at 3 per cent. The realclearpolitics.com average of all opinion polls gave Obama a 6.1 percentage point edge.
McCain and running mate Sarah Palin continued a major push Thursday in Pennsylvania, which the campaign sees as its best shot of turning a traditionally Democratic state to the Republican column this election. Polls give Obama a 9.5-per-cent lead in the state.