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McCain says U.S. needs 'economic surge'

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  • Sen. John McCain refers to Iraq "surge" as he urges boost for economy
  • Possible VP contender Sen. Evan Bayh appears with Sen. Barack Obama in Indiana
  • Obama, McCain have been attacking each other on energy this week
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(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain on Wednesday used language primarily associated with the Iraq war to describe the U.S. financial woes, saying the country needs an "economic surge" to boost the job market.

Sen. Barack Obama pushes his energy plan at an event Wednesday in Elkhart, Indiana.

Sen. John McCain meets with factory workers Wednesday in Jackson, Ohio.

The move put the economy -- an issue McCain has admitted is not his strong suit -- in the context of foreign policy, an area that's considered one of his strengths.

Speaking in Jackson, Ohio, the Republican senator and presidential candidate from Arizona said the surge has worked in Iraq, so it's time for one at home.

"What we need today is an economic surge. The surge has succeeded in Iraq militarily -- now we need an economic surge to keep jobs here at home and create new ones," McCain said, referring to the additional 30,000 troops sent to Iraq in 2007. Video Watch McCain call for an economic surge »

"We need to reduce the tax burden on businesses that choose to make their home in the United States of America, we need to open new markets to U.S. products, and we need to reduce the cost of health care, and we need to stop the out-of-control spending in Washington that's putting our debt on the backs of our children."

McCain frequently has pointed to his unwavering support for the surge as a sign that he would be a better commander in chief than Sen. Barack Obama.

McCain also has been highly critical of Obama for voting against the surge and has used it as a basis for his claim that his Democratic rival lacks experience when it comes to foreign policy.

Obama has pointed to his opposition to the Iraq war before the 2003 invasion, and criticized McCain's vote to authorize President Bush's use of force against Saddam Hussein.

Obama has said the reduction of violence in Iraq since the deployment of more troops is a result of several factors, not just the surge.

Obama has also pointed out that Iraq has not reached political stability, which was another goal of the surge. He said last month that a functioning Iraq ultimately will depend on the capacity of Iraqis to unify, get beyond sectarian divisions and set up a government that works for the people.

The remarks about the surge and the economy are a divergence from the main issue that has dominated the campaign trail this week -- energy policy.

The presidential candidates have spent most of the week trading jabs over their energy plans, focusing on offshore drilling.

McCain supports exploring offshore drilling options and Obama does not -- although he said he would consider it if it were included in a comprehensive, overarching energy plan.

McCain touched on his energy proposals while in Jackson, saying Obama is "out of touch" when it comes to the energy crisis because of his opposition to expanding nuclear power.

Obama unveiled his energy plan on Monday. McCain first detailed his plan, dubbed the "Lexington Project," in late June.

Obama on Wednesday expounded on his plan for the third consecutive day, this time in Elkhart, Indiana.

There was a lot of hype leading up to the event because Obama was appearing with Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who has been at the heart of the vice presidential buzz.

Obama called Bayh "one of the finest United States senators that we have," but made no mention of the vice presidential rumors. See who is in the running to be VP

Political pundits have speculated Obama might tap him to be No. 2 as early as this week because of their joint appearance.

Bayh, once a two-term governor of Indiana, was a big supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton during the primaries. Advocates of an Obama-Bayh ticket say he'd help unify the party and could shore up some of Obama's weak spots because of his time on the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees.

According to CNN's polling, Indiana and its 11 electoral votes are leaning toward McCain.

Bayh tried to downplay the idea that Obama would need him to come out on top in Indiana, saying Obama is competitive there because of "what he stands for, who he is and the desperate need for change and a better direction in Washington."

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius also are considered top contenders for vice president.

Michelle Obama was teaming up with Kaine for a fundraiser in Norfolk, Virginia.

Also Wednesday, Obama said McCain's energy plan "reads like an early Christmas list for oil and gas lobbyists."

Obama has said McCain is "in the pocket" of Big Oil, while McCain has said Obama is "a little confused" about energy.

Obama on Wednesday reiterated his call to tap into the strategic oil reserves to reduce gas prices.

He also detailed his proposal to eliminate the need for oil from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 years, and he pushed for a windfall profits tax on oil companies that would be used to provide a $1,000 rebate to people struggling with high energy costs.

According to CNN's latest poll of polls, Obama holds a lead of 5 percentage points over McCain, 48 percent to 43 percent.

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The poll of polls consists of four surveys: CNN/Opinion Research Corp. (July 27-29), AP-IPSOS (July 31-August 4), USA Today/Gallup (July 25-27) and Gallup tracking (August 2-4).

The poll of polls does not have a sampling error.

All About Barack ObamaEvan BayhJohn McCain

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