- Republicanon Wednesday implored New Hampshire voters "to come out one more time" on his behalf, as the two-time primary winner tried to stave off a general election loss with sharp criticism of tax and spending plans.
"I love you. I love New Hampshire," McCain told a rally crowd in a college hockey rink. "I know I can count on you again to come from behind and take a victory and bring it all the way to Washington, D.C., next January."
McCain added: "I'm asking you to come out one more time. Get out the vote."
Although McCain won the 2000 and 2008 New Hampshire primary, recent polls have shown Obama with a lead no smaller than 7 percentage points with less than two weeks until Election Day. That has prompted speculation McCain may have to surrender the state's four electoral votes and focus elsewhere if he hopes to cobble together the 270 needed to become president.
Senior adviser Mark Salter dismissed such thinking Tuesday. He said McCain was visiting New Hampshire because "we get a charge out of it. We think we're competitive there. They get it."
The mutual affection was evident as McCain delivered his remarks at St. Anselm College, the scene of debates during both primaries. A group of eight students painted the word "M-A-V-E-R-I-C-K" across their chests and lined up next to each other atop the stands behind McCain, while others led collegiate cheers that substituted McCain's name for the college.
The campus is at the center of the state the Arizona senator reveres for its tradition of retail politicking. He held more than 100 town-hall meetings in New Hampshire during this campaign cycle and was making his fifth visit to the state since securing the GOP nomination in February.
In a state with no income tax and a Yankee aversion to government spending, McCain tried to rally his supporters with a touched-up stump speech that focused on both issues. He accused Obama of favoring socialistic tax redistribution policies.
"Apparently, as my opponent sees it, there's a strict limit to your earnings as well, and it's for the politicians to decide. The proper amount of wealth is not what you can earn, but what government will let you keep," McCain said.
McCain also derided Obama, a former constitutional law professor, as an "academic," saying, "He talks about our economy and taxes in an academic way, forgetting that the goal is not to redistribute wealth but to create it."
The Arizona senator said his Illinois colleague favors more than $1 trillion in new government spending, although Obama has said that all his spending plans are offset by budget cuts.
"We have to stop this out-of-control spending," he said.
In one final jab at Obama, McCain criticized him of planning "another stadium spectacle" by planning an outdoor rally on election night. "Acting like the election is over won't let him take away your chance to have the final say in this election," he said.
New Hampshire political trends are working against McCain. It was the only state to vote for Democrat John Kerry in 2004 after going for Republican George W. Bush in 2000. Democrats also swept both its congressional seats, the governor's office and both houses of the state Legislature in 2006.
From New Hampshire, McCain was headed to Ohio for two rallies with his running mate, AlaskaHe then was to break off and head to Florida, where Obama also is ahead in the polls.