Today on the presidential campaign trail

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McCain says Obama's economic plan would harm middle class; warns against one-party control ... Palin, in campaign break, testifies to Alaska investigator in abuse-of-power inquiry ... Biden dismisses McCain claim on change as Democrat campaigns in West Virginia ... McCain campaign pays Palin's makeup artist more than foreign policy adviser in October ... Obama leaves campaign trail to visit ill grandmother ... Former Mass. Gov. William Weld, a Republican, endorses Obama for 'ability to unify'


McCain says Obama would harm middle class

DENVER (AP) - Republican John McCain said Friday that if his Democratic rival Barack Obama is elected along with a Democratic Congress the middle class is "going to be put through the wringer."

McCain told a noisy rally in Denver, "The answer to a slowing economy is not higher taxes, but that is exactly what is going to happen when the Democrats have total control in Washington."

Obama has proposed a tax increase on the 5 percent of taxpayers who make more than $250,000 a year and advocates tax cuts for those who make less.

The Arizona senator ridiculed the idea that any tax increases would be narrowly targeted and, at the same time, sought to link Obama to the unpopular Congress.

"Anytime you hear talk of a targeted tax increase, you might want to double-check the skill of the marksman - the U.S Congress has been known to fire wildly," McCain said. "America didn't become the greatest nation on earth by giving our money to the government to spread the wealth around."


Palin testifies to investigator in ethics dispute

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin met with an independent investigator Friday to testify about allegations that she abused her powers during a long-running personnel controversy that threatens to distract voters from her Republican vice presidential campaign.

Palin waved but did not speak to reporters when she arrived at a Missouri hotel for her deposition, scheduled to last two hours before a lawyer from the Alaska Personnel Board. The board is investigating whether Palin abused her powers by firing her public safety commissioner.

The commissioner claims he was dismissed because he refused to fire Palin's former brother-in-law, a state trooper involved in a messy divorce with Palin's sister. The scandal, known as "Troopergate," took on national significance after John McCain selected Palin as his running mate.

"She's been looking forward to this day," Palin's attorney, Thomas Van Flein, said Friday. "She would like to tell her story and she'd like people to know the truth."


Biden dismisses McCain claim on change

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Friday that Republican John McCain would need a Halloween costume to persuade voters that he would depart from the policies and divisive politics of President Bush.

"I know Halloween is coming, but John McCain as the candidate of change? Whoa, come on," Biden said during an outdoor rally in the capital city's downtown. "John McCain and change? He needs a costume for that. Folks, the American people aren't going to buy this."

Based on recent presidential elections, West Virginia is an odd place for a Democratic candidate just over a week before Election Day. George W. Bush won the state in 2000 and 2004, cruising to victory in the last contest. President Clinton won the state in 1992 and 1996.

McCain leads in recent state polls, but Barack Obama has been spending money on advertising in the state, which offers five electoral votes.


Palin stylist draws higher pay than policy adviser

WASHINGTON (AP) - An acclaimed celebrity makeup artist for Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin collected more money from John McCain's campaign than his foreign policy adviser.

Amy Strozzi, who works on the reality show "So You Think You Can Dance" and has been Palin's traveling stylist, was paid $22,800, according to campaign finance reports for the first two weeks in October. In contrast, McCain's foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, was paid $12,500, the report showed.

McCain's campaign said the payment covered a portion of her work in September and a portion of October. An earlier campaign finance report showed Strozzi was paid $13,200 for a portion of September.

In recent days, McCain and his running mate have tried to douse a furor over how their side spent their money. The Republican National Committee came under scrutiny after the party committee reported earlier this week that it had spent about $150,000 in September on wardrobe and cosmetics after Palin joined the GOP ticket.

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune and Fox News on Thursday, Palin said the clothes bought for the Republican National Convention were not worth $150,000 and said most have not left her campaign plane. She also said the family shops frugally.


Obama says grandmother may not see Election Day

HONOLULU (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama says he's not sure his gravely ill grandmother will live to see Election Day.

Obama flew to Hawaii to visit Madelyn Dunham, 85, who helped raise Obama. The Illinois senator said he left the campaign trail with less than two weeks remaining before the election because his grandmother is ill but alert. Her brother has said she recently fell and broke a hip.

"Without going through the details too much, she's gravely ill. We weren't sure and I'm still not sure whether she makes it to Election Day," Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview broadcast Friday.

"We're all praying and we hope she does, but one of the things I want to make sure of is I had a chance to sit down with her and to talk to her," he said.


Republican former Mass. governor endorses Obama

SALEM, N.H. (AP) - Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, a Republican, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president on Friday, citing the senator's steady leadership, good judgment and ability to unify Democrats, Republicans and independents.

"Sen. Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who will transform our politics and restore America's standing in the world," Weld said in a statement.

Weld joined other prominent Republicans endorsing Obama over GOP nominee John McCain in the campaign's final weeks, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell.



Democrat Barack Obama has an 8-percentage-point lead over Republican John McCain - 50 percent to 42 percent - among registered voters, according to the latest Gallup Poll daily tracking update.



Barack Obama is in Hawaii with no public schedule.

Joe Biden holds a rally in Charleston, W.Va., before campaigning in Virginia.



John McCain talks to voters in the Colorado towns of Denver and Durango.

Sarah Palin campaigns in Pennsylvania and Missouri.



"And too often, even if our own day, it seems that children with special needs have been set apart and excluded. Too often state and federal laws add to those challenges. ... And I'm going to work to change that." - Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.



Eight of 10 Democrats are supporting Barack Obama, while nine in 10 Republicans are backing John McCain, according AP-GfK survey. Independents are about evenly split.


Compiled by Ann Sanner.

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