McCain says he has always had faith in his country

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SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain on Saturday criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama's comment that his victory in Iowa's caucuses last winter had "vindicated" his faith in the American people.

"My country has never had to prove anything to me, my friends," McCain said while campaigning in the Washington suburbs in northern Virginia. "I've always had faith in it and I've been humbled and honored to serve it."

McCain was referring to a remark Obama made at a campaign stop in Des Moines on Friday. "My faith in the American people was vindicated and what you started here in Iowa swept the nation," Obama said.

The Illinois senator's win over Hillary Rodham Clinton in Iowa put him on the path to being the first black man to be nominated for president by a major political party.

In response to McCain's remarks, the Obama campaign called the criticism "pathetic" as well as a distortion aimed at attacking the Democrat's patriotism.

"Sadly, this is what we've come to expect from a desperate, dishonorable campaign that will say anything in a failed attempt to win this election," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

Earlier Saturday, during a chilly rally in Newport News, McCain asked Virginia voters to give him a win on Tuesday and warned that Obama would seek a wide range of tax increases as president.

"He's running for redistributor in chief, I'm running for commander in chief," said McCain, who spoke with a noticeably scratchy voice, stopping at times to cough.

Virginia is one of several reliably Republican states that McCain is struggling to hold. Recent polling shows Obama running ahead of McCain in the state, which hasn't voted for a Democratic president since 1964.

McCain was heading to Pennsylvania and then New York, where he was to appear on "Saturday Night Live."

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