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McCain makes his closing arguments

Behind in the polls and in key swing states, he throws everything he can at Obama.

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McCain has also hammered hard on the tried-and-true GOP message of keeping taxes low. “This is the fundamental difference between Senator

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Obama and me: He thinks taxes are too low, and I think that spending it too high,” he said Wednesday in Miami.

Obama joked about McCain’s effort to portray him as a socialist at a campaign event Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.

“Lately, he called me a socialist for wanting to roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans so we can finally give tax relief to the middle class,” Obama said. “I don’t know, by the end of the week he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

In his final argument, McCain is also revisiting many of the people and groups associated with Obama that he hopes will sow last-minute doubts in voters’ minds.

There’s Bill Ayers, the former Weather Underground radical, who supported Obama’s early political career and worked with him on a foundation board. There’s Tony Rezko, the convicted felon involved in the purchase of Obama’s home. There’s ACORN, the community organizing association that Obama has consulted for and which is embroiled in allegations of fraudulent voter registrations.

Now, McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, are bringing back Obama’s association with Rashid Khalidi, director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University and a Palestinian-American activist.

Obama knows Mr. Khalidi from their days living near each other in Chicago, when both men taught at the University of Chicago. Earlier this year,

Obama’s relationship with Khalidi came up after the Los Angeles Times broke a story about a five-year-old videotape from a dinner Obama attended honoring Khalidi, in which anti-Israel comments were made.

The Los Angeles Times has refused to release the videotape, citing an agreement with its source, and now McCain and Governor Palin are claiming pro-Obama media bias.

McCain’s closing argument, like Obama’s, also highlights the positive – for McCain, allusions to his service to the nation as a Navy man.

“I’m an American. And I choose to fight,” he said in his speech Wednesday in Miami. “Don’t give up hope. Be strong. Have courage. And fight. Fight for a new direction for our country. Fight for what’s right for America.”

At this stage of the campaign, says political scientist Cal Jillson, at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, the bulk of McCain’s message should be positive, with less emphasis on tearing down his opponent.

“He’s got to remind people of his heroic service to the country for many decades, and concerns people should have about Obama,” Mr. Jillson says.

“He’s so focused on the latter, and he’s hoping people remember the former.”