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The Presidential Campaign Heats Up with Less Than One Hundred Days to the Election

Both candidates have turned to negative television advertisements as the election nears.  Public opinion studies show Barack Obama and John McCain with almost equal support. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

The November fourth presidential election in the United States is only about three months away. The two candidates are in a close race. Recent opinion studies show voters are most concerned about the economy and high fuel prices.

One important issue is taxes. The Democratic Party candidate, Senator Barack Obama, opposes tax cuts for rich people. But he has promised to cut taxes for middle income Americans. The likely Republican Party nominee, Senator John McCain, had opposed President Bush's tax cut plan for wealthy Americans. But now the Arizona senator supports their continuation.

Barack Obama returned to talking about the economy and other national issues this week, after completing a trip to the Middle East and Europe last week. He met with officials in Afghanistan and Iraq and with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. In the German capital, Berlin, about two hundred thousand people gathered to hear Senator Obama speak. They waved American flags as they cheered. Senator Obama's trip was meant to improve public opinion of his ability to lead foreign policy and be commander in chief of the armed forces.

While Mister Obama was traveling to other countries, Mister McCain visited cities and towns throughout the United States. Senator McCain's campaign has complained that media coverage of Barack Obama's trip was unfairly positive.

But recent public opinion study results do not seem to have changed much since Senator Obama returned to the United States. The latest Gallup public opinion study of national registered voters shows Mister Obama leading Mister McCain by only one percentage point.

The poll represents opinions gathered between Monday and Wednesday of this week. The race has remained close between the two candidates throughout the summer.

This week, both campaigns have been broadcasting negative advertising on television around the country. One advertisement from the McCain campaign questions Senator Obama's experience to lead the country. It combines pictures of Mister Obama speaking to the huge crowd in Germany with images of the famous celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. The ad says: "He is the biggest celebrity in the world. But is he ready to lead?" The Obama campaign released its own advertisement that says: "John McCain. Same old politics, same failed policies."

In addition to long days of campaigning, both candidates are also in the process of choosing their vice presidential candidates. The Democratic and Republican nominating conventions will be held in late August and early September.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. You can read scripts and download audio on our Web site, I'm Steve Ember.