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McCain Wants US to Buy Bad Home Loans; Obama Pushes for Tax Cuts

The presidential candidates disagreed over economic recovery policies as they met for their second debate. Also, an explanation of the Electoral College system. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

John McCain and Barack Obama held their second presidential debate this week. They took questions before a group of undecided voters in the style of a town hall meeting. As expected, many questions were about the economic crisis.

Both senators voted for the seven-hundred-billion-dollar rescue or bailout plan signed into law a week ago. But the government's plan to buy bad debts in the financial system failed to calm world markets.

As Tuesday's debate began, Senator Obama said "everybody knows now we are in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression."

BARACK OBAMA: "The middle class need a rescue package. That means tax cuts for the middle class. That means help for homeowners, so they can stay in their homes."

Senator McCain announced that as president, he would order the Treasury secretary to buy up bad home loan mortgages. He says the government would renegotiate them to help people stay in their homes.

JOHN McCAIN: "We all know, friends, until we stabilize home values in America, we are never going to start turning around and creating jobs and fixing out economy. We have to give some trust and confidence back to America."

The final debate is Wednesday. The election is November fourth.

John McCain has increased what the Obama campaign calls "angry, personal attacks." But opinion polls show that the issue of the economy continues to help the Democrats.

Barack Obama was six points ahead of his Republican opponent in the national average on Friday. He was also ahead in Ohio and Florida, two important states that could still go either way. And he leads in Pennsylvania, another big battleground state.

Senator Obama has rejected public campaign financing, so he has no limits on spending as much as he can raise.

He plans a thirty-minute television advertisement on at least two national networks on October twenty-ninth. That is the anniversary of the Black Tuesday stock-market crash of nineteen twenty-nine.

Campaign ads are usually thirty seconds long. The last candidate to buy a half-hour was independent Ross Perot in nineteen ninety-two.

Robert Hardaway is a law professor at the University of Denver in Colorado. He says it makes sense for candidates to pour their efforts into states where the popular vote is close. These are the "battleground" states.

The president is not decided, though, by who wins the popular vote, but instead by who wins the majority of electoral votes. Each state has as many votes in the Electoral College as it has members in Congress. The number is based on population.

Most states award all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. Maine and Nebraska award theirs by congressional district.

To become president, a candidate needs at least two hundred seventy electoral votes. Polls show Barack Obama leading in electoral votes, though estimates change daily. He and John McCain could get two hundred sixty-nine each. If the vote is equal, the House of Representatives would decide the winner. America had an electoral tie in eighteen hundred. The House ended up choosing Thomas Jefferson over Aaron Burr.

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.