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Obama hits McCain on the economy

From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With the election one day away, Obama returned to a central theme of his campaign: McCain is not prepared to be the steward of the nation's economy at this difficult time.

The Democratic nominee congratulated his rival on the tough race he had fought before going on to riff about how electing him would mean a continuation of the bad economic policies of George Bush -- another of his campaign's main arguments.

Calling economy "central issue in this election," Obama reminded the audience here about a phrase McCain had uttered in the same arena, which he said showed the Arizona senator did not understand the depth of the economic crisis the country was facing.

"Remember what he said when he was here in Jacksonville on September 15th? That day, more than 5,000 jobs were lost and more than 7,000 homes were foreclosed on," he began. "The day before, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said we were in a 'once in a century' crisis. And yet, despite our economic crisis, John McCain actually came here, to Veterans' Memorial Arena, and repeated something he's said at least 16 times on this campaign. He said -- and I quote -- 'the fundamentals of our economy are strong.'"

The crowd booed and Obama, said "You don't have to boo, you just have to vote" -- a line he uses several times a day. He went on the say that line by McCain summed up an "out-of-touch on-your-own economic philosophy" that favors the wealthy and big corporations and not the middle class.

For months, Obama and his running mate Joe Biden have been portraying themselves as champions of the middle class, fighters for working people, and their efforts appear to have paid off. Per the latest NBC/WSJ poll, 42% say they have either a great deal of confidence or quite a bit of confidence that Obama will be able to get the nation's economy back on track, compared with 27% who say that about McCain.

Over the course of the last week, Obama's speeches have contained a running countdown to election day -- "in one week", "in six days" -- which today became simply "tomorrow."

"Tomorrow, at this defining moment in history, you, each and every one of you, can give this country the change that we need," he said, before telling the audience not to slow down or let up over the next 36 hours in their efforts to elect him.

"This is gonna be close here in Florida. This is gonna be close all across the country," he said. "Understand at this point, I've made the arguments. Now it's all about who wants it more. Who believes in it more."

The stop in Duval County, which George Bush won with 58% of the vote in 2004, was the first of a three state swing. After Florida, Obama was headed to Charlotte, NC, in a county John Kerry won by nearly 12,000 votes and then to Manassas, VA, where Bush got 53 percent in the last election. He spent Sunday stumping across Ohio and for a moment this morning forgot that he was now in the Sunshine State, substituting Ohio for Florida. When the crowd corrected him, he said "I've been traveling too much."