'International crisis'

However, Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan, who has been following the McCain campaign, said the message based around "Joe the Plumber" was resonating, at least among his supporters, who cheered every time his name was mentioned.

The Arizona senator's latest campaign advertisement features a number of Americans all saying "I am Joe the Plumber too".

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"He's more concerned about using taxes to spread the wealth than creating a tax plan that creates jobs and grows our economy," McCain told a cheering crowd at an Ormond Beach timber yard.

"Senator Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of pie than he is in growing the pie," McCain said.

McCain also again used an assertion by Joe Biden, Obama's running-mate that, like John F. Kennedy, Obama would be tested with an international crisis within six months of taking office.

"Senator Obama tried to explain away this by saying his running mate sometimes engages in 'rhetorical flourishes.' Really? Really?" he said.

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But Obama says his tax plan would give a tax cut to 95 per cent of Americans.

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The Illinois senator gave his last campaign speech in Indiana on Thursday before leaving the campaign for two days to go to Hawaii to be with his gravely ill grandmother.

Obama said the US could not afford a president McCain who "thinks the economic policies of George W. Bush are just right for America".

"He made kind of a strange argument that the best way to stop companies from shipping jobs overseas is to give more tax cuts to companies that are shipping jobs overseas," Obama said of his opponent.

"More tax cuts for job outsourcers. That's what senator McCain proposed as his answer to outsourcing."

With less than two weeks before the election, Obama leads McCain 52 per cent to 40 per cent among likely voters in the latest three-day tracking poll by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby.

However, an Associated Press poll released on Wednesday put the gap between the two at just one per cent with Obama on 44 per cent and McCain 43.