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McCain Spoofs Campaign On SNL

LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen. Senator John McCain returns to Pennsylvania today. The Republican presidential nominee sees this as one of his last best chances to win a blue state, a state that Democrats have carried in recent elections. McCain has been spending most of his time trying to avoid a loss in traditional red states, as NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY: On this final weekend of the presidential campaign, when time is scarce, John McCain is spending a lot of his in Pennsylvania. Yesterday, it was the small town of Perkasie in Bucks County, midway between Allentown and Philadelphia.

Senator JOHN MCCAIN (Republican, Arizona; 2008 Republican Presidential Nominee): We need to win in Pennsylvania on November the 4th, and with your help, we're going to win here in Pennsylvania.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Sen. MCCAIN: And we're going to bring real change to Washington.

HORSLEY: McCain is hoping to pick off enough conservative Democrats and independents, along with Republicans from Pennsylvania's mid-section to capture the state for the GOP for the first time since 1988.

For months now, McCain has been touting tax cuts as the key to reviving the nation's sagging economy. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center says the biggest beneficiaries of his plan would be the wealthiest 20 percent of Americans. But by repeatedly invoking Joe the Plumber in recent weeks, McCain has managed to repackage his proposal as a boon to small business, and that made an impression on Pennsylvania voter Louise Kennedy.

Ms. LOUISE KENNEDY: My son has a small business, and I believe that that is true, that he is for small business.

HORSLEY: Kennedy, who is follower of Focus on the Family Founder James Dobson, has also attracted McCain by his opposition to abortion.

Ms. KENNEDY: I'm a conservative first, but I'm also a believer, and I'm a born again believer, and I believe in what he stands for.

HORSLEY: Kennedy was one of several thousand supporters spilling out of an airport hangar in Perkasie. Although polls still show Obama leading in Pennsylvania, Democratic Governor Ed Rendell says it's close. And McCain says he's closing in.

Sen. MCCAIN: When I see this great support, I know, I know we're going to win. I know we're going to win in Pennsylvania.

(Soundbite of crowd cheering)

Sen. MCCAIN: I know we're going to win in Pennsylvania.

HORSLEY: McCain returns to Pennsylvania for two more rallies today. But last night, he took a detour to New York for a guest shot on "Saturday Night Live." He spoofed Obama's big-budget half-hour TV buy with a cheaper infomercial of his own. Tina Fey played Sarah Palin.

(Soundbite of McCain on "Saturday Night Live")

Sen. MCCAIN: The leadership of the next four years will have many challenges, and I believe my experience and my leadership will make a difference...

Ms. TINA FEY: (As Sarah Palin) Also to - sorry. I need to remind you that there are only two minutes left in our Washington outsider jewelry extravaganza.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Sen. MCCAIN: Are you someone who likes fine jewelry and also respects a politician who can reach across the aisle? If so, you can't go wrong with McCain Fine Gold.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: Earlier yesterday, McCain campaigned in Virginia, a state his party has won in every presidential year since 1964. McCain supporters waved signs that said keep Virginia red. McCain told the crowd, it's up to them.

Sen. MCCAIN: Volunteer. Knock on doors. With your help, we can win, and we need a new direction, and we have to fight for it. And that's what I've done all my life. We're going to fight. We're going to fight to the end.

HORSLEY: With the end in sight, McCain also campaigns today in New Hampshire, where he made the biggest comeback in his career - so far. Scott Horsley, NPR News, New York.

HANSEN: To see John McCain's appearance on "Saturday Night Live," go to our blog, npr.org/soapbox. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.