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Hot Hand: McCain keeps playing the 'Joe' card

Fiona Hall of Charlotte stood outside the Cabarrus Arena and Events Complex as the crowd of 7,000 filed in. She holds a sign that reads, "We're fighting for the Joes." As in Joe Wurzelbacher, the now famous plumber from the Toledo, Ohio, area who recently challenged Sen. Barack Obama on his tax plan. Joe is worried about paying higher taxes if he makes more than $250,000 under an Obama Administration. His frustration with government clearly resonated with this crowd. "I am a Joe. I'm an entrepreneur and I find it hard to get financing and fight taxes to grow my business because of people that don't work," said Claude Mauldin of Rock Hill, South Carolina. Inside, it was McCain's turn to talk about Joe. "As Joe has now reminded us all and small business persons all over America has reminded us: America didn't become the greatest nation on earth by giving our money to the government to spread the wealth around." Many in the crowd held signs that read "Country First." McCain told the audience the importance of finishing first in North Carolina. "We have to win the state of North Carolina and I'm counting on you to do it," McCain said. "This is a tough fight my friends. I've been around politics a long time. But the enthusiasm that we're seeing here recently has been overwhelming and gives me the confidence that we're on a role and we're going to win." McCain spoke about opening new markets to trade and his plan he says would make it easier for homeowners close to foreclosure to refinance their mortgages so that property values on neighboring homes don't slip. But he never strayed far from talk of taxes. "I have a plan to a hold the line on taxes and cut them to make America more competitive and create jobs here at home. Raising taxes make a bad economy much worse." That made sense to John Gibson, a truck driver from Hudson. "I loved everything he had to say. He's got the right idea for lowering the taxes. And we really need to go in that direction or else we're going to suffer," Gibson said. Ralph Packer of Charlotte agreed. He said the speech convinced him that McCain certainly has the fight in him to win North Carolina and the White House. "I wish he would have started campaigning like this a month ago," Packer said. For awhile I was thinking he was going to be another Bob Dole. But I think he might just pull this one off." The latest polls show only a few points separate Obama and McCain in North Carolina.