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Biden says GOP ticket has economic priorities 'upside down'

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Both sides point to news of record oil company profits in attacks on opponents
  • NEW: John McCain casts Barack Obama as candidate working on oil industry's side
  • Obama: President Bush's policies have driven economy "into a ditch"
  • McCain's campaign: Obama would drive "sputtering economy off a cliff"

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(CNN) -- Sen. Joe Biden said Thursday that the Republican ticket has its economic priorities "upside down," pointing to news of a shrinking GDP and record quarterly profits for Exxon Mobil Corp.

"Here the entire economy of America is shrinking, and the oil companies ... one, in fact, made the largest profit in its history in a quarter," Biden said at a rally in Arnold, Missouri.

"Ladies and gentlemen, what more evidence do we need that the Exxon Mobils of the world don't need a tax break?" he asked, speaking to supporters in a half-empty high school gym. "That $4 billion should go to middle class taxpayers, people who need the money. John [McCain] and Gov. [Sarah] Palin have this upside down. They literally have it upside down."

Exxon Mobil set a quarterly profit record for a U.S. company Thursday, saying its third-quarter net profit was $14.83 billion.

McCain on Thursday used the news of the company's record profits to cast Sen. Barack Obama as the candidate working on the side of the oil industry.

"Sen. Obama voted for billions in corporate giveaways to the oil companies. I voted against it. When I am president, we are not going to let that happen," he said in Defiance, Ohio.

McCain voted against the 2005 Bush-Cheney energy bill, while Obama voted for it. During the primary season, Obama defended his vote, saying, "It was the best that we could do right now, given the makeup of Congress."

The Obama campaign brushed off McCain's charges, saying, "Sen. McCain is the only one in this race who wants to give nearly $4 billion in tax breaks to big oil companies like Exxon."

"Sen. Obama wants to invest in renewable energy and give tax breaks to 95 percent of workers and their families, while Sen. McCain's plan provides no tax relief for more than 100 million Americans," said Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor. Fact check: Does McCain's plan leave out 100 million?

Later in his Ohio rally, McCain called on Joe the Plumber to stand up.

"Joe's with us today. Joe, where are you? Where's Joe? Is Joe here with us today? Joe, I thought you were here today," McCain said during the rally.

McCain aides had said that Joe Wurzelbacher, also known as Joe the Plumber, would appear with the Republican presidential candidate at his event in Defiance.

But reached at home, Wurzelbacher said it was "news to him" that he was supposed to be at the McCain rally. Wurzelbacher said nobody from the McCain campaign confirmed he was attending the event and called the incident a "miscommunication."

Contacted by CNN a second time, Wurzelbacher said the campaign only called him to confirm after the event in question already took place.

Wurzelbacher also said he had gotten an initial call about coming to the morning rally, "but no one called back to confirm," and he was "not happy" that McCain had called out his name and he wasn't there.

Wurzelbacher later joined McCain at his event in Sandusky.

He also appeared later with McCain at an event in Mentor.

Meanwhile, Obama on Thursday continued to try to link McCain to President Bush, telling voters that if they want to know where the Republican would drive the economy, "just look in the rearview mirror."

"When it comes to our economic policies, John McCain has been right next to George Bush. He's been sitting there in the passenger seat ready to take over every step of the way," Obama said in Sarasota, Florida.

Obama said the Bush administration's policies "have driven our economy into a ditch."

His remarks continue a theme from his new campaign ad, "Rearview Mirror."

That ad says that McCain, if elected, would continue Bush's failed policies.

In response, the McCain campaign said Obama is the candidate who would take the economy in the wrong direction. Video Watch McCain say he'll get the economy out of the "ditch" »

"Barack Obama's economic proposals are driven by job killing tax increases and out-of-control spending -- Barack Obama would drive this sputtering economy off a cliff," spokesman Tucker Bounds said.

Both candidates are making their closing arguments in the final five days of campaigning. According to CNN's polls of national polls, Obama leads McCain by 5 percentage points, 49 percent to 44 percent.

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In Wednesday's poll of polls, Obama was up by 7 percentage points.

CNN's latest poll of polls consists of seven surveys: Fox/Opinion Dynamics (October 28-29), ARG (October 25-27), ABC/The Washington Post (October 25-28), Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby (October 27-29), Gallup (October 27-29), Diageo/Hotline (October 27-29) and IBD/TIPP (October 24-28). There is no sampling error.

CNN's Dana Bash, Alexander Marquardt, Mary Snow and Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

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