Republican John McCain, the clock ticking down on a chance to narrow Democrat Barack Obama's lead in polls, turned away Saturday from visceral attacks on his rival to pivot back toward policy differences.
McCain kept his speech in Davenport focused on the economy and other policies, a striking change from just days ago when his campaign redoubled its challenge to Obama over his association with a former '60s radical. McCain also claimed that American voters didn't really know Obama and his own "radical" views.
But the tone at McCain's and running mate Sarah Palin's events during the past week had been turning toward the sour.
Supporters had shouted "terrorist" and "off with his head" at the mention of Obama's connections to former Weather Underground member William Ayers, whose group bombed federal buildings in protest of the Vietnam War when Obama was a child. The two had worked together on community projects in Chicago, and Obama has denounced Ayers' violent past.
On Friday during a town hall-style meeting in Lakeville, Minn., a supporter told McCain that he feared what would happen if Obama were elected. McCain drew boos when he defended his rival as a "decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared of as president of the United States."