Obama says `little doubt' country in recession and Iraqi withdrawal won't be `perfectly neat' ... McCain retooled his campaign, but first week out on the road remained bumpy and quirky ... Cindy McCain takes spin in pace car, visits Danica's car before watching IRL race ...


Obama: `little doubt' country in recession

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Barack Obama says there is "little doubt we've moved into recession," underscoring the country's need for a second economic stimulus package, swift steps to shore up the housing market and a long-term energy policy to reduce reliance on foreign oil imports.

The Democratic presidential contender also said removing U.S. forces from Iraq won't be "perfectly neat," yet a call from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a withdrawal timetable supports his position more than the longer term presence favored by rival John McCain or his fellow Republican, President Bush.

Bush and the Arizona senator have chided Obama for proposing to withdraw U.S. forces within 16 months of taking office. McCain, a Vietnam War veteran, has even suggested it exhibits naivete by his rival, a freshman senator from Illinois.

"John McCain and George Bush both said that if Iraq, as a sovereign government, stated that it was time for us to start withdrawing our troops, then they would respect the wishes of that sovereign government," Obama told reporters Saturday as he flew from Chicago to California.

In addition, Obama lifted the veil on his upcoming trip to European capitals and U.S. battlefronts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said he would be accompanied by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. Despite their differing political parties, each has been mentioned as a potential Obama vice presidential running mate.

Hagel served as an Army sergeant in Vietnam and was twice wounded in 1968, earning two Purple Hearts. Reed, a West Point graduate, was a former Army Ranger and paratrooper.

"They're both experts on foreign policy. They reflect, I think, a traditional bipartisan wisdom when it comes to foreign policy. Neither of them are ideologues but try to get the facts right and make a determination about what's best for U.S. interests _ and they're good guys," Obama said.


Road still bumpy for McCain's retooled bandwagon

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) _ Every presidential campaign has its hitches. For John McCain, they felt more like full-blown lurches this week, with nearly every step forward quickly offset by a misstatement or wisecrack that seemed to blow his message off course.

It was the week McCain hoped to show off his newly focused, smoother-running operation after he rearranged his campaign hierarchy and acknowledged errors in the staging of events and other matters.

But a joke about U.S. cigarettes killing Iranians, criticism of the Social Security program and word that one of his top economic advisers had called the country "a nation of whiners" suffering a "mental recession" undermined the Arizona senator's effort.

Democrat Barack Obama has had his own stumbles recently, but McCain's journey through the key election states of Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin was bumpy.

McCain said he is not worried.

"I'm very aware that, from time to time, some words of mine will be taken out of context," he told reporters Friday. "I'm not going to change the way our campaign is."

He said the people who attended his town hall meeting earlier that day in Hudson, Wis., "know my plan for the future of America. There was not a question about tobacco to Iran."

Still, the week's events seemed likely to sustain the worries of some Republicans who cringed when McCain gave a major speech in June before a garishly green background, and who scratched their heads during his recent visit to Mexico and Colombia, home to few U.S. voters.


Cindy McCain attends IndyCar race in Nashville

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Cindy McCain spent her Saturday getting up close and personal with the IndyRacing League at the series' stop at the Nashville Superspeedway, taking a spin around the track in the pace car with Johnny Rutherford and checking out Danica Patrick's car in the garage.

"It was great," McCain said of her laps around the 1.33-mile concrete oval with Rutherford driving. "Oh my God."

Wearing a short-sleeved denim shirt and designer jeans with heels, the wife of likely Republican presidential nominee John McCain visited with IRL drivers during their pre-race meeting and spent time talking with Phoenix resident and 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice. She also held the Gibson guitar trophy for the winner of Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200, saying "I wish I knew how to play."

After waiting out a rain delay from a thunderstorm, McCain finally climbed into the pace car at least 30 minutes later than planned. She then walked over to the garage, stopping to take photos with a couple of fans, before going through the garage, the IRL's inspection area and even the officials' trailer.

Later, she had a private chat with Patrick.



Barack Obama addresses the National Council of La Raza in San Diego.



John McCain has no scheduled public events.



"If you are satisfied with the way things are going now, then you should vote for John McCain." _ Barack Obama.



A recent AP-Yahoo News poll showed that Democrat Barack Obama leads Republican John McCain among Hispanics, 47 percent to 22 percent with 26 percent undecided.


Compiled by Ann Sanner and Ronald Powers.