<!--:es-->Obama and Clinton focus on economy in Pennsylvania<!--:-->

Obama and Clinton focus on economy in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – Democrat Barack Obama on Wednesday disputed presidential rival Hillary Clinton’s claims to be a champion of the middle class and promised to fight corporate interests that he said rigged the economy against working families.

Clinton, campaigning in Pittsburgh, proposed a package of tax incentives to keep jobs in the United States as the two Democrats focused on the economy ahead of their next showdown in Pennsylvania on April 22.

Obama, speaking to a Pennsylvania AFL-CIO convention one day after Clinton, said the New York senator was too closely tied to corporate lobbyists to bring real change to a Washington that serves the interests of the powerful.

“Over the last seven years, we’ve had an administration that serves the interests of the wealthy and the well-connected, no matter what the cost to working families and to our economy,” the Illinois senator said.

“I’m the only candidate in this race who’s actually worked to take power away from lobbyists by passing historic ethics reforms in Illinois and in the U.S. Senate. And I’m the only candidate who isn’t taking a dime from Washington lobbyists,” he said.

Clinton hosted a jobs summit where she proposed $7 billion a year in new tax benefits and investments for companies that create U.S. jobs. She also called for $500 million annually in investments that encourage high-wage jobs in clean energy technologies.

“I believe our government should get out of the business of rewarding companies for shipping jobs overseas, and get back into the business of rewarding companies that create good, high-wage jobs — with good benefits — right here in America,” Clinton said.

Clinton and Obama are in a hard fight for the Democratic nomination to face Republican John McCain in November’s presidential election. Their next contest is in Pennsylvania, which has been hard-hit by manufacturing job losses and economic turmoil.

Clinton holds a solid but shrinking lead over Obama in polls in the state, site of their next showdown on April 22. A Quinnipiac University poll showed her with a 9-point lead on Obama in Pennsylvania, down from a 16-point lead a month ago. Some other polls show the state race even tighter. Both candidates have focused on McCain in recent days, and Clinton released an ad casting doubt on the Arizona senator’s ability to handle the economy.

Similar to an ad she used in Ohio and Texas to challenge Obama’s capability as commander in chief, it features sleeping children and a ringing telephone, and asks if McCain is ready to deal with an urgent economic crisis.