AFP, CHILLICOTHE, Ohio - Democrat Barack Obama Friday rebuked John McCain for preaching a politics of "anger and division," as his Republican rival fired off new attacks vowing to fight back from his underdog position.
"In the last couple of days we have seen a barrage of nasty insinuations and attacks and I am sure we will see much more over the next 25 days," Democratic White House hopeful Obama said in Ohio.
As Wall Street went on another rollercoaster ride Friday to finish a turbulent week some 18 percent down, he lambasted Republican McCain, saying: "It's easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division.
"But that is not what we need now in the United States, the times are too serious."
The Illinois senator hit back after McCain and his running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, fired off a series of searing character attacks seeking to turn around their flagging poll numbers before the November 4 election.
He also unveiled a new market rescue plan aimed at unfreezing credit to help struggling small businesses, calling on the Small Business Administration to directly lend to those unable to access other sources of funding.
Obama said US officials have now got the tools to detail with the financial crisis.
"The problem is that there's been a lack of coordination, a lack of marketing of what's being done, clarity so that the market understands these clear signals," he told reporters.
"My hope is over the weekend that package is being put together in a way that can really start making a difference."
McCain also put forward proposals to protect retirement funds by changing the rules that require seniors to sell off their investments when they reach 70 and a half.
"To spare investors from being forced to sell their stocks at just the time when the market is hurting the most, those rules should be suspended," McCain said in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Despite offering different proposals for the economy, the McCain campaign also kept up its attacks on Obama with two new negative ads about his past assocations.
One ad accused Obama of lying about his links to Vietnam War era radical William Ayers, a member of the radical Weather Underground Group, whom Obama met in his formative years in Chicago politics.
"When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers," the ad script said. "When discovered, he lied. Obama. Blind ambition. Bad judgment."
Then later in the day, the McCain campaign took aim at Obama's links with a non-profit housing counselling group called Acorn which on Friday was at the center of a storm amid investigations into alleged voter fraud.
The two videos were the latest in a series of attacks on Obama's character and judgement launched by the Republican campaign, which Friday accused Obama of hiding behind the economic crisis using "self-interested calls to stifle any inquiry into his record or his past."
"Instead of acknowledging the real differences that exist in this election, Barack Obama is using America's economic crisis to deflect legitimate criticisms of himself and his record," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.
Speaking at a boisterous Republican rally in La Crosse, McCain conceded he is the "underdog" in the race.
But with 25 days to go before Americans go to the polls in a hotly contested presidential election, he vowed to come up from behind.
"How many times, my friends, have the pundits written off the McCain campaign?" he told the cheering crowd. "We're going to fool 'em again, my friend!"
Meanwhile, Alaskan lawmakers were reviewing the findings of the probe into the alleged abuse of powers by Palin.
The inquiry has been probing allegations that Palin abused her office by sacking a public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, for his failure to dismiss a state trooper who was her former brother-in-law.
The 14 council members were to vote on whether to publish the lengthy report online, possibly later Friday, officials told AFP.
The results of the inquiry will come under scrutiny for the impact they may have on the presidential race, particularly since Palin has sought to cast herself as a corruption fighter.