TAMPA — Accused by Democrats of sugarcoating the economy's woes, Republican John McCain sharpened his attack on Wall Street on Tuesday while opponent Barack Obama tried to lay the blame on McCain and his party's economic philosophy.
The dueling economic speeches -- McCain in Tampa and Obama in Colorado -- showed that the nation's deepening financial meltdown is reshaping the presidential race into a campaign about bread-and-butter issues rather than personality.
The shift in focus could play to the Democrat's strength, considering that McCain himself has said the economy isn't his strong suit while Obama has relentlessly tried to tie his Republican opponent to President Bush's financial policies.
Casting himself as a finance reformer, McCain closed a two-day Florida swing railing against corporate greed and shoddy oversight of Wall Street. He backed away from a previous comment in Jacksonville that the ''the fundamentals of the economy are strong,'' and referred twice to the ''bad'' economy.
"The top of our economy is broken,'' McCain told more than 2,000 people at a convention center. "We're going to put an end to the reckless conduct, corruption and unbridled greed that has caused the crisis on Wall Street.''
McCain offered few specifics beyond promises of ''comprehensive regulations'' and a study commission to probe Wall Street's failings like the panel that probed national security after the 9/11 attacks.
Obama's camp, noting McCain has repeatedly voted for market deregulation, bashed McCain's study commission idea.
''Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book: You pass the buck to a commission to study the problem,'' Obama said while campaigning in Colorado. "We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out. I'll provide it; John McCain won't.''
Obama laid out more specifics than McCain in calling for more fines for bad financial practices and rules to end loopholes that allowed subprime mortgage lenders to escape scrutiny other lenders face.
Obama punctuated the speech with shots at the Republican Party, laying the groundwork for his own trip this week to Florida, a state that leads the nation in jobs losses and ranks second in the number of home foreclosures.
The bankruptcy of Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers, coupled with the sale of Merrill Lynch and recent collapses of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, pushed the economy to the forefront of McCain's trip to Florida.
Without singling out the Bush administration, McCain assailed the ''casual oversight'' of Wall Street and the ''alphabet soup'' of agencies that regulate the financial markets.
''They haven't been doing their job right, or we wouldn't have this mess on Wall Street,'' he said. "We don't need a dozen federal agencies doing the job. We need the best federal agency to do the job right.''
Several voters said that line hit home, though McCain rushed through parts of the 17-minute speech.
The Obama campaign took issue with McCain's call for stronger oversight of financial markets, noting that he is a self-professed ''deregulator'' who often favors a free-market approach. New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a former Wall Street executive, is scheduled to campaign Wednesday in Miami on Obama's behalf.
In Colorado, Obama pledged to ''streamline our regulatory agencies'' in a way that "will provide better oversight and reduce costs.''
He pushed for more attention to be paid to credit rating agencies that said mortgage-backed bonds, and the banks that issued and purchased them, were safe when they were not. ''We must investigate rating agencies and potential conflicts of interest with the people they are rating,'' Obama said.
Overall, McCain's visit to Florida accomplished several things: He touched base in three major media markets -- Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa -- to lend some staying power to his post-convention bounce in the polls. He also raised an estimated $5 million for the Republican Party at a private reception at the Hotel Inter-Continental Miami.
But his optimistic remarks about the economy in Jacksonville provided ample fodder for critics eager to portray him as out of touch. Florida Democrats also seized on comments made by a leading McCain supporter, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, who said he was not up to running a major corporation.
Political analysts are increasingly pegging Florida -- characterized as a tossup weeks ago -- as a likely pickup for the Republican ticket. A Fox News/Rasmussen Reports survey released Tuesday found McCain ahead 49-44 percent, the biggest lead since Obama claimed the Democratic nomination in June.
But if the Florida economy keeps tanking and Sarah Palin's effect on the McCain ticket diminishes as candidates talk more about issues, the race may tighten up.
In a sign that Obama wants to shore up support among women intrigued by Palin, he will headline a ''women's rally for the change we need'' at the University of Miami on Friday. He's slated to campaign in Jacksonville on Saturday.