Obama presses sharper message against McCain, despite Ike
MANCHESTER, N.H. – As Hurricane Gustav threatened to wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast two weeks ago, Democrat Barack Obama made a point of toning down his campaign rhetoric during a swing through the Midwest, saying it was not a time for politics.
The White House hopeful and his Republican opponent John McCain also took a day off from battling each other on Thursday to observe the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in a solemn ceremony at Ground Zero in New York City.
But Obama, who has faced complaints from some supporters that he is not fighting back hard enough against McCain’s attacks, was undeterred in his determination on Saturday to keep up a more aggressive tone to his campaigning as Hurricane Ike raked Texas.
Then he transitioned back to the campaign by saying that Americans across the country are facing a “quiet storm” because of the failed policies of the Bush administration.
He lambasted McCain as someone offering more of the same, saying he was “out of touch” while latching onto the Democrat’s message of change.
“You’ve got John McCain, my opponent in this election, who has been standing up since his convention suggesting that somehow he and his running mate are going to be the original mavericks and are going to shake things up in Washington,” Obama told the outdoor rally of about 7,000 people.
That prompted McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds to point out that Obama had canceled plans to appear on Saturday Night Live this weekend because of Hurricane Ike but did not set politics aside. Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, scrapped plans to attend the Manchester rally with Obama in light of the storm.
“Today’s attacks mark a new low from Barack Obama,” Bounds said, adding that “it says a lot about Barack Obama’s judgment.”
Obama spokesman Bill Burton volleyed back with a scathing criticism of McCain as someone who is “cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history.”
The statement was one of blizzard of e-mails the Obama campaign sent out during the day bashing McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin. One such e-mail was a lengthy memo cataloguing what it characterized as the McCain campaign’s “lies and spin”.
McCain was off the campaign trail for the day while Palin held a rally in Alaska before heading to campaign in the lower 48 states.
– Photo credit: Reuters/ Neal Hamberg (Obama at a New Hampshire rally.)