Obama says McCain offers willful ignorance

October 21, 2008 5:05:58 PM PDT
Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday that Republican John McCain is offering only "wishful thinking, outdated ideology" to an economy in crisis, seeking to capitalize on the main issue that is propelling him forward in the race for the White House. With the nation's economic turmoil creating favorable conditions for Democrats exactly two weeks from Election Day, Obama has focused his final-stretch message almost entirely on that topic - and on Republican turf like economically precarious and politically significant Florida, where he spent two days campaigning. Obama said McCain's response to the economy falls short for people worried about keeping their jobs, their homes and their lifestyles.

With the chairman of the Federal Reserve and even President Bush now indicating support for more economic stimulus spending by Washington, momentum is building for Congress to pass a second package after the election, an idea Obama has encouraged. But McCain has remained cool, saying only that he wants to keep his options open.

At an evening rally here with his wife, Michelle, Obama seized on that, as well as a report that a top McCain economic adviser said the Arizona senator prefers to first evaluate the impact $700 billion financial rescue plan passed earlier this month.

"I've got news for Sen. McCain: hardworking families who've been hard hit by this economic crisis - folks who can't pay their mortgages or their medical bills or send their kids to college - they can't afford to wait and see. They can't afford to go to the back of the line behind CEOs and Wall Street banks," Obama told the crowd of more than 30,000 filling a waterside park.

The Democrat argued his approach to the economy is more robust, and effective, both short- and long-term.

"Make no mistake about it, after eight years of Bush-McCain economics, the pie is shrinking," he said, prompting a spontaneous round of chants from the audience. "We want pie, we want pie, we want pie," they yelled.

Obama criticized McCain's increasingly negative campaign approach, refuting accusations made by the Republican and his surrogates.

"Apparently Sen. McCain decided that if he can't beat our ideas, he'll make up some ideas and run against those," he said.

Earlier in the day, his campaign staged a jobs summit in nearby Lake Worth, Fla., that pulled in the Democratic governors of several other states, besides Florida, that went Republican four years ago and for which the Democratic presidential nominee is making a serious play this time around.

During the 95-minute round-table discussion with the governors of Michigan, Ohio, New Mexico and Colorado, as well as Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, an Obama campaign adviser, and local business owners, Obama hammered the message that he has the best economic plan.

All the participants dutifully agreed.

"While President Bush and Sen. McCain were ready to move heaven and earth to address the crisis on Wall Street, the president has failed so far to address the crisis on Main Street, and Sen. McCain has failed to fully acknowledge it," Obama said in the steamy community college gymnasium packed with 1,700 supporters, and again in Miami. "Instead of commonsense solutions, month after month, they've offered little more than willful ignorance, wishful thinking, outdated ideology."

The McCain campaign shot back that Obama's stimulus plan, which includes sending billions to state and local governments to keep projects and health spending afloat, isn't the right recipe.

"When Americans are hurting, Barack Obama's plan to take more and more money from pocketbooks and hand it over to mismanaged government budgets is not the solution - it's the problem," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "Barack Obama is simply offering more of the same."

In between the two main events, Obama made impromptu stops at a Fort Lauderdale duplex that houses a barber shop and his campaign offices side by side, and then at a deli restaurant a few miles away in Hollywood. Adoring crowds mobbed him outside both buildings, hands outstretched. "Good luck, honestly," shouted one woman at The Deli Den. "We need you."

Obama's message was the same as he mingled with people in each place: Vote, and do it early, as Florida law allows, between Monday and Nov. 1, and then get someone else to go, too.

"Anybody who comes in and sits in that chair, you tell 'em," he told the barber at the Neighborhood Unisex Salon. "No excuses."

Obama also campaigned across Florida the day before.

The Democratic presidential candidate is to head to more GOP states, Virginia and Indiana, on Wednesday and Thursday.

While in Richmond, Va., on Wednesday, Obama and running mate Joe Biden were to meet with a senior group of national security advisers.

His campaign also announced plans for an Election Night event at Chicago's Grant Park on Hutchinson Field.

On the Net:

McCain: http://www.johnmccain.com
Obama: http://www.barackobama.com