McCain takes campaign to Florida

October 23, 2008 5:50:15 PM PDT
Republican John McCain on Thursday spiced up a cross-state bus tour aimed at keeping Florida from swinging to the Democrats by accusing rival Barack Obama of saying "anything to get elected." McCain complained that the Democratic nominee had added a work requirement to his proposal to grant a 10 percent universal mortgage credit. A top Obama aide said the campaign made the change two weeks ago to avoid charges the proposal provided "welfare" to the unemployed.

"Thirteen days to go in this election and he changed his tax plan because the American people had learned the truth about it and they didn't like it," he told several thousand at an evening rally here. "My friends, that's just another example that he'll say anything to get elected."

An Obama spokesman accused McCain of distortion and said the Illinois senator's plan always included a work requirement, although it was discussed only within the campaign or with reporters who asked about the particulars of the plan.

"Last week, Sen. McCain called Obama's tax cuts for working people welfare. Today he's claiming Sen. Obama doesn't do enough to help the unemployed," said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. "The only thing consistent about these attacks is how dishonest they are. All of Sen. Obama's tax credits only go to workers and they always have."

While criticizing Obama, McCain also targeted his own party. The Arizona senator complained that the Bush administration was not yet buying up mortgages so homeowners facing foreclosure could renegotiate them at more favorable interest rates. McCain has proposed a $300 billion plan, but a similar one is included in the recently enacted $700 billion Wall Street bailout. Both McCain and Obama voted for that plan.

"I call on the administration to act now and buy up these mortgages and keep people in their homes," the GOP nominee said during a morning rally in Ormond Beach. Singling out Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, he added: "And why is the secretary of the Treasury not ordering them to do that?"

The attacks came amid signs McCain was curtailing his effort in Colorado, despite plans for two stops there Friday.

Republicans have slashed television advertising for McCain at the state's three largest stations, according to the Denver Post. With early voting under way, McCain's campaign bought a total $305,550 worth of ads this week at KUSA-TV, KCNC-TV and KMGH-TV. That was down 46 percent from last week and down 56 percent from two weeks ago.

Obama is spending almost seven times what McCain is at those stations in the final days, the Post reported.

McCain repeatedly hit Obama and the administration throughout a 300-mile, 11-hour bus tour targeting blue-collar Florida workers like the Ohio plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher. He's become the central thematic element in speeches by McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, since accusing Obama of fostering tax plans that would keep him from buying the two-man company where he works.

From Daytona Beach on Florida's Atlantic Coast to Sarasota on the Gulf Coast, McCain contrasted Obama's plans with his own proposals to cut taxes for individuals and businesses. After a stop at All Star Building Materials in coastal Ormond Beach, he visited an Altamonte Springs dentist who said he faced the prospect of layoffs, ate lunch at a Latino restaurant in Orlando and strawberry shortcake at a farm in Plant City.

He ended the day at a fairgrounds in Sarasota. He cited 15,000 new jobless claims and said, "Sen. Obama's tax increases would put even more people out of work."

McCain also raised the specter of a Democratic White House on top of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

"You know, my friends, you got (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid and (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, you got a recipe for tax-and-spend, tax-and-spend, tax-and-spend," he said.

McCain's route covered the vote-rich "I-4 Corridor" through Orlando, in central Florida. While George W. Bush the state in 2000 and 2004, Obama is threatening to seize it despite a strong GOP machine and the Arizona senator's endorsement by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Florida offers 27 electoral votes, fourth-most in the country. A total of 270 is needed to win the presidency.

Recent polls show Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, with a slight lead over McCain. Nationally, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows McCain and Obama essentially even among likely voters, possible evidence of a tightened race 12 days before the Nov. 4 election.

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On the Net:

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


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