Obama: McCain thinks nation on the 'right track'

July 30, 2008 6:09:21 PM PDT
Democatic presidential contender Barack Obama said Wednesday his Republican rival John McCain "thinks we're on the right track," drawing a chorus of boos from a swing state audience vocal about the status quo. "These anxieties seem to be growing with each passing day," Obama said on a campaign trip in this economically ailing battleground state. "We can either choose a new direction for our economy or we can keep doing what we've been doing. My opponent, John McCain, thinks we're on the right track."

That elicited boos from some of the 1,500 people who filled a Springfield high school gymnasium. When an AP-Ipsos poll asked the "right track, wrong track" question this month, 77 percent said they thought the country was on the wrong track. The same poll set President Bush's approval rating at 28 percent. Both were records for the AP-Ipsos survey.

"It's true that change is hard, change isn't easy," Obama said. "Nobody here thinks that Bush or McCain has a real answer for the challenges we face so what they're going to try to do is make you scared about me."

Change with difficulty was a core theme Democrat Bill Clinton used when he opposed President George H.W. Bush in 1992, a campaign also fought during tough economic times.

"We don't need the same old tired answers," Obama said. "We need something new."

Obama said McCain will resort to tired Republican charges that he's a big-spending liberal, arguing his tax-cut plans are aimed at the middle class.

"I want to cut taxes for middle-class families, ordinary folks who are working hard and playing by the rules," he said.

He compared himself to western legend Wild Bill Hickok, who he said fought a duel in Springfield.

"I'm ready to duel John McCain on taxes right here, quick draw," Obama said. That drew a quick retort from a McCain aide.

"If Barack Obama wants this so-called duel then why did he and his entourage run for the hills when John McCain challenged him to 10 town halls," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

Obama responded after shaking hands at a restaurant in Lebanon.

"I don't hear very much positive from Sen. McCain," he said. "He seems to be only talking about me. You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against."

Obama sharpened his message as the day progressed.

He told a crowd of 1,200 in Rolla, Mo., that the country can't keep doing the same things and expect a different results. "That's a definition of madness, but that's what John McCain is offering. He's offering Bush economic policies and Karl Rove politics," Obama said.

Linking Bush and McCain was a key part of his message.

"Nobody thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face. So what they are going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama said. "You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all of those other presidents on the dollar bills."

And from under a tent at a rain-soaked barbecue in Union, Mo., he said: "They're going to say I'm a risky guy. What they're going to argue is I'm too risky. The real risk is that we miss the moment, that we don't do what's needed becasue we're afraid."

Obama spent the day riding a bus across southwest Missouri, where Republicans have triumphed in recent elections, and arguing that he can bring new regions into play because a sour economy is dominating the political landscape. He faces the challenge of convincing voters in largely rural sections of the country to back his campaign.

"It's a leap, electing a 46-year-old black guy named Barack Obama," he said at one point.

Obama traveled with Sen. Claire McCaskill, herself a product of rural Missouri.

Speaking to The Associated Press, McCaskill said there were gains to be made in rural Missouri.

"The idea here is it makes a difference if you demonstrate to people in Republican strongholds that you want their vote and that you care about them," she said. "I don't think any of us on the campaign are anticipating that Sen. Obama is going to win southwest Missouri. The question is how many votes can we get in southwest Missouri."

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On the Net:

McCain: http://www.johnmccain.com

Obama: http://www.barackobama.com


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