Obama says McCain offers 'willful ignorance'

October 21, 2008 4:56:24 PM PDT
In a region experiencing World Series fever, Republican John McCain questioned Democrat Barack Obama's character Tuesday after he expressed support for both teams playing in the upcoming baseball championship. Standing just miles north of Philadelphia, whose Phillies will represent the National League starting Wednesday against the American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, the Republican presidential nominee noted Obama has identified himself with both teams while campaigning in their two politically important home states.

The Illinois senator said over the weekend in Philadelphia that while he was a Chicago fan, "Since the White Sox are out of it, I'll root for the Phillies now." On Monday in Tampa, Obama was introduced by a Rays pitcher and said, "I've said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate, bringing people together. So when you see a White Sox Fan showing love to the Rays - and the Rays showing some love back - you know we are on to something right here."

McCain told several hundred people standing in a cavernous warehouse: "Now, I'm not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between swing states. But I think I may have detected a little pattern with Sen. Obama. It's pretty simple really. When he's campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he's campaigning in Tampa Bay, he `shows love' to the Rays."

As a chorus of boos built, he added:"It's kind of like the way he campaigns on tax cuts, but then votes for tax increases after he's elected. Or the way he says he backs the middle class and then goes and attacks Joe the Plumber after Sen. Obama's asked a tough question. What's that all about?"

In fact, Obama did not attack Joe the Plumber; rather he criticized McCain for suggesting that the Ohio plumber who wants to purchase the plumbing business where he works is in the same economic shape as most working class voters.

McCain's reference to Obama's comments about the two baseball teams was meant to reinforce one of his larger themes: that Obama lacks the experience and character to be president.

McCain was spending Tuesday in Democratic-leaning Pennsylvania, worth 21 Electoral College votes, before heading Wednesday into New Hampshire, a formerly reliable GOP state which Obama has made competitive this year. Though it has only four of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, New Hampshire could swing the election under some voting models which predict a very close Electoral College split.

Addressing employees at TC Millwork Inc., which makes cabinetry and other wooden goods, McCain sought to buttress his central theme by highlighting recent comments by Obama's running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden. The Delaware Democrat told two fundraising audiences in Seattle over the weekend that he expected world figures to test Obama with a "generated crisis" if he's elected president.

"He's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him," Biden said.

Biden predicted Obama would fare well because he's "got steel in his spine,"

But McCain said: "We don't want a president who invites testing from the world at a time when our economy is in crisis and Americans are already fighting in two wars."

Earlier in the day, McCain dismissed the idea that he can't win the presidency if the top issue is the flagging economy.

Obama has repeatedly cited a top McCain strategist's remark to the New York Daily News recently that "if we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."

"It's absolutely not true," McCain said on "The Early Show" on CBS. "We're focusing on the economy," the Arizona senator added. "Listen to me. I'm the candidate, and this campaign is about the economy."

Polls show that voters have more confidence in Obama when it comes to economic issues. McCain has been using a remark by Obama that he wanted to "spread the wealth around" to argue the Democrat favors socialist economic policies.


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