Obama hits McCain, Clinton in Maine

February 9, 2008 5:11:28 PM PST
Democrat Barack Obama said he is better positioned to change Washington and to end the Iraq war if elected president in an unusually spirited critique of rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain on Saturday Before 7,000 people in Bangor, Me., Obama said McCain - the likely Republican nominee - "wants to fight a 100-year war" in Iraq. It was a reference to the Arizona senator's remarks that some U.S. troops may be in Iraq a century from now.

He also criticized McCain for initially voting against President Bush's major tax cuts and later embracing them. And he mocked McCain's attacks on pork barrel spending, saying, "it was his party" under the Bush administration "that passed the biggest increase in pork barrel spending" in history.

Unlike his earlier stop Saturday at a Bangor diner, Obama directly criticized Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination. The Maine caucus is on Sunday.

Clinton, a New York senator, and her backers have suggested he "has not been in Washington long enough" and is naive and untested, Obama told the capacity crowd, as another 3,000 stood outside on a chilly day. The audience cheered and hooted in derision.

Anti-war sentiments run high in Maine, and the Illinois senator drew some of the loudest applause when he noted that he opposed the Iraq invasion from the start, and vowed to bring U.S. troops home promptly if elected.

"It's going to be a lot easier for me to have that debate with John McCain than Senator Clinton, because she supported the war," he said, alluding to Clinton's 2002 Senate vote.

Since McCain emerged as the clear GOP front-runner, Obama has stepped up his criticisms of him. His remarks about Clinton contained little that was new, but his delivery seemed more pointed than unusual, and the Bangor crowd encouraged him with loud cheers and standing ovations.