Obama told reporters in Asheville, N.C., that he was surprised his Republican rival's campaign would signal an effort to avoid talking about the financial turmoil because McCain advisers fear it could cause him to lose the election.
"I've got news for the McCain campaign: The American people are losing right now," he said. "They're losing their jobs. They're losing their health care. They're losing their homes. They're losing their savings. I cannot imagine anything more important to talk about."
An aide to McCain recently said the GOP campaign would like to shift the presidential race's focus away from the economy, which has been a better issue for Democrats than Republicans. Since then, McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, has been questioning Obama's character based on his association with an incendiary pastor and a 1960s radical turned college professor.
Obama said he would keep talking about the economy and didn't answer questions about the associations McCain's campaign has questioned.
"The notion that we would want to brush that aside and engage in the usual political shenanigans and smear tactics that have come to characterize too many political campaigns is not what the American people are looking for," he said before stopping at a local barbecue joint for ribs and corn pudding. He's been in Asheville since Saturday preparing for Tuesday night's debate in neighboring Tennessee.
McCain continues to discuss economic conditions, but Obama says he needs to offer better and more specific remedies.
Obama renewed his call for extending unemployment insurance and for enacting a second stimulus package that would include tax cuts for millions of Americans. Congress has rejected those proposals in recent months.
He also urged Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to move swiftly to restore confidence in the economy, noting that U.S. struggles were spreading across the globe. He said there was a great danger of the credit markets locking up - the underlying problem that led Congress to pass a $700 billion relief package last week.
Noting sharp drops in financial markets around the world, Obama said, "It is a reminder that the rescue package that was passed last week is not the end. It's just the beginning."
Obama and McCain voted for the measure in the Senate, hoping it would enable the government to buy deeply devalued mortgage-backed securities to help banks find money to make loans.
Palin also addressed Monday's market slide at a fundraiser in Naples, Fla. "We need to cut taxes for businesses so they can hire more people -- that's how jobs are created. The other side just doesn't seem to understand that, especially in these times of economic woes," Palin said. "And today is not a good day. If you turn on the news tonight when you get home, you're gonna see that, ya, this is another woeful day in the market."