Saturday, September 13, 2008

Tales from the Trail

Tracking the 2008 U.S. campaign

September 13th, 2008

Obama presses sharper message against McCain, despite Ike

MANCHESTER, N.H. - As Hurricane Gustav threatened to wreak havoc on the Gulf Coast two weeks ago, Democrat Barack Obama made a point of toning down his campaign rhetoric during a swing through the Midwest, saying it was not a time for politics.

The White House hopeful and his Republican opponent John McCain also took a day off from battling each other on Thursday to observe the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in a solemn ceremony at Ground Zero in New York City.

But Obama, who has faced complaints from some supporters that he is not fighting back hard enough against McCain’s attacks, was undeterred in his determination on Saturday to keep up a more aggressive tone to his campaigning as Hurricane Ike raked Texas.

rtr21ul3.jpgObama used the first several minutes of his rally speech here to express sympathy for people in Texas whose lives have been “upended as a consequence of Hurricane Ike.”

Then he transitioned back to the campaign by saying that Americans across the country are facing a “quiet storm” because of the failed policies of the Bush administration.

He lambasted McCain as someone offering more of the same, saying he was “out of touch” while latching onto the Democrat’s message of change.

“You’ve got John McCain, my opponent in this election, who has been standing up since his convention suggesting that somehow he and his running mate are going to be the original mavericks and are going to shake things up in Washington,” Obama told the outdoor rally of about 7,000 people.

That prompted McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds to point out that Obama had canceled plans to appear on Saturday Night Live this weekend because of Hurricane Ike but did not set politics aside. Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, scrapped plans to attend the Manchester rally with Obama in light of the storm.

“Today’s attacks mark a new low from Barack Obama,” Bounds said, adding that “it says a lot about Barack Obama’s judgment.

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