Concord (New Hampshire, United States), Sept. 13 : Seeking to regain his footing amid faltering poll numbers in the run-up to the November 4 presidential elections, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama launched a stinging counter-attack against his Republican presidential rival John McCain.
The Obama campaign launched its promised counterpunch against McCain on Friday, portraying him as an aging, out-of-touch politician who would cater to "fat-cat" lobbyists and continue President Bush's economic policies.
With two new television advertisements, a campaign memo to supporters and a two-day trip through New Hampshire, Obama told a boisterous crowd of 1,500 packed into a gym at a technical college here: "They will spend any amount of money and use any tactic out there in order to avoid talking about how we're going to move America forward to the future."
He also deliberately shifted focus away from Republican vice-presidential nominee and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
"So from where he (McCain) and George Bush sit, maybe they just can't see. Maybe they are just that out of touch. But you know the truth, and so do I. . . . We just can't afford four more years of what John McCain and George Bush consider progress," the Washington Post quoted Obama, as saying. While McCain has been attacking Obama by terming him as a pampered, fading celebrity, a sexist and a desperate bully, Obama stuck to familiar themes linking the senator from Arizona to Bush and Washington lobbyists.
Even after being prodded by the audience in Dover, Obama appeared reluctant to get too aggressive.
Obama called McCain's ads "just fabricated" and "just made up," an answer that spurred some to shout out: "Lies."
"Lies, that's the word," Obama said.
Obama's use of McCain's words from a forum Thursday on volunteerism invited a biting response. McCain had suggested that he was out of touch as a way to defend Palin's record as a small-town mayor.
In a memo to supporters, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said: "In recent weeks, John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people."
Plouffe assured supporters that "we will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain's attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people."
The Obama campaign quickly produced newspaper articles about Palin seeking various earmarks as governor. The McCain campaign also kept up its attacks on Friday, releasing an ad titled "Disrespectful" that kept up its celebrity attack on Obama even as it continued to play the victim card with Palin.
Obama focused on his tax plan, which offers sizable breaks to middle-income families, while raising taxes on families earning more than 250,000 dollars.
He said McCain has been "simply dishonest" about that plan, asserting repeatedly that an Obama administration would raise everyone's taxes.
"I will make a firm pledge: I pledge under my plan, no one making less than 250,000 dollars a year will see any type of tax increase, not income tax, not capital gains taxes, not any kind of taxes," Obama said.
He also slammed McCain's proposal to tax the value of employer-based health-care plans as income and use that to help finance tax credits to buy health insurance.