ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: Sen. Barack Obama criticized Sen. John McCain for his campaign’s ties to lobbyists, spurred from the recent resignation of five campaign staffers.
Today McCain’s national finance co-chair, Tom Loeffler, resigned because of his lobbyist ties — following four others on the campaign. The purging came after McCain campaign manager Rick Davis resolved last week to remove all registered lobbyists from the campaign.
At a press availability in Milwaukie, Ore., Obama responded to questions about what the rash of recent resignations shows about McCain, "It appears that John McCain is very much a creature of Washington."
The Illinois senator said by comparison that his campaign doesn’t take PAC money or money from federal lobbyists.
At a rally later in the day in Portland, Obama’s new criticism of McCain found a place in his stump speech.
"John McCain now has had to get rid of five of his top advisors because it turns out they’re all lobbying, many of them for foreign governments. That’s because he practices the same kind of politics that we’ve grown accustomed to in Washington," he said. "When I decided to run this campaign the first thing we said was we’re not gonna to take money from PACs, we’re not gonna to take money from federally registered lobbyists, because we want to be accountable to the American people."
The McCain campaign was quick to respond, calling Obama’s comment a character assasination on the resigned staffers.
"Many fine people may have a conflict that is not reconcilable. Barack Obama’s dragging the names of good people through the mud publicly is the worst type of character assassination," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a statement.
The McCain campaign turned the tables, saying that Obama himself has not released the names of his advisors.
Bounds also brought up Obama’s relationship with Willam Ayers, a member of the terrorist organization, the Weather Underground.
"Just a few years ago when Barack Obama was beginning his career in politics he was launching it at the home of William Ayers, an unrepentant domestic terrorist who his chief strategist said Senator Obama was certainly friendly with. If Barack Obama is going to make associations the issue, we look forward to the debate about Senator Obama’s associations and what they say about his judgment and readiness to be commander in chief," Bounds wrote.
The criticism of McCain on lobbying follows a weekend chock full of instances of Obama highlighting his differences with McCain — over national security, health care and social security.
ABC’s Bret Hovell contributed to this report.