ABC News’ John Berman, Sunlen Miller, and Ursula Fahy report:
At the top of a rally in front of 8 thousand supporters in Manchester, NH, Barack Obama made a brief nod to those bearing the brunt of Hurricane Ike. "We are enjoying a beautiful day in New Hampshire," he told the crowd, "But it is appropriate for us to begin by thinking about those families that are having their lives upended as a consequence of hurricane Ike in the Gulf…I think it’s important for us to make sure we are keeping them in our thoughts and prayers today."
Senator Obama went on to say his supporters should be willing to help those in need.
But Obama then transitioned to a political stump speech using the weather-inspired segue, "a lot of people are going through their own trials and tribulations, there are a lot of quiet storms taking place across America."
Obama continued what is a new campaign effort to sharpen attacks on John McCain, saying, "he is out of touch with the American people." Obama said the McCain team is trying to divert focus from the economic difficulties facing Americans
"They don’t want to debate on the issues," he said. "They are running on 8 more years of what we have seen."
Obama also made reference to some of the media-frenzies of the past weeks and months.
"They are going to spend the next 7-8 weeks trying to distract you, they’re going to talk about pigs, they’re going to talk about lipstick, and they’re going to talk about Paris Hilton, and they’re going to talk about Brittney Spears." But he promised, "I believe we will not be distracted this time, we will not be diverted."
At the very moment that Obama was promising to keep the focus on the issues, his campaign announced the release of a new campaign ad attacking John McCain’s ties to lobbyists. "His campaign manager lobbies for corporations outsourcing American jobs," the ad says, "the campaign chairman he picked last year…a bank lobbyist." The campaign says the ad will air nationally on cable and in "key" states.
The tenor from the Obama campaign in the wake of Hurricane Ike was vastly different than their tone when Gustav hit less than 2 weeks ago. Then, Obama delivered short speeches at giant rallies largely devoid of politics. But now, with his standing in the polls having slipped, perhaps he cannot afford to be so charitable.