NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — Responding to comments made Tuesday to the Washington Post by McCain campaign manager Rick Davis that "this election is not about issues, this election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates," Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., accused his rival, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., of having no issues to run on.
"John McCain’s campaign manager said that this election is not going to be about the issues, it’s going to be about personalities," Obama said at a town hall meeting aimed at women and economic issues. "That’s a quote. He said it’s not going to be about -– it’s not going to be about the issues, it’s going to be about personalities, which probably explains why, last night, when they were speaking, all these speakers came up –- you did not hear a single word about the economy.
"Think about it," Obama continued, standing in the blazing sun at Kent State University’s Tuscarawas campus. "Not once did people mention the hardships that folks are going though, not once did they mention what are we going to do about keeping jobs here in Ohio, not once did they mention what are we doing about all these retirees that are losing their pensions, not once did they mention how are we going to make sure Social Security is there for the next generation, not once did they mention how are we going to make college more affordable so that young people aren’t taking out $40,000 or $50,000 in debt, not once did they mention how are we going to make sure people can stay in their homes?"
Obama added, "I guess I don’t blame them. Because, if you don’t have any issues to run on, I guess you want it all to be on personality. And if you’ve got George Bush’s track record and John McCain voting 90 percent of the time in agreement with George Bush, then you probably don’t want to talk about the issues, either.
"I don’t know what John McCain’s thinking," Obama concluded, "but I’m going to be talking a whole lot about issues. … John McCain’s campaign manager is wrong, it’s not about personality, it’s about the issues that you are facing in your day-to-day lives."
Obama also said that, Tuesday, ex-senior McCain adviser, former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, had "repeated" his use of the word "whining" when describing Americans going through tough economic times.
Gramm told a Financial Services Roundtable event in Minneapolis, Tuesday that "if you’re sitting here today, you’re not economically illiterate, and you’re not a whiner, so I’m not worried about who you’re going to vote for." Gramm had been alluding to comments he made in July that the U.S. is in "a mental recession … We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline."
"He said the same thing about whining," Obama said today. "’Stop whining.’"
At another point in his remarks, Obama, as has become a campaign tradition, misstated the name of the town he was visiting, calling New Philadelphia "New Pennsylvania."
– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller