ESPANOLA, NM — In a dusty town square in the town of Espanola in the north central region of the battleground state of New Mexico, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Thursday afternoon continued to assail opponent Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as someone who would do or say anything to get elected.
"All of a sudden, he’s has become a populist," Obama said. "Now he’s unleashed an angry tirade against all the insiders and lobbyists who happened to have supported him for the last twenty-six years – the same folks who are running his campaign right now."
Obama’s criticisms were entirely focused on McCain’s positions on the economy, with the Democrat portraying his GOP rival as a flip-flopping poseur.
"John McCain can’t decide whether he’s Barry Goldwater or Dennis Kucinich," Obama said, referring to the libertarian free-market conservative Republican and the left-wing Democrat who opposes free trade. "He’s not clear about what he thinks or what he believes."
"Well, I have a message for Senator McCain," Obama continued. "You can’t just run away from your long-held views or your life-long record. You can’t erase twenty-six years of support for the very policies and people who helped bring in this disaster with one week of rants. You can’t just erase all that with one week worth of rants. What we need is honest talk and real solutions."
Obama made mention of McCain’s pledge today to fire Securities and Exchange Commissioner Chris Cox, which a president does not have the legal ability to do in a literal sense, though certainly political pressures can be brought to bear to force a commissioner to resign.
"He’s calling for the firing of the Securities and Exchange Commission(er)," Obama said, "Well, I think that’s all fine and good, but here’s what I say: In the next 47 days, you can fire the whole Trickle-Down, On-Your-Own, Look-the-Other-Way crowd in Washington who has led us down this disastrous path. Don’t just get rid of one guy, get rid of this administration, get rid of this philosophy, get rid of the do nothing approach and put somebody in there who is going to fight for you."
Obama noted that McCain earlier this week said that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong."
"This comment – this comment was out so out of touch that even George Bush’s White House couldn’t agree with it when they were asked about it," Obama said. "They had to distance theirself (sic) from John McCain."
Obama was referring to the fact that on Wednesday White House press secretary Dana Perino refused to answer reporters’ questions as to whether the fundamentals of the economy are strong, saying only that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has asserted "that as he looks at our country and compares it with other countries, that we are in a position of strength to be able to deal with this crisis, and it’s going to take us a while to work through it."
"I recognize that this issue of strength has come into the 2008 election," Perino explained. "I’m not going to try to get involved in it."
Obama today accused McCain of not only flip-flopping on the government bailout of insurance giant AIG, but lying about Obama’s response by claiming the Democrat opposes it.
"On Tuesday, (McCain) said the government should stand aside and allow one of the nation’s largest insurers AIG, to collapse," Obama said. "I mean he said this in three different interviews despite the possibility that it would put millions of Americans at risk. But by Wednesday, he changed his mind. And today he accused me of not supporting what the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank did with AIG despite no evidence whatsoever that that’s what I had said."
In truth, Obama has not taken a position on the bailout of AIG, one of the most significant developments in the financial sector in modern history.
Obama blamed much of the current crisis on former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, a former co-chair of the McCain campaign who resigned after controversial comments that the U.S. was in a "mental recession"
and had become "sort of a nation of whiners."
Calling Gramm "one of the leading architects of the de-regulation in Washington that led directly to this mess on Wall Street" Obama pointed out that Gramm "also happens to be the architect of John McCain’s economic plan. There was talk that John McCain wanted to put in charge of the Treasury Department if John McCain was elected."
The Democrat said that when he was "warning about the danger ahead on Wall Street months ago because of the lack of oversight, Sen. McCain was telling the Wall Street Journal — and I quote —‘ I’m always for less regulation.’ This is what he said just a few months ago. Except now, with the magnitude of the crisis apparent even to the Bush White House, John McCain wants to reverse himself, he wants to reverse course. Now, all of a sudden, he has become a populist."
– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller