ABC News’ John Berman, Sunlen Miller and Ursula Fahy Report: It was no more Mr. Nice Guy from Barack Obama Thursday in Grand Rapids Michigan. After two days on the stump where the name of Republican rival John McCain passed his lips just once, Obama was back on the attack today.
He spoke of the federal job report coming out tomorrow, and predicted it would show more job losses, which would make 9 months of job losses in a row. "Yet, just the other week," Obama told the crowd, "John McCain said the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Well, I don’t know what yardstick Senator McCain uses, but where I come from, there’s nothing more fundamental than a job."
At a Sept. 15 rally, McCain said the economy was in "crisis" but said it was not the fault of the American worker, praising the fundamentals of America as "strong".
Michigan is a state that knows economic hardship. It has the highest unemployment rate in the country and has lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000.
"Everywhere you look, the economic news is troubling," Obama said, "But for so many of you here in Michigan, it isn’t really news at all."
Michigan is also a state with 17 electoral votes coveted by both campaigns. This was Obama’s second trip here in less than a week; he was in Detroit on Sunday, and his campaign is also bringing in the big guns. His wife Michelle is in Saginaw and Macomb County today.
"She’s on the other side of the state. She draws her own crowds and rightfully so," said Obama. "By the way, tomorrow is our 16th anniversary. So I’ve got this romantic dinner planned. I- and I think it should go pretty well. That’s my hope anyway. I’ve got a gift all picked out." No word what the gift is.
Local officials say Obama’s event in Grand Rapids drew just under 16,000 people. Kent County, home to Grand Rapids is Republican territory; the home of Gerald Ford and a county that George W. Bush won with nearly 60 percent of the vote in 2004.
Obama’s stump speech didn’t include much in the way of "new" news. Campaign aides acknowledge it is hard to break through in this environment with everyone focused on the congressional vote, and the Thursday night’s vice presidential debate.
By the way, one name Obama did not mention on the stump today? Joe Biden. Not even to wish him luck.