White House Contenders Trade Economic Attacks After McCain Home Gaffe

McCain said that he wasn't sure of how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

ByABC News
August 21, 2008, 4:01 PM

CHESAPEAKE, Va., Aug. 21, 2008— -- Sen. Barack Obama says his Republican rival Sen. John McCain is out of touch and "just doesn't get it."

Obama's argument sprang from comments made by McCain Wednesday during an interview with Politico's Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen in which the Arizona senator said he wasn't sure of how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think -- I'll have my staff get to you," McCain said.

"It's condominiums where -- I'll have them get to you," he added.

Obama, whom McCain has tried to portray as an arugula-nibbling, fancy-berry-tea-quaffing elitist, used the gaffe to further his argument that McCain is out of touch with average Americans.

"If you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong," Obama shot back during a campaign event at John Tyler Community College in Virginia.

"But if you're like me and you've got one house," he continued, "or you're like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective."

The Obama campaign thinks the gaffe may mark a "metaphorical moment" in the campaign -- on par with notorious presidential election gaffes like in 1992 when it was widely reported, perhaps unfairly, that President George H.W. Bush didn't know what a grocery scanner was or in this past year when former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was busted for getting a pair of $400 haircuts.

"They think it's going to have that kind of power," ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said on "World News With Charles Gibson." "The McCain team says, 'No way.'"

The McCain campaign responded to Obama's criticism by invoking, among other things, his ties to convicted land developer Tony Rezko as well as the handsome sum he made last year from book sales.

"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?" asked McCain spokesman Brian Rogers.