Obama Sharpens Attacks

The White House hopeful gets tough on opponent John McCain.

ByABC News
February 19, 2009, 5:01 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Aug. 18, 2008— -- Back from his Hawaiian vacation, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has sharpened his attacks on his opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., with a new sense of urgency and a new message.

His once obligatory mention that McCain "is a genuine American hero" was gone today, as he addressed 1,800 supporters at Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque.

McCain "said my plan would cause a major economic disaster," Obama said. "Mr. McCain, the economic disaster is happening right now, maybe you haven't noticed."

Obama's sharp rhetoric concerning his Republican opponent centers on domestic issues, and highlights the Democrat's current campaign message: A McCain presidency would just continue the policies of President Bush.

"Basically, what John McCain's done is he's hired the same old folks who brought you George W. Bush," Obama said during a town hall meeting in Reno, Nev., Sunday afternoon.

As Obama began a swing through states Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., lost during his 2004 presidential run, including Nevada and New Mexico -- he will also visit Florida, North Carolina and Virginia -- he argued that McCain not only supports Bush's policies, but that he's intent on continuing them.

"They don't have something positive to say about what they're going to do for America. What they try to do is, they say, 'Well, this other guy, he's unpatriotic,' or 'This other guy, he likes French people.' That's what they said about Kerry," Obama said.

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said in response that "after being upstaged at the Saddleback Compassion Forum, Barack Obama has adjusted his stump remarks into a hysterical litany of political attacks."

Obama chief strategist David Axelrod told ABC News that "this race has always been about more of the same versus change that works, particularly around the economy."

While many pundits have said this election is a referendum on Obama, according to Axelrod, "Ultimately, this race was always going to be a referendum on the economy and the Republicans' management of the economy. We knew we had to take a little bit of a detour to make the trip," he said, referring to Obama's international trip, which McCain seized as an opportunity to portray Obama as a jet-setting shallow celebrity.