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Obama Hits McCain’s “Say Anything” Politics

October 23, 2008 by  


Courtesy Caren Bohan

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) – Democrat Barack Obama criticized Republican White House rival John McCain for a “say anything, do anything” political style on Monday as he opened a two-day tour to kick off early voting in Florida.

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McCain told supporters in Missouri that “nothing is inevitable” and he could still beat Obama, who leads in national opinion polls as the pair began a two-week sprint to the November 4 presidential election.

“In the final days of campaigns, the say-anything, do-anything politics too often takes over,” Obama told about 8,000 supporters in Tampa, Florida. “We’ve seen it before and we’re seeing it again today. The ugly phone calls. The misleading mail and TV ads. The careless, outrageous comments.”

He noted McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, told reporters on Sunday that if she called the shots she would end the automated calls being made by McCain’s campaign, including some that link Obama with 1960s radical Bill Ayers.

“As you know, you really have to work hard to violate Governor Palin’s standards on negative campaigning,” Obama, an Illinois senator, told the crowd.

McCain defended the calls, shrugging off Palin’s remarks in an interview to be aired on Tuesday morning.

“Well, Sarah is a maverick,” McCain told CBS’s “Early Show.” “That robocall is absolutely accurate and by the way, Senator Obama’s campaign is running robocalls as we speak.”

Obama will spend two days in Florida to encourage voters to cast their ballots early in the crucial battleground state, which has 27 electoral votes and is vital for either candidate in their quest for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
More than half of all U.S. states allow voting before November 4, and Florida’s window for early voting began on Monday.

A Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll on Monday showed Obama with a 6-point edge on McCain. A new CNN poll gave Obama a 5-point lead among likely voters, down from an 8-point edge two weeks ago. Other polls also showed a tightening race.

“We’ve got them just where we want them,” McCain said in St. Charles, Missouri. He criticized Obama for already beginning to select his Cabinet officials.

Obama touted his endorsement from Republican former Secretary of State Colin Powell and said he would call on him for advice.

“He will have a role as one of my advisers,” Barack Obama said on NBC’s “Today” a day after earning the endorsement of Powell, who is also a retired four-star general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

‘FORMAL ROLE’

“Whether he wants to take a formal role, whether that’s a good fit for him, is something we’d have to discuss,” Obama said.

McCain met with small business owners in Columbia, Missouri, and afterward repeated his charge that they would suffer under Obama’s plans to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year and to increase capital gains taxes.

“Clearly they do not want to see an increase in their taxes of any kind,” McCain said of the small business owners, saying Obama’s plans were “not the recipe to bring our economy out of the ditch.”

Obama announced on Sunday he had raised $150 million in September, shattering fundraising records he set earlier in the year and fueling a huge spending advantage of about 4-to-1 over McCain in recent weeks in battleground states.

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis criticized Obama for not disclosing the identities of hundreds of thousands of donors who have contributed less than $200 to his campaign. Campaigns are not required to identify those small-dollar donors.

The Obama campaign said it had added more than 600,000 new donors in September for a total of about 3.1 million, with an average donation of $86.

“This pattern of nondisclosure, this pattern of nonresponsiveness, this pattern of setting their own rules to apply to this campaign is consistent with all the other patterns that we’ve seen,” Davis told reporters.

The McCain campaign, which accepted $84 million in public funds for the general election in early September, has listed its small-dollar donors.

Davis said he was not concerned about Obama’s financial advantage, and said the U.S. economic crisis had more to do with Obama’s recent gains in opinion polls than his spending.

The Republican National Committee raised $66 million in September and will be able to help McCain compete in advertising.

“We think money is not going to be what decides this race,” he said. “The lack of money on Wall Street has had more to do with the outcome of this last month politically than the money in Barack Obama’s bank account.”

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by John Whitesides; editing by David Wiessler)

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