ELKO, Nev. -- Barack Obama used his third campaign trip to this city in northern Nevada, a red state he is hoping to steal from Republicans in November, to link his rival to the very "Old Boys' Network" he has promised to fight.
Obama, who has consistently argued that John McCain does not understand the magnitude of the economic troubles facing the country, told a crowd of more than 1,500 people gathered in a park here today that, unlike McCain, it didn't take a crisis on Wall Street for him to realize people were suffering on Main Street.
"We can't steer ourselves out of this crisis by taking the same disastrous road, and that's what this election's about," he said, repeating his earlier criticisms of McCain's response to the financial crisis.
He went on to argue, as he often does, that the Arizona senator would mean more of the same when it came to Washington politics and a trickle down economic philosophy.
"Yesterday, John McCain actually said that if he's president he'll take on, and I quote, 'the Old Boys' Network in Washington.' I'm not making this up. This is somebody been in Congress for 26 years, who put seven of the most powerful Washington lobbyists in charge of his campaign, and now he tells us that he's the one who's going to take on the old boys network," he said. "In the McCain campaign, that's called a staff meeting!"
The senator addressed the latest news from Wall Street, the federal bailout of American International Group, insisting -- as he did in response to the takeover earlier this month of mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- that the solution should not reward those who reaped benefits from the company's investments when times were good.
"We don't know all the details of the arrangement with AIG," he said. "The Federal Reserve must ensure that plans protect the families that count on insurance and it should bolster our economy's ability to create good paying jobs and help working Americans pay their bills and save money. It must not bail out the shareholders, or management of AIG that were making big profits when times were good -- they shouldn't be bailed out when times are bad."
In an e-mailed response, the McCain campaign said that while Obama criticized the Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation, which deregulated the banking industry as a cause of the problems on Wall Street, he ignored the fact that one of his Republican backers, former Iowa Rep. Jim Leach, who spoke at the Denver convention, was one of the sponsors of the 1999 bill.
"Barack Obama will say anything to disguise his nonexistent record of reforming government, including ignoring the fact that his campaign leadership sponsored the same bill that he blames for the current 'mess on Wall Street,'" wrote McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds. "Whether it's taking record amounts of campaign cash from Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, Barack Obama and his do-nothing record of reform is what is broken in Washington."
Obama Discusses Yemen Attack
While the focus of the race in recent days has been on the economy, the attack by militants in Yemen today that killed 16 people brought national security back to the forefront. Obama said he strongly condemned the attack.
"I honor the embassy guards who defended the compound, and my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and while I'm thankful that no Americans were killed, I am deeply saddened by the loss of innocent life," he said. "It just reminds us that we have to redouble our efforts to root out and destroy international terrorist organizations and to make investments that keep us safe in our homeland and our embassies around the world. And the attack reminds us that we're grateful for all Americans -- military and civilian -- who are in dangerous places all around the world and are serving us so well, so I hope that everyone keeps them in mind."
After a foray to the safe state of California for two massive multimillion dollar fundraisers yesterday -- the campaign has not released an official figure for the amount raised but estimated it was something close to $9 million -- the senator returned to a state he lost to Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primaries. He stressed the importance of campaigning in a Republican stronghold.
"There's a reason we keep coming to Elko," he said. "In the past, presidential candidates don't come up here. Their attitude is, 'Well, you know, if you're a Democrat, you go down to Vegas.' If you're a Republican, I don't know, I guess you just don't show up. But see, this place is like places all across the country -- people who are working hard, who are giving back to the community, who are looking after their families and have been forgotten."
Calling his supporters his "ambassadors," Obama closed by asking them to talk to their friends and neighbors, even to "argue with them and get in their face" to deliver the message about his plans to lower taxes and his support for the Second Amendment.
-- Athena Jones
Biden Blames GOP For Crisis
MAUMEE, Ohio -- Joe Biden kicked off a tour of Ohio -- a state that picked George W. Bush twice for president -- by reminding voters that it was, in fact, the Republican Party that's been calling the shots for eight years.
Discussing the economic crisis, Biden referred all the way back to Herbert Hoover as he asked a crowd "when an administration has denied responsibility as much as this one."
"Who was in charge?" he said. "The president of the United States, the Republican Party, controlled this outfit for eight years, five of which they controlled the Congress, and all of a sudden it's, 'My goodness, there's greed on Wall Street! My goodness, we need common sense regulation!'"
He faulted John McCain specifically for being "out of touch," pointing to his comment that the "fundamentals of the economy" were strong and subsequent backtrack.
"This boy," he said of the 72-year-old Republican, "had what they call a political epiphany, not a policy epiphany. This guy didn't change his policy, but he changed his rhetoric."
But Biden said that if McCain truly saw what was happening, he should acknowledge "that the political philosophy, the economic philosophy that he has subscribed to and this administration has subscribed to ... is bankrupt along with Lehman Brothers."
"John said when asked, 'I'm always for less regulation,'" Biden said. "Now John says he's going to crack down on the greed on Wall Street, the greed of American corporations. As my mom would say -- God love her -- my mom would say, 'Don't look at what I say, look at what I do.'"
McCain's tax plan, he said, shows that the Republican values the wealthy "and the super-wealthy," not people like the 1,500 who gathered on West Wayne Street here. "People in the middle class need it just to get along," he said, adding that Obama's tax plan would cover 95 percent of Americans. And he called the Republican campaign's effort to paint Obama as a tax-raiser a "flat lie," and expressed disbelief that Republicans claim a higher ground on fiscal management.
"Please, please, please, please, spare me about how Republicans are good managers of our money," he said. "What possible right do they have to say to anybody, particularly us, that they know how to manage our money and manage the economy?"
With 48 days left in the campaign, Biden urged the crowd to ignore the "politics of misrepresentations" coming from McCain, who he said is following "Karl Rove's playbook."
"The attempt is to not talk about you, not to talk about your lives, not to talk about your futures," he said.
-- Mike Memoli