Obama Campaign Begins Counterattack
Saturday, September 13, 2008; Page A03
CONCORD, N.H., Sept. 12 -- Sen. Barack Obama and his campaign launched a promised counterpunch against Sen. John McCain on Friday, portraying him as an aging, out-of-touch politician who would cater to "fat-cat" lobbyists and continue President Bush's economic policies.
With two new television advertisements, a campaign memo to supporters and a two-day trip through New Hampshire, Obama sought to regain his footing amid faltering poll numbers, a continuing assault by his Republican presidential rival and rising worries among Democrats about his campaign.
"They've been talking about lipstick and they've been talking about pigs and they've been talking about Paris and Britney," Obama told a boisterous crowd of 1,500 packed into a gym at a technical college here. "They will spend any amount of money and use any tactic out there in order to avoid talking about how we're going to move America forward to the future."
Attempting to shift the focus away from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and to McCain, Obama quoted his opponent saying Thursday night that "it's easy for me to go to Washington and, frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have."
"So from where he and George Bush sit, maybe they just can't see," the Democrat told supporters and some self-identified undecided voters earlier in the day in Dover. "Maybe they are just that out of touch. But you know the truth, and so do I. . . . We just can't afford four more years of what John McCain and George Bush consider progress."
If Democrats were expecting a dramatic change in words, tone or temperament, they did not get it. While McCain attacked him as a pampered, fading celebrity, a sexist and a desperate bully, Obama stuck to familiar themes linking the senator from Arizona to Bush and Washington lobbyists.
Even after being prodded by the audience in Dover, Obama appeared reluctant to get too aggressive. Glenn Grasso, 39, a doctoral student, pleaded: "When and how are you going to start fighting back?"
Obama responded by calling McCain's ads "just fabricated" and "just made up," an answer that spurred some to shout out: "Lies."
"Lies, that's the word," Obama said.
Not everyone was reassured. "Truth be told, I'm extremely worried" about Obama's dip in the polls and McCain's attacks, said Jaimee Rudman, 30.
Obama's use of McCain's words from a forum Thursday on volunteerism invited a biting response. McCain had suggested that he was out of touch as a way to defend Palin's record as a small-town mayor. But Obama also came to her defense at the forum, saying mayors fill potholes, trim trees and make sure the garbage is collected, while senators "yak."
"It's a shame that Barack Obama is using a discussion of service on September 11th as the basis for a distorted political attack. Especially when you consider that during the same event, Barack Obama reduced his own service in the U.S. Senate to mindless yakking," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds responded in a statement.