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Obama Vows To Battle Credit Crisis
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Obama Vows To Battle Credit Crisis

Election 2008: On the Campaign Trail

Obama Vows To Battle Credit Crisis

Obama Vows To Battle Credit Crisis
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Democrat Barack Obama on Monday blamed lax oversight and loose regulation for the financial breakdown. The Illinois senator attacked comments made by Republican rival John McCain and his idea of trickle-down economics.

SCOTT HORSLEY: And I'm Scott Horsley in Colorado where John McCain's observation that the fundamentals of the economy are still strong drew an immediate rebuke from Barack Obama.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee): Senator McCain, what economy are you talking about? What's more fundamental than the ability to find a job that pays the bills and that can raise a family?

HORSLEY: Even after McCain rephrased his statement later in the day, saying it was the American worker he meant was strong, Obama didn't let up. We know what you meant the first time, Obama said, because McCain has said the same thing before.

Senator OBAMA: So I congratulate Senator McCain for saying something good about American workers. I think it's good that Senator McCain is celebrating the American worker today. But it would have been nice if over the last 26 years that he's been in Washington, that he actually stood up for them once in a while.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

HORSLEY: Obama said he doesn't blame McCain personally for Wall Street's problems, but he does blame an economic philosophy that he says McCain subscribes to, a philosophy of lax oversight and loose regulation that rewards the wealthy while ignoring the middle class. He noted that McCain's former campaign co-chair, Phil Gramm, led the push for deregulation of the nation's banking industry when Gramm was a senator. Obama said relaxed banking rules have come back to haunt not only borrowers who can't pay their mortgages, but Wall Street lenders as well.

Senator OBAMA: Now, instead of prosperity trickling down, the pain has trickled up from the struggles of hardworking Americans on Main Street to the largest firms on Wall Street. This country cannot afford four more years of this failed philosophy.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

HORSLEY: In between campaign stops yesterday, Obama was on the telephone with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson about the turmoil on Wall Street. He also spoke with his own economic advisers, including former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.

Senator OBAMA: There's a lot of talk about how we're going to get the economy back on track and our financial institutions back on track. The last time we saw something like this was with the savings and loans crisis, and we are going to have a lot of rebuilding to do.

HORSLEY: Obama drew big crowds yesterday in western and southern Colorado, two corners of this battleground state that are not its Democratic strongholds. While he was stressing the economy, running mate Joe Biden was talking campaign tactics in Michigan, criticizing McCain for a string of misleading campaign ads.

Senator JOE BIDEN (Democrat, Delaware; 2008 Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee): The same campaign that once called for a town hall meeting a week is now launching a low blow a day.

HORSLEY: Speaking at a high school gym outside Detroit, Biden said McCain had deliberately misrepresented Obama's record on sex education and taxes, charges that are backed-up by independent news outlets and fact-checking websites.

Senator BIDEN: For every punch that's thrown at us, it's at attempt to distract you, to distract the American people, from the very important issues that face this country.

(Soundbite of applause)

HORSLEY: Obama meanwhile took McCain to task for billing himself and his running mate as reformers. If he and Sarah Palin are so interested in getting special interests out of Washington, Obama asked, why is McCain's campaign led by so many former lobbyists?

Senator OBAMA: Lobbyists for the insurance and the oil industry, for Freddie Mac and foreign governments. And if you think those lobbyists are working day and night for John McCain just to put themselves out of work, well, let me tell you, I've got a bridge to sell you up in Alaska.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

HORSLEY: Obama joked about a new McCain campaign that even co-opts one of his own signature campaign lines, "Change We Need." Surrounded by supporters holding signs with that very message, Obama said instead of borrowing my lines, McCain needs to borrow some of our ideas. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Denver.

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