by Kevin Flynn - Saturday October 18 2008 09:22:53 AM
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama returned to the Republican stronghold of Southwest Virginia yesterday to blast his opponent's health-care plan, saying it would force deep cuts in Medicare.
"I don't think that's right," Obama told an enthusiastic crowd of more than 8,000 at the Roanoke Civic Center. "In fact, it ain't right."
Obama said Republican nominee John McCain would reduce benefits by 20 percent and increase the costs of prescription drugs "to pay for an ill-conceived, badly thought-through health-care plan that won't provide more health care to people."
...Obama said McCain's plan would cut $882 billion from Medicare over 10 years.
...Obama's appearance yesterday was his third trip to Virginia in four weeks and his seventh since he locked up the Democratic nomination.
...Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., have stumped multiple times in Southwest Virginia, hoping to hold down GOP margins in the region.
..."I think it shows a respect for this part of the country. We're in the middle of nowhere," said [Mr.] Blacksburg resident Hope Gruszewski, who stood on the civic center floor just steps from the stage festooned with Obama pins. "Can he win? Look at us!"
...Obama was greeted by a deafening roar from damp supporters who braved cold rain for hours to get a seat.
"It was all worth it," said Kathleen Mahin, a 21-year-old James Madison University student who braved raw weather with her sister, Grace, after driving two hours to Roanoke.
"He just brings so much hope," she said. "Hope for our future."
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Rep. Rick Boucher, D-9th, preceded Obama on stage. Webb, a war veteran and former Navy secretary, said Obama understands the issues important to Southwest Virginians.
"Barack Obama is like you. He knows what it's like to struggle," he said. "I trust him."
..."McCain hasn't really shown interest in Southwest Virginia," said Emma Betz, one of seven Blacksburg high school students who made the trip yesterday and has logged more than 100 hours in the region canvassing for Obama. "I think it's really important that he came."
Maxine Weeks, 66, said she was excited to see her candidate.
"It's time for a change," she said. "It's a historic moment."
Obama closed by cautioning his supporters not to grow complacent.
"We are 18 days away from changing this country," he said.
From the Boston Globe:
...Obama cites a Wall Street Journal article this month that stated McCain "would pay for his health plan with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid" to keep his plan "budget neutral." The cuts could total $1.3 trillion over 10 years, independent analysts who were quoted in the Journal estimated.
"It turns out Senator McCain would pay for part of his plan by making drastic cuts in Medicare - $882 billion worth - $882 billion in Medicare cuts to pay for an ill-conceived, badly thought through healthcare plan that wouldn't provide more healthcare to people, even as Medicare already faces a looming shortfall," Obama said at a rally yesterday in Virginia, one of the traditionally Republican states he is trying to win over on Nov. 4.
..."If you count on Medicare, it would mean fewer places to get care, and less freedom to choose your own doctors. You'll pay more for your drugs, receive fewer services, and get lower quality care," Obama said of McCain's plan. "When you've worked hard your whole life, and paid into the system, . . . you shouldn't have the carpet pulled out from under you when you least expect it and can least afford it."
Obama has been criticizing the centerpiece of McCain's plan - a $2,500 tax credit for individuals and $5,000 for families - because it would be offset by requiring workers to pay taxes on health benefits they now get tax-free from their employers.
From the Associated Press:
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden accused Republicans of employing "scurrilous" campaign tactics and urged supporters not to be distracted from the economic issues affecting their lives.
Biden pointed to automated phone calls sent to voters in key swing states by Republican John McCain's campaign.
...The calls assert Obama "worked closely domestic terrorist" Ayers, though there is no evidence the Illinois senator and Ayers are close.
"The Republican campaign has stepped up its attacks," Biden told a crowd of 3,800 at an evening rally in the Las Vegas suburbs. "You may have heard about the scurrilous phone calls that are coming into homes — in Nevada and in New Mexico, where I was, and in Virginia, where I'm going — that question Barack Obama's character and my implication question his patriotism."
"They don't hurt Barack Obama. They don't hurt me. But they hurt the American people because they're an attempt to distract you from the issues that matter to your daily lives."
...At an earlier rally, in Mesilla, N.M., Biden took aim at a comment from rival Sarah Palin, in which she said she loves visiting "pro-America" parts of the country. Biden said he believed the whole country is patriotic.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have never been to a state that hasn't sent its sons and daughters to serve its country," Biden said in Mesilla as the crowd of about 2,000 booed Palin's reported comments. "It doesn't matter where you live, we all love this country. And I hope it gets through that one of the reasons why Barack (Obama) and I are running is that we know how damaging the policy of division ... has been.
"We are one nation, under God, indivisible," Biden shouted to the crowd. "We are all patriotic, we all love this country."
According to published reports, Palin told a North Carolina fundraiser Thursday that the best of America was not in Washington, D.C., but in small towns like the one in Alaska where she served as mayor.
The Delaware senator focused his remarks Friday on the working-class issues that have been the foundation of his appeal.
In Nevada, he spoke in a city park in Henderson, an older first-ring suburb of Las Vegas. The area has been roughed up by the collapse of the housing market. An impassioned and animated Biden, promised to rebuild the middle class, reform health care and put a temporary moratorium on home foreclosures.
..."Barack is going to have his hands full. But Barack is put together and, by the way, they are steady hands, you watch him," "You saw how steady he is in those debates. This is man who has equanimity. This is man who not only is really bright, but he has the temperament for the moment."
From the Los Angeles Times:
On Thursday, Miami-Dade County disclosed that Democrats had added more than 94,000 new voters to the rolls since January, compared with about 21,000 new Republicans. Democrats' gain came partly from the Obama campaign's major voter registration efforts here. The party has also made large gains statewide, though final numbers are not yet known.
Now the Obama campaign believes that it can win Florida -- and, therefore, a majority in the Electoral College -- by turning these voter registration gains into actual votes. In addition, the campaign has identified more than half a million African Americans and hundreds of thousands of young people statewide who were already registered but did not vote four years ago.
..."The demographics of Florida have lined up better for us" than in some other battleground states, said Steve Hildebrand, Obama's deputy campaign manager, referring to the campaign's outreach to African Americans, who are numerous in Miami-Dade County. "Ohio is more about persuasion. Here it's more about turnout."
In addition to Hildebrand, who is now focusing almost entirely on Miami-Dade County, the officials sent to Florida include the Obama campaign's liaison to the national Democratic Party and its senior or No. 2 outreach directors for African Americans, Jews and religious leaders.
...Obama aides have said they planned to spend $39 million to win Florida. But some Republicans think the total expenditure will far exceed that amount, given the countless Obama ads they see on television, the Obama spots that play even on country music stations -- which Republicans tend to target -- and the campaign's paid staff of nearly 400.
Hildebrand, a key architect of Obama's national field organization, arrived earlier this month and started courting key black and Cuban American leaders.
..."The substance of the conversation was that we really have to get people out to vote, that we just pack out the polls with people," said the Rev. Walter T. Richardson, pastor of the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church.