by Kevin Flynn - Sunday September 21 2008 09:10:55 AM
From the New York Times:
Senator Barack Obama delivered an ominous warning to Florida voters on Saturday, suggesting that Senator John McCain would “gamble with your life savings” by investing Social Security money in private accounts that could be affected by the roiling financial markets.
...“If my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would’ve had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week,” Mr. Obama told an audience here. “How do you think that would have made folks feel? Millions would’ve watched as the market tumbled and their nest egg disappeared before their eyes.”
The debate over Social Security, which has been unfolding for weeks between the two candidates, took on fresh urgency as the government on Saturday presented details of a $700 billion rescue of the nation’s financial system. The bailout plan changes the landscape of the presidential race and places the proposals of both candidates under higher scrutiny.
Mr. Obama, who appeared before about 2,000 people at Bethune-Cookman University here before holding an evening rally in Jacksonville, is working to increase his appeal to voters in this crucial state. Social Security is a chief concern for retirees — some of whom are the most sought-after voters in Florida — and Mr. Obama vigorously pressed the issue at a campaign event geared toward women.
“I know Senator McCain is talking about a casino culture on Wall Street,” Mr. Obama said. “But the fact is, he’s the one who wants to gamble with your life savings.”
The argument delivered by Mr. Obama on Saturday, which will be amplified through television advertisements, underscores the competition in Florida. Mr. Obama, who did not compete in the state during the primary, is stepping up his presence here and selected Tampa Bay as the site of three days of debate camp beginning on Tuesday.
From the Miami Harold:
To an amped and overflowing crowd in a Republican stronghold, Democrat Barack Obama stepped up his attacks on John McCain, saying Saturday that the Republican in these tough economic times ``wants to do for healthcare what Washington did for banking.''
Obama's broadside -- including a shot on McCain for having top Washington mortgage-industry lobbyists on his campaign -- was launched in the very city where, five days before, McCain armed Obama with a potent political tool: McCain's statement that the ''fundamentals of the economy are strong.''
And Florida voters, according to a new Miami Herald poll, favor Obama's approach to handling it. Obama followed McCain into Florida -- the nation's top job loss state -- and gave nearly identical speeches in Miami, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville to portray McCain as too much of a self-described ''de-regulator'' to propose workable regulations.
...Obama said that McCain's campaign is so heavily run by lobbyists that the past head of Fannie Mae's lobbying shop recently state that, ''When I see photographs of Sen. McCain's staff, it looks to me like the team of lobbyists who used to report to me.'' Said Obama: ``Folks, you can't make this stuff up -- Gimme a break.''
The overflow crowd at Jacksonville's Metropolitan Park -- capacity 13,000 -- ate it up. The energy was notable because though Democrats outnumber Republicans in Duval County, it is a reliable area for the GOP. George Bush got nearly 1 and ½ times more votes than John Kerry in 2004. McCain could barely muster 3,000 when he spoke nearby on Monday.'
From the Tampa Tribune:
Democrat Barack Obama criticized Republican presidential rival John McCain on today for his past advocacy of deregulation, ties to lobbyists and support for privatizing the Social Security system many of the state's elderly residents depend on to make a living.
The Democratic presidential nominee used McCain's words to portray him as an opponent of federal regulation of the banking industry.
McCain, a 26-year veteran of Congress with a long history of opposition to such regulation, now says more controls are needed to prevent a repeat of the financial turmoil that sent the stock market plunging this past week.
"There's only one candidate who's called himself 'fundamentally a deregulator' when deregulation is part of the problem," Obama said during an appearance at Bethune-Cookman University, arranged to highlight his campaign's effort to reach out to women voters.
Obama quoted McCain as saying in trade publication that opening the health insurance market to more vigorous competition nationwide, as was done with the banking industry during the past decade, would provide more choices.
"So let me get this straight. He wants to run health care like they've been running Wall Street," Obama said. "Well, Senator, I know some folks on Main Street who aren't going to think that's a good idea."
..."There's only one candidate whose campaign is being run by seven of Washington's most powerful lobbyists, and folks, it isn't me," Obama said, adding that he doesn't "take a dime" from Washington lobbyists and special interests. He does, however, accept money from non-Washington lobbyists.
"So when John McCain says that lobbyists 'won't even get past the front gate' at his White House, my question is, 'Who's going to stop them?' Those seven lobbyists," Obama said.
On Social Security, Obama said he'll protect and strengthen the program, while McCain wants to privatize it.
...Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, have focused on the faltering economy in recent days, and particularly its effect on women. He focused on his history of being raised by a single mother who once relied on food stamps to make ends meet.
"I know how hard the women of this country are working," Obama said. "I know the anxiety so many of you are feeling right now, as we stand in the midst of the most serious financial crisis of our time."
From the Viginia Pilot:
Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois is the presidential candidate who can lead the United States, work with other nations and restore the world's confidence in democracy, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told more than 400 people Saturday at Christopher Newport University's Ferguson Center for the Arts.
"I think he has a 21st-century vision for these 21st-century problems," Albright said. "I am so admiring of the way he thinks."
Albright, who became the country's first female secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, was in Newport News for the first of three stops Saturday in Virginia, supporting Obama in a state she believes will be crucial in the November election.
...In a 20-minute speech followed by questions from the audience, Albright outlined the big "umbrella issues" that will be facing America's next president as he takes on an increasingly unstable global situation. A new president will have to fight terrorists without creating more of them, forge new nuclear weapons agreements, and "restore the good name of democracy," she said.
"I don't think I've ever seen the world in such a mess," said Albright, who served as secretary of state from 1997 to 2001.
Albright said the war in Iraq "will go down in history as the greatest disaster in American foreign policy."
She said the next president will have to find a way to manage the instability in Pakistan, where a truck bomb at the entrance to a Marriott hotel killed at least 40 people this weekend. That will be a difficult task, Albright said.
...She also urged new efforts to discuss matters with Russia and Iran, once again pumping up Obama while taking a subtle swipe at Bush. "Barack Obama believes you should actually talk to the people you don't like," she said to cheers from the crowd.
Even in later interviews with local media, Albright stayed away from slamming McCain or Palin. She also made it clear that she had no intention of reclaiming her old job under Obama.
"I'm not doing this in order to be a part of the administration," she said. "I'm doing this because he is the best candidate."
From the Associated Press:
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said Saturday that Republican John McCain has helped President Bush destroy regulatory safeguards for the middle class in general and the labor movement in particular.
Biden, a Delaware senator, told hundreds of cheering coal mining families at a United Mine Workers picnic that McCain went along with Bush in putting anti-labor, corporate interests in charge of the U.S. Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board.
"Do any of you doubt that this administration has anything else in mind than doing in the labor movement?" Biden said.
Biden's visit was the third since June by him or Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to the rural, blue-collar southwestern tip of Virginia, a battleground state that hasn't backed a Democrat for president in 44 years.
Biden sought to link McCain and Bush in blame for high fuel costs, declining health benefits for workers and veterans, and a troubled stock market.
"This president has us engaged in three wars — one of necessity in Afghanistan and one of choice in Iraq. But he also has been at war on labor's house since the day he was elected. It is an outright war on labor's house," Biden said.
He said veterans have faced substandard medical care and educational benefits under the administration, and that when Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., sought to improve them by introducing a new GI Bill, McCain said the bill was too generous.
...Biden also read comments attributed to McCain in a trade publication in which he called for reducing regulation for health insurance markets the way the banking industry was deregulated in the past 10 years. Obama referenced the same comments during his appearance in Florida.
That approach, Biden said, would expose health coverage for workers to the disastrous results that subprime mortgages wrought on the lending industry.
"He wants to do for health care what he did for banks," Biden said, echoing Obama.