by Kevin Flynn - Thursday October 9 2008 08:14:16 AM
From the Washington Post:
Barack Obama delivered a reassuring economic message as [he] entered the final four weeks of the marathon presidential campaign with swings through the battleground states of the Midwest.
Obama followed Tuesday night's debate in Nashville with a rollicking rally in this normally reliably Republican state, delivering an optimistic view that the economic crisis is simply the latest challenge for a nation that has overcome worse.
"Listen here, Indiana: I'm here today to tell you that there are better days ahead," the Democrat told thousands who packed the grandstand at the wet and muddy Indiana State Fair. "I know these times are tough, and I know that many of you are anxious about the future. But this isn't a time for fear or for panic. This is a time for resolve and steady leadership."
...The country's financial crisis, and the public's current belief that Obama is better equipped to handle it, have transformed the polls in recent weeks.
Obama went after McCain for his tax policies and for not saying during the debate that health care is a "right" of all Americans. But Obama's broader message was a reprisal of the inspirational themes that were once a staple of his campaign.
"What this crisis has taught us is that at the end of the day, there is no real separation between Main Street and Wall Street," he said. "There is only the road we're traveling on as Americans -- and we will rise or fall on that journey as one nation and one people."
He added: "Look at this crowd here today: black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor. We cannot fail, not now."
Obama told the crowd to prepare for a steady barrage of attacks from McCain, who he said cannot compete with his own message on the economy.
"I can take four more weeks of John McCain's attacks, but the American people can't take four more years of John McCain's Bush policies," he said.
From the Boston Globe:
[Senator Barack] Obama ... was better than McCain [Tuesday] night at connecting with audience members on their own terms.
When a voter asked what was in the financial bailout package for him ... Obama looked the questioner in the eye and said, "Well, Oliver, first let me tell you what's in the rescue package for you. Right now, the credit markets are frozen up and what that means, as a practical matter, is small businesses and some large businesses can't get loans. If they can't get a loan, that means they can't make payroll. If they can't make payroll, they have to shut their doors and lay people off. And if you imagine just one company trying to deal with that, now imagine a million companies all across the country."
... Unlike encounters at which both nominees stand behind lecterns, town hall debates test a candidate's ability to frame issues in ways that are meaningful to average people.
...Obama called attention to areas where he and McCain agreed, as in the first debate, citing the need to counter Russian dominance in former Soviet satellite states as an example. And he couched his criticisms of McCain and even the Bush administration in gentler terms than his rival.
When asked by moderator Tom Brokaw if healthcare was a privilege, right, or responsibility, McCain chose responsibility. Obama said it was a right.
As at many other points last night, Obama seemed more in touch with his audience.
From the Indianapolis Star:
With the economic news as gloomy as the gray skies overhead, Sen. Barack Obama promised thousands of cheering Hoosiers on Wednesday that "there are better days ahead."
Obama, the Democratic nominee for president, brought his campaign to Indianapolis the morning after debating his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, for the second time.
But for most people, that debate was overshadowed as Wall Street and the global economy teetered on the brink of disaster.
Obama -- speaking to a crowd at the grandstand at the State Fairgrounds that the state Division of Fire and Building Safety estimated at 21,000 -- said "this isn't the time for fear or panic."
But he acknowledged the anxiety that many feel.
In 1980, he noted, Ronald Reagan asked voters whether they were better off than they were four years earlier. The way things are now, Obama said, Americans wonder whether they're better off than they were four weeks ago.
...Obama argued that there is a hunger for change, and in his speech Wednesday, he laid out differences with McCain on regulation of Wall Street, their tax and health-care plans and his promises to invest in alternative energy sources, infrastructure and education.
He won one of his biggest cheers when he promised to end the Iraq war and move the $10 billion spent monthly rebuilding Iraq to rebuild the United States.
...Dennis Harney, a 62-year-old Indianapolis man in the crowd at the fairgrounds, said he wants change and thinks Obama can deliver it.
..."I think he represents change," Harney said. "I think he represents something new, and I think he represents our country moving forward together."
From the Long Island Newsday:
It would be hard to come up with two more starkly different approaches to reforming American health care than those advanced by presidential nominees John McCain and Barack Obama.
Obama wants to build on the existing system of employer-sponsored health care by creating and expanding government-sponsored insurance programs until everyone who wants coverage has it. He would mandate that all children be covered and that all large businesses provide coverage or pay toward public insurance plans.
...Dr. Irwin Redlener, a professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and a longtime adviser to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who now backs the Obama plan, noted that more than 5,000 physicians have come out in support of Obama's plan.
"Doctors are traditionally very conservative and very Republican, but I think once McCain's plan came out ... that was the last straw and the tipping point for a lot of doctors," Redlener said.
...Obama says he will pay for his plan by ending the Bush tax breaks on those earning more than $250,000 and squeezing more efficiency out of the health care system.
... Overall [Obama would] Require that health insurance be provided to all children, and require all employers to offer health benefits or contribute to a new public program. Create the National Health Insurance Exchange, through which small businesses and individuals without access to other public or employer-based programs could enroll in the new public plan or in approved private plans.
... Expect to hear more on all this: Nationally, health care is now surpassed only by the economy in importance for the independent voters the candidates are wooing, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found.