Obama says economic issues will decide election | AspenTimes.com

Obama says economic issues will decide election

Charles Babington
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., shakes hands before he speaks at town hall event in New Philadelphia, Ohio, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio ” Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, pouncing on a top Republican aide’s claim that the campaign is not about issues, said Wednesday that John McCain is trying to run away from his party’s bad economic record.

Campaigning in eastern Ohio, Obama noted that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said the election would be decided largely on voters’ perceptions of the candidates’ personalities.

“This election is not about issues,” Davis told The Washington Post this week. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”

Obama mentioned Davis’ comment three times during a one-hour appearance at an outdoor forum on economic issues facing women. He used it to accuse speakers at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., of avoiding talk about job losses, home foreclosures and other issues.

“If you’ve got George Bush’s track record, and John McCain voting 90 percent of the time in agreement with George Bush, then you probably don’t want to talk about issues either,” Obama said. “If you don’t have any issues to run on, I guess you want it to be about personalities.”

Obama spoke hours before Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was scheduled to accept the GOP nomination for vice president. Both parties are competing fiercely for the votes of women, especially those disappointed by Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failure to win the Democratic nomination.

Obama is concentrating this week on Ohio. Bush narrowly carried the state in 2004 and it could prove pivotal again this year. He said McCain, Bush and other Republicans “just don’t get” the hardships many Ohioans are facing because of the long-running loss of manufacturing jobs.

Gabrielle Neavin, 24, a single mother working for minimum wage, introduced Obama in a college courtyard. Obama later said of McCain and his backers: “I don’t think they are connecting with what ordinary folks, like Gabrielle, are going through every day.”

He cited his proposals to increase the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit; to pump money into wind and solar power, clean-coal technology and biodiesel fuels; and to help subsidize health and tuition costs for many families.

Obama initially flubbed the town’s name, calling it “New Pennsylvania” rather than “New Philadelphia.” Some in the friendly, invitation-only audience murmured softly, but did not correct their guest.

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