ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: Sen. Barack Obama connected Sen. John McCain to the “worst aspects of the Bush legacy” during a roundtable on middle class tax fairness, today, at a town hall in Bangor, Maine.
Calling McCain, R-Ariz., a friend of Bush, Obama, D-Ill., criticized McCain for what he says is a change of stance against President Bush’s tax cuts.
“George Bush and his friends in Congress have given billions in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them,” Obama said to voters at Nicky’s Crusin’ Diner. “One of the friends George Bush has come to count on in this, is the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain.”
Obama said he respected McCain for standing up to Bush, at first. “The first two rounds of voting, John McCain stood up to George Bush and opposed these tax cuts, said it went against his conscience to support tax cuts or the rich, in a time of war, and that it was an act of statesmanship to oppose them.”
But he then explained that McCain’s position was not always the same, alleging that he backed down against Bush. “I think he has rushed to embrace the worst aspects of the Bush legacy, and so, the wheels came off the straight talk express, because now he supports making those tax cuts permanent.”
Later in the day, at a town hall in Bangor, Obama added to his criticism of McCain –- and brought his top Democratic competitor into the fray. “It’s going to be a lot easier for me to have that debate with John McCain than Sen. Clinton, because she supported the war,” arguing he’s most electable in the town which is home to a large Air Force base, shipping soldiers to and from Iraq.
Obama said that McCain was being stubborn to suggest that he wants to fight a hundred-year war in Iraq –- as long as it takes to win. “That is not designed to make us safe -- that is simply stubbornness. That is designed to try to make a bad decision look better.”
Saying he would be happy to have a debate with McCain, Obama referenced McCain’s stance of fiscal responsibly. “He goes out there and complains about earmarks, but it was his party, the Republican Party under George Bush and a Republican Congress, that presided on the biggest increase in pork barrel spending that America has ever seen.”
Then the criticisms became almost personal, as Obama capitalized on comments McCain made, saying he was not really good with the economy. “He said I read Alan Greenspan’s book. I’m readying up to find out what’s going on. You don’t need to read Greenspan’s book -- you need to go to Nicky’s Diner to find out what’s going on,” Obama said, referencing his earlier roundtable stop in the day.
“He’s done some heroic stuff, but his basic proposals are going to perpetuate the failed Bush domestic policies and the failed Bush foreign policies,” Obama concluded.
Obama's comments come in a lower income area of Maine –- many working for the lumber industry, who lost their jobs, or who make less than $50,000 a year.
Clinton, D-N.Y., in past contests, has done better with blue collar workers than Obama. Both Obama and Clinton were campaigning throughout the state today in advance of Sunday's Maine caucus.