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McCain Attacks Obama as Inexperienced

By Juliet Eilperin
STOCKTON, Calif. -- At a boisterous rally that was interrupted twice by antiwar protesters, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) launched into a scathing attack on Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), mocking his youth, his lack of foreign policy experience and his support for pork-barrel projects.

"I have the knowledge, the background and the judgment to lead this nation. My opponent does not," he said before a crowd of a couple hundred supporters at an airport hangar. Then, poking fun at the 46-year-old Democratic front-runner, McCain, 71, added: "I admire and respect Senator Obama. For a young man with very little experience, he's done very well. For his very, very great lack of experience and knowledge of the issues, he's been very successful."

Shortly after he began speaking, a woman started shouting: "What we can do is bring our troops home! No more war!" But the crowd drowned her out, shouting "We want Mac!" as security officers pulled her away. When a second woman conducted a similar protest a few minutes later, the crowd again yelled their support for the presumptive GOP nominee until the protester left.

McCain then continued his critique of Obama, questioning why he is supporting a farm bill that includes federal payments to thoroughbred horse trainers. "What sort of change is he supporting?" McCain asked, adding that the change Obama is describing "is business as usual in Washington."

The senator spoke at length of his support for continuing the war in Iraq and his plans for health care for veterans. While the Democrats criticized McCain all day for missing a Senate vote today on providing educational support for veterans as part of a new G.I. bill, he defended his record and touted his own military service.

"My friends, I don't need anyone to tell me about what veterans need," he said. "I know them."

At a news conference with reporters afterward, McCain said, "I believe that I have earned the right to speak out on veterans issues," adding that although voters might not question Obama's lack of military experience, "I think they may judge him as to whether he has the knowledge and judgment necessary to care for our veterans."

McCain appeared upbeat throughout the rally, at one point calling upon bikers from the group Rolling Thunder to rev their engines.

"Thanks, guys," he said once the roar died down, and turned toward the audience. "Is that great or what?"

The senator also played down the weekend retreat he is hosting for a group of prominent Republicans, including some of the men mentioned as possible vice presidential picks, such as Govs. Charlie Crist (Fla.) and Bobby Jindal (La.), and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

"It's just having a group of friends for Memorial Day to visit us and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in America," McCain said. "It's no more and it's no less."

By Washington Post Editor  |  May 22, 2008; 10:03 PM ET
Categories:  John McCain  
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