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Post-Debate, McCain Steps Away from Bush as Obama Seeks to Tie Him to President

By Howard Kurtz
The McCain Ad: (McCain:) The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they? I'll make the next four better. Your savings, your job and your financial security are under siege.

Washington is making it worse -- bankrupting us with their spending. Telling us paying higher taxes is "patriotic"? And saying we need to "spread the wealth around"? They refuse common sense solutions for energy independence.

So every day we send billions to the Middle East. We need a new direction, and I have a plan. Your savings. We'll rebuild them. Your investments. They'll grow again. Energy. We'll drill here and we'll create a renewable energy economy. Lower taxes and less spending will protect your job and create new ones. That'll restore our country.

Stand up with me, let's fight for America.

The Obama Ad:
(McCain:) Senator Obama, I am not President Bush.
(Narrator:) True, but you did vote with Bush 90 percent of the time. Tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy. But almost nothing for the middle class -- same as Bush. Keep spending 10 billion a month in Iraq while our own economy struggles -- same as Bush. You may not be George Bush, but ...
(McCain:) I voted with the president over 90 percent of the time, higher than a lot of my even Republican colleagues.

Analysis: Both candidates, in these quickie spots after their third and final debate, are tackling the question of whether a McCain administration would differ little from that of President Bush.

John McCain's 60-second ad contains a remarkable admission for a Republican candidate, essentially declaring the two terms of the president of his party a failure. In declaring that he'll make "the next four better," the senator from Arizona is trying to distance himself not just from specific Bush policies but from the president himself.

If Washington is "bankrupting us with their spending," as McCain says, it is Bush who was in charge, along with a Republican Congress for six of the eight years.

McCain undercuts his case by not explaining whom he is quoting. The line about how paying taxes is "patriotic" comes from Barack Obama's running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe Biden. Obama made the "spread the wealth" comment in discussing tax policy with the man whom McCain kept invoking in Wednesday's debate, Joe the plumber from Ohio. The effect is just to blame the country's direction on "Washington" -- where McCain has been a member of Congress for 26 years -- rather than draw a sharp contrast with the Democratic ticket.

McCain is not specific about his economic and energy plans, but his promise of "lower spending" fails to acknowledge that he recently voted for the $700 billion federal bailout of the banking system.

Obama's 30-second ad is effective because it ties his opponent to Bush by using McCain's own words.

The senator from Illinois is being selective in charging that McCain would shower tax breaks on "big corporations and the wealthy." By extending the Bush tax cuts, McCain would continue the lower rates for all businesses and individuals who pay taxes, although the most affluent would receive the biggest share.

The ad says McCain would continue to spend $10 billion a month on Iraq but sidesteps the fact that Obama would also have to spend billions on the war because, under his best-case scenario, it would take 16 months to withdraw all U.S. troops.

But no one can argue with McCain himself declaring that he's voted with Bush 90 percent of the time, when he was still trying to win the GOP nomination. The focus of these dueling ads is at the heart of the campaign: whether McCain credibly represents change, or more of the same.

By Web Politics Editor  |  October 16, 2008; 3:01 PM ET
Categories:  Ad Watch , Barack Obama , John McCain  
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If you don't think power corrupts take a good look at John McCain. He is physically addicted to it. Most men his age would be satisfied with a 26 year career in the senate. But no, not "that one".
He wants power so badly that getting it justifies any and all means to that end.
McCain dodders around telling whatever lies they give him to mouth, no matter how foul. He spouts fear, incites ethnic and racial hatred at every opportunity. No matter that people are worried and fearful enough that they will be unable to pay their bills and feed their family.
McCain offers no real help to these people.
His concern is for the people who have corrupted him, Oil company executives, Banking and Insurance company C.E.O.s and now Military Arms Manufacturers.
"power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"
Don't let "That One" get absolute power.

Posted by: seemstome | October 17, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

This bail out once again illustrates how the rich elite take from the middle class in another "redistribution of wealth" or reverse socialism. Their argument for this is if we don't play by their rules they will take all their money and leave America.
What they don't say is that they have been leaving ever since NAFTA.

Posted by: seemstome | October 17, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Well English is not my first language, but I understood what & how Senator's economic policy is different from that of Senator Obama. So what are the problems of those who are accusing him of lack of clarity? You do not speak or read the text in English?

Posted by: Premier | October 17, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

McCain had some issues during the debate. Medical Issues? What we didnt know. Watch complete 2 min video.

Did Mike Huckabee SAY its Over for McCain?

Posted by: pastor123 | October 17, 2008 6:19 AM | Report abuse

Not sure why the link to the 90% video is not here, it's remarkable!

Posted by: merleb | October 16, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse



Joe the Plumber now has a voice, speaking for the middle and upper middle class, trying to get ahead. The REAL Rich has been represented by Penny Pritzker's Candidate. Joe said, sure today it's people making over 250K that will get killed by Obama's taxes, but soon, as Obama's agenda gets more expensive, it will be people making 150K, and so's like that old saying about not speaking out when someone comes for your neighbors....soon there will noone left to speak out when someone comes for you

Posted by: thecannula | October 16, 2008 7:57 PM | Report abuse

McCain can't run, can't hide from his close association with the failed Bush policies.

Posted by: JaneB08 | October 16, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I think millionaires like hannity and limbaugh will be the last standing. McCain boxers or briefs? Depends

Posted by: r4147824 | October 16, 2008 6:36 PM | Report abuse

The media won't bring to light the lies and shady affiliations that Obama has told and had, so why shouldn't McCain try to get them out in the open? He's trailing in the polls and has to do something significant if he is going to influence those voters who are on the fence and haven't yet bought into Obama's liberal illuminati rhetoric.

Posted by: salutethflag | October 16, 2008 4:02 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting and fun to watch the GOP shrink to a few nativist haters, a couple of religious nuts, and the Kathryn Jean-Lopez's of the world in the next few years.

As long as the Rethuglican party continues to offer huge outsized tax breaks for the filthy rich and nothing for everyone else, the extremist nuts will be the only one's left carrying the GOPer banner after 2008.

I think it is going to be a while before we hear about the big tent Republican party.

Ladies and Germs...I give you your 2009 Republican party:

All hail the GOPer "pup tent party"!

Posted by: DrainYou | October 16, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

John looked like he was speaking from an old age home. That detracts from the message he is trying to convey. This was a case of promises but with no plan to back it up.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 16, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

If McCain can not explain what economic policy he has and how it differs from Bush, I do not see hoe he will make any headway. It just seems that from the standpoint of ordinary voters that there is too many similarities to Bush."Obama will raise taxes" seems to fall on deaf ears when people in need of relief see their taxes will fall.

I can not understand how McCain's advisors can continue to promote an economic policy that has already failed and have people expect a different result. The McCain campaign is living in 2004. It is McCain not Obama that needed to run four years ago. If McCain does not start promoting himself rather than tearing down Obama, he will create a landslide for Obama rather than a close election.

Posted by: Gator-ron | October 16, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

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