Obama to Dems: Don’t Get Cocky

October 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

barack-obama74.jpgBarack Obama warned supporters against “cocky” complacency Thursday, before plunging into the 19-day home stretch of the White House race with snap polls awarding him yet another debate victory.

Following late Wednesday’s third and final debate before the November 4 election, the Democrat said here that Republican John McCain was obsessed with maligning his character instead of thrashing out “the issues that matter.”

Obama, 47, invoked the trauma of his primary defeat in New Hampshire to Hillary Clinton in January, which came as euphoria and expectations exploded around his campaign after a stunning lead-off victory in the Iowa caucuses.

“We are 19 days away from changing this country. But for those who are getting a little cocky, I have two words for you: New Hampshire,” he told a rain-soaked rally of 4,100 people in the toss-up state.

“I learned right here that you can’t let up or pay too much attention to the polls,” said Obama, who is in a dominant position in national and state surveys.

“We’ve got to keep making our case for change. We’ve got to keep fighting for every vote, we’ve got to keep running through that finish line. This election is too important to take anything for granted.”

The front-running Democrat largely dodged a fierce barrage of attacks from a feisty McCain in their last debate clash before the foes began blitzing battleground states ahead of the election in just under three weeks.

The pair were set late Thursday to both attend a dinner in New York to raise funds for underprivileged children. Each was to deliver remarks at the white-tie event, but partisan sniping was not expected to be on the menu.

Most snap polls after the debate gave Obama a clear victory, as he stayed cool under a broadside of McCain attacks on his character and policies, designed to rescue the Republican’s flagging campaign.

The Gallup daily tracking poll Thursday offered McCain a glimmer of hope, putting Obama’s lead at six points at 49 to 43 percent, down from seven points a day before.

The polling was conducted too early however to reflect voter response to the debate.

At his own rally in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, the 72-year-old McCain said he “did pretty well” at the debate in Hofstra University, New York.

“But let’s have a little straight talk: the real winner last night was Joe the Plumber,” he said, invoking Ohio man Joe Wurzelbacher, who has become a media darling after crossing swords with Obama on tax policy in Toledo.

“He won and small businesses across America won, because the American people are not going to let Senator Obama raise their taxes in a tough economy,” McCain said.

“Senator Obama told Joe that he wanted to ‘spread his wealth around’. America didn’t become the greatest nation on earth by spreading the wealth; we became the greatest nation by creating new wealth.”

Obama derided McCain’s repeated invocation of Joe the Plumber during the debate as he promised to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans earning less than 250,000 dollars a year.

“He tries to pretend there’s a plumber he’s fighting for. How many plumbers do you know making a quarter of a million dollars a year?” the Democrat said in New Hampshire.

“Last night, Senator McCain said that (President) George Bush won’t be on the ballot this November,” he added at the rally.

“I’m not running against George Bush, I’m running against all those policies that you support, Senator McCain.

“Because in three debates and over 20 months, John McCain hasn’t explained a single thing that he would do differently from George Bush when it comes to the most important economic issues we face today. Not one.”

McCain used the debate to make his most effective attempt yet to frustrate Obama’s efforts to link the Arizona senator with the unpopular legacy of his fellow Republican, Bush.

“Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago,” McCain said, proclaiming his record of bucking the Republican line in contrast to Obama’s inexperience.

But in a CNN poll, 58 percent of respondents said Obama won the debate compared to 31 for McCain, with 70 percent saying Obama was more likeable. A CBS poll scored the debate 53-22 percent for the Democrat.

McCain, battling to resuscitate his campaign as the United States weathers its worst financial crisis in decades, also savaged Obama’s ties to 1960s radical William Ayers and said his tax plans amounted to “class warfare.”

Source: AFP

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