Democrat Barack Obama on Thursday slammed Republican John McCain's mortgage rescue plan in a TV ad and on the stump in Ohio, calling it a “risky idea” that would take advantage of taxpayers.
If McCain hopes his uncharacteristically big-government proposal will hold populist appeal for millions of struggling homeowners, Obama is betting he can turn that strategy upside down by presenting it as evidence McCain, a longtime advocate of deregulation, is more interested in helping the lending industry than homeowners.
Noting the Dow's drop Thursday below 9,000, Obama told a crowd at a Cincinnati park that if they used to have a 401(k) retirement savings account, “You've got a 101(k) now,” and the next president must deal with the fallout.
“Will that president be looking out for you?” he asked.
McCain, campaigning in Wisconsin, defended his mortgage plan. He also continued to say voters should be afraid of Obama because he previously was involved in two charitable organizations with, and in the '90s attended a candidate event at the home of, Bill Ayers, a Chicago professor who in the '60s was an activist in a violent Vietnam-era protest group.
Obama has condemned the violent 1960s activities of the Weather Underground.
Addressing a crowd in Dayton, Obama urged voters to see McCain's character attacks on him in the context of McCain being worried he's losing.
“Is this going to be a time when we turn on each other, call each other names, or accuse each other of being unpatriotic?” he said. “Or will they say this was one of those moments when America overcame?
Obama said the mortgage proposal McCain raised in their televised debate Tuesday initially appeared to involve banks selling bad mortgages to the federal government at a discount to help homeowners, and that this was something Obama and other lawmakers of both parties also supported.
However, Obama said, the details McCain fleshed out Wednesday suggested “he'd changed his mind and was proposing to bail out banks and lenders with taxpayer money.”
“Banks wouldn't take a loss, but taxpayers would take a loss,” Obama said. He called it “the latest in a series of shifting positions” by McCain. “This is the kind of erratic behavior we've been seeing out of Sen. McCain. I don't think we can afford that kind of erratic and uncertain leadership in these uncertain times.”