Democrat Barack Obama drew his largest U.S. crowd to date on Saturday – an estimated 100,000 people who came to hear him speak at the Gateway Arch – as he campaigned in battleground Missouri just 17 days ahead of the election.
In a new theme Saturday, he said Republican John McCain's plans to continue President Bush's tax cuts amounted to corporate welfare and reflected his values.
“It comes down to values,” Obama said. “In America, do we simply value wealth, or do we value the work that creates it?”
Obama criticized McCain for using words like “welfare” and “socialism” to describe Obama's plans to raise taxes on businesses and Americans making more than $250,000 and redistribute that in the form of cuts and credits to 95 percent of working families. “The only ‘welfare' in this campaign,” he said, “is John McCain's plan to give another $200 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest corporations in America – including $4 billion in tax breaks to big oil companies that ran up record profits under George Bush.”
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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who spoke at the St. Louis rally before Obama took the stage, criticized McCain running mate Sarah Palin's recent suggestion that some parts of the country are more pro-American than others. McCaskill went on to suggest Palin isn't particularly qualified to be vice president. And McCaskill said McCain's campaign is “mean, angry, personal, petty, small, bogus attacks.”
The only larger Obama event was the international audience of roughly 200,000 that turned out during Obama's summer visit to Berlin where he spoke about foreign policy.
“All I can say is, ‘Wow,'” Obama said as he surveyed the crowd gathered at the edge of the Mississippi River, under the nation's tallest monument.
Joyce Jones, 62, a local volunteer, said TV stations had predicted a turnout of about half the size, or 50,000 people.
“It shows that people really want a change,” she said. Jones said if she were McCain, watching the Obama rally on television, “I would think maybe there's something I haven't done right.”