Politics & Government

Obama says economic issues will decide election

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, pouncing on a top Republican aide's claim that the campaign is not about issues, said Wednesday that John McCain is trying to run away from his party's bad economic record.

Campaigning in eastern Ohio, Obama noted that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said the election would be decided largely on voters' perceptions of the candidates' personalities.

“This election is not about issues,” Davis told The Washington Post this week. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates.”

Obama mentioned Davis' comment three times during an hourlong appearance at a forum on economic issues facing women.

He used it to accuse speakers at the Republican convention of avoiding talk about job losses, home foreclosures and other issues.

“If you've got George Bush's track record, and John McCain voting 90 percent of the time in agreement with George Bush, then you probably don't want to talk about issues either,” Obama said. “If you don't have any issues to run on, I guess you want it to be about personalities.”

In response, the McCain campaign said in a statement, “Our campaign has been consistent and clear: This election is about whose judgment you can trust to move America forward.”

Obama is concentrating this week on Ohio. Bush narrowly carried the state in 2004, and it could be pivotal again this year.

He said McCain, Bush and other Republicans “just don't get” the hardships many Ohioans are facing because of the long-running loss of manufacturing jobs.

Obama made a rare direct reference to McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, while discussing women's efforts to be paid the same as men in similar jobs. If elected, he said, “we are going to pass equal pay for equal work.”

“I disagree with John McCain on this, and I disagree with Governor Palin on this,” he said. “They think that the reason women aren't getting paid the same is because of different education” achievements.