Obama tells 175,000 supporters: change is coming
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AFP) — Democrat Barack Obama said Saturday the winds of change were blowing across America as he roused monster crowds totalling more than 175,000 in the Republican "red" state of Missouri.
Republican John McCain, fighting a rearguard offensive before the November 4 presidential election, insisted that Obama's economic plan would "kill" job creation as the United States weathers its worst financial crisis in decades.
"At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent are upfront about their objectives," he said in his weekly radio address.
But the Democrat, who is riding high in national and state polls, said McCain was positing false arguments including via automated "robo-calls" to voters that portray Obama as a secret radical bent on subverting democracy.
Missouri voted for Republican President George W. Bush in both the last two elections, but Obama said "the winds are blowing for change across America" as he campaigned in the state metropolises of St Louis and Kansas City.
"They're blowing in Kansas, they're blowing in Missouri, they're blowing in North Carolina, they're blowing in Virginia, they're blowing in Ohio," he said, reeling off a list of states that all backed Bush in 2004 and 2000.
Police said the crowd in St Louis numbered at least 100,000 -- Obama's biggest yet in the United States, second overall only to the 200,000 who saw him speak in Berlin in July. The Kansas City crowd was more than 75,000.
The gigantic attendance numbers were testimony to Obama's oratorical pulling power and boded well for his flipping a state, Missouri, from red to Democratic "blue."
At rallies in North Carolina and Virginia, two other red states now very much in play, McCain once again invoked Ohio plumber Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, a new hero of conservatives after challenging Obama on taxes.
"Joe's dream is to own a small business that will create jobs in his community, and the attacks on him are an attack on small businesses all over the country," McCain said as a harsh media spotlight turns on Wurzelbacher.
Joe the Plumber and low taxes have become McCain's latest campaign motifs as the 72-year-old Republican vies to resuscitate his flagging White House hopes on the final stretch to the election.
Obama was ahead of McCain by 50 percent to 42 percent in Saturday's Gallup national tracking poll. In the Rasmussen tracking poll, the Democrat was up 50 percent to 45.
But Obama, 47, reiterated his message of recent days that supporters should not get "cocky."
"Democrats have a way of snatching defeat from the jaws from victory. You can't let up. You can't pay too much attention to the polls. We've got to keep running through that finish line," he said.
The Democrat noted McCain was describing his own plans for middle-class tax relief as government "welfare" that would take money from the rich to give to the poor.
"The only 'welfare' in this campaign is John McCain's plan to give another 200 billion dollars in tax cuts to the wealthiest corporations in America ... that's who John McCain is fighting for," he said.
"But we can't afford four more years like the last eight. George Bush and John McCain are out of ideas, they are out of touch, and if you stand with me, in 17 days they will be out of time."
McCain is stepping up an offensive on Obama's ties to former 1960s radical William Ayers with "robo" phone calls in swing states that also accuse the Democrat of supporting the killing of babies born alive in abortions.
McCain's opponents unleashed robo-call smears when he was up against Bush for the Republican nomination in 2000, and even party colleagues such as Maine Senator Susan Collins say the tactic smacks of desperation this time.
"It's despicable, especially coming from John McCain," Obama campaign spokeswoman Linda Douglass told AFP.
But the McCain campaign insisted the attack calls were rooted in fact and said Obama was hoodwinking voters over his past.