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Spotlight: Economy – Rivals Strike Populist Note — Jostle for Position As Reformer

September 18, 2008

With economic anxiety rising, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama scrambled Wednesday to adjust their messages to connect more directly with financially struggling voters.

On a day of more market turmoil, both candidates sounded populist notes in their appeals to get tough with Wall Street.

But Obama expressed disbelief that anyone would believe McCain’s newfound passion for government intervention. And McCain seemed almost disgusted by what he said was Obama’s plan to raise taxes during tough economic times.

McCain

New attitude: McCain and running mate Sarah Palin softened opposition to government bailouts, accepting the U.S. takeover of AIG, the nation’s largest insurer, as unfortunate but necessary to protect ordinary Americans.

“The shot that has been called by the Feds – it’s understandable but very, very disappointing that taxpayers are called upon for another one,” Palin told reporters during a visit to delicatessen in Cleveland.

‘Casino culture’: McCain also called for an investigation to uncover any wrongdoing.

“The government was forced to commit $85billion,” McCain said in a statement. “These actions stem from failed regulation, reckless management and a casino culture on Wall Street that has crippled one of the most important companies in America.”

Obama

A new ad: Obama talks directly into the camera in a new, 2- minute television ad on how he’ll fix an economy in which “paychecks are flat and home values are falling.”

“In the past few weeks, Wall Street’s been rocked as banks closed and markets tumbled. But for many of you – the people I’ve met in town halls, backyards and diners across America – our troubled economy isn’t news,” he says in the ad. “Paychecks are flat and home values are falling. It’s hard to pay for gas and groceries and if you put it on a credit card, they’ve probably raised your rates.”

Late to reform: Obama called McCain’s views “an eleventh-hour conversion to the language of reform.”

The Fed’s takeover of AIG “is the final verdict on the failed economic philosophy of the last eight years,” Obama charged in a statement.

Polling

Even on economy: An Associated Press-Yahoo News poll conducted last week suggests McCain and Obama now are trusted equally on the economy, with 34 percent of voters saying each would do a better job. Previously, Obama had held a solid advantage on the issue.

Background

Deregulation: McCain supported 1999 legislation that tore down Depression-era legal walls separating commercial banks, investment banks and insurers from one another. However, President Clinton, a Democrat, signed it into law.

Savings and loan: In the closest modern parallel to recent government intervention in Wall Street’s crisis, McCain voted in support of the 1989 bill to clean up the debt-ridden savings-and- loan industry, which passed the Senate by a margin of 91-8.

Keating Five: McCain was one of the “Keating Five” senators, whom the Senate Ethics Committee investigated for their relationships with Charles Keating, the chairman of the failed Lincoln Savings & Loan Association. McCain was cleared of wrongdoing.

Originally published by From Our Press Services .

(c) 2008 Commercial Appeal, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.