From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- Just whom is Obama running against? One would think when you look at his chief political target of late, Obama appears to be spoiling for a fight with McCain -- already jumping ahead to the general election.
Ever since McCain's win in Florida, Obama mentions the Arizona senator nearly every day, alternately praising him (e.g., he stood with him to fight for immigration reform), or criticizing him (on taxes and the Iraq war) as he did at least night's debate.
Speaking on the importance of fiscal responsibility Obama today said the following about McCain: "Now there was a time when some Republicans like John McCain agreed with me on this. There was a time when Senator McCain courageously defied the fiscal madness of tax cuts for the wealthy in the midst of a costly war. But that was before he started running for the Republican nomination and fell in line. And now he like all the Republican nominees want to make permanent the tax cuts that he once denounced. Well, I have not changed my mind and the Bush policies have been a disaster for America. And I will end them when I'm president of the United States of America."
Earlier today at a press conference, Obama said that he was the best candidate to go head to head with McCain in a general election because he provided a clear contrast with him on the Iraq war. Also, he argued that independents would break for him despite McCain's appeal, because they were predisposed towards Democrats in this election. And he claimed that although McCain is still appealing, his recent alliance with President Bush would hurt him.
"The fact is that he has tethered himself to Bush policies both foreign and domestic, and I think Americans, particularly independents, are looking for a different approach," Obama said.
Obama, who also holds strong appeal among independents, appears to be trying to make that case with independents right now, partly because he's looking ahead to the general but maybe also because of Super Tuesday, when both McCain and Obama will be banking on that independent vote (in some states) to give them an edge over their rivals.