From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
CHARLESTON, WV -- Obama declared that McCain would carry out a "third Bush term" in a speech that stressed that detrimental effects the Iraq war has had on the American economy.
"When you're spending over $50 to fill up your car because the price of oil is four times what it was before Iraq, you're paying a price for this war. When Iraq is costing each household about $100 a month, you're paying a price for this war," Obama told an invited crowd at the University of West Virginia in Charleston.
The speech followed one he gave yesterday in North Carolina, where Obama argued that the war had strategically damaged the United States.
In today's speech, he hit McCain early and often in his speech, saying that his call to renew the Bush tax cuts during war time was irresponsible. "John McCain once opposed these tax cuts -- he rightly called them unfair and fiscally irresponsible. But now he has done an about face and wants to make them permanent, just like he wants a permanent occupation in Iraq. No matter what the costs, no matter what the consequences, John McCain seems determined to carry out a third Bush term," Obama said.
The "Bush-McCain policies," Obama continued, had "ballooned" the national debt.
Using the words of Robert Kennedy, "past error is no excuse for its own perpetuation," Obama claimed that McCain has refused "to learn from the failures of the Bush years."
"Instead of offering an exit strategy for Iraq, he's offering us a 100-year occupation," Obama said. "Instead of offering an economic plan that works for working Americans, he's supporting tax cuts for the wealthiest among us who don't need them and aren't asking for them.
The McCain campaign responded with a statement. "Today, Senator Obama once again displayed how fundamentally wrong he is on the central issues facing America's future: our economy and national security," said McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker. "On the economy, Senator Obama offers the tired tax and spend ideas of the past... On national security, Senator Obama would rather rehash the past than look forward with resolve to address fundamental challenges and opportunities we have today to secure our future. He has embraced an irresponsible policy of withdrawing our troops from Iraq without regard for the conditions on the ground."
In his speech, Obama ran through a laundry list of domestic priorities that he claimed had been laid to the wayside because of the money spent in Iraq, a notable political move in a state that has extreme poverty and one of the highest numbers of veterans and enlisted military in Iraq.
In a race where the Democratic nomination is still up for grabs, the lack of references to Hillary Clinton was notable. While Obama mentioned McCain eight times, he only made one cursory reference to Clinton, talking about her own criticism of McCain "for supporting the policies that have led to our enormous war costs."
Obama went on, "But her point would have been more compelling had she not joined Senator McCain in making the tragically ill-considered decision to vote for the Iraq war in the first place," he said.
Senator Jay Rockefeller introduced Obama and told the crowd that he knew from Republican chatter, "I know that the one person that John McCain does not want to run against is Barack Obama."
West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin also spoke, as he did when he introduced Hillary Clinton on her visit to the state earlier this week. He has yet to endorse a candidate, and was careful to say neutral in his comments.