From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Hillary Clinton hit Republican rival John McCain on the economy again today with a return to her "3 am" phone call analogy. The senator said it was time to "level the playing field for the middle class" and argued McCain would ignore the ringing phone in an economic crisis.
"Sometimes the phone rings at 3 am in the White House, and it's an economic crisis," she said. "And we need president who is ready and willing and able to answer that call. I read the speech that Sen. McCain gave the other day, which set forth his plan which does virtually nothing to ease the credit crisis or the housing crisis. It seems like if the phone were ringing he would just let it ring and ring and ring."
Clinton called the Arizona senator "a friend," but noted he had admitted that he did not know much about economics. She said he would rather ignore the credit and mortgage crises facing Americans instead of solving them.
"I think we've had enough of a president who didn't know enough about economics," she said. "I don't think we can afford four more years of that kind of inaction."
Earlier this week, Clinton compared McCain to Depression-era President Herbert Hoover for saying the government should not bail out or reward banks or small borrowers who "act irresponsibly."
The former first lady has consistently sought to portray herself as the candidate best prepared to manage the economy and often mentions the number of jobs created and the number of people lifted out of poverty during her husband's administration, an effort to link herself to what many see as his economic successes. She has even taking to joking lately that when people say they don't want to go back to the 90s, she wants to know which part they didn't like "the peace or the prosperity"?
The hits on McCain came during a speech on a new plan to spend $12.5 billion over five years to help support job training and grants for displaced workers and on-the-job training and educational opportunities. Clinton has been criticized for not doing enough to explain how she would pay for all the programs she has proposed. According to an aide, this new plan would be financed using a portion of the savings from a Corporate Subsidy Commission, a group that would identify and eliminate outdated corporate subsidies.
The stop in Raleigh was part of a six-day tour through North Carolina, Indiana and Pennsylvania that will focus on economic issues.
The event began 1 hour, 15 minutes late and the senator seemed to rush through the speech, barely pausing for applause lines. At the beginning of her speech, Clinton quipped about Republicans being the party of backward movement and not progress.
"Years ago, when I first got involved in politics," Clinton said, "I heard that old saying that, being, running for office is like driving a car. If you want to go forward, you put it in D; if you want to go backwards, you put it in R."
*** UPDATE *** The RNC sends this along: "Obama and Clinton's economic plans are what you expect from two senators who think that big government is the solution for just about every problem. Obama and Clinton's plans for more taxes, spending and regulations will lead to fewer homeowners and jobs. Instead of misrepresenting and attacking McCain's proposals, Obama and Clinton should explain why they voted earlier this month to raise taxes on Americans earning as little as $31,850."