— From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- Obama didn't let go of his attack on McCain in
Williamsport yesterday afternoon, continuing to criticize the
Republican nominee for a comment that he made about the economy making
progress under George W. Bush.
"Our economy is in shambles," Obama said before listing off statistics
about how a community likes Williamsport had been affected over the
last few years, citing losses in manufacturing jobs at sewing plants
and window plants in the area.
"Lycoming County unemployment is at its highest point in three years
and family incomes aren't keeping up with the rest of the country,"
Obama said. (Williamsport is in Lycoming.)
"Now, that's what's going on here, but I don't need to tell you this,
it's going on all across the country. John McCain yesterday said that
we are, that, that during George Bush's tenure, the economy actually
made great progress. That's his quote," Obama said.
However, the attack, like the one earlier today parsed McCain's
comments, quoting him on saying that the economy had grown but not
including the fact that McCain acknowledged job losses and had said
that the economic statistics brought "no comfort" to those suffering
the most from the recent downturn.
Obama, himself, earlier in the day at a town hall in Erie, also acknowledged that the economy had made progress.
"Our economy actually expanded over the last seven years, that's true," he said, before going on to talk about how the expansion was unprecedented because wages had not increased along with the rise in GDP.
Obama, parsing McCain's statements yesterday, added: "Now, keep in mind, this is a guy who called me out of touch."
He went on to list all that had gone wrong in the Bush years. "More people without health care since George Bush took office; more children in poverty since George Bush took office; it is true that the economy grew while George Bush was in office, but here's the catch, this is the first time in at least, since WWII that average family incomes actually went down during an economic expansion. People actually on average had a $1,000 less per family when you adjust it for inflation."
"You understand this reality," Obama said to the more than 2,000 in attendance. "People are working harder and harder just to get by."
The McCain camp, though pushed back hard against this yesterday, sending along this response: "American families are hurting and Barack Obama is being recklessly
dishonest. It is clear that Barack Obama is intentionally twisting John
McCain's words completely out of context. Obama is guilty of
deliberately distorting John McCain's comments for pure political gain,
which is exactly what Senator Obama was complaining about just
McCain's actual quote while speaking on Bloomberg TV, per the McCain camp was: "I think if you look at the overall record and millions of jobs have
been created, et cetera, et cetera, you could make an argument that
there's been great progress economically over that period of time. But
that's no comfort. That's no comfort to families now that are facing
these tremendous economic challenges."
The Obama crowd though was sympathetic to the argument. One woman stood up to tell Obama that no one took offense to his comments about small town Americans being "bitter."
"Sen. Obama, thank you so much for coming to our area of Pennsylvania," she said. "I wanted to let you know that I am a Christian and my husband is a Christian and a sportsman with guns. We are not bitter over your statements about Pennsylvanians."
She added, "However, we are bitter about how your opponents are spinning your statements."
This was the second time yesterday that pushback from Obama's supporters at town halls occurred and reflects a pattern that's taken place over the past few days.
Reflecting just how skewed these events now are with supporters, one older man told Obama that he wanted to see him in office until "2012."
Obama gently corrected him and said, "It's actually 2016." But perhaps aware that he has yet to secure even the nomination for his own party, Obama joked: "I don't want to count my chickens before I'm hatched, before they're hatched," he said, quickly catching his mistake.
*** UPDATE *** The RNC, effectively an arm of the McCain campaign, sends along its own response: "Barack Obama does not understand the American economy. If major media are rejecting Barack Obama's complete twisting of John McCain's remarks on the economy, when will Obama begin to speak honestly about his own plan for our economy? Rather than offer distorted attacks, Obama should explain why he wants to raise taxes on hard working Pennsylvanians. If Obama understood the American economy, he would never propose higher taxes and spending during challenging economic times."