From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
ALBUQUERQUE, NM -- During a roundtable discussion with a few dozen women here today, Obama used McCain's recent quip about rich people being those with an income of $5 million to try to paint the Arizona Republican as out of touch with ordinary Americans.
"[McCain] was in a panel the other day with me, Rick Warren, some of you may have seen it -- and Rick Warren asked him -- how do you define rich? He said, maybe he was joking, he said, "$5 million." Obama added, "Which I guess if you're making $3 million a year, you're middle class. But that's reflected in his policies -- where, you know, for people making more than $2.5 million, he's giving folks a $500,000 tax break. And so this is a fundamental difference in this election. What I've said is we're gonna give 95% of working families a tax break, but it's gonna be ordinary folks."
[***UPDATE: Actually, as we've pointed out, while McCain would substantially cut taxes for millionaires -- more than Obama -- McCain's break for the rich would only be about half of what Obama said. According to the Tax Policy Center, for those making about $2.9 million, they would get a $269,364 tax break from McCain. Obama's cuts are skewed for the middle class and would increase those in that tax bracket by about $700,000. It will be interesting to see if Obama continues to use the figure.]
When asked to define "rich" at Saturday's forum at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Orange County, McCain replied, "If you are just talking about income, how about $5 million?" The Arizona senator quickly made clear he was joking and even said at the time that he was probably providing fodder for opponents who would distort the comment.
Both sides have consistently tried to paint the other as out of touch with middle-class concerns. The McCain campaign has portrayed Obama as a tax-and-spend liberal, while Obama says McCain's policies would favor the rich and big businesses.
Today's meeting here with 43 female supporters and volunteers was the senator's second such event in New Mexico in recent months. He was last in Albuquerque on June 23, when he spoke with women about issues like equal pay, paid sick leave, expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act, education, and affordable health care -- all topics he revisited today.
Obama criticized McCain's health-care plan, saying it would make coverage unaffordable for average families, and he blasted the Republican's opposition to measures to promote alternative energy.
Obama ended the roughly hour-long meeting by telling the audience it was going to be a close election and that New Mexico -- a state that narrowly went to Bush in 2004 -- was going to play an important role. "This is going to be a close election. It's going to be a close election, even though people know George Bush has done a miserable job."
He told a group of donors in San Francisco Sunday that he was gonna win despite attacks by the Republicans' "machinery" and today he told the group he was prepared to fight back.
"We're going to have to hit back and we're going to have to fight hard and we're going to have to work hard," he said. "We're going to have to earn this election."