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McCain: Economy still 'strong'

From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Addressing today's news of upheaval in America's financial markets, McCain said this morning that, despite fears over the "turmoil" on Wall Street, "the fundamentals of our economy are strong."

"But," he added, "These are very, very difficult times."

VIDEO: Campaigning in Florida, John McCain says that though 'the fundamentals of the economy are strong,' his administration would bring regulatory reform and transparency to financial markets.

The Obama campaign seized on the statement, contrasting it with McCain's new ad -- "Crisis" -- which paints a more foreboding picture of the American economy.

"That shows that he is extraordinarily out of touch," said campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor. "It's even more surprising when you look at his ad today that shows the economy in crisis, that's the lead of his ad."

In addressing the Wall Street troubles today, McCain criticized the existing system of oversight over financial markets and voiced his opposition to a bailout of Lehman brothers funded by taxpayer dollars.

"We've got to take every action to build an environment of robust energy supplies, lower inflation, controlled healthcare costs, access to international markets, low taxes and reduced burden of government to allow people to move forward toward a future of prosperity," McCain said. "A McCain-Palin administration will replace the outdated, patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street."

Government efforts, added the Arizona senator, should be focused on "ensuring that the deposits of hardworking Americans are protected and the taxpayers are not involved."
 
Characteristically, McCain said that spending was the problem in Washington, but he corrected a statement he made on 'The View' last week where he said Palin had not requested any earmarks as governor.
 
"Every year she's been in office Governor Palin has cut those [earmark] requests and she's vetoed a half a billion dollars in wasteful spending in office," he said today, while also criticizing Obama for his earmark requests.
 
Although the substance of his other attacks on Obama today were similar to other days, he introduced them by dismissing his opponent's recent "insults."
 
"Friends, Senator Obama's been saying some pretty nasty things about Governor Palin and me," McCain said. "That's okay. That's okay. He can attack if he wants but all the insults in the world aren't going to bring change to Washington and they're not going to change Senator Obama's record."

At his first solo campaign rally since announcing Palin as his running mate, McCain drew a crowd of roughly 3,000 people in the 16,000-seat Veterans Memorial Arena here this morning. According to local reports, the event was originally planned as a pancake breakfast at the local fairgrounds but was moved when crowd interest exceeded the fairgrounds capacity.