From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones and Mike Memoli
GREENSBORO, NC -- Obama kept the focus on the economy Saturday, arguing at a North Carolina rally that last night's debate showed McCain was out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans who are struggling economically.
The senator was back in North Carolina for the second time in a week, a traditionally red state that his campaign still appears to have in its sights. It was the beginning of two days on the trail with his running mate Joe Biden, with whom he has not campaigned since just after the Democratic convention.
As they did in the days after Denver, during the Republican convention, the pair stressed what McCain did not talk about during the debate to show where his loyalties lay.
"Last night we had a debate and on issue after issue – from taxes to health care to the war in Iraq – you heard John McCain make the case for more of the same. The same policies that got us into this mess," Obama told the crowd standing under the gray sky outside a bus and train depot. "But just as important as what we heard from John McCain was what we didn't hear from John McCain. We talked about the economy for forty minutes, and not once did Sen. McCain talk about the struggles of middle class families."
Obama made a similar argument about the speakers at the Republican convention, arguing that they did not spend enough time talking about the economy or about jobs at a time when the jobless rate is rising and the economy is in crisis.
"The truth is, through ninety minutes of debating, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he had nothing to say about you. He didn't even say the words "middle class." He didn't say the words "working people," Obama said.
In his introduction of his running mate, Biden also amplified the same message the campaign is taking to the airwaves, saying that McCain ignored the middle class last night. "The phrase never parted his lips once. Not one single time," Biden said.
The Arizona senator's failure to mention the phrase is the subject of an ad that the Obama campaign is set to begin airing Monday.
As Obama and Biden were stumping under the banner of fighting for the middle class, McCain was back in Washington where his campaign announced he would be resuming "negotiations with the Administration and Congressional leaders from both parties to forge a bipartisan solution to our economic crisis."
Obama spoke with Rep. Barney Frank and Treasury Sec. Henry Paulson today and is keeping abreast of events in Washington, said campaign spokesperson Jen Psaki.
The campaign says he will continue with his scheduled events unless he is needed in Washington.