From NBC/NJ's Athena Jones
INDIANAPOLIS -- At his last campaign event before heading to Hawaii to visit his ailing grandmother, Barack Obama hit his rival for proposing more tax breaks for companies that outsource U.S. jobs.
The rally here on the American Legion Mall marked Obama's seventh trip to this red state during the general election. Obama urged the crowd of 35,000 people to vote early and noted that today is the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, an attack that killed 241 people, before going on to criticize John McCain's tax policy.
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The senator, who noted that Indiana had lost 4,500 manufacturing jobs in September alone and that new numbers showed more and more Americans were filing for unemployment, has consistently tried to portray himself as a champion of the middle class and to argue that his opponent would continue economic policies that favor the rich.
"Just yesterday, John McCain strongly defended the Bush policy of lavishing tax cuts on corporations including those that ship American jobs overseas," he said, referring to comments McCain made in a television interview. "He made kind of a strange argument that the best way to stop companies from shipping jobs overseas is to give more tax cuts to companies that are shipping jobs overseas."
Obama went on, speaking in an incredulous tone: "More tax cuts for jobs outsourcers. That's what Sen. McCain proposed as his answer to outsourcing. He said that's – quote – "simple fundamental economics." Well, Indiana, my opponent may call that "fundamental economics," but we know that's just another name for the Wall Street first, Main Street last. That's the kind of economic philosophy we've had for the past eight years – and that's fundamentally wrong."
Obama recognized the sheet metal workers, steelworkers, Teamsters and carpenters in the crowd and gave a shout out to future farmers, noting that the city was hosting the Future Farmers of America convention.
"I want you to know that if I'm elected president, I will fight for you," he said. "Because America's farmers are America's future. It's time we had a president who understood that."
Democrats have rarely made Indiana a stop this late in the election season, as Sen. Evan Bayh noted, in his brief remarks.
"For the last 50 years at this time of the election season, Indiana has been more or less an afterthought," Bayh said. "The Republicans have taken us for granted and too often the Democrats have written us off. But not Barack Obama."
Bayh said Obama had dozens of offices, hundreds of paid staff and volunteers and would fight for the Hoosier State.