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McCain v. Obama: Compare & contrast

The Washington Post notes that Obama's and McCain's speeches yesterday differed in tone and substance. Obama "began offering voters here and in Canton, Ohio, a 'closing argument' that sounded much like the opening argument he made when he began his campaign nearly two years ago. It was an expansive, lofty call that emphasized economic revival, played down partisan politics and conjured up an image of election results that could 'change the world.'"

"Sen. John McCain, campaigning in Ohio, made clear he would appeal to pocketbook concerns and depend on a tried-and-tested tactic of portraying his Democratic rival as a tax-and-spend liberal. He touted his experience and urged voters to look past Obama's speechmaking skills."

Speaking of contrasts, the McCain campaign has a new TV ad that compares the two candidates.

The script: "Your choice... For higher taxes ... for workin' Joe's.
Spread your income ... keep what's yours.
A trillion in new spending ... freeze spending, eliminate waste.
Pain for small business ... economic growth.
Risky ... proven.
For a stronger America, McCain."

The New York Times looks at yesterday's back-and-forth over taxes. "Mr. Obama castigated Mr. McCain, the Republican nominee, for 'embracing the same old Bush-McCain policies that have failed us for the last eight years' and for wanting to 'give more to billionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.' Mr. McCain offered the other side of that historic divide, accusing Mr. Obama of wanting to take money from those who have it and give it to those who do not. Mr. McCain seized on a radio interview Mr. Obama gave seven years ago to reinforce the argument that Mr. Obama wants to 'spread the wealth,' as the Democrat put it on the campaign trail recently."

"Mr. McCain read aloud part of the radio interview in Dayton, Ohio, in a speech to supporters, who booed the notion of 'redistributive change,' as Mr. Obama put it. 'That's what change means for the Obama administration — the Redistributor,' Mr. McCain said. 'It means taking your money and giving it to someone else. He believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that grow our economy and create jobs.'"

But the Washington Post's fact-checker argues that McCain is taking that radio interview out of context. "On closer inspection, the "bombshell audio" turns out to be a rather wonkish, somewhat impenetrable, discussion of the Supreme Court under Earl Warren. Obama, then a University of Chicago law professor and Illinois state senator, argued that the courts have traditionally been reluctant to get involved in income distribution questions. He suggested that the civil rights movement had made a mistake in expecting too much from the courts -- and that such issues were better decided by the legislative branch of government."

More: "The McCain camp is wrong to suggest that the Illinois senator advocated an 'wealth redistribution' role for the Supreme Court in his 2001 interview."

Irony alert. "The fact that the campaigns are running misleading ads is not surprising. The fact that Obama is wildly outspending McCain going down the stretch is much more likely to be remembered once the campaign is over," the Boston Globe's Canellos writes. "And the questions will be: Did Obama's lavish campaign end, once and for all, the idea of federal spending limits? And did the spending limits help to take down their prime author, McCain? It seems likely that most of Washington will see it that way. Some Republicans are privately grumbling that McCain helped create a system of campaign finance rules that hurt the GOP, and that he's now getting his just deserts by having to watch Obama saturate the airwaves in the final weeks of their bitterly fought presidential campaign."