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McCain praises, then criticizes, Bush

From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy
WALLINGFORD, Pa. -- Deviating slightly from his stump speech this afternoon here in the exurbs of Philadelphia, McCain connected his friend and introducer -- former Pennsylvania Gov. and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge -- with President Bush, thanking them both for keeping America safe.

"My friends, it is not an accident to me that there and I think that Tom Ridge and President Bush deserve some credit for the fact there's not been another attack on the United States of America since 9/11, and this is our first leader," McCain said of Ridge's service at the Department of Homeland Security.

President Bush's name has been largely absent from McCain's stump speech. And if it's mentioned, it's usually only uttered when McCain is trying to distance his positions from those of the unpopular president, as he did later in today's event.

"My friends, this is the fundamental difference between Sen. Obama and me," McCain said. "We both disagree with President Bush on economic policy. The difference is that he thinks taxes have been too low, and I think that spending has been too high."

Then McCain repeated a memorable line from the third presidential debate, "My friends, I'm not George Bush. If Sen. Obama wanted to run against George Bush he should have run four years ago."

McCain hyped up his prospects in Pennsylvania, despite recent polls showing him behind. And he said that his campaign's recent resurgence is due to "a kind of tidal and seismic shift in the last couple of weeks" caused by Joe the Plumber.

"I've been in a lot of campaigns," McCain said. "I know when momentum is there. This enthusiasm, this kind of welcome. We're gonna win Pennsylvania, and we're gonna win this election. I sense it and I feel it and I know it."