WASHINGTON — With Barack Obama stepping off the playing field for a weeklong Hawaiian vacation, John McCain's campaign released three new attack ads Friday, signaling that the senator from Arizona will use the void to continue pummeling the character of his rival for the White House.
Obama's trip to Hawaii, where he spent much of his youth, comes after a week in which his Republican opponent dominated the news with his negative assaults. Obama aides said the senator from Illinois is maintaining his lead in polls and will not be goaded into responding with character attacks of his own.
But the assaults on him continued Friday, with new television ads and a radio spot portraying Obama as a lightweight celebrity intent on raising taxes across the board.
"Life in the spotlight must be grand," a female announcer declares amid paparazzi-like images of Obama and adoring chants in the background. "But for the rest of us, times are tough."
That advertisement and a Spanish-language ad and radio spot claim that Obama voted to raise taxes on families earning just $42,000, a claim based on his vote for a nonbinding, Democratic budget resolution that allows all of President Bush's tax cuts to expire in 2011, something Obama has promised he would not let happen.
Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan called the ad "a lie" and "part of the old, tired politics of a party in Washington that has run out of ideas and run out of steam."
Many Democrats are increasingly worried that trying to debunk the McCain attacks will not be enough, particularly with the candidate on vacation. The Republican National Committee mocked Obama with "Barack Obama's Hawaii Travel Guide," noting the elite prep school he attended on scholarship and highlighting a Chevron station selling gasoline for $4.78 a gallon.
CONVENTION SPEECHES: Vice President Dick Cheney, a conservative favorite but a divisive national figure, will join President Bush in addressing delegates on the opening night of the Republican National Convention, the White House said. He will speak the same night Bush will address delegates in St. Paul, Minn. The convention is Sept. 1-4. Democratic Party officials say former President Clinton will give a speech on the third night of their convention before an address by the as-yet-to-be-named running mate for Obama. The convention is in Denver Aug. 25-28.
NO ETHANOL SUPPORT: McCain didn't mince words Friday at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, telling corn producers he doesn't want to subsidize their ethanol but is eager to help market farm products around the world. "My friends, we will disagree on a specific issue, and that's healthy," McCain said at one of the nation's premier farming showcases. "I believe in renewable fuels. I don't believe in ethanol subsidies, but I believe in renewable fuels." In a brief speech at the fairgrounds, he pledged to negotiate trade deals favorable to farm commodities.