Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In South Florida, Obama focuses on economy

LAKE WORTH — Sen. Barack Obama continued trying to position himself as the steady leader in the economic crisis, convening a presidential-like summit here Tuesday that featured a low-key but persistent attack on his Republican rival.

"After eight years of Bush-McCain economics, the pie is shrinking," Obama said. "That means lower wages, declining incomes, plummeting home values, rising unemployment. … This economic crisis is the final verdict on that failed leadership. It is time to try something new."

Obama strived to demonstrate that he was in charge, hushing the crowd when it booed Sen. John McCain, and intently listening, chin resting in hand, to a panel he assembled to discuss the economy.

Flanking him on a stage adorned with 12 American flags were four Democratic governors, the CEO of Google, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and the owner of a small business in Miami who mockingly declared, "I am not Joe the Plumber."

The red meat would come later in Miami, where thousands of people gathered for a 6 p.m. rally. Obama railed against what he said is an increasingly dirty campaign run by McCain, though he was clearly feeling the effect of constant criticism of his tax proposals.

"I've got nothing but love for Joe the Plumber," Obama said, referring to the working man McCain invoked in the last debate. "That's why I want to give him a tax cut. And yet John McCain is still out there, just saying this stuff, just making it up. He knows full well that I will cut taxes for all the working Joes."

Obama asked anyone earning less than $250,000 — the people who would get a tax cut under his plan — to raise their hands, and a sea of hands shot up. "I hope all the cameras got that," Obama said.

Florida, with its 27 electoral votes, has emerged as one of the hottest contested prizes in the campaign. Polls had been showing Obama leading, but the race has tightened up in recent days.

Obama spent Monday and Tuesday in Florida, reminding huge audiences in Tampa, Orlando and South Florida that the state has one of the highest unemployment and foreclosure rates in the country.

"Florida is really getting hammered," Obama said.

McCain, who cannot afford to lose Florida, returns on Thursday. The Arizona Republican campaigned Tuesday in Pennsylvania, blasting Obama's tax plan as a drag on small businesses and a form of socialism, by promising tax cuts for 95 percent of Americans, including those who do not pay taxes.

"He wants to spread the wealth around," McCain told crowds in Harrisburg. "Sen. Obama is more interested in controlling who gets your piece of the pie than he is with growing the pie."

Obama's roundtable at Palm Beach Community College was dry by design. He touted an economic stimulus package that would include $25-billion to help states like Florida. He heard from people like New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who suggested tax cuts for any business that pays above the prevailing wage.

The face of a troubled economy dotted the stands.

"I can't find a job," Teresa Brinkley, 46, said when asked why she had turned out on a Tuesday morning. The mother of three said she left work a year ago to have a child and could not get her position back. "We're struggling here. Groceries are up. Lights are up. Gas is up. Water is up."

Brinkley said she thinks Obama has a better grasp on the issue than McCain because he came from humble means. "He understands," she said.

The roundtable was pitched as a way to generate ideas, should Obama be elected. He talked about providing $15-billion a year to develop solar, wind and other alternative energy sources.

The stagecraft continued as Obama made his way to Miami. He stopped at a barbershop and early voting site in Fort Lauderdale, then a deli in Hollywood where he paid $53.77 for whitefish salad, bagels and cookies.

At every stop, he was greeted with pandemonium as crowds strained for a glimpse. "I shook his hand! I shook his hand!" Michele Stoll, 58, a campaign volunteer shouted.

Times staff writer Wes Allison, traveling with the McCain campaign in Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.

McCain to visit Sarasota

John McCain returns to Florida on Thursday for a bus tour dubbed "Keep your wealth," in honor of Joe the Plumber. McCain will be in Ormond Beach in the morning. That afternoon, he'll be at Robarts Arena in Sarasota. Doors open at 3 p.m. Tickets

are available at www.johnmccain.com.

In South Florida, Obama focuses on economy 10/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 23, 2008 12:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.