BEXLEY, Ohio The finger-pointing continued Monday over the nation s financial crisis as Republican nominee John McCain returned to the campaign trail with a vengeance in battleground Ohio.
While opponent Barack Obama had accused Mr. McCain in Friday s debate and again Sunday in Detroit of playing a role in creating the regulatory environment that led to a controversial $700 billion bailout package, Mr. McCain Monday accused him of being missing in action on the issue.
"I ll never be a president that sits on the sidelines when this country faces a crisis," he told a crowd of about 9,000 on the campus of Capital University just outside Columbus.
"I ll never do that," he said. "It s never been my style to simply phone it in At first [Mr. Obama] didn t want to get involved, and then he was monitoring the situation. That s not leadership. That s watching from the sidelines. Watching from the sidelines is exactly what got us into this mess."
Like Mr. Obama, Mr. McCain characterized his support of President Bush s bailout package to prop up a shaky financial sector as a necessity even if they didn t agree on how the country got there in the first place.
"I believe inaction was not an option," said Mr. McCain. "I put my campaign on hold for a couple of days last week to fight for a rescue plan that puts you and your economic security and working Americans first I fought for a plan that protected taxpayers, homeowners, consumers, and small business owners.
"I went to Washington last week to make sure taxpayers in Ohio and across this country were not footing the bill for the mistakes made and the evil and greed in Washington," he said.
Criticized by Mr. Obama for failing to use the words "middle class" in Friday s debate, Mr. McCain made it clear that he understands "times are tough for working families."
But Jennifer Farmer, spokesman for the Service Employees International Union, countered that Mr. McCain has "no clue" about the plight of Columbus working families.
"While record numbers of Ohioans are losing their homes to foreclosure and unemployment in the state has reached a 16 year high, McCain wants to give Americans in the top 1 percent of the income bracket a tax cut averaging $125,000 a year," she said.
Mr. McCain, meanwhile, said there was one word that Mr. Obama refused to use Friday night- "victory" when it came to the War in Iraq.
Mr. McCain s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, was immensely popular with the crowd, demonstrated by the chants of "Sarah! Sarah!"
Her toughest test to date will come during Thursday s vice presidential debate with Delaware Sen. Joe Biden in St. Louis.
"I do look forward to Thursday night and debating Sen. Biden ," she said. "I ve been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in about second grade."
And then to rub salt in the wound, she reminded the crowd that Mr. Biden had recently taken on a sacred cow, the Ohio State University Buckeyes, when he said his own University of Delaware Fightin Blue Hens could beat the Buckeyes football team.
"Just recently, Sen. Biden made it perfectly clear that in an Obama-Biden administration, they would not use clean coal at all," she said. "From Wyoming to West Virginia and especially right here in Ohio, America s coal reserves are greater than the oil of the Middle East, and Joe Biden says, "Sorry, Ohio, we re not going to use it. "
Monday s joint appearance could be the McCain-Palin ticket s last prior to the debate. From Bexley, their paths separated as Mr. McCain headed for Iowa and Ms. Palin set off for Arizona for debate preparation.
This marked Mr. McCain s fifth public appearance in battleground Ohio in the three and a half weeks since he accepted his party s nomination at the Republican National Convention.
The timely appearance came the day before Ohio begins casting absentee ballots in a presidential election still 35 days away. President Bush won the state and secured a second term in 2004 by a scant 118,000 votes in Ohio.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com, or 614-221-0496.