With the wind whipping off Lake Erie behind him yesterday, Barack Obama added his endorsement to President Bush's plan to buy into struggling banks to help recover from a national credit crisis.
He held his press conference at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon. He has been staying at the resort since Sunday night preparing for his debate tonight in New York with John McCain.
Mr. Obama also took five questions from reporters before taking his multivehicle entourage through Oregon to the Chrysler Machining Plant in Perrysburg Township for a surprise meeting with shift-change workers.
In the morning, he worked out by playing basketball in the Summit YMCA gym near downtown Toledo.
Mr. Obama said "the idea of injecting capital directly into banks is a good one," in response to Mr. Bush's proposal to have the government buy a $250 billion share of struggling banks.
"It gives taxpayers a better chance of getting their money out potentially. It also gives the Treasury some more direct mechanisms to monitor and apply some ground rules to participating banks," Mr. Obama said. "But it is very important that there are some regulatory requirements ultimately that go with these injections of cash."
He said the plan must crack down on "excessive CEO pay" and make sure the equity share acquired by the government is a good deal for taxpayers.
The Illinois senator and his top advisers have been staying at the resort since Sunday preparing for a debate tonight against Mr. McCain, the GOP candidate.
The Obama campaign is to leave Toledo this morning for Hempstead, N.Y., where the third and final debate will be held at Hofstra University.
At his news conference, Mr. Obama renewed his support for fast-tracking $25 billion in loans to the auto industry. He said now is not the time to consider applying the same rescue - partial taxpayer ownership - of auto manufacturers that is planned for struggling banks.
"I think it is premature to talk in those terms," he said in response to a question from The Blade. "I think we have to see what the automakers can do. They have requested these loan guarantees, I'm willing to support substantial loan guarantees as long as they are being used effectively."
He said whatever the government does to help the auto industry should be tied to assurances that the manufacturers are building vehicles that use advanced fuel-efficient technologies.
"There is no reason we can't build the cars of the future here in the United States as opposed to Japan and South Korea," Mr. Obama said.
He commented that GM builds "highly fuel-efficient cars that sell really well in Europe. Why not build them here too?"
"Hopefully the loan guarantees are used then to retool our factories to do things that we know American car makers can do when they put their minds to it," Mr. Obama said.
The Democratic presidential nominee brushed off suggestions by Mr. McCain that Mr. Obama is connected with ACORN, the community organizing group that has been accused of signing up fraudulent voters in some battleground states.
Mr. Obama said he once represented ACORN as a lawyer, but his campaign has no formal connection to the group.
He said if there is fraud it's most likely being perpetrated on ACORN by workers submitting fake names instead of doing the work to get legitimate new voters.
"This isn't a situation where there's actually people who are going to try to vote because these are phony names," he said. "It's doubtful Tony Romo is going to show up in Ohio to vote."
Nevada authorities last week raided an ACORN office in Las Vegas amid allegations that workers had submitted voter registration forms with a fraudulent application from Romo, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, among others.
"What I want to make sure of is that this is not used as an excuse for the kind of voter suppression strategies and tactics that we've seen in the past. Let's just make sure everybody is voting, everybody's registered. Let's make sure that everybody's doing it in a lawful way," he said.
Jon Stainbrook, chairman of the Lucas County Republican Party, said, "it's very suspect when the very organization Barack Obama was employed by is working fervently to register people."
Ohio's early voting and its five-day window for same-day registering and voting from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6 attracted widespread criticism from the Republican Party that Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was allowing questionable practices.
In the morning, Mr. Obama played basketball at the Summit YMCA gym near downtown Toledo with two members of the U.S. Secret Service and YMCA employee Emeka Okonkwo, who stopped by to work out.
Mr. Okonkwo, who works for an after-school program for at-risk youths, said initially he was nervous.
But Mr. Obama's down-to-earth personality soon made it feel like just another game of basketball, he said.
"He wasn't all uptight. He's real personable," Mr. Okonkwo said while leaving the gym.
Toledo lawyer Merle Dech learned that Mr. Obama was at the gym and rushed there in hopes of getting an autograph, and was successful.
He said he plans to vote for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, but said he passed along his father's belief that Mr. Obama will unite the country the way Nelson Mandela united South Africa.
"He said, 'Tell your father I appreciate that comment,' " Mr. Dech recounted.
At the 3 p.m. shift change at the Chrysler plant in Perrysburg Township, workers clumped around Mr. Obama, pumped his hand, got their pictures taken with him, and urged him on.
Fred Hogue, 41, of Toledo, held Mr. Obama's hand in the air as he yelled, "Barack Obama - next president of the United States."
"It's an exciting time for America right now. It's an exciting time for UAWs all over America," Mr. Hogue said.
The UAW has endorsed Mr. Obama, and the union stewards were wearing Obama/Biden
Mr. Obama rewarded a group of people who stood outside the resort yesterday to shake his hand.
"He's absolutely wonderful, he's what the nation needs, he's a breath of fresh air," said Tamara Damschroder, 57, of Fremont. She waited four hours - "and it's worth it."
A confrontation that occurred between Mr. Obama and a resident of Springfield Township on Sunday that some interpreted as an intent to redistribute wealth was reprised yesterday in a Fox News discussion.
Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber who is trying to buy the plumbing business, was a guest of Neil Cavuto, the host of Fox News' Your World.
In his conversation with Mr. Obama, who walked house-to-house on Shrewsbury Street, Mr. Wurzelbacher told the Democratic candidate, "I'm being taxed more and more for fulfilling the American Dream."
As part of his reply, Mr. Obama said, "It's not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too. I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Outrage over Mr. Obama's phrase "share the wealth" has turned up in conservative Internet discussions since then.
"Some people interpreted his remark as sort of like Robin Hood-ish, Joe, that it was a redistribution of wealth-taking from guys like you to help people who are not as well off as you," Mr. Cavuto said during his show.
Mr. Obama has frequently announced his intent to repeal tax cuts that were given to people making more than $250,000.
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