Watch Sen. McCain's remarks about Sen. Obama in Ohio Thursday.
LIMA, Ohio (CNN) – John McCain is stepping up his efforts to characterize his rival as a say-anything Washington politician out of touch with the American heartland, particularly on the issues of energy and taxes.
“Behind all the words, Senator Obama’s agenda can be summarized as this: Government is too big, and he wants to grow it,” McCain said at an Ohio town hall meeting Thursday. “Taxes are too high, and he wants to raise them. Congress spends too much, and he proposes more. We need more energy, and he's against producing it. We’re finally winning in Iraq, and he wants to forfeit.”
He added: “The bottom line is that Senator Obama’s words, for all their eloquence and passion, don’t mean all that much.”
McCain read the scripted remarks off a handful of note cards, in line with his campaign’s recent efforts to tightly control the candidate’s message. Throughout the week, the presumptive Republican nominee has kept his distance from the media - a strategy that has allowed the campaign to hammer home contrasts with Obama on energy policy without the off-topic distractions that often spill from McCain’s own mouth.
Today, McCain branded Obama as an obstructionist on offshore drilling, and said the Democrat simply wants “to raise your taxes and spend more of your money.”
“Pretty much anything you can tax, he wants to tax more,” McCain said.
While he looked to tie Obama to Washington, McCain himself tried to tip-toe away from his own party and an unpopular White House. He called himself a maverick — an image his campaign stressed in a new ad earlier this week - and told the audience he has “stood up” to the Bush administration on energy, the Iraq war and spending.
“I don’t work for a party,” he said. “I don’t work for a president. I don’t work for a special interest, and I don’t work for myself. I work for you and the country I love."