(CNN) – Barack Obama’s campaign continued to hit John McCain on his failure to answer a question on the number of homes he owns with a new ad Thursday, as the presumptive Democratic nominee hammered the same point on the campaign trail in Virginia and the McCain camp battled back.
Watch: Obama hits McCain on homes
“Somebody asked John McCain, 'how many houses do you have?' and he said, 'I'm not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff,'” said Obama at a Thursday morning campaign stop. “True quote! 'I'm not sure, I'll have to check with my staff.' So they asked his staff and he said, 'at least four.' 'At least four.'
“Now think about that - I guess if you think that being rich means you gotta make five million dollars, and if you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong,” he continued. “But if you're like me and you've got one house - or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don't lose their home - you might have a different perspective. …
He also said that there was a “fundamental gap of understanding” between McCain’s world and “what people are going thru every single day here in America.”
The Republican’s campaign continued to press their long-time charge that Obama himself is an elitist. “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. “Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people 'cling' to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who’s in touch with regular Americans?
“The reality is that Barack Obama’s plans to raise taxes and opposition to producing more energy here at home as gas prices skyrocket show he’s completely out of touch with the concerns of average Americans.”
The Obama campaign’s new ad, released hours after McCain’s comment was published, also paints the portrait of John McCain as privileged and insulated from current economic woes. “Maybe you’re struggling just to pay the mortgage on your home. But recently, John McCain said ‘The fundamentals of our economy are strong,’” says the announcer in the 30-second spot, “Seven.”
“Hm,” he continues skeptically, as the ad flashes a picture of a house with a foreclosure sign in the front yard.
“Then again, that same day, when asked how many houses he owns, McCain lost track. He couldn’t remember. Well, it’s seven. Seven houses,” he continues. On-screen, the legend flashes: “it’s seven. worth 13 million dollars.”
The White House appears on-screen, as he concludes: “And here’s one house America can’t afford to let John McCain move into.”
The ad is Obama’s fifth negative spot in the past two days.