TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) – Since leaving their convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, John McCain and Sarah Palin have tried to cast themselves as mavericks, Washington outsiders, the real agents of change.
Barack Obama isn’t buying it and wants the label for himself.
“Everywhere I go we’ve been talking about change, that’s been the theme of this campaign,” Obama told supporters in a show barn in Indiana. “And we must be on to something, because I notice now everyone’s talking about change now.”
“Suddenly [McCain’s] the change agent!” Obama laughed. “He says, “I’m going to tell those lobbyists that their days of running Washington are over.” Who’s he going to tell? Is he going to tell his campaign chairman who’s one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell his campaign manager who was one of the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington? Is he going to tell all the folks who are running his campaign who are the biggest corporate lobbyists in Washington?”
“Who is it that he’s going to tell that change is coming?” he added, “I mean come on, they must think you’re stupid!”
Obama said Thursday that he’ll focus on McCain because he’s running against McCain and not his running mate Sarah Palin. But Saturday Obama singled out Palin for the first time for flip-flopping on earmarks while governor of Alaska.
“She is a skillful politician,” said Obama, “but when you’ve been taking all these earmarks when it is convenient and then suddenly you’re the champion anti-earmark person, that is not change, come on. I mean, words mean something. You can’t just make stuff up. You can’t just make stuff up.”
The McCain campaign shot back saying that Obama is all talk.
“Barack Obama has requested the equivalent of one million dollars in new pork barrel spending for every working day he's been in the U.S Senate,” wrote McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds in an e-mail to reporters. “While John McCain has never once asked for an earmark, and Governor Palin has vetoed hundreds of millions in government spending including killing the infamous 'bridge to nowhere'.
When a former Republican asked the Illinois senator if he would welcome ‘converts’ like him, Obama took the opportunity to accuse McCain of hypocrisy.
“I have to say, when John McCain says in his [acceptance] speech that he wants to reduce the rancor in Washington and I’m thinking, did you pay attention to the last two days of your convention?” Obama chuckled, “were you not watching? Did they not get the memo?”
“When it starts getting personal, when you start just focusing exclusively on trying to tear the other person down instead of what you are going to do on behalf of the American people to deal with this economy, then that’s not serving Democrats, that’s not serving Republicans, that’s not serving anybody.”