FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina (CNN) – Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama could not have come on a more opportune day for the Democratic nominee as he campaigned in eastern North Carolina, an area awash with military members and their families.
“With so many brave men and women from Fayetteville serving in our military, this is a city and a state that knows something about great soldiers,” Obama said to a capacity crowd waving small American flags. “I have been honored to have the benefit of his wisdom and counsel from time to time over the last few years, but today, I am beyond honored and deeply humbled to have the support of General Colin Powell.”
The campaign said Obama and Powell spoke for ten minutes on the phone after the former Secretary of State’s appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Powell, Obama said, reminded voters “we don’t have the luxury of relying on the same political games the same political tactics that are used every election to divide us from one another and make us afraid of one another.”
Obama promised the audience the next 16 days would be full of “more of these robo-calls making outrageous accusations.”
In his video announcing the campaign’s massive September cash haul, campaign manager David Plouffe said supporters needed to keep donating money so they could respond to such calls with their own.
DUNN, North Carolina (CNN) – Barack Obama’s campaign had a record-breaking September, hauling in over a $150 million last month - a new high-water mark in campaign fundraising history.
In a video to supporters, Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe said a record 632,000 new donors gave to the campaign, with an average contribution under $100, although several multi-million dollar fundraising events last month did pad that total. Over three million individual donors have given so far.
In addition, the Democratic National Committee raised $49.9 million in September.
John McCain's campaign is operating under the public financing system which limits its spending to $84 million for the general election, although the Republican National Committee is able to assume certain activities on its behalf.
Regardless of this stunning haul - which dwarfs the $65 million raised in August - Plouffe told supporters the campaign still needed more money because “of the slime that we’re getting from the McCain campaign.” Plouffe cited recent attack ads and robo-calls in battleground states and said the campaign needed to have every resource to “fight back.”
ST. LOUIS, Missouri (CNN) – Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill chastised Governor Sarah Palin for recent comments that she likes to visit “pro-American” parts of the United States.
“We have reached a new low in American politics when someone dares to say that one part of America is more pro-American than another part of America,” McCaskill said at an afternoon Barack Obama rally.
McCaskill, an ardent Obama supporter and ubiquitous campaign surrogate said voters are beginning to “see clearly the differences between these two candidates.” She described the Obama campaign as exhibiting the “kind of leadership that America needs in a crisis” because in her mind it has been “slow, steady, thoughtful, constructive.”
McCaskill criticized the McCain campaign as “stumbling, erratic, all over the map” and said it is trying to “distract American with small, petty, unfair personal attacks.”
“As America has taken the measure of these men, they have looked at their judgments on the campaign trail. One picked one of the strongest candidates for vice president he could’ve picked in the United States. The other didn’t,” she said.
ROANOKE, Virginia (CNN) – Introducing Barack Obama at a Friday campaign event, Virginia Senator Jim Webb questioned John McCain’s vice presidential pick and said it was a decision the Republican nominee now probably regrets.
“Do you really think that Sarah Palin is the most qualified person in the Republican Party?” asked Webb. “I don’t know how many people here like country music? I like country music. There’s a song about two years ago it was called ‘I know what I was doing but what was I thinking?’ I think John McCain is probably singing that song right now,” he added, referring to the Dierks Bentley tune “What was I thinking?”
“If you’re trying to talk to friends about clear distinctions in terms of judgment, temperament, vision, this is something you can really ask them to take a look at,” he said.
Webb said the choice of a running mate was the one real window into the kind of judgment a future president would exhibit in office. He said he did not really “understand the process” by which McCain picked Governor Palin but said Obama’s choice of Biden was “thoughtful,” and Biden is “capable in a moment of stepping forward” into the presidency.
“I watched the vice presidential debate and I thought Joe Biden did a very good job and at the beginning f the debate Governor Palin turned around and said ‘nice to meet you can I call you Joe’ and I was thinking Joe what you really ought to do is say ‘yeah, you can call me whatever you want - in two months you can call me Mr. Vice President,’” Webb said.
The junior senator said southwestern Virginia voters can “trust [Obama]” - and that the “Karl Rove” type campaign going on against him has gotten tough.
“What they do is they say that person is not like you that person doesn’t understand you,” he said. “There’s a lot of comments that have been made about certain ethnic issues in this campaign, and I would like to say we know Barack Obama’s father was born in Kenya. Barack Obama’s mother was born in Kansas by way of Kentucky. We’re going to see on Election Day the election of the 44th President of the United States, whose ancestry and whose family line goes back to the mountains of this area.”
LONDONDERRY, New Hampshire (CNN) – At a Pennsylvania campaign event Thursday, John McCain repeated his advisors’ favorite line from Wednesday night’s debate: that Barack Obama wasn’t running against George Bush. And on the trail in New Hampshire, Barack Obama repeated his comeback.
“He said, ‘I don’t know why you’re running against George Bush,’” Obama told a rain-soaked crowd south of Manchester. “I said ‘I’m not running against George Bush, I’m running against all those policies of George Bush that you support, Sen. McCain.’
“In three debates and over twenty months, John McCain hasn’t explained a single thing that he would do differently from George Bush when it comes to the most important economic issues we face today. Not one,” he said to loud cheers outside of Mack’s Apple Farm, a location he campaigned at a year ago.
Obama said last night’s debated highlighted McCain’s “attack strategy,” and said the remaining 19 days of the general election campaign should focus on the “genuine differences” between the two candidates.
NEW YORK (CNN) – He may hold the edge in most polls with just 19 days to go, but Barack Obama can’t relax, pointing to the ghosts of election nights past.
“For those of you who are feeling giddy or cocky and think this is all set, I just say one word - I guess it’s two words for you - New Hampshire,” Obama told a high-dollar fundraiser crowd in Manhattan, referencing his loss to Hillary Clinton in January’s primary. “I’ve been in these positions before where we are favored and the press starts getting carried away and we end up getting spanked … and so we want to make sure we are closing strong, right through the tape.”
The morning after the last presidential debate, Obama displayed a mix of wistfulness and humor about one part of the political process coming to an end.
“We had a fun night last night. I’m deeply sad that after 26 debates we have no more debates,” he said to laughter. “I was hoping to have several more.”
At a breakfast that pulled in at least $3.6 million for the Obama Victory Fund, the Democratic nominee said “we are now 19 days not from the end but from the beginning,” emphasizing the amount of work and the number of challenges the next president will face. He asked those in attendance for more help going forward.
“I’m going to need all of you in that process not just for campaign support and financial support. Once we’re done there’s extraordinary expertise in this room ,and we’re going to need good advice and who knows there might even be some of you who decide that you want to spend a little time in government, and we’re going to need people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and make sure that Washington and Wall Street and the country as a whole are working in ways that leave a better future for our children,” he said.
HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) –- With Barack Obama holding the advantage in most recent surveys, the goal for his campaign is to stay the course.
“Let me just say this, we weren’t discouraged by polls when they were not favorable for us, we’re not seduced by polls now,” Obama Senior Strategist David Axelrod told reporters on the plane ride from Toledo, Ohio to New York. “We think this is going to be a battle everyday right till the end and we’re prepared for that.
“I think Senator McCain’s problem is fundamental which is he’s got a bad argument, he’s on the wrong side of history. He’s arguing for a set of policies and approach that have been discredited in a really dramatic way over the last eight years. And I’m not sure any stylistic change or approach in a debate can change that.”
Axelrod dismissed the notion that the Obama campaign was “goading” John McCain into bringing up Barack Obama’s relationship with 1960s radical William Ayers. Yesterday, McCain said the issue was all but certain to come up because Obama said in a recent interview he was surprised the Republican ticket would bring the relationship up at rallies, but that the Arizona senator would not mention it in their face-to-face debates.
TOLEDO, Ohio (CNN) – Barack Obama said the average American consumer is facing an “immediate economic emergency” and steps need to be taken right away to stop things from any getting worse.
Watch: 'J-O-B-S,' says Obama
“If Washington can move quickly to pass a rescue plan for our financial system, there’s no reason we can’t move just as quickly to pass a rescue plan for our middle-class that will create jobs, provide relief, and help homeowners,” Obama told Toledo voters. “If Congress does not act in the coming months, it will be one of the first things I do as President of the United States.”
Obama proposed $60 billion worth of measures his campaign said would offer “relief” to homeowners and workers. Many of the ideas build on policies Obama has already proposed and authority the government already has. The campaign suggested many of them could even be passed in a lame duck session of congress after the election.
The Democratic nominee wants to: temporarily lift taxes on unemployment benefits; allow investors a penalty free withdrawl of up to $10,000 from their 401k or IRA this year or next year; place a 90 day moratorium on foreclosures for homeowners who are “making a good-faith effort” at meeting payment deadlines; and temporarily offer businesses a $3,000 tax credit for “every net new job” added in the United States in 2009.
“It’s a plan that begins with one word that’s on everyone’s mind, and it’s easy to spell, J-O-B-S. Jobs. We’ve got to work on jobs,” he said.
John McCain’s campaign told reporters on a Monday afternoon conference call that Obama’s plan would have little impact — adding that the Republican nominee would be unveiling economic proposals of his own on Tuesday.
Listen: McCain advisors blast Obama's proposals - and tell reporters how the Republican nominee plans to counter them
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Barack Obama and his band of Pennsylvania pols criss-crossed Philadelphia Saturday in an effort to drive up turnout in a city where Obama needs big margins to win the state next month.
“Senator Obama has done everything he could to bring us to this point. For two years he’s campaigned across the length and breadth of this country and he’s done a great job,” Governor Ed Rendell told a mostly African-American crowd in north Philadelphia. “In the primary, only 53 percent of the registered voters in Philadelphia turned out. Twenty-four days from today, 53 percent will not cut it. It will not cut it if we want to make sure that Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States. We need to turn out at least 75 percent.”
The homage to the Philadelphia Phillies and requisite cheese steak references aside, Obama stuck to the economic populist stump speech he’s delivered in various battleground states since the financial crisis began.
“We need policies that grow our economy from the bottom-up, so that every American, everywhere has the chance to get ahead,” Obama told residents in Germantown, a Northwest Philadelphia neighborhood. “These are the Americans I’m standing for. These are the folks I’m fighting for. The cops, the teachers, the guys who pick up the garbage, the folks who are mopping the floors at night, the people who are starting a small business the barber shop owner, the hardware store owner, that’s the kind of leadership I’m offering. That’s what I mean when I’m talking about change.
Obama drew thousands at four stops in distinct sections of the city. Crowds jammed his motorcade route screaming, waving and occasionally running in between the cars, creating havoc.
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell dismissed the McCain campaign’s recent attacks against Barack Obama’s character Saturday, and said the Republican nominee’s current strategy has severely damaged him here.
“I think the John McCain of 2000 would have been a very difficult candidate to beat. The John McCain of 2008 is much less difficult to beat,” Rendell told reporters after an Obama rally.
When asked if he thought there has been any racial undercurrent to the McCain-Palin ticket bringing up issues like Obama’s relationship with 1960s radical William Ayers, Rendell shook his head.
“Not particularly. I think they’re just stupid, they’re dumb, dumb,” Rendell said of the attacks. “They’re all dumb when people are facing the challenges in their own lives that they’re facing no one wants to hear that stuff it’s just dumb.
"You know tell us what you want to do. If he’s got a plan for the mortgage bailout explain it to the American people that might get people’s interest … but don’t tell us about you know something that happened when Barack Obama was just 8 years of age, it’s just dumb.”