[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/12/art.obamanh.gi.jpg caption="Obama is sharpening attacks against McCain and the GOP."]
DOVER, New Hampshire (CNN) – On the first day of what his campaign called the “final stretch,” Barack Obama hammered at John McCain, and repeatedly linked him to President Bush’s policies.
“We can’t afford four more years of what George Bush and John McCain consider progress,” he said at a town hall not far from Portsmouth. “We can’t afford another President who is so out of touch that they think the economy is strong right now and promises to the exact same thing we’ve been doing for the last eight years.”
The Obama campaign seized on a comment from Thursday night’s forum in New York where McCain said it was “easy” for him to become “somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have” while in Washington.
“Maybe from where he and George Bush sit, maybe things do look fundamentally sound,” Obama said after repeating McCain’s quote and eliciting some groans from the audience. “Maybe they don’t see what’s taking place. Maybe they’re that out of touch. But I do see what’s going on and so do you.”
Even as Obama goes on the offensive against McCain in these final weeks, he has spent time defending his own campaign, reassuring voters that the recent “lipstick” story, spike in enthusiasm for the GOP ticket, and serious up-tick in negative ads does not mean his presidential effort is off-message or floundering.
At a New Hampshire town hall Friday, a man stood and asked Obama, “when and how” was he “going to start fighting back against attack ads and smear campaigns.”
“I know there are a lot of Democrats, and some Independents and some Republicans who really want change who start getting nervous because they’ve seen this movie before every four years. Right? You have ads that are being just fabricated, they’re just made up. And lies – that’s the word I was looking for,” said Obama.
“Here’s what I can guarantee you: that we are going to be hitting back hard – we have been hitting back hard but …I’m not going to start making up lies about John McCain … we’re going to make sure that anything that is out there that we are immediately responding to. But this election is too important, it’s too serious to be playing silly games.”
The Democratic nominee also pledged that families making less than $250,000 a year would not see any type of tax increase should he become president.