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Obama Rebuts Criticism Of His Tax Plan


Democratic candidate Barack Obama spent much of his day responding to the criticisms from the Republican ticket. Obama made his case to voters in rallies in the battleground state of Virginia. It was his last full day of campaigning before taking time out to head to Hawaii this afternoon to visit his sick grandmother. NPR's Audie Cornish reports.

AUDIE CORNISH: The Democratic nominee drew some 35,000 people to an evening rally in Leesburg, Virginia. The city's in that voter-rich and Democratic-leaning section of the state that's often considered suburban Washington, D.C. A McCain campaign spokeswoman recently dismissed the area as not real Virginia. Voter and Loudoun County firefighter Karrie Boswell very much disagrees.

Ms. KARRIE BOSWELL (Firefighter, Loudoun County, Virginia): Yeah, it is - it is real America. That's what I think. Yeah, this is it. This is what - you look at the trends and what's happening and what people's expectations are of their candidates. Yeah, I think it is a true snapshot of what's going on in this country.

CORNISH: And Senator Barack Obama swooped in to the battleground state to take advantage of the perceived misstep.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Virginia)

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): On this beautiful fall day, it is good to be back in Virginia.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator OBAMA: I know some folks may not think so, but this looks like the real Virginia to me.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

CORNISH: John McCain may be embracing the role of underdog, but Barack Obama says he's too superstitious to embrace frontrunner status. The Democratic nominee warns voters at every turn of Republican attacks.

Senator OBAMA: We've seen it before, and we're seeing it right now. The ugly phone calls, the misleading mail and TV ads, the careless, outrageous comments, the constant negativity, all aimed at keeping us from working together, all aimed at stopping change.

CORNISH: And then, point by point, he takes them on. For instance, in response to Governor Sarah Palin's comments about so-called pro-American areas of the country, Obama says...

Senator OBAMA: There are no real or fake parts of this country.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator OBAMA: We're not separated by the pro-America and anti-America parts of this country.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator OBAMA: We all love this country no matter where we live or where we come from.

CORNISH: And when John McCain goes after Obama's tax platform, Obama counters...

Senator OBAMA: John McCain has called my tax plans socialistic. That's what he said. And here's the irony. Back in 2000, back in 2000 John McCain himself opposed the Bush tax cuts on the very wealthiest.

CORNISH: The senator even manages to throw in a rebuttal to the McCain camp's favorite voter, Joe the Plumber.

Senator OBAMA: All I want to do is give Joe a tax cut.

(Soundbite of crow ovation)

Senator OBAMA: That's all I want to do. So let's be clear about who John McCain's fighting for. He's not fighting for Joe the Plumber. He's fighting for Joe the Hedge Fund Manager.

CORNISH: Senator Obama does work in some key domestic policy points in between the digs. The Democrat reiterates his call for a federal economic stimulus package for families. He proposes a tax credit for each new employee a company hires on American soil over the next two years. And Obama promises a three-month moratorium on home foreclosures, and more. But will it be enough for the undecided voters like Leesburg town administrator Scott Parker?

Mr. SCOTT PARKER (Administrator, Leesburg Town): I think I've heard a lot of it before - taxes, health care, education - we've heard it for years, we've heard it for years from both sides. And there's a lot of cynical people out there. There's a lot of skeptical people out there.

CORNISH: Which may be why Virginia is still very much a tossup state. Audie Cornish, NPR News, traveling with the Obama campaign.

MONTAGNE: Here's something the candidates rarely mention but that's apparent every day. One of the major party nominees is black. Win or lose, Barack Obama has sparked widespread conversation about race, which we're sampling at NPR News.

INSKEEP: Tomorrow we resume our talks with voters in York, Pennsylvania. In that swing state, campaign ads show Obama's white relatives.

(Soundbite of interview with voters in York, Pennsylvania)

Unidentified Man #1: When you talk about a Barack Obama who they show you these pictures of his family and who he grew up with, what it's basically saying to the American people is, don't worry. You don't have to worry about him doing these things that you might think he might do that comes from this African-American culture.

MONTAGNE: And then there's the voter that Republican Sarah Palin has described.

INSKEEP: When you hear the phrase Joe Six-pack, who is that? Who do you imagine?

Unidentified Man #2: Common, everyday, working man.

Unidentified Woman: When I hear Joe Six-pack, I think of the hunter and his gun. And that's a definite white man out in the countryside.

INSKEEP: I'll join Michele Norris of NPR's All Things Considered and a roomful of voters in York, Pennsylvania, and we will dissect race in this election tomorrow morning and afternoon. It's Morning Edition from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Audie Cornish
Over two decades of journalism, Audie Cornish has become a recognized and trusted voice on the airwaves as co-host of NPR's flagship news program, All Things Considered.