No K.O. In McCain, Obama Final Presidential Spar

By Paul Hughes

With McCain on the offensive, Obama remains cool

HEMPSTEAD,New York(RUSHPRNEWS)10/16/08--Republican John McCain launched a vigorous attack against Democrat Barack Obama Wednesday in a spirited third and final debate before the presidential election Nov. 4, telling the Illinois senator, “I am not President Bush” at one point, a statement almost immediately refuted by Barack Obama, and questioning Obama’s relationship with a former domestic terrorist at another.

In what was clearly McCain’s strongest debate performance, the Arizona senator went on the offense early in the 90-minute televised forum that covered the economy, health care and education reform.

Obama used the event to compare MCCain’s proposals to those of an unpopular George W. Bush.

“Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago,” McCain said.

Obama noted that McCain had showed some independence when it came to the strategies of Bush but said their economic policies are the same.

“The fact of the matter is that if I occasionally have mistaken your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people, on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities, you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush,” Obama said.

With the polls showing McCain trailing Obama by several percentage points, McCain took advantage of several opportunities to portray his opponent as someone who, despite Obama’s claims to the contrary, would increase government spending and raise taxes on middle-income Americans in the face of a tumultuous economy.

Both candidates traded verbal swipes with each other throughout the debate, with Obama accusing McCain of wanting to continue the policies of President Bush and McCain questioning Obama’s economic strategy and choice of associates.

“What the American people can’t afford, though, is four more years of failed economic policies. And what they deserve over the next four weeks is that we talk about what’s most pressing to them: the economic crisis,” Obama said.

Obama spoke in an even tone as he responded to moderator Bob Shieffer when the newsman asked what governmental programs the candidates would eliminate to deal with a deficit expected to be $1 trillion in 2009.

“We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work,” Obama said. “And I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don’t work, we should cut. Programs that we need, we should make them work better.”

McCain reiterated his prior pledge to cut government spending.

“I would have, first of all, across-the-board spending freeze, OK? Some people say that’s a hatchet. That’s a hatchet, and then I would get out a scalpel, OK?” he said.

“I know how to save billions of dollars in defense spending. I know how to eliminate programs,” McCain responded when Shieffer pressed him further to be specific.

McCain said he would cut subsidies for ethanol production and eliminate tariffs on sugarcane-based ethanol from Brazil.

“I know how to save billions,” he reiterated.

Obama deflected criticism that he is friends with William Ayers, a one-time leader of the radical domestic terrorist group the Weather Underground, which took part in several bombings in the 1960s. Ayers participated in “despicable acts” 40 years ago, when Obama was  8 years old, but has since redeemed himself as a “professor and education reformer” in Chicago. Obama and Ayers were on the board of directors of a school reform group in Chicago that was funded by the late Walter Annenberg, the former media mogul and ambassador in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

“Mr. Ayers is not involved in my campaign. He has never been involved in this campaign. And he will not advise me in the White House,” Obama said.

On health care reform, McCain said he favors a $5,000 tax credit for families that would allow them to purchase insurance in a competitive marketplace, while Obama pledged a plan that would allow people, who otherwise could not afford it, access to comprehensive coverage that would be funded partly by companies and the government. The plan, added Obama ” would neither not penalize individual with medical preexisting conditions.”

Last round, November 4th, when the voters pick their winner.

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