Both John McCain and Barack Obama put out statements after it was announced today that the nation’s GDP dropped for the first time in seven years, and that consumer spending has fallen to a 28 year low. Obama used the data to highlight the need for change, while the McCain camp pointed to it as a reason not to elect Obama.
Obama said, “This morning, we learned that GDP has fallen for the first time this year, which means America is producing less and selling less and our economy is shrinking. American consumers were especially hard hit, experiencing their largest decline in spending in 28 years as wages failed to keep up with the rising cost of living. The decline in our GDP didn’t happen by accident – it is a direct result of the Bush Administration’s trickle down, Wall Street first, Main Street last policies that John McCain has embraced for the last eight years and plans to continue for the next four. These policies didn’t work then, they won’t work now, and I’m running for President to end them. We need to grow our economy by creating jobs, providing tax relief for middle class families, and helping people stay in their homes, and that is exactly what I will do as President.”
McCain advisor Douglas Holtz-Eakin said that Obama will make things worse, “Barack Obama’s ideologically-driven plans to redistribute income will impose higher taxes on families, small businesses, and investors; expensive, rigid, job-killing health mandates on employers; energy policies that fail to promote domestic oil, natural gas, and coal, and will impose a massive Washington-driven regulation of everything from home furnaces to factories; isolationist trade policies that endanger one out of every five jobs; and massive new spending plans that that will burden the economy and saddle our children with debt. Barack Obama is change Americans cannot afford.”
Barack Obama is running against the economic policies of the past eight years, while John McCain is running against Barack Obama, thus putting him a position of defending the status quo. Obama’s response talked about middle class families, and McCain focused on taxpayers. Look at the McCain campaign’s response. It is all over the place. Instead of sticking with the economy, Holtz-Eakin tried to move the discussion to energy and trade. The McCain campaign doesn’t want to discuss the economy and it shows.
John McCain has not established a personal connection with voters. Unlike Obama, he has not been able to effectively convey sympathy and concern for the problems of average Americans. McCain also suffers from the same problem that plagued John Kerry in 2004. He talks like a senator. While Obama talks about kitchen table issues like jobs, education, food prices, and retirement, McCain gets bogged down in discussing taxes, spending, entitlements, and earmarks. Those are topics for the Senate, not the White House. Why Obama is winning is because he looks like a president. McCain has the look of a lifelong senator, and in politics perception is reality.