Obama attacks McCain health plans

Obama attacks McCain health plans
John McCain and Barack Obama (composite image)
Mr McCain is preparing for Tuesday's debate while Mr Obama campaigns

US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has attacked the healthcare plans of Republican rival John McCain at a rally in Virginia.

Speaking to some 18,000 people, Senator Obama described the Arizona senator's policy as "radical" and warned that millions of people could lose out.

A McCain spokesman rejected the claim, saying it was "a bald-faced lie".

Meanwhile, Mr McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin accused Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists".

Speaking in Colorado, she was referring to Mr Obama's association with a former 1960s radical.


Sarah Palin accuses Obama of associating with 'a domestic terrorist'

Mr McCain has left the campaign trail for Arizona, where he is preparing for Tuesday's second presidential debate.

Mr Obama's rally in Virginia came ahead of a Monday deadline for voters to register there and in more than a dozen other states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Florida.

The Obama campaign has signed up singers Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z to play at events in Philadelphia and Detroit, as well as Ohio State University.

Voter turnout could be key in deciding the outcome of the 4 November presidential election.

Healthcare claims

The Obama campaign launched its attack on Mr McCain's healthcare proposals with new adverts on TV and radio and leaflets sent to homes in every battleground state.

Mr McCain has proposed tax credits to help more people pay for health insurance, while Mr Obama wants to bring about universal coverage by providing subsidies to make it more affordable.

Joe Biden and Sarah Palin at the debate in Missouri
Record numbers watched Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in the VP debate

Speaking at the rally in Newport News, Virginia, Mr Obama said Mr McCain's promise of tax credits to help pay for health insurance would be paid for by taxing people's health benefits.

He warned that this would raise costs for employers, leading many to abandon their schemes.

He said: "Study after study has shown, that under the McCain plan, at least 20 million Americans will lose the insurance they rely on from their workplace."

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds rejected Mr Obama's claim as a lie.

"John McCain will improve the tax code so that middle-class pay cheques aren't used to pay government bureaucrats but instead will pay for the access to healthcare Americans deserve," Mr Bounds said.

Research suggests the tax credit Mr McCain proposes would be more generous than the current tax break, the Associated Press reports.

Opinion polls suggest healthcare is an important issue for voters.

Militant group

Mr McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Palin, was to campaign in California on Saturday.

Speaking to supporters in Colorado, she attacked Mr Obama over his link to Bill Ayers, a founder of the militant group Weather Underground, which took credit for a number of bombings in the US in the 1960s.

She described Mr Obama as someone who saw the US "as being so imperfect... he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country".

Mr Obama, who served on a charity board with Mr Ayers - now a professor at the University of Illinois - several years ago, has denounced his radical activities.

Commentators say Mrs Palin's attack forms part of a broader Republican strategy to attack Mr Obama's character.

The Alaska governor also repeated her wish that the McCain campaign had not this week pulled out of the battleground state of Michigan, effectively conceding it to Mr Obama.

Meanwhile, viewing figures show a record 69.9m people tuned in to watch Mrs Palin take part in Thursday's televised vice-presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

That number eclipsed the mark set in 1984, when 56.7m people watched Geraldine Ferraro, the only previous female US vice-presidential candidate, go head-to-head with George Bush Senior.


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