While speaking in Chillicothe, Ohio, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama drew a sharp contrast with John McCain, by the turning the Republican’s Country First slogan against him by saying that the nation is in crisis, and it is time to put country ahead of politics.
“I think that folks are looking for something different. It’s easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division. But that’s not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great. The American people aren’t looking for someone who can divide this country – they’re looking for someone who will lead it. We’re in a serious crisis – now, more than ever, it is time to put country ahead of politics. Now, more than ever, it is time to bring change to Washington so that it works for the people of this country that we love,” Obama said.
This is an interesting statement because it works on multiple levels. He is framing himself as the candidate who is the person to lead the nation out of this crisis. The negative ads that McCain is running also play into Obama’s theme of a new kind of politics. He has managed to reverse roles with McCain, and appear to be the candidate who is putting country first. Obama is painting McCain as only being interested in winning this election which was an attack that the McCain campaign used against Obama in late summer.
Obama is also trying to demonstrate that he is in tune with the concerns of average people, “I know my opponent is worried about his campaign. But that’s not what I’m concerned about. I’m thinking about the Americans losing their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings. We can’t afford four more years of the economic theory that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. We can’t afford four more years of less regulation so that no one in Washington is watching anyone on Wall Street. We’ve seen where that’s led us and we’re not going back.”
The roles of the two candidates have changed to the degree that it was Obama who proposed a small business rescue plan. Obama wants to provide a business tax incentive to encourage new investments, and he also proposed the elimination of all capital gains taxes on investments and small businesses and start ups. This is a plan that one would expect from the tax cut obsessed McCain campaign.
The biggest reasons that Obama has taken control of this race are that this crisis has now convinced voters that we need change, and Obama’s response to this crisis has been very presidential. The economic crisis is a chance to evaluate the two candidates’ responses to an unexpected event in real time. Barack Obama is passing this test with flying colors, while John McCain is still struggling to find the answers. If Obama wins this election, it will be the economy that carries him there.