GRESHAM, Ore. - Democrat Barack Obama told seniors yesterday that Republican John McCain would threaten the Social Security on which they and millions like them depend, because he supports privatizing the program.
Obama turned to a bedrock, pocketbook issue as he spoke to about 130 people at an assisted-living facility and sought to tie the GOP's presidential nominee-in-waiting to an unpopular President Bush on an issue that motivates seniors.
"Let me be clear, privatizing Social Security was a bad idea when George W. Bush proposed it, it's a bad idea today," Obama said. "That's why I stood up against this plan in the Senate and that's why I won't stand for it as president."
Bush proposed a Social Security plan in 2005 that focused on creating private accounts for younger workers, but it never came up for a vote in Congress. Democrats strongly opposed the idea and few Republicans embraced it.
Obama said McCain would push to raise the retirement age for collecting Social Security benefits or trim annual cost-of-living increases. Obama has rejected both ideas as solutions to the funding crisis projected for Social Security in favor of making higher-income workers pay more into the system.
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds accused Obama of making "misinformed partisan attacks."
"John McCain has been clear about his belief that we must fix Social Security for future generations and keep our promises to today's retirees, but raising taxes should not be the answer to every problem," Bounds said.
"It's not enough to show up and cheer," Clinton exhorted a rally at Western Kentucky University. "You've got to get out and vote. You've got to bring everybody you can find to vote."
The senator from New York started her day by attending church and then headed off to rallies in Kentucky, which along with Oregon holds Democratic contests tomorrow.
Obama holds a commanding lead in the pledged delegates to this summer's party convention that will pick a candidate to run against Republican John McCain in November. While Clinton is expected to win handily in Kentucky, Obama is ahead in the polls in Oregon, leaving only three more Democratic primaries.
Clinton indicated she intends to keep going: "It's not going to be easy and it doesn't happen by wishing and hoping for it."
Thomas G. Loeffler, a former Texas representative and one of McCain's key fund-raisers, resigned after the campaign instructed staff last week to disclose all lobbying ties and to make sure they are no longer registered as lobbyists or foreign agents.
McCain's campaign yesterday confirmed Loeffler's resignation.
Loeffler lobbies for European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., which with
Newsweek reported recently that Loeffler's "lobbying firm has collected nearly $15 million from Saudi Arabia since 2002 and millions more from other foreign and corporate interests, including a French aerospace firm seeking Pentagon contracts."