GREENSBORO, N.C. — Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday charged that his Republican rival at the first debate the night before revealed himself as uncaring about average people.
“On issue after issue from taxes to health care to the war in Iraq you heard John McCain make the case for more of the same policies that got us into this mess,” Mr. Obama said at a rally under gray skies in front of the train station here.
“Just as important as what we heard from John McCain was what we didn’t hear from John McCain,” he said.
“The truth is, through ninety minutes of debate, John McCain had a lot to say about me, but he had nothing to say about you,” he said. “He didn’t even say the word ‘middle class.’ He didn’t say the word ‘working people.’”
The line of attack echoed a new campaign ad released following the debate titled “Zero,” as in the number of times Mr. McCain referred to the middle class Friday night.
The McCain campaign released its own ad highlighting all the times Mr. Obama said the Republican was “right” during the debate but charging that he’s not ready to lead on his own.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he found that line of attack “puzzling.”
“Only someone whos been in Washington for 26 years would put that ad out,” Mr. Plouffe told reporters on a conference call, adding that his boss “is not afraid” to say when he agrees with his opponent.
“Voters in the battleground states who are undecided actually responded very well” to that line, he said.
Campaign spokesman Bill Burton also noted that focus groups and pundits had declared Mr. Obama the winner.
Unlike Mr. Obama’s pitch at the debate, the Illinois senator on Saturday was not attempting to reach undecided voters. The crowd of more than 20,000 were in his corner, loudly cheering for Mr. Obama and his running mate Sen. Joe Biden.
He was interrupted by chants several times, and a local marching band warmed up the ralliers.
Mr. Biden, who will get his turn on a debate stage Thursday, lauded Mr. Obama’s performance in his first battle with Mr. McCain.
“Last night America looked and it didn’t just see a winner, they saw the next commander in chief,” Mr. Biden said.
“This was supposed to be John McCain’s turf and Barack Obama owned it last night,” he added.