- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WESTMINSTER, Colo. | Sen. Barack Obama hammered Monday at his favorite targets, Sen. John McCain and Wall Street, as polls showed him regaining the lead in the presidential race in this battleground state.

“The era of greed and irresponsibility in Wall Street and Washington has led us to a financial crisis as serious as anything we’ve faced since the Great Depression,” Mr. Obama told a packed gymnasium at Mountain Range High School.

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign unleashed a blistering attack accusing his Democratic rival of wavering on the financial crisis and predicting that his tax-and-spend policies “will deepen our recession.”

“Senator Obama took a very different approach to the crisis our country faced. At first he didn’t want to get involved. Then he was ‘monitoring the situation,’” the Republican candidate said at a rally in Columbus, Ohio, with vice-presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin.

“That’s not leadership; that’s watching from the sidelines,” Mr. McCain said. “And watching from the sidelines is exactly what got us into this mess. It was the lack of accountability and oversight that put your tax dollars on the line. But it shouldn’t be surprising that Senator Obama isn’t interested in protecting your tax dollars.”

Mr. McCain’s first campaign stop since the first presidential debate Friday was in another swing state where the candidates remain virtually deadlocked. A Rasmussen Reports survey released Sept. 23 showed Mr. McCain with 47 percent of the vote and Mr. Obama with 46 percent among likely Ohio voters.

In Colorado, a Quinnipiac University poll released Sept. 23 showed Mr. Obama leading 49 percent to 45 percent, with a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points. Mr. Obama was trailing Mr. McCain in July and August.

Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli, whose Sept. 23 poll shows Mr. Obama leading by one percentage point, attributed the shift to a tempering of Mr. McCain’s bounce from the Republican National Convention and to the deepening economic crisis.

Colorado has nine electoral votes, which in a tight presidential race could provide the margin of victory, as Florida and Ohio have in past elections.

“Colorado is going to see all four major party candidates a lot over the next 40-odd days,” former Gov. Bill Owens, a Republican, said last weekend. “I think whoever wins Colorado is going to be the next president of the United States.”

Part of Colorado’s appeal to the presidential campaigns is that the polls seem to seesaw every few weeks, Mr. Ciruli said.

“In the West, you have three states that are on the cusp - Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado - but Colorado may be the most balanced,” he said. “I doubt there’s another state [besides Colorado] that exchanges the lead every other week.”

Both the McCain and Obama campaigns plan to make a slew appearances in Colorado over the next two weeks. Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle, is slated to appear Wednesday at a voter-registration rally in Boulder.

Mrs. Palin, who attracted crowds at her two previous Colorado events, is scheduled to attend a private fundraiser Saturday in Centennial. Mr. McCain may rally Colorado voters at the end of the week.

“It’s presidential gridlock at the airport these days as these campaigns pass each other,” Mr. Ciruli said.

At yesterday’s rally, Mr. Obama, who was more than 90 minutes late, said he was delayed by a phone call with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

Mr. Obama called for calm on Wall Street and Main Street in the face of the House defeat of the economic bailout plan while urging Congress to continue to work on a viable rescue package.

“It’s important to understand that there are going to be trials, bumps, ups and downs before this gets done,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m confident we’re going to get there, but it’s going to be a little rocky. It’s like flying into Denver: You know you’re going to land, but it’s not a lot of fun to go over those mountains.”

He criticized the Bush administration for proposing what he called a $700 billion “blank check” to the federal government, and called for an independent board to oversee any bailout. “You have the right to make sure your tax dollars are being protected,” he said.

“The message I have for Congress is: Get this done. Get it done,” Mr. Obama said.

This story is based in part on wire service reports.