- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Mo. | Sen. Barack Obama says his acceptance speech for the presidential nomination Thursday will not attempt soaring rhetoric but offer a “workmanlike” outline of policies that draw a stark distinction with Republican Sen. John McCain.

“I want to make the choice between myself and John McCain as clear as possible,” Mr. Obama said Monday while campaigning in Iowa “I want people to understand that John McCain intends to continue the Bush economic policies that have resulted in record foreclosures and flat incomes and wages for middle-class Americans.”

He said his speech also will seek to better define his personal narrative for voters, likely continuing his new “regular guy” theme on the stump that courts working-class voters who may have lingering suspicions about his character and his exotic upbringing. He stresses that before his recent political success, he was a middle-class family man worried about paying off college student loans and saving for his daughters’ education.

“During the course of a 19-month campaign, I think that you are on the television screen [or] you are in big auditoriums but sometimes who you are may get lost,” Mr. Obama told reporters at the Quad Cities Airport before flying to stay here overnight. “I want people to come away saying, ‘Whether I’m voting for the guy or against the guy, I know what he stands for. I know where he comes from. I know what he believes.’”

But mostly he wants voters to understand how he differs from Mr. McCain.

“I am confident that if the American people know what my plan for America is and what John McCain’s plan for America is, I will win this race,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama has been pummeled by Republican ads painting him as an inexperienced celebrity, as his poll lead evaporated and the race became tied. Democrats are using this week’s convention to go on offense, releasing a Web video showing Mr. McCain acknowledging he usually sides with President Bush on the major issues.

“We’re not going to make the same mistake we did in ‘04,” a Democratic official familiar with the ad said.

This weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats erred at their 2004 convention and during the entire campaign of Sen. John Kerry that year.

“It was emblematic of the campaign not being as critical as it needed to be, early enough,” she said. “Myself, I would have had it be about the Iraq war and not the Vietnam War. … We’ll know at the election whether we were tough enough.”

Mr. Obama, whose meteoric rise in national politics began with his stirring keynote speech at the 2004 convention, said the speech Thursday will be “a more workmanlike speech” that does not aim for “a lot of high rhetoric.”

Mr. Obama is touring swing states, including Wisconsin and Iowa, in the run-up to his acceptance speech Thursday at Denver’s Invesco Field at Mile High. He plans campaign stops here Tuesday and in Billings, Mont., on Wednesday.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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