Local Politics

McCain calls for creating wealth, not spreading it around

Posted October 28, 2008 12:19 a.m. EDT
Updated October 29, 2008 12:04 a.m. EDT

— In his third visit to North Carolina in two weeks, Republican presidential candidate John McCain told a Fayetteville Tuesday evening that he would create wealth and opportunity for Americans and not try to spread the wealth across the country.

McCain criticized the economic policies of his opponent, Barack Obama, saying the Democrat wants to be "redistributionist-in-chief" instead of commander-in-chief.

In response to a question from an Ohio man – now famously known as "Joe the plumber" – at a campaign appearance a couple of weeks ago, Obama said he wanted to "spread the wealth around" by taxing the wealthy and large companies and providing more services for lower-income Americans.

"He's more interested in controlling wealth than creating it. ... I'm going to create wealth for all Americans by creating opportunity for all Americans," McCain told a cheering crowd at Crown Coliseum. "Sen. Obama is running to punish the successful. I'm going to make everyone successful."

McCain again tried to distance himself from the unpopular President George W. Bush, saying the country has waited for eight years for its luck to change. With the sluggish economy and chaos in the mortgage and financial industries, he said, the U.S. can't afford to continue waiting.

"We have to act. We need a new direction, and we have to fight for it," he said.

Obama would work with a Democratic-controlled Congress to raise taxes on middle-class Americans, he said, while he would work to rein in government spending, including vetoing all pork-barrel spending.

Making his first appearance in Fayetteville since the 1990s, McCain also vowed to win the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Responding to chants of "drill, baby, drill," he said his energy policy would include offshore exploration for oil and natural gas.

"We'll invest in all energy alternatives," he said. "We'll lower the cost of energy within six months, and we'll create millions of new jobs."

Country music star Hank Williams Jr. warmed up the crowd for the rally, and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge appeared with McCain.

Tuesday marks the third day in a four-day stretch that will see all four candidates on the Democratic and Republican presidential tickets appear in North Carolina.

McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, spoke in Asheville Sunday, while her Democratic counterpart, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, visited Greenville Monday. Obama is scheduled to hold a rally in downtown Raleigh Wednesday morning, and his wife, Michelle Obama, is expected to attend a public event in Rocky Mount and a private one in Fayetteville.

Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, a former congressman from Georgia, also visited the state Tuesday, making a speech at Duke University.

The heavy campaigning indicates the urgency of winning North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes.

North Carolina has not voted for a Democrat since 1976, but a WRAL News poll released Monday shows Obama and McCain in a dead heat, with each candidate garnering 47 percent of the vote.

Noting many national pundits are predicting an Obama victory on Election Day, McCain urged supporters to head to the polls and stage an upset.

"I believe you should finish the race before starting your victory lap," he said. "We're going to win here on Nov. 4, and we're going to bring real change to Washington."