Barack Obama began sketching the outlines of his expected presidential contest against Republican John McCain on Saturday, saying the fall election will be more about specific plans and priorities than about questions of political ideology or who is more patriotic.
Barely mentioning Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama said he was open to campaigning with McCain in "town hall" events. But he also warned that controversial issues such as McCain's ties to the Keating Five savings and loan scandal are fair game, and he called McCain's proposal for a temporary halt in the federal gasoline tax a pander and a gimmick.
Obama said McCain has received "a free pass" while he and Clinton have battled for months.
McCain, he said, "has a straight-talker image, but it's not clear that lately he's been following through on that image. I mean, this gas tax holiday was a pander. He didn't even have a way of paying for it."
The McCain campaign noted that Obama, as an Illinois state senator, once voted for a temporary gas tax suspension. Obama now says he made a mistake.
Obama was asked Saturday if the fall campaign might touch on the 1987 Keating Five scandal, in which the Senate Ethics Committee said McCain used "poor judgment" for allegedly pressing regulators to go easy on the owner of a failed Arizona savings and loan who was also a campaign contributor.
Obama said there is no doubt the Keating Five case is "germane to the presidency."
"I can't quarrel with the American people wanting to know more about that," he said.
RAW STORY has more here.
(with wire reports)
This video is from MSNBC's Morning Joe, broadcast May 12, 2008.