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What McCain said and what he didn't say

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Republican presidential candidate John McCain speaks to supporters at a rally in an airport hangar in Blaine Friday.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

Thousands of cheering supporters welcomed John McCain and Sarah Palin as they entered the hangar at the Anoka County Blaine Airport.  From the outset, McCain and Palin said they were optimistic that they could win Minnesota.  

"I know with this kind of enthusiasm and with this kind of support, we will win this election," McCain said.

As he has done for the past few days, McCain spent a large part of his time talking about the economy, and the meltdown in the financial markets.  McCain tried to lay the blame for the economic crisis at Obama's feet.

Big crowd
More than 10,000 people showed up for a rally Friday at an airport hangar in Blaine in support of Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

"The crisis on Wall Street started in the Washington culture of lobbying and influence peddling, and he was right square in the middle of it," he said.  "My friends, this is the problem with Washington.  People like Sen. Obama have been too busy gaming the system and haven't actually done anything to challenge the system.  That's not country first.  That's Obama first."

But while McCain said he'll take on lobbyists, he failed to mention that he has seven former lobbyists working on his campaign.  McCain's campaign manager, his senior foreign policy adviser and another senior adviser are just a few former lobbyists on his campaign.  

His congressional liason and his national finance chair also lobbied for troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae.  

McCain, however, worked to link Obama to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  McCain noted that Obama took large campaign contributions from the companies that were recently taken over by the governnment.  He also said a former CEO of Fannie Mae was the one-time head of Obama's vice presidential search team.  

Greeting supporters
Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, greet supporters after speaking to thousands of people at a rally in Blaine Friday.
MPR Photo/Bill Alkofer

"While Fannie and Freddie were working to keep Congress away from their cards, Sen. Obama was taking their money," McCain said.  "He got more, in fact, than any other member of Congress, except for the Democratic chairman that oversees them.  And while Fannie Mae was betraying the public trust, somehow, its former CEO had managed to gain my opponent's trust to the point that Sen. Obama actually put him in charge of his vice-presidential search."

The person who headed Obama's vice-presidential search team for a time --Jim Johnson--was CEO of Fannie Mae, but he left in 1998.   And McCain failed to mention that the person who headed his own VP search team also lobbied on behalf of Fannie Mae.     

It is true that Obama is the second highest recipient of campaign money from employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The Center for Responsive Politics says Obama collected $126,000 from those groups.  The nonpartisan group says McCain also took $21,500 from Fannie and Freddie since 1989.

McCain also said he was the more experienced candidate. He criticized Obama for failing to take a stand on tough issues during his time in the Illinois Senate.

"When he was a state senator a short time ago, he voted present over 100 times on difficult issues," McCain said.  "My friends, Sen. Obama may not realize it but you don't get to vote present when you're President of the United States of America."

That statement is true.  A study by the nonpartisan fact check group PolitiFact found that Obama voted "present" 129 times during his eight years in the Illinois state senate.  The practice is considered an effective way to block bills without having to actually vote against them. 

McCain also said he'd veto any legislation that included what he called pork barrel spending and earmarks.  He criticized Obama for asking for such earmarks.  

"In the short time that he's been in the Senate, Sen. Obama has voted, has asked for $932 million in pork barrel projects," McCain said.

McCain and Palin in Blaine
Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate Sarah Palin greet thousands of supporters at a rally Friday at an airport in Blaine.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

Obama's website says he did, in fact, ask for those earmarks, but that doesn't mean he received all of them.  

And then there's the issue of taxes.  McCain, again, ripped Obama as a tax and spender.  

"A vote for Sen. Obama will guarantee higher taxes, fewer jobs and an even bigger federal government," McCain said.  "These policies will deepen our recession."

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says most Americans will see a tax cut, not a tax increase, under Obama's plan.  The group found that 95 percent of all tax filers will pay less in individual income taxes under his plan.

Obama, however, does support raising taxes on individuals who make more than $200,000 a year and couples who make more than $250,000 a year.