Clinton slams Republican McCain on economy

1/04/2008 - 17:51

By Ellen Wulfhorst

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Democrat Hillary Clinton slammedpotential White House opponent John McCain's economic approachon Tuesday, accusing the Republican of turning his back onstruggling workers and middle-class families.

Clinton, embroiled in a tough battle with Barack Obama forthe Democratic presidential nomination, focused on McCain whilecampaigning in Pennsylvania and said he was taking his economiccues from President George W. Bush and Vice President DickCheney.

"John McCain admits he doesn't understand the economy --and unfortunately he's proving it in this campaign," Clintontold the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO union group.

"After seven disastrous years of George Bush and DickCheney, the stakes in this election couldn't be higher and theneed to change course couldn't be more urgent. But John McCainis only offering more of the same," the New York senator said.

The winner of the Democratic nominating battle betweenClinton and Obama will face McCain in November's election, andin recent days both candidates have toned down their attacks oneach other to focus more directly on McCain.

They have frequently criticized McCain, an Arizona senatorand former Navy fighter pilot, for saying he knows more aboutnational security and military issues than the economy.

"I think we've had enough of a president who didn't knowenough about economics, and didn't do enough for the Americanmiddle class. We're ready for a president who will meet thechallenges of our time," Clinton said.

"He looked at the housing crisis, and he blamed consumers.And his plan for the economy is to extend George Bush's taxcuts for billionaires and give a new $100 billion corporate taxcut," she said of McCain.

"The Bush-McCain philosophy could not be clearer -- the'ownerchip society' really means 'you're on your own,'" shesaid.

Clinton proposed a plan to create 3 million new jobsthrough increased investments over 10 years in the U.S.infrastructure, and proposed a $10 billion emergency repairfund for critical repairs to bridges and highways.

Clinton and Obama both were in Pennsylvania on Tuesdayahead of their next showdown in the state's April 22 voting.

Some Democrats are concerned the prolonged campaign willhurt the eventual winner in the match-up with McCain. Clinton,who trails Obama in pledged delegates won in state-by-statecontests, has rejected calls to step aside.

Neither candidate is likely to have the 2,024 delegatesneeded to win the nomination after the contests end in earlyJune, leaving the decision up to nearly 800 superdelegates --elected officials and party insiders who are free to back anycandidate.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said thecampaign should continue through the end of voting, andrepeated her view that superdelegates should not be perceivedto overturn the will of the voters.

"I think the election has to run its course," Pelosi saidon ABC's "Good Morning America."

"I do think that it is important for us to get behind onecandidate a long time before we go to the Democratic NationalConvention if we hope to win in November," she said.

Obama also played down worries the long campaign would hurtthe eventual Democratic nominee.

"I think this contest has been good for the DemocraticParty. We've brought in all kinds of new people into theprocess. And I think that bodes well for November," he said onNBC's "Today" show.

(Additional reporting by David Morgan, writing by JohnWhitesides; editing by David Wiessler)

(To read more about the U.S. political campaign, visitReuters "Tales from the Trail: 2008" online athttp:blogs.reuters.com/trail08/)

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