Obama Sounds Populist Themes in Virginia Bus Tour

By: AP
By: AP

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) -- Democrat Barack Obama pledged Wednesday to create millions of union jobs in alternative energy and end tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas, using tough new populist language to persuade voters that he, not rival John McCain, is best positioned to lift the limping U.S. economy.

Obama was on a two-day bus tour through Virginia, a likely general election battleground state, amid frenzied speculation about when he would announce his running mate. He brushed off questions about his choice during a morning visit to a farmer's market in Greensboro, N.C., before boarding the bus.

Obama was to spend the night in Richmond and campaign Thursday with Gov. Tim Kaine, widely believed to be on the short list of possible running mates.

Former Gov. Mark Warner, who campaigned with Obama Wednesday and will deliver the keynote speech at next week's Democratic convention in Denver, told reporters Kaine would be a "great choice" but had no clue whether Obama would choose him.

At a community college in Martinsville, Va., Obama told about 350 supporters that McCain had a compelling biography as a former prisoner of war in Vietnam. But, he said, the GOP hopeful would follow the economic policies of the Bush administration if elected.

"I honor his service," Obama said. "I don't honor his policies. I don't honor his politics."

Obama also renewed his warning that Republicans would try to scare voters about his background. "They'll say, 'He's young, he's got a funny name, he's not patriotic,'" Obama said, adding that it was part of a pattern in GOP presidential politics.

"We've seen this movie before," he said.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds responded, "Barack Obama's own campaign is the only one talking about his patriotism."

Obama stuck mostly to economic themes during his appearance, adopting a pitch that sounded much like Hillary Rodham Clinton in the waning days of her primary campaign. The former first lady defeated Obama in eight of the last 13 primaries using populist language that strongly resonated with rural and working-class voters.

Obama said it was wrong that the Iraqi government has been sitting on billions of dollars in oil revenue while the U.S. spends billions to rebuild the country.

"We should be using some of that money to rebuild Virginia, laying roads, building broadband lines and putting people back to work," Obama said.

As for tax breaks to companies taking jobs overseas, Obama said: "We sure as heck don't have to give them incentives to move. ... We should give companies tax breaks that are right here."

Obama made an appeal for votes that sounded much like the closing pitch Clinton would offer in similar settings.

"If you give me that opportunity, if you give me that chance, I will fight for you every single day," he pledged. "I'll wake up every day in that White House thinking about those people in Martinsville."

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On the Net:

Obama: http://www.barackobama.com

McCain: http://www.johnmccain.com

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