Barack Obama accused John McCain on Tuesday of running a campaign that the presumptive Republican nominee himself couldn't take pride in.
Speaking at a town hall in Youngstown, Ohio, the Illinois Democrat fielded a question about the "myth" that elderly white women wouldn't support his candidacy. From there, however, Obama pivoted into the increasingly personal and negative tone to which the general election campaign has descended.
"When John McCain gets up there and says I'd rather win an election than win a war. When he says I didn't visit the troops when I was overseas, even though every media outlet says that's just not true... [It suggests] you are not trying to solve problems. All you are trying to do is divide people so you can win an election. That is nothing to be proud of. Let's have a real honest debate about policies that are going to make a difference in people's lives."
The harsh rebuke of the McCain campaign's tone and tenor comes amidst growing calls for the presumptive Democratic nominee to lash back. And it is a traditional Obama counterpunch: positioning himself above the fray while painting his opponent as trivial.
Indeed, earlier in the speech Obama offered a riff about the now-infamous Britney Spears/Paris Hilton attack ad -- a line he has used before.
"That's his idea of a really relevant campaign," said the Illinois Democrat. "But I don't have time to deal with that mess because America is facing some serious problems, some serious challenges."