MANCHESTER, N.H. — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama asked his supporters Saturday to help with recovery from Hurricane Ike and canceled his plans to crack jokes on "Saturday Night Live" in the aftermath of the storm.
Obama didn't put aside his differences with Republican rival John McCain. In an outdoor rally attended by thousands, he discussed the "quiet storms that are taking place throughout America" as people lose their jobs, health care and pensions, and he argued that McCain is out of touch with those struggles.
His campaign criticized McCain in a new TV ad that notes the McCain campaign's ties to lobbyists in spite of McCain's pledge to end business as usual with the "special interests." The ad asks, "If seven of McCain's top advisers are lobbyists, who do you think will run his White House?"
The Republican National Committee called the ad an example of "cynical hypocrisy and outlandish attacks."
"Obama's campaign is riddled with former lobbyists and his running mate is a longtime fixture of the Washington establishment," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said in a statement.
Obama had been slated to appear in a skit on the NBC comedy show's season premiere, hosted by Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps. Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Obama decided it was no longer appropriate because of the devastation in Texas.
Obama and running mate Joe Biden had planned to campaign together at the rally in Manchester's Veteran's Memorial Park. But the campaign decided to scale back the event as the storm battered the Gulf Coast and canceled Biden's appearance.
Obama asked people to keep the victims in their thoughts and prayers and be ready to help volunteer or donate to relief efforts.
"During times of need, we are all in it together, and it doesn't matter if we are Democrats or Republicans, black, white, Hispanic or Asian, we are there for each other in times of need," he said. "You will help them, I have confidence."
Obama spoke by telephone Friday with David Paulison, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Houston Mayor Bill White to get an update on the approaching hurricane. Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass said the senator told White he would do whatever he can to help, including using his campaign Web site to raise funds for relief efforts.
Obama planned to return to Chicago after the New Hampshire rally and spend the rest of the weekend at home.
On the Net:
Obama ad It's Over": http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/itsover_ad/
Obama campaign: http://www.barackobama.com/index.php
McCain campaign: http://www.johnmccain.com/