EAST LANSING, Mich. — Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday that his rival John McCain is out of touch with the economic struggles of Americans and doesn't understand that there's nothing more fundamental than a job.
Obama hammered McCain's economic record during two rallies in Michigan, a state struggling with the country's highest unemployment rate. The Illinois senator's second appearance, at Michigan State University, came just as knowledgeable Republican officials said McCain's campaign has given up trying to win Michigan and is shifting resources from there to other states.
At the university and an earlier rally in Grand Rapids, Obama said the government's jobs report due Friday is expected to show a ninth straight month of decline.
"Nine straight months of job loss," Obama said. "Yet, just the other week, John McCain said the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Well, I don't know what yardstick Sen. McCain uses, but where I come from, there's nothing more fundamental than a job."
At a town hall meeting in Denver, McCain told several hundred women voters that on the issue of jobs there are stark differences between the tickets.
"This is about the Obama-Biden team that will kill jobs with higher taxes, and the McCain-Palin team that's going to cut the second-highest business tax in the world and create more jobs," he said.
Obama has concentrated on winning Michigan, which Democrat John Kerry won in 2004 but that McCain made a target this year. Amid signs Obama is pulling ahead here, the GOP officials said the Arizona senator canceled a trip to the state next week, won't run ads on TV after this week and is dispatching staffers to states that show him in stronger position.
McCain's campaign later confirmed it was pulling staff and advertising out of the state.
The Republican National Committee also just went on TV in Michigan, but there appears to be no plans for that buy to continue either, according to these Republican officials, who requested anonymity to avoid offending McCain's campaign.
A reporter asked Obama for a response to McCain's decision as he exited the stage at Michigan State, but Obama ignored the question. If he knew about McCain's plans, he didn't mention it during the rally and continued to attack McCain's economic policies as just a continuation of the Bush administration philosophy.
"My opponents' philosophy isn't just wrongheaded, it reveals how out of touch he really is," Obama said.
The country's financial woes appear to be benefiting Obama's campaign. Increasing numbers of voters say Obama is better suited to lead through the crisis, giving him a 48-41 percent lead over McCain in an Associated Press-GfK out this week.
The race's changing dynamics also appear to be giving Obama's supporters confidence. He drew a large crowd at both stops, despite overcast skies and temperatures in the 40s.
At one point in Grand Rapids, Obama said: "If I'm president," and the crowd cut him off with shouts of "When! When!"
Obama said: "I'm superstitious, folks," and continued talking about what he would do "if" he wins the election.
Obama's wife, Michelle, campaigned across the state in Saginaw and Clinton Township. Obama was sending other high-profile advocates to campaign in the state on his behalf, including primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton last weekend and performers Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen in the coming days.
Associated Press writer Sara Kugler in Denver contributed to this report.
On the Net:
Obama campaign: http://www.barackobama.com/index.php
McCain campaign: http://www.johnmccain.com/