John McCain's rally on Friday once again inspired furious reactions from his supporters, with one woman screaming "traitor!" as McCain criticized Barack Obama's tax record.
"He promised higher taxes on electricity," McCain charged at the event in La Crosse, Wisconsin. "He voted for the Democratic budget resolution that promised to raise taxes on people making just $42,000 a year." At that point, the woman yelled "traitor," and both McCain and his wife Cindy appeared to look in her direction.
The Arizona Senator continued with his stump speech without referencing her.
As Talking Points Memo's Greg Sargent noted, GOP loathing for Obama seems to also be "spilling into down-ticket races," with one woman yelling "bomb Obama!" during a Thursday debate between Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and his Democratic challenger.
During a Friday appearance on Fox News, Obama aide Stephanie Cutter said that McCain's crowds have become "mob-like" in their anger and argued that McCain cared "more about the state of his campaign than the economy."
"The thing that is most important right now is that we have got to instill confidence in people in our economy. We have got to calm people down," Cutter said. "We do not need to stoke fears on the campaign trail with these mob-like rallies that we have been seeing. We need to take a step back and provide steady leadership. This is a crisis. This is not what leaders do in crises. Barack Obama invoked FDR, 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.' Those are words to live by at this point."
Cutter had been asked to weigh in on McCain's newest proposal for the government to buy home mortgages at face value from the banks and renegotiate them at terms more favorable to the homeowner. Clearly, however, she was hoping to further a meme that the Obama campaign sees as a winner: that McCain is appealing to the worst of people's fears and prejudices in order to advance himself electorally. But in referring to the crowds as "mob-like" Cutter brings the argument further than anyone else from Obama's headquarters.
The Senator himself sounded a similar theme during his speech in Ohio Friday morning.
"It's easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division. But that's not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great. The American people aren't looking for someone who can divide this country -- they're looking for someone who will lead it. We're in a serious crisis -- now, more than ever, it is time to put country ahead of politics. Now, more than ever, it is time to bring change to Washington so that it works for the people of this country that we love."
McCain hasn't seemed all too eager to tamp down the hate-filled rhetoric emanating from his crowds, beyond merely distancing himself from two introductory speakers that used Obama's middle name as an epithet.