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Obama Blasts "Lies," "Swiftboat Politics" of McCain (Live from VA)

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NORFOLK, Va. -- Sen. Barack Obama blasted his GOP rival, Sen, John Mccain, during a visit to a school here today, for lying about an "innocent remark" and practicing "swiftboat politics." Obama said the Republican presidential nominee is deceiving the public and distracting the press from the actual issues at stake in the campaign.

While Obama spoke in a calm and earnest tone, his language was sharper than usual. Just this week, Obama declined to use the word "lie" -- despite entreaties from local supporters -- when discussing falsehoods from the McCain campaign. Today's rebuttal dispensed with such diplomacy. "Spare me the phony outrage," Obama said, criticizing the "news media" for treating McCain's false attack like "catnip."

McCain's ploy helped waste two of the last 55 days of this election, Obama pointed out, saying that Republicans can only win by distraction and distortion.

Ticking off populist policies on the economy, education and health care, Obama said the public backed his agenda, while there is not "a dime's worth of difference between what [McCain's] offering and what we've already got."

During questions at the event, one attendee asked Obama how he could beat Republican lies while prioritizing integrity within his campaign -- citing the 2004 defeat of Sen. John Kerry as a cautionary tale.

Obama conceded that it was a challenge to "fight nonsense" about taxes from the McCain campaign. For example, it falsely claims that the Democratic nominee would raise taxes when, in fact, he would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans.

"I still have faith that the truth will win out, in the end," Obama said, to a smattering of applause. "This whole thing about lipstick, nobody actually believes that these folks are offended," he added, tweaking the party for PC hypocrisy.

"Everyone knows it's insincere," he added, "the media knows it! It's a game; it's a sport. Maybe if this wasn't such a serious time that would be OK. But this is serious," he stressed, reiterating his differences with McCain on education reform and Iraq.

As Obama voiced his optimism, however, the traveling press corps tapped away at a filing station in a small classroom here, churning out more headlines about a non-story created largely by the media, and repeatedly airing the McCain campaign's false distortion of Obama's remark.

It's a sorry scene for the homestretch of this long, and important, campaign.

Original piece here.

Ari Melber is traveling with the Obama campaign for The Washington Independent, blogging from the road here and Twittering here.