By Jim Tankersley
Updated with new McCain response.
ROSEBURG, Ore. – Barack Obama has doubled down on his claim that John McCain would “double-down” on President Bush’s policies.
A day after he used the phrase to accuse McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, of mimicking Bush’s foreign policy, Obama employed it again for health care in a speech this afternoon.
Obama told a high school cafeteria sweating through a rare spring heat wave in Southern Oregon that McCain would “shred” employer-based health care and leave every American to “fend for yourself” in the free market. McCain “wants to give you the failed Bush health care policies for another four years,” he said.
Later he added – wait for it! – “I don’t think the American people can afford to double-down on the failed health care policies of the Bush Administration.”
Obama repeated the attacks he leveled at Bush on Friday for launching the Iraq war – which he called “the best recruiting tool al Qaeda ever had” – and allowing Iran to rise in power and Hamas to control Gaza. On Friday in South Dakota, he called those “the failed policies that John McCain wants to double-down on.”
In Roseburg, he said the same is true for domestic policies. “For eight years,” Obama said, “George Bush has done nothing on health care except offer a few tax breaks to some folks who don’t really need them.” He also slammed McCain on energy policy after a questioner noted the Arizona senator’s Portland’s speech this week about confronting global warming.
“John McCain tried to come to Oregon as an environmental candidate, but his big strategy is to do more drilling and have a gas tax holiday for three months,” he said. “That’s a phony solution.”
McCain had no events scheduled today, but his campaign hit back on all fronts. Spokesman Tucker Bounds called Obama’s willingness to meet with Iran and other “rouge” nations – the source of yesterday’s back-and-forth on foreign policy – “incredibly weak judgment” that “reveals why Americans will elect John McCain’s record of experience and tested leadership.”
In separate statements, Bounds called Obama’s energy critique “Washington-style attack politics and said Obama and Clinton “want to insert government bureaucracy into your medicine cabinet, while John McCain is committed to keeping America’s top-quality doctors, and reforming the system so that health care plans would be made available, accessible and affordable for families.”