Campaigning in the battleground state of Virginia, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama touted his plan to reform America’s schools as he sparred with rival Republican Sen. John McCain over education voting records in TV ads.
Obama’s education plan would expand federal funding for education, recruit new teachers and make schools accountable for students’ results.
Obama began the week’s education theme with a TV ad called What Kind that claimed McCain voted to cut education funding.
McCain responded with an ad of his own attacking Obama’s education policy, including his support for teaching sex education to kindergartners. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave the ad three Pinocchios (four being the most egregious), saying ads “should not misrepresent the record of the other side and should clearly distinguish quotes from non-partisan news sources from standard political rhetoric.”
But even with the topic set on education, most of Obama’s campaign headlines were about lipstick.
In Norfolk, Obama had a chance to address charges from McCain’s campaign that when he told a campaign audience on Tuesday that “you can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig,” the Illinois senator meant it as a jab at McCain’s running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Obama insisted Wednesday the statement was about McCain’s economic policy and accused the McCain team of trying to “take over another election with lies and phony outrage.”
The Norfolk stop continued Obama’s tour of southern Virginia, a rural area that tends to vote Republican and many say will remain Republican. Beginning with the primaries, Obama’s opponents have criticized him for not connecting with rural voters in many tossup states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“His elitism prevents him from relating to small-town America,” said former state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, a state co-chairman of McCain’s campaign, according to The Roanoke Times. “When he makes statements like we cling to our faith and our guns, what message does that send to rural America and rural Virginia?”
On Tuesday, Obama tapped into economic concerns when talking to a crowd in Lebanon, Va., in the southwestern part of the state, saying his economic policies would benefit middle-class Americans. He said that if elected, would cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans.
The senator also made a surprise stop to Pop Ellis Soda Shoppe & Grill in Abindgon, Va., and ordered a vanilla shake.