Obama's Campaign Plans to Punch Back

McCain tactics called a "series of smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract" voters.

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David Plouffe, Barack Obama's campaign manager, promised today to take a new, more hard-hitting approach as the Democratic nominee's lead shrinks and he struggles to get off the defensive in his battle with Republican John McCain.

"In recent weeks," Plouffe said in an E-mail memo to reporters and others, "John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people. But as Barack Obama said earlier this week 'enough is enough.' This election is too important and the challenges too big to spend the next 54 days talking about trivial non-issues."

Plouffe added: "We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain's attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people," such as the economy, healthcare, and energy.

Attempting to steer the media's focus back to McCain and way from his running mate, Sarah Palin, who seems widely popular, Plouffe announced that the Democratic campaign is releasing two new ads that portray McCain as "out of touch" with everyday Americans and "unable to address the challenges facing the country in the 21st Century and bring about real change."

Republican political strategists counter that Obama is making a mistake by airing a late-inning attack on McCain's age and computer illiteracy. On background, two strategists who have worked on presidential campaigns dating to Ronald Reagan's said one of the new Obama ad makes the Democrat appear petty and vengeful. And they said that by mocking McCain's age and lack of computer knowledge, it has the potential of offending elderly voters, a key voting block in battleground states like Florida.

—With Paul Bedard