RENO — Sen. Barack Obama told a small crowd of supporters here Sunday that he offers real solutions to the nation’s economic woes while his opponent is pushing the same tired agenda of President Bush.
Obama, D-Ill, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, said Sen. John McCain is trying to make the campaign about Obama and his experience because the Arizona Republican’s own record is one of supporting Bush’s failed economic and foreign policies.
"No wonder they want to make the election about me," he said. "They don’t want to be talking about their record because they can’t defend it. So don’t get fooled by Paris, Britney and nasty e-mails folks are sending out. This election is about you. It’s about us."
Obama was referring to one of McCain’s ads associating Obama with the two celebrities in an effort to raise questions about his qualifications to serve as president.
Obama made his comments to about 250 invited supporters at Wooster High School. The day before, he and McCain appeared at a faith forum at a California megachurch, where they briefly hugged.
Sunday’s visit was Obama’s first to Nevada since a trip to North Las Vegas in late May, before he locked in the Democratic nomination for president.
His last visit to Northern Nevada was in January, before the presidential caucuses.
Earlier in the day, he met with Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens to discuss strategies for developing alternative energy. Pickens has criticized the country’s dependence on oil and is pushing the development of alternative energies.
The McCain campaign again raised the question of whether voters view Obama as someone who is "ready to lead," given his personal popularity but his "inability to close the deal" in the polls either in Nevada or nationally.
Voters do not appear to have the same doubts about McCain, said campaign spokesman Mike DuHaime.
Obama highlighted the differences between his and McCain’s positions on taxes and the development of alternative energy.
Obama said his tax plan provides breaks to 95 percent of Americans, while McCain’s plan would give breaks to the wealthy and to corporations.
"He’s giving $300 billion tax breaks to corporations including oil companies like Exxon Mobil that have made record profits every quarter for the past three quarters," he said.
"John McCain and I both have a tax plan, but I benefit the middle class and working families and he is benefiting the same corporations that have been making out like bandits under the Bush administration."
Obama also said he wants to commit $15 billion a year to developing new sources of energy. This would reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and create "5 million new green jobs" that could not be outsourced to other counties.
"We’ve got a lot of sun here in Nevada," Obama said. "And we can use that to generate energy and free ourselves from dependence on foreign oil.
"Here in Nevada, we should have solar panels all throughout the state, everywhere," he said, his remarks heralding today’s energy summit in Las Vegas organized by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Obama said McCain is talking about the need to produce alternative energy sources, but his track record shows the opposite.
McCain has in the past opposed tax credits needed for companies to invest in solar power, he said.
McCain also opposed improving fuel efficiency standards for U.S. vehicles.
"And then he’s got the nerve to stand up there on television and talk about how he believes in alternative energy," Obama said. "It’s just not true."
In a telephone conference call after Obama’s visit, DuHaime said the Illinois senator is offering up only rhetoric on the energy question, while McCain wants all options on the table for discussion.
McCain is taking a "futuristic" approach to the issue while Obama’s approach is to attack, DuHaime said.
During his hourlong event, Obama also rejected a criticism from McCain that his economic and tax polices would harm the nation.
"I’ve got news for John McCain," Obama said. "My plan is not going to bring about economic disaster. We already have economic disaster."
What the country does not need is another four years of failed Bush policies, he said.
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at email@example.com or 775-687-3900.