Gadhafi criticizes Obama over ‘undivided Jerusalem’ remark; McCain and Obama trade barbs over the economy; Washington Times: Iraq war would be the defining issue of the campaign
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  • The Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama drew another round of criticism for his remark that Jerusalem “should remain undivided.” Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gadhafi, referring to Obama as “our Kenyan brother,” strongly criticized him for being either ignorant of the dynamics of the Middle East conflict or was just lying to boost his campaign. Gadhafi was speaking on the 38th anniversary of the evacuation of US forces from the Wheelus Air force base in Tripoli. Gadhafi also charged that Sen. Obama’s African origin might give him an ‘inferiority’ complex and make him behave more ‘white’ than ‘whites1.’

    Noted columnist Paul Krugman, writing in The New York Times also discussed the race issue in the context of the Obama campaign. He expressed skepticism over whether his nomination represented a transformation in American politics regarding race. Krugman noted that rather than being a harbinger of the transformation, Obama’s nomination was more likely a result of the change in the way race was understood in the country2.

    Meanwhile, Sen. Obama tried to steer the focus of the presidential contest towards domestic economic issues during his first two-week campaign tour of ‘problem’ states - North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, starting from June 9. In a pointed attack on Mr. McCain’s economic agenda, during an address at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds on June 9, Obama charged that a McCain presidency would see a continuation of President Bush’s faltering economic policies. He highlighted his own proposals, which included aid to economically beleaguered Americans like middle-income families and retirees through tax cuts, a $50 billion economic stimulus package, expansion of unemployment benefits, relief for homeowners facing foreclosure. Obama also called for greater government involvement in helping the faltering American economy3.

    In a statement on his website, the Illinois Senator also noted the rising trade deficit - which had recently jumped to its highest level in 13 months, as yet another sign of the failed economic policies of the Bush administration that John McCain sought to extend by tax breaks and loopholes for big corporations and wealthy Americans. Obama charged that Sen. McCain was more interested in special interest-driven economic policies that would widen the trade deficit but would not help, for instance, ensure that China stopped devaluing its currency4.

    Even as Mr. Obama was consistently trying to prove that his economic policies would be different, he drew flak from labor union members for hiring Jason Furman, a Harvard-trained economist closely associated with Robert E. Rubin, President Clinton’s Treasury secretary. Labor union leaders stated that the move would go against the grain of Democratic economic policy as ‘Rubinomics’ focused too much on corporate America and not enough on workers5.

    Adding his own views to the ensuing debate on the economy and the oil price rise, Sen. McCain resurrected his campaign call of a National gas tax holiday to cushion the consumer from the rising oil prices. He had first proposed this plan during campaign speeches in April and May.

    Meanwhile, as the two candidates were battling it out on the state of the American economy, a recent report in the Washington Times stated that the defining issue in the presidential campaign would be the Iraq war6.