EUGENE, ORE. – Saying "the Republicans are intent on making this campaign about me," Barack Obama listed several points he believes he has been unfairly criticized about. "Whether I wear a flag pin or you know, my bowling score, my eating habits or the offensive remarks of a former pastor, that's what they want to make this campaign about." Obama says the election should be about issues and not personalities. "When you insist we stay on issues, politics follow," Obama said. "Change does not happen from the top down."
But Obama's surrogates aren't afraid to dredge up the past to criticize his Republican rival, John McCain. "It is it is not the Straight Talk Express, it is the Trojan Horse express," said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., who introduced Obama. He described McCain's public policy as "reckless" and identical to that of President Bush. "John McCain doesn't know anything about the economy," Defazio continued. "He says we need less regulation. Hello! Wall Street mortgage meltdown, Bear Stearns taxpayer bailout, Enron, but, you know, I guess maybe for a guy who was up to his neck in the Keating Five and savings and loan scandal, less regulation is better."
The McCain campaign said DeFazio's comments reflected poorly on Obama. "Peter Defazio's unhinged rhetoric and reckless disregard for the facts shows Barack Obama can't stand up for his own standard of new politics, which means it isn't likely that he's going to stand up for much else either," said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.
Obama went on to explain to a crowd of supporters at a rally here why he is the ultimate unifier. "I just want to point out that this campaign has been about unity from the start and today we had the new coach of the Oregon State University Beavers introduce me, and the coach of Oregon University," Obama said. "That's a sign of being able to bring anybody together in this country – the Ducks and the Beavers." He was rewarded an Obama basketball jersey from the Beavers, which should not be hard to come by for him, since his brother-in-law is the head coach of Oregon State.
Earlier in the day, Obama decided he "should stick to political races" while stopping by Oregon's Twilight Track Meet. The senator walked a lap around the track, shaking hands, throwing university t-shirts and congratulating runners. He stepped over a hurdle as the announcer said he would mark Obama as a "did not finish." At one point a toddler was handed to him and he said "you look like a track star." There was some confusion returning the child to his mother, and Obama had to point out "that's your mama, I'm Obama."