(CLEVELAND) - Barack Obama called U.S. politics "nasty", "cynical" and "manipulative" at a town hall meeting here this afternoon, referring to recent bantering between him and John McCain.
"I'm happy to have a battle of words because I've got facts on my side. I've got truth on my side. I fear no man when I've got truth on my side. That's right," Obama said confidently.
He mentioned McCain's assertions that Obama would "rather lose a war than lose an election" and that "he made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops" in Germany. Obama also responded, for the first time, to criticism from McCain and the Republican National Committee for his comments last week that filling up tires would help in energy conservation.
"They're going around, they're sending like little tire gauges, making fun of this idea as if this is Barack Obama's energy plan," Obama said of the RNC's gag "gifts" to members of the press and Michigan Obama supporters yesterday.
"They know they're lying about what my energy plan is, but the other thing is they're making fun of a step that every expert says would absolutely reduce our oil consumption."
"It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant. You know they think it is funny that they are making fun of something that is actually true," Obama reasoned.
Obama's jabs at the Republicans were only part of the afternoon's drama.
Five minutes into Obama's introduction, a man holding a camera and wearing press credentials yelled out, demanding Obama recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
"I thought we already did the pledge. We didn't do the pledge yet? You want to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, go ahead," Obama said as everyone in the gymnasium, including the heckler, stood for the pledge.