GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Thursday that his rival John McCain is out of touch with the economic struggles of Americans and doesn't understand that there's nothing more fundamental than a job.
Obama hammered McCain's economic record during a rally in Michigan, a state struggling with the country's highest unemployment rate. Obama said the government's jobs report coming out Friday is expected to show a ninth straight month of decline.
"Nine straight months of job loss," Obama said. "Yet, just the other week, John McCain said the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Well, I don't know what yardstick Sen. McCain uses, but where I come from, there's nothing more fundamental than a job."
The McCain campaign responded that Obama is the one out of touch. "Barack Obama is addicted to government expansion, unable to understand our current economic crisis, and unwilling to support offshore drilling at a time when Americans are getting pick-pocketed at the pump - it all proves his lack of judgment on the urgency of solving these issues," McCain spokesman Ben Porritt said in an e-mailed statement. Obama dropped his opposition to additional offshore drilling more recently than McCain did and is less enthusiastic about it than McCain.
The country's financial woes appear to be benefiting Obama's campaign. Increasing numbers of voters say Obama is better suited to lead through the crisis, giving him a 48-41 percent lead over McCain in an Associated Press-GfK out this week.
The race's changing dynamics also appear to be giving Obama's supporters confidence. He drew a large crowd in downtown Grand Rapids that extended beyond the Secret Service checkpoints, despite temperatures in the 40s and the fact that the city is located in the heart of GOP territory.
"Sen. McCain just doesn't get it," Obama said. "Well, Michigan, you and I do get it. That's why we're here today. We know the next four years don't have to look like the last eight."
At one point, Obama said, "If I'm president," and the crowd cut him off with shouts of "When! When!"
Obama said, "I'm superstitious, folks," and continued talking about what he would do "if" he wins the election.
Obama has been concentrating on winning Michigan, a state the Democrat John Kerry won in 2004 but that McCain has made a target this year. There are signs that Obama is pulling ahead here, and local news reported Thursday morning that McCain canceled a trip to the state next week without explanation.
Obama's visit to Grand Rapids and a rally planned later in the day at Michigan State University marked his second visit to the state in a week, while his wife, Michelle, campaigned Thursday across the state in Saginaw and Clinton Township.
Obama was also sending high-profile advocates to campaign in the state on his behalf, including primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton last weekend and performers Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen in the coming days.