Obama warns against fear and panic as stocks tumble
Saturday, 11 October 2008

AFP, PORTSMOUTH, Ohio - Democratic White House front-runner Barack Obama warned against "fear or panic" and called for quick action on the Wall Street bailout after world stocks went into free-fall.

The Illinois senator sought to show leadership in the eye of a widening financial storm and shrugged off a searing character attack by Republican rival John McCain, which showed no sign of halting his momentum.
 
Just three-and-a-half weeks before election day on November 4, latest polls show Obama has built a solid lead in key battleground states and nationally, and time is running short for McCain to turn around his campaign.
 
The Democratic nominee made a fresh appeal for calm following another brutal day on Wall Street, which triggered global stock market contagion, inflicting massive losses on Asian investments soon after the markets opened.
 
"Now is not the time for fear or panic, now is the time for resolve, for leadership," Obama told thousands of people packed into an outdoor rally during a two-day bus tour of critical midwestern swing state Ohio.
 
"Now is the time to come together with the determination that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis and restore confidence in the American economy," Obama said.
 
Obama also urged the prompt implementation of the 700 billion dollar US financial rescue plan signed into law last week designed to ease the credit crisis.
 
"As millions of Americans lost more of their investments and hard-earned retirement savings today, it is critical that the Treasury Department move as quickly possible to implement the rescue plan that passed Congress," Obama said.
 
He spoke as as Asian stock markets were hit by massive losses, following another day of carnage on Wall Street, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 678.91 points (7.33 percent) -- a seventh straight loss and ended below 9,000 for the first time since 2003.
 
Earlier, at a rally in another midwestern battleground, Wisconsin, McCain and his vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin unleashed a searing character attack on Obama.
 
The Republican running mates accused Obama of not telling the truth about the extent of his relationship with 1960s radical William Ayers.
 
"Look, we don't care about an old-washed up terrorist ... the point is senator Obama said he was just a guy in the neighborhood," McCain said.
 
"We know that's not true. We need to know the full extent of the relationship because of whether senator Obama is telling the truth to the American people or not."
 
Palin also raised Ayers on conservative pundit Laura Ingraham's radio talk show, saying Obama had not told the "total truth" about an "unrepentant domestic terrorist," as the campaign debuted a hard-hitting negative advertisement on the issue.
 
The Obama camp said the ad was a "desperate and dishonest" attempt to distract voters from the worsening economic crisis and the McCain campaign's darkening prospects in the run-up to voting day.
 
The Democratic nominee, 47, has repeatedly said he is not close to Ayers, 63, an assertion backed by independent fact-checking organizations, but said he served on philanthropic boards with him and lives in the same Chicago neighborhood.
 
Ayers was a co-founder of the Weather Underground, a radical faction that carried out bomb attacks in the United States at the height of the anti-war movement in the 1960s. Today he is an education theorist and professor at the University of Illinois.
 
For the second straight day Thursday, Obama led McCain by 11 points in the Gallup Daily Tracking poll, and two new polls by USA Today and Rasmussen found he was the clear winner of Tuesday night's presidential debate.
 
Earlier, at a rally in Dayton, Ohio, Obama slammed McCain's plan to buy up 300 billion dollars in bad mortgages as "risky" and warned his White House rival was offering "erratic" leadership at a time of crisis.
 
McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds disputed Obama's claim that the plan would waste taxpayer funds, saying it redirected money from the just signed Wall Street bailout to ordinary Americans instead of irresponsible lenders.
 
"Barack Obama should tell voters why he supports the 700 billion legislative rescue plan but now opposes using that money to help homeowners get the relief they need and strengthen our economy," Bounds said.

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