It's totally the economy, stupid! With yesterday's trouble on Wall Street adding to economic unease (higher gas prices, the mortgage crisis), Barack Obama and John McCain addressed the economic climate.
McCain first said the "fundamentals of our economy are still strong...I promise you, we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street." (video) but later shifted saying the fundamentals are "at great risk." And he also claimed that the fundamentals he meant were American workers, innovations, etc. to use them as a buffer in case Obama attacked. This morning, McCain suggested putting together a 9/11 Commission-style panel to understand what happened with the economy.
And the Democratic presidential did seize on the "fundamentals," saying McCain was "out of touch." (Here are both candidates' statements about the economy.) Obama's campaign also used the Republican's words against him three times in an ad that also uses footage of yesterday's Wall Street chaos:
McCain also ran an ad starting this morning, proclaiming that he and Sarah Palin would be able to reform Wall Street and take care of the country:
However, the NY Times reports McCain's "record on the issue, and the views of those he has always cited as his most influential advisers, suggest that he has never departed in any major way from his party’s embrace of deregulation and relying more on market forces than on the government to exert discipline." Obama's approach would involve more regulation, which he's been touting for a while. An Obama advisor told Politico, "McCain spent the last year-and-a-half either saying nothing or espousing sympathy for the viewpoint that government oversight and regulation were the problem."
Mayor Bloomberg did say that the fundamentals of the economy were strong--but he meant the underlying fundamentals, "its diversity, its hard work, its good financial statements, its broad capital markets, its enormous natural resources.” Overall, the Wall Street Journal finds, both candidates don't have many strengths in terms of dealing with the economy. Slate has an article about how the bad economy doesn't really help either candidate much.