Democrat Barack Obama predicted Thursday the next president would inherit a painful recession but stuck to a laundry list of big-spending priorities as he vowed to restore prosperity for the middle class.
Five days from Tuesday’s election, Obama pounced on news the United States is now officially on the brink of recession to accuse White House rival John McCain of backing Republican policies he said had driven the economy into a ditch.
In the campaign’s closing stretch, the Illinois senator bidding to be America’s first black president launched a one-day blitz of battleground states, aiming to bury McCain’s prospects in Florida, Virginia and Missouri.
"If you want to know where John McCain will drive this economy, just look in the rear-view mirror. Because when it comes to our economic policies, John McCain has been right next to (President) George Bush," he said.
"He’s been sitting there in the passenger seat, ready to take over, every step of the way," Obama told more than 13,000 supporters at a sports stadium in Sarasota, an epicenter of Florida’s recount fiasco in the 2000 election.
After nine straight months of job losses, falling wages and rocketing home foreclosures, he said, "why would we keep driving down this dead-end street?"
"It is time to change drivers. It is time to have somebody else at the wheel," Obama said in Sarasota and at a later rally in an amphitheater here near Virginia’s naval dockyards, attended by 10,000 people.
Earlier, the US government said the gross domestic product (GDP) of the world’s largest economy contracted 0.3 percent in the period from July to September. Another fall in the fourth quarter would confirm a recession.
The news was the latest blow to McCain, who has struggled to effectively counter Obama’s attempts to tie him to Bush’s shattered economic legacy.
Interviewed by media in Sarasota, Obama said the job facing the president-elect taking office on January 20 had got much harder as a result of the financial crisis.
"It’s going to be a lot tougher. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We know that the next president is likely to inherit a significant recession," he said.
"We don’t know yet how long and how deep it is, and what actions we take over the next six to nine months could help determine how deep and how long," he said, noting fewer revenues coming into the government and higher spending going out on social benefits.