ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- The November race is coming down to a clear choice: John McCain or ACORN.
That was the stark warning issued at a McCain rally here Monday. The neck-and-neck race in Missouri is being threatened by some 34,000 new inner-city voters signed up by ACORN in St. Louis and Kansas City since August. McCain supporters say they fear this tidal wave of new voters will offset the solid lead McCain enjoys in rural Missouri.
“It comes down to McCain or ACORN,” former Missouri Sen. John Danforth told the crowd of about 3,000 gathered in this upscale Republican stronghold growing incongruously in the middle of a soybean field about 20 miles west of St. Louis.
Danforth, who along with former Sen. Warren Rudman heads McCain's "Honest and Open Elections Committee," pointed out that ACORN is under investigation in Missouri and several other states for registering thousands of bogus voters. In fact, Missouri has been rocked by voter registration scandals in two consecutive presidential elections after ACORN activists signed up non-existent voters, dead voters, and at least one dog to go to the polls.
According the latest Rasmussen poll, McCain is trailing in the urban centers and picking up steam in rural areas where largely conservative voters are desperately seeking to overcome the impact of ACORN’s questionable registration effort in inner-city neighborhoods.
McCain’s visit here is another indication of the importance both political camps have placed on Missouri voters. McCain came calling two days after Obama appeared in St. Louis and Kansas City. Both candidates have trooped across Missouri several times. Missourians have voted for the presidential winner in all but one election since 1904, and brings 11 electoral votes to the table.
McCain on Monday warned that Obama’s “spread-the-wealth” philosophy will threaten jobs and growth in the already weak economy.
His warning was seconded by Danforth.
“Obama would lead America in a direction it has never gone before,” Danforth argued. “The key to that [was exposed when] he said to Joe the Plumber, ‘When you spread the wealth around it is good for everybody,’
“The Obama tax program, which he calls lowering taxes on 95 percent, will take money from people who pay taxes and write $1,000 checks to 47 million Americans who don’t pay taxes,” Danforth said. “No president in the history of the United States has ever had such a program F.D.R. didn’t, Truman didn’t, Johnson, Kennedy, none of them did. This is new.”
For his part, McCain pushed the crowd on the importance of their participation come election day is what is increasingly being seen as a dead heat in the Show-Me State.
"My friends, we need Missouri on Nov. 4 and with your help we're going to win Missouri and bring real change to Washington," McCain told the sometimes raucous crowd. "We have 15 days to go. We're a few points down. The national media has written us off - as they have several times in the past.”
McCain also used his appearance to laud “Joe the Plumber,” an Ohio plumber named Joe Wurzelbacher who came to epitomize the Republican working man when he accused Obama of inciting socialism for announcing he intended “to spread the wealth around.”
“It is getting close to election day and last week it seemed like there were three candidates in the race, Sen. Obama, me, and Joe the Plumber,” McCain told the cheering throng. “Joe’s dream is so many people here’s dream -- America’s dream -- to own a small business and create jobs.”
McCain reminded the crowd that small businesses “create 84 percent of the jobs in America.”
“We should support small businesses, not tax them,” he said.
Robert Pabella, 65, a retired Boeing engineer who lives about 30 miles from the rally site in Winfield, Missouri, said he was pleased with McCain’s message. Understandably so, Pabella explained, because he is also the president of the Lincoln County Republican Club.
“The social programs Obama wants to implement are not fair to people with jobs who work and pay taxes. There has to be a balance. There has to be some help for people who are unemployed, who have lost their jobs, but to take away from those who have earned their way is just unfair,” Pabella said.
In addition to Danforth, McCain was joined at the rally by fellow Republicans Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond of Missouri, and South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham.
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