McCain Emphasizes Distance From Bush

By Michael Abramowitz and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 21, 2008; Page A01 

BELTON, Mo., Oct. 20 — Battling George W. Bush for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000, John McCain lashed out at the Texas governor, denouncing his proposed tax cuts as a giveaway to the rich.

Eight years later, this time running as the Republican presidential nominee, the senator from Arizona is again criticizing Bush and his financial policies, as he renews his efforts to demonstrate that he would represent a departure from the current administration.

At virtually every campaign stop, McCain is reprising a line he used last Wednesday in his final debate with Sen. Barack Obama: “I am not George Bush.” And in a television ad introduced last week, McCain looks into the camera and says, “The last eight years haven’t worked very well, have they?”

As he struggles to pull his campaign out from beneath the shadow of a president whose approval ratings have reached historic lows, McCain is offering some of his toughest criticism of the Bush White House. In recent weeks, he has focused his message on the administration’s handling of the nation’s financial crisis, suggesting that the Treasury Department has been more interested in “bailing out the banks” than helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure.

“I am so disturbed that this administration has not done what we have to do, and that is to go out and buy up these bad mortgages,” McCain told Jewish leaders in a conference call Sunday morning.

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