July 25, 2008 in Nation/World

McCain tours heartland, criticizes rival’s trip

By TOM RAUM Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Sen. John McCain stops to talk with small business leaders Thursday at a German restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.
(Full-size photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Republican presidential candidate John McCain had his own German experience Thursday – at a restaurant in Ohio. He asserted that he was happy to devote his time this week to touring the nation’s heartland.

“I’d love to give a speech in Germany. But I’d much prefer to do it as president of the United States rather than as a candidate for president,” McCain told reporters after a meal of bratwurst with local business leaders at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood.

As Barack Obama delivered a high-profile speech in Berlin, McCain said he was focusing his attention this week on economic issues, including soaring food and fuel costs. He has been busy campaigning and raising funds in key battleground states like Ohio.

In what was clearly not a coincidence, McCain spoke with reporters shortly before Obama began his speech at Berlin’s Victory Column.

At the same time, the Republican National Committee was running anti-Obama ads in Berlin, Pa., and other namesake villages in Wisconsin and New Hampshire.

McCain is trying hard to get attention during Obama’s week abroad. He had planned to visit an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday, but rough seas left over from Hurricane Dolly caused him to scrub that trip.

On Thursday evening, he shared a stage at the Ohio State University with fellow cancer survivor Lance Armstrong at a forum that focused on cancer treatment and prevention.

“Yes, I was in a battle. Not a war; I was in a battle with melanoma. And I know how tough that battle can be,” McCain said. He is a three-time survivor of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Both McCain and Obama were invited to the nonpartisan event.

“My opponent, of course, is traveling in Europe,” McCain said. He said Obama would soon see a scene familiar to seven-time Tour de France winner Armstrong.

“A throng of adoring fans awaits Sen. Obama in Paris,” McCain said. “And that’s just the American press,” he added to laughter. The jest underscored the difficulty McCain has been having in competing for media attention.

Today, McCain will meet with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, in Aspen, Colo.

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