John McCain accused White House foe Barack Obama of siding with 'A list' stars at a dollar-soaked Hollywood fundraiser instead of hard-hit voters trapped by the economic malaise.
The latest fierce campaign crossfire came Tuesday as Democrat Obama and Republican McCain slugged it out over the Wall Street meltdown, both promising a regulatory crackdown 48 days from election day.
Earlier, Obama had chided McCain for saying the US economy was fundamentally "strong" despite rising job losses, a rash of mortgage foreclosures and a banking and investment crisis which has reverberated around the world.
McCain made his counter-attack as he was reunited with his running mate Sarah Palin at a rally in economically struggling rust-belt Ohio, a vital battleground state which decided the 2004 presidential election.
The Arizona senator said Obama "talked about siding with the people, just before he flew off to Hollywood for a fundraiser with Barbara Streisand and his celebrity friends."
"Let me tell you, my friends, there's no place I'd rather be than here with the working men and women of Ohio."
"Senator Obama's not interested in the politics of hope, he's interested in his political future."
McCain was refering to an exclusive Obama fundraiser Tuesday night in swank Beverly Hills where Hollywood high-rollers spent 28,500 dollars to get in the door to be sereneded by Streisand, a famous Democratic supporter.
The fundraiser could reportedly raise about nine million dollars -- a record take for a single night.
McCain's camp has repeatedly branded Obama a hubristic "celebrity" trying to paint him as out of touch with grass roots values and daily struggles.
Obama's staff however said McCain was on shaky ground, as he was flush with five million dollars in his own big fundraising event.
"I don't know who showed up in Florida where he raised five million dollars, but my guess is that it wasn't a lot of nurses, firefighters and police officers," Obama's top strategist David Axelrod told reporters on Tuesday.
Earlier, Obama and McCain had both vowed to crack down on Wall Street excess -- but slammed one another as unfit to fix the economy.
The crisis "is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed," Obama told supporters in Colorado.
A new Obama ad repeatedly showed McCain's remark in Florida on Monday that the economy was fundamentally "strong" superimposed with news-style captions detailing current economic woes.
But in Florida, McCain, who has a slim one percent lead over Obama in latest tracking polls, denounced the "recklessness of Wall Street" and called for an investigation similar to the one that probed the September 11 attacks in 2001.
"People have a right to know when their jobs, pensions, investments, and our whole economy are being put at risk by the recklessness of Wall Street," he said.
"In my administration, we're going to hold people on Wall Street responsible," McCain promised.
McCain, who critics said has tended to oppose robust regulation of financial firms, was hampered Tuesday by several apparent missteps by top advisors.
Economic aide Doug Holtz-Eakin said his boss was partly responsible for the "miracle" of the BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, stirring a flurry reminiscent of Al Gore's claims to have helped develop the Internet.
Obama's campaign pounced: "If John McCain hadn't said that 'the fundamentals of our economy are strong' on the day of one of our nation's worst financial crises, the claim that he invented the BlackBerry would have been the most preposterous thing he said all week," said spokesman Bill Burton.
Then, Carly Fiorina, another top McCain economy guru and former Hewlett Packard chief stumbled .
Fiorina was asked on Missouri radio whether she tought Palin could run a major company.
"No, I don't," Fiorina replied. "But you know what? That's not what she's running for."
Asked later by MSNBC if she regretted her comment, Fiorina replied: "Well, I don't think John McCain could run a major corporation," before adding that neither Obama nor his running mate Joseph Biden had such skills either.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor wondered why Fiorina then thought McCain could run the world's biggest economy in the midst of a crisis.