Gov. Ed Rendell Monday summed up Sen. John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Convention last week with three words: "The Big Lie."
Making his first remarks here since the GOP convention, Rendell convened a news conference Monday afternoon on the grass-and-concrete patio in front of Franklin & Marshall College's Alumni Sports & Fitness Center, 24 hours before McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were scheduled to appear for a rally.
Rendell, laughing during a lighthearted moment, called on the McCain campaign to suspend by Wednesday all ads he says are mischaracterizing Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama by indicating he plans to raise taxes on all Americans.
"What is going on is a deliberate campaign: I call it 'The Big Lie,' " Rendell said. "Speaker after speaker after speaker created the impression in the American people's minds that Barack Obama was going to raise their taxes. Television ad after television ad, you can't hear a television ad without hearing Barack Obama's going to raise taxes."
Republicans immediately shot back Monday evening.
"I don't hear many things he doesn't want to raise taxes on," said state Republican Party spokesman Michael Barley.
Rendell - surrounded by Lancaster city officials, including Mayor Rick Gray, local Obama supporters and former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford - focused his attack on what he said are "lies" perpetuated by Republicans, including McCain and Palin, about Obama's tax plans.
He even penned a letter that Abe Amoros, political and communications director for the state Democratic Party, will try to hand-deliver to McCain during the F&M event. The letter outlines Obama's and McCain's tax plans, then says: "I hope that you will stop misleading the American public about Barack Obama's tax plan."
According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C., people earning $66,354 or less (about 60 percent of income earners) will see tax reductions if either of the candidates' plans are adopted, but the reductions are between three and 19 times deeper in Obama's proposals than McCain's.
Those making between $37,596 and $66,354 would receive a $1,042 tax cut under Obama's plan or a $319 cut in McCain's plan. The margins grow wider the lower the annual income.
Rendell also pointed to Obama's plans to eliminate federal income taxes for working seniors earning $50,000 or less and proposed tax cuts on mortgage rates and college tuition.
Obama, though, would raise taxes on capital gains, income and dividends if a person or business is making more than $250,000 from those sources of income, but the rates would be the same as those during the 1990s, according to Rendell.
"He's raising taxes on the very wealthy, and he's cutting taxes for the middle class," Rendell said.
McCain's tax plan calls for tax cuts in all income brackets. The deepest cuts would go to the top earners - those making $160,973 and more - who would see at least a 3 percent reduction in income taxes.
While Rendell accused McCain of pandering to wealthy earners and rich corporations, Barley said that's a tired argument frequently used by Democrats.
"The rich people pay a larger amount of taxes," Barley said. "The wealthier people are also the people who help to provide jobs. They help the economy. They are typically the ones who do a lot of purchasing. I understand that's a favorite argument of Democrats, but you have to look and say that John McCain, at the end of the day, is going to leave more in your paycheck than Barack Obama. There's no doubt about it."