OBAMA TACKLES MCCAIN’S TONE, FEAR…. Barack Obama hasn’t spent too much time this week highlighting the McCain campaign’s deranged tone, so it was interesting to see him take the high ground, and paint McCain in a negative light, at the same time.

At a rally in Chillicothe, Ohio, this morning, Obama said, “It’s easy to rile up a crowd by stoking anger and division. But that’s not what we need right now in the United States. The times are too serious. The challenges are too great. The American people aren’t looking for someone who can divide this country — they’re looking for someone who will lead it. We’re in a serious crisis — now, more than ever, it is time to put country ahead of politics. Now, more than ever, it is time to bring change to Washington so that it works for the people of this country that we love.”

He added, “I know my opponent is worried about his campaign, but that’s not what I’m worried about. I’m thinking about the Americans losing their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings. We cannot afford another four years of the failed economic theories that say we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires, and hope that prosperity trickles down on everyone else…. We’ve seen where that leads us, and we are not going back.”

On the economy, Obama continued to strike an optimistic but realistic tone: “Now is not the time for fear. Now is not the time for panic. Now is the time for resolve and steady leadership. We can meet this moment. We can come together to restore confidence in the American economy. We can renew that fundamental belief — that in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the country we need to be right now. ”

The McCain campaign responded that Obama was talking about the economy in order to “deflect” attention from McCain’s “legitimate criticisms.”

Alas, the McCain campaign isn’t very bright.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.