John McCain joined Hillary Clinton in critiquing Barack Obama’s characterization of small-town Pennsylvania’s (and by extension, perhaps, America’s) “bitter” outlook, telling a crowd of magazine and newspaper editors on Monday that Obama’s description represented “a contradiction from what I believe America is all about.”

The Washington Post:

“These are the people that produced a generation that made the world safe for democracy,” McCain said. “These are the people that have fundamental cultural, spiritual and other values that in my view have very little to do with their economic condition.”

Obama, saying he welcomed the controversy as an opportunity to debate McCain on economic issues, declared of the Arizona Republican: “He just doesn’t understand this.” But Obama also acknowledged the potential political damage that the Democratic candidates’ skirmishes could bring.

“I have tried to figure out how to show restraint and make sure that, during this primary contest, we’re not damaging each other so badly that it’s hard for us to run in November,” Obama said at a luncheon sponsored by the Associated Press, speaking several hours after McCain.

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Also on Monday, McCain speculated that the country is shifting into recession mode, opining that Americans are “hurting” (but, apparently, not “bitter”) and pinning part of the blame for the nation’s economic downturn on Wall Street greed:

The Hill:

“Americans are hurting today,” McCain said at an Associated Press forum in Washington, D.C. “They’re hurting in the towns and cities across America. They’re sitting around the kitchen table, saying, ‘Are we going to be able to make our home loan mortgage payments? Are we going to be able to — do I have to try to get a second job? Can I keep my job? Why was I laid off?’ “

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