White House contender Barack Obama late on Tuesday tore into his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for using terrorism to "scare up votes," and Republican John McCain for offering broken policies.
In a tub-thumping speech in Indiana, which along with North Carolina is the next stop in the Democratic nominating race on May 6, Obama conceded defeat to Clinton in the day's Pennsylvania primary.
But after crediting Clinton for running a "terrific race" in the northeastern state, Obama said November's election was about not just defeating the Republicans, but about what kind of Democratic Party might win power.
The impassioned speech read as an appeal by Obama both to Democratic grandees called "superdelegates" who look set to decide the party's nomination, and to voters ahead of a general election matchup against McCain.
"We can be a party that thinks the only way to look tough on national security is to talk, and act, and vote like George Bush and John McCain. We can use fear as a tactic, and the threat of terrorism to scare up votes," he said.
That was a barely concealed attack on Clinton, after her campaign ran an ominous ad Monday that featured images of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in a last-minute appeal to Pennsylvania voters to back the New York senator.
Still attacking Clinton, Obama said "you can't be the champion of working Americans if you're funded by the lobbyists who drown out their voices."
"We can be a party that says and does whatever it takes to win the next election. We can calculate and poll-test our positions and tell everyone exactly what they want to hear," the Illinois senator continued.
"Or we can be the party that doesn't just focus on how to win but why we should.
"We can seek to regain not just an office, but the trust of the American people that their leaders in Washington will tell them the truth. That's the choice in this election."
Obama also ripped into McCain for offering "more of the same" as the unpopular President Bush, at a time when the US economy is slipping into trouble and millions of voters fear for their jobs and healthcare.
"John McCain believes that George Bush's Iraq policy is a success, so he's offering four more years of a war with no exit strategy," the Democrat said.
McCain offered "four more years of tax cuts for CEOs and corporations who didn't need them and weren't asking for them; tax cuts that he once voted against because he said they 'offended his conscience'."
"Well they may have stopped offending John McCain's conscience somewhere along the road to the White House, but George Bush's economic policies still offend ours."