John McCain welcomed Barack Obama as his presumed opponent Tuesday, but said the senator would not provide America with the "right kind of change" it needs.
"This is indeed a change election. No matter who wins ...the direction of this country is going to change dramatically," he said. "But the choice is between the right change and the wrong change; between going forward and going backward." Watch McCain's Speech
Speaking Tuesday night to supporters in New Orleans, La., McCain charged that Obama's "change we can believe in" doesn't fully have the American people in mind.
"The wrong change looks not to the future, but to the past for solutions that have failed us before and will surely fail us again. I have a few years on my opponent, so I am surprised that a young man has bought in to so many failed ideas," McCain said.
"Like others before him, he seems to think government is the answer to every problem; that government should take our resources and make our decisions for us," he added. "That type of change doesn't trust Americans to know what is right or what is in their own best interests."
Tackling the Economy
McCain acknowledged that many U.S. policies and decisions have failed to keep up with the challeges Americans face. He said that by reforming government policy in areas like health care, military and the environment, the country can make a comback like it has done in the past.
"America has seen tough times before. We've always known how to get through them. And we've always believed our best days are ahead of us," he said.
The senator also vowed to make necessary changes in disaster relief plans -- a need many residents in the audience knew all too well.
"When Americans confront a catastrophe they have a right to expect basic competence from their government," McCain said. "Our disgraceful failure to do so here in New Orleans exposed the incompetence of government at all levels to meet even its most basic responsibilities."
Not a 'Third Bush Term'
McCain used a bulk of his speech to distance himself from claims that if he took office, it would be like having President Bush for a third term.
"The American people didn't get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Sen. Obama. They know I have a long record of bipartisan problem solving. They've seen me put our country before any President, before any party, before any special interest (and) before my own interest," he said.
McCain went on to say the he strongly disagrees with how the Bush administration has handled the Iraq war, and that he and the president have "not seen eye to eye on many issues." He blamed the Bush administration for wasteful spending over the past eight year that has "added trillions to the national debt," and said that he would freeze discretionary spending.
Crossing Party Lines
McCain noted that Republicans and Democrats must come together in order to better America, saying he has seen the parties do "great things" together.
"I'll reach out my hand to anyone, Republican or Democrat, who will help me change what needs to be changed; fix what needs to be fixed; and give this country a government as capable and good as the people it is supposed to serve," he said. "That, my friends, is the kind of change we need… right now."