ORLANDO — Addressing a mostly black audience one day after his campaign accused Barack Obama of playing the ''race card,'' John McCain took a gentler approach to criticizing his opponent's plans for jump-starting the economy and improving public schools.
The hundreds of activists, politicians and executives at the National Urban League convention gave McCain a standing ovation before his speech and then listened quietly — a stark contrast with the spirited call-and-response that occurred with earlier speakers.
McCain drew mild applause for touting increased domestic oil production, tax credits to families and bonuses for teachers in troubled schools. A few people in the crowd grumbled when he talked about opposing affirmative action, though McCain added that he would "fight for equal opportunity.''
McCain repeated his call for offshore oil drilling, arguing that lifting the federal ban could ''seriously lower'' gas prices. Obama opposes more drilling, but a new Quinnipiac University poll shows that most Florida voters think it's a good idea.
''We need to drill more, drill now, and pay less at the pump,'' McCain said, eliciting some applause.
McCain also criticized the Illinois senator for opposing the use of taxpayer money for private school vouchers.
''All of that went over well with the teachers union, but where does it leave families and their children who are stuck in failing schools?'' McCain demanded.
McCain faces an uphill battle in the black community as he faces the first African-American presidential nominee. Though a few people at the convention said they were undecided, most said they had already made up their minds to support Obama.
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