A good part of Senator John McCain’s stump speech is devoted to warning voters about the fiscal dangers that would accompany a Barack Obama administration, but lately McCain has been picking on a lower-profile bogeyman to make his case.

“And he can’t do that without raising our taxes or digging us further into debt like Congressman Barney Frank promised to do,” McCain said last night, causing a part-time rodeo arena to rumble with boos at the mention of the Massachusetts Democrat and chair of the banking committee.

Frank has found a comfortable home in McCain’s speeches in the campaign’s closing days, as one of three congressional Democrats McCain picks out by name as he warns his audience to resist Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches. McCain mentions Frank along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

Frank yesterday dismissed McCain’s words as “an appeal to prejudice” that he said reminded him of past Republican efforts to raise voter concerns about the prospect of congressmen Charles Rangel and John Conyers, who are black, becoming committee chairs.

“I’m flattered by this,” said Frank, who is gay. “But I don’t think I’m the single most important member of the House after Nancy Pelosi. There are also a lot of straight white men who are committee chairmen.”

McCain’s chief speechwriter, Mark Salter, shook his head when asked to respond. “We’re bringing him up for his quotes,” said Salter. “We’re prejudiced against wasteful spenders and tax hikers.”

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