April 14th, 2008
12:15 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain calls Obama's comments 'elitist'

(CNN) – John McCain on Monday called Barack Obama's recent remarks about small-town Pennsylvanians “elitist” - but he stopped short of describing Obama himself that way.

In his remarks to the Associated Press Managing Editors conference in Washington - his first public appearance since the firestorm over Obama's reference to some Americans as "bitter" began - the presumptive Republican nominee took the long view.

He praised those who suffered through the Great Depression for their contributions to the nation telling the crowd that “it had not shaken their faith in and fidelity to America and its founding political ideals.”

“Their faith had given generations of their families purpose and meaning,” he continued, “and their appreciation of traditions like hunting was based in nothing other than their contribution to the enjoyment of life.”

When asked after his speech if he considered Obama an elitist, he responded, “I don't know, I think those comments are elitist.” He described them as “disparaging” to people “that have fundamental cultural, spiritual and other values that in my view have very little to do with their economic condition.”

When pressed, McCain said he didn’t know Obama well enough to describe him as an elitist, saying only that his comments “are certainly not the vision that I have of America and its strength and its greatness and what its fundamental values and beliefs are.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (142 Responses)
  1. carlo

    John and Cindy, owners of eight-that's right, count em-eight-homes, Cindy of the beer heiress fortune, Johnny boy of the admiral father and grandfather, are the REAL elitist. With the exception of his time as a POW (and BTW I respect POWS-my uncle was one, my grandfather died as a POW in Korea, and my father is a Vietnam vet, so don't get indignant with me), McCain has never had to struggle for any freakin thing. Hundreds of thousands of brave men and women came back from Vietnam, and THEY didn't get a hero's welcome. A lot of them still suffer from PTSD and are drug addicts and homeless. If he weren't the son and grandson of admirals, he'd never be able to run for president. Obama and his wife just finished paying off their student loans for crying out loud. That's hardly elitist.

    April 14, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. Casy

    I happen to agree with McCain. People want to mention that Obama apologized. Well his apology means NOTHING! I believe Obama spoke what he truly felt! He made these comments at a closed door event in CA! He had no idea that they would get out! Now that they have, he want to apologize–well it is a bit too late for the apology we can see right thru it!!

    April 14, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  3. Angus McDugan

    Alex H – I would love to agree with you, but the reason I am supprised is that the news in all types of media have drifted to a more tabloid format.

    April 14, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |

    Sen. McCain try and remenber who we are figthing in this war that you plan on figthing for the next 100 years!and why don't you go ahead a pick Sen. Clinton as your running mate since she is doing all of your dirty work while claiming to be a Democrat.The two of you are a prefect match!but remeber this when the General Election start you will see the full force of how we support our canidate;in time and money!that is why the republician party needs to fear Sen. Obama,because the people of this country wants our country back!and our battle cry is " YES WE CAN"!

    April 14, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. Unshrub

    When McCain first heard someone call Obama an elitist he was upset because he thought the Republicans were the elitists until an aide told him that was a bad thing.

    April 14, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Uncle Sam

    When do the Democrats and Republicans start to work together?

    April 14, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Now for Obama

    Hillary should just go back to being a republican

    April 14, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. King of NJ

    O realy McCain .... thats funny I heard you own 8 houses! and you dont want to even address this housing mess!
    you my man are Bush the sequel!

    April 14, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. lbh

    He is elitist and hyprocrite! He laughes at someone else while he himself does same thing. Well, he is worse, he did drugs, he got money from lobist and the $ he admited is 100,000 or more different than later found out, he also lied a lot about his pastor!

    April 14, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. PA for Obama

    We are not stupid. We know that McCain and Clinton are the elitist. Both are more interested in influencing big business that supporting the little person. Yes, I am bitter about the state of our economy. Obama is the only one that can feel the sting of that bitterness.

    April 14, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  11. HATTIE

    Poor Grandpa McCain... being rich like yourself and Clinton makes you elitist not poorly chosen words...

    GO OBAMA '08

    April 14, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. mary-NH

    John McCain calling Obama 'elitist'??? Oh, just keep it coming McCain. You are such a moron.

    April 14, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. gery

    Let's face it. This is a high school popularity contest and the high school kids are lifting Obama to be president.

    April 14, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. SayNoToHillaryBillaryCheslaryClintrous

    Look who is talking MCsame calling obama's comment elitist give me a break. Go retire old man we do not expect anything from a 72 years old man. He belongs to the nursing home he had his time this is a battle for the new generation.

    April 14, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  15. Jennie Ramsey

    You know Hillary is trying so hard to win this nomination, which by the way she never will, that she is saying and doing everything and anything possible to make Obama look bad in everyones eyes. At the same time she is ruining the Democratic party, It's "if I don't get it, I'm sure as hell going to make sure that Obama doesn't get it either". She had to distract comments regarding Bosnia away from her by talking about the "Gun/Church thing" . She's pathetic!

    April 14, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. Johnny Boy

    WHAT????? This guy is worth, like a zillion bucks. His wife is loaded. John, I am a fellow Navy man, but this too funny, you of all people calling him an "elitist" I know why you are running. You are the "yes man" of the GOP. The GOP knew, and still knows now that they are finished due to Bush, and they had to find someone to run for the GOP. Sorry it had to be you.

    April 14, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  17. Venus

    Yea! Heads up McSane – you are next on the list! First we must finish Hillary and Bill Clinton OFF!

    April 14, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Now for Obama


    and it seems like the uneducated old people are trying to ruin America by supporting Hillary 🙂

    April 14, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Brown

    I do respect McCain because he doesn't use gutter politics to get his point across unlike Hillary. Hillary has stepped on Obama every time he makes a mistake. Did any one hear Obama talking about Bill and Hillary lies. Let's be real. That last two presidents that were liars were almosted impeached (Bill and Nixon). Hillary is ready on day one to continue the lie legacy.

    April 14, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. gene

    I was just wondering why CNN allows the derogatory Clinton and McCain name calling and when I say something (even if it is true) about Obama, my comments disappear off the screen. It must be my computer, I am going to have to have it checked .

    April 14, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Justin

    McCain has a higher net worth than Obama and he is part of the big business party. I would say McCain is the elitist.

    April 14, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. Eric...wake up.

    You know, Obama said these comments in the wrong way, but he is right in what he was trying to say. People are discouraged by politics and washington and they don't vote on issues like the economy because they are always let down.

    I don't like mccain saying 'america is great this, and the america i know should be proud that..' That is a bunch of lies. This nation is in trouble and i dont know if Obama is the guy who can fix it, but at least he recognizes that this country isn't a fairytale anymore. This isnt the land of opportunity anymore, and someone needs to step up and say they aren't ok with the status quo and they won't go try and fix everyone elses country. Someone needs to say America is broken, and i care enough about it to fix it.

    Mccain and hillary are fine to just stand around and say america is great and the people are great, they need a reality check. To me, thinking this country is doing well, that is the true elitist remark. Wake up.

    April 14, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  23. Rich, New York

    Obama, the typical politician. Where the hope has gone? The more this presidential race goes on the more we see who really is Obama.

    April 14, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. McCain or Hillary '08

    And I hope the first thing President McCain does is raise the voting age to 25.

    April 14, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  25. Cathy

    McCain, from one minute to the next you don't know what your own position is on the real issues. Your whole platform is on a total US government lie....the Iraq war. So please don't comment on anything else because most Americans know you don't care about anything or anybody else.

    A matter of fact, what's your position today on the housing crisis...???

    April 14, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
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