May 9th, 2008
01:47 PM ET
6 years ago

Blitzer: Was Obama taking aim at McCain's age?

Blitzer: McCain's camp said Obama was making a dig at the Republican's age; Obama denies the charge.
Blitzer: McCain's camp said Obama was making a dig at the Republican's age; Obama denies the charge.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Whenever I interview a major newsmaker, I always marvel at the pickup of the interview by other news organizations and the reaction from interested parties. The latest case in point is my interview this week with Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

During the interview, I asked Obama to react to a suggestion from Republican presidential candidate John McCain that the Democrat was the preferred candidate of the militant Palestinian group Hamas. Obama replied that that assertion was “offensive” and “a smear.” He then added: “And so for him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.”

It didn’t take very long for the McCain campaign to respond. “First,” McCain’s senior adviser Mark Salter wrote in a memo, “let us be clear about the nature of Senator Obama’s attack today. He used the words ‘losing his bearings’ intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain’s age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning.”

Salter continued: “We have all become familiar with Senator Obama’s new brand of politics. First, you demand civility from your opponent, then you attack him, distort his record and send out surrogates to question his integrity. It is called hypocrisy, and it is the oldest kind of politics there is.”

That’s pretty strong stuff.

Obama’s campaign, by the way, replied that his use of the words “losing his bearings” had nothing to do with McCain’s age.

I am interested in what you think.


Filed under: Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (452 Responses)
  1. Kaijage

    Campaigns are getting ridiculous now! How can one relate losing bearings to his age? I think its not even worthy to give this story a headline.
    It is almost obviuous for us who follows the campaigns to relate McCain to his "Straight Talk Express Bus" and the fact that "The Bus" can lose bearings and start swerving around without direction.

    Are we losing it or what? C'mon McCain we expect more from you.

    May 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. Robert Hampton, Jr.

    Hadn't Obama's earlier comments ,than the Republicans' are mentioning, included a reference to the type of moral campaign claimed by McCain? It seemed quite clear with an extension of the interview's results "that a loss of bearings" refers to "losing his way", or "getting off track" , which wasn't readily apparent until McCain's camp "opened the gate".

    May 9, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Para

    That is the stupidity of interpreting the word. I dont found the meaning age for the bearings. Mccain team needs some English expert as advisor.

    May 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. Linc

    I think it's just another way you and CNN are trying to drum up an artificial controversy which most people are frankly sick of. This isn't news. It's nonsense. Losing your bearings means you are losing your way. Your focus. Which is exactly what any thinking person can reason. Losing your mind or losing your faculties or losing your marbles is about age – none of which was said. You know that. Giving credence to the McCain campaign's tirade is playing up a false story for your own ratings. There is no story. McCain is hoping to create one and once again, the so-called media is spending time on this rather than the news. Wolf – really is there nothing more important to report about?

    May 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  5. LJ

    Well, the "Straight Talk Express" came to mind for me, the bus, not what comes from McCain's mouth. Old people don't lose bearings, they lose their marbles.

    May 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  6. Jon

    That expression had nothing to do with McCains age. We all know that statement was another way of saying The Straight Talk Express may have taken a wrong turn. His campaign has been waiting for Mr. Obama to say something like this so they can spin him as an elitest while simultaneously courting the Senior Vote. POLITICS SHMOLITICS!

    May 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. J.S.B.

    I am always amazed at the severity with which Barack Obama's comments are distorted. Question, will Mark Salter's memo get the same amount of talking head droning that Pastor Wright's comments did? Will John Hagee a blatant racist religious fanatic get any of your air time? Of course not because that would be fair and balanced reporting. This is the challenge then isn't it. Barack has already thrown down the gauntlet, and as usual the mainstream media kept spewing their spineless dreck. Barack has asked more of us all. When will the droning stop? When will you step up to the plate?

    May 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. mica fine

    This smear tactic by the McCain campaign has nothing to do with the age of their candidate and everything to do with them losing their bearings

    May 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. Sandy

    When I heard it, the phrase did not jump out at me as a dig at Senator McCain's age, but rather it indicated he had lost his direction from his previous promises to run a positive campaign without personal attacks. Now if it was a sideway stab at his age, it was clever, and I like clever.
    Let's make no mistake about it. Senator McCain's age is and should be a concern for American voters. Regardless of the strength of a candidate's policies and positions, if he is too long past the best years of his life, it is of grave concern. Ooops. Was I being clever, or just misspeaking. Hmmm.
    To be honest, with all due respect, I believe Senator McCain is/has actually lost a bit of his mind. It is well within the realm of possiblity, and sometimes when I watch him, I just have to wonder? Sorry – just honest observation.

    May 9, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Peter

    I think Obama is much more of a typical politician then he wants people to know. I believe he is always looking to make himself look more liek a regular person. Like playing Taboo on the airplane with the presss corp. of course CNN covered that as real news. Good lord. I believe he is a calculating person and not completly truthful with his intentions which is the worst kind of politician.

    May 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. Jacob, DC

    Obama's comment didn't have anything to do with McCain's age. The McCain camp looked like they were about to be trapped equating Obama to terrorists (a pretty heinous act) while simultaneously running the risk of bring up the whole 'McCain doesn't know the difference between Iran and Al-Qaida' debacle again. To 'solve' the salutation they just attacked. It didn't have to be a well crafted or thought-out attack, just an attack to divert attention. .

    May 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. zaiko mangla

    Republicans need to acknowledge tthe necessity of a political recovering.Don't they want to admit how much they dammaged their country these last eight years.
    Why Mccain was not able to win the republican nomination in 2002?
    How could he miss that opportunity to beat GWB?
    That does say a lot about his leadership ability.On the other hand, he needs to feel confident when it comes to his age; noboddy has mentionned it as an issue.

    May 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. David, Paducah, Kentucky

    I didn't take it that way. I think McCain is way too sensitive about his age and possibly is just looking for an excuse to launch a negative campaign against Obama.

    May 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. Giuliano from Montreal

    Thats funny cause to ME...it seemed more like he was referring to McCains straight talk promise and not about his age. The fact that the Republicans are raising McCains age to accuse the Dems of raising his age as an issue is so ironic that it should go in the dictionnary as an example for the word.
    This is going to be one heck of an election. Wish I were one of your countrymen so I could vote.

    Giuliano

    May 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. China Nolan

    It's amazing that the Republicans think so little of the average American's intelligence to believe that we can be manipulated by a foreign terrorist organization's "endorsement". Perhaps the Republican leadership thinks the Republican rank and file bedrock supporter actually believes that Barack Obama is a tool of Hamas just waiting to hand over America to Osama Bin Laden; but I doubt it. But it may make a convenient excuse to vote racism.

    May 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. frank

    My context would be "military bearing" transposed ti senatorial bearing. More colloquially, out of character, not consistent withe deportment expected....that sort of thing...

    May 9, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. Uhhhhhh........

    This is a distraction. People are interested in how to survive in a struggling economy.

    May 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Ed

    His political bearings! Age had nothing to do with loosing your bearings or your marbles. I think that says alot more about the people complaining than the person who said it.
    -ED

    May 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Monroe from Irvine CA

    That's quite a stretch from the McCain camp. Ridiculous.

    May 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. frank, las vegas

    OBAMA'S STATEMENT HAS NOTHINGT TO DO WITH MCCAIN'S AGE. THIS IS A SPIN BY THE MCCAIN CAMP! IT IS IN FACT A DOUBLE NEGATIVE ATTACK ON OBAMA BY THE MCCAIN CAMP! THEIR RESPONSE IS VERY INAPPROPRIATE AND BELITTLES THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF ENGLISH AND PREPAREDNESS TO HELP MCCAIN IN THIS CAMPAIGN. THEY REALLY NEED TO GO TO SCHOOL – BECAUSE THEIR ATTITUDE DEPICTS THEM INFERIOR TO A 5TH GRADER!

    May 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. Rick Medina,OH

    Wolf,

    I am a life-long Democrat. I've been knocking on doors to register voters or campaign for candidates (sometimes myself) for 37 years. Notable about this election, (and a great disappointment to this partisan observer,) is the sheer 'shrillness' of the rhetoric. Predictably, not much of this comes from the candidates themselves. But, surrogates and bloggers have been incredibly effective at 'discovering' sub-scripts in every speech or remark.

    I watched your interview with Senator Obama. Frankly, the response from the McCain campaign is a 'head shaker.' It is clear to me, that Sen. Obama referred solely to his disappointment that John McCain breeched his commitment to campaign on issues alone.

    May 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Joe in NoVa

    Obviously, age is a touchy subject for McCain, or else he wouldn't see a slight where no obvious one exists. Had Obama said that this is "an example of him being delusional" or "having a senior moment," then perhaps I see McCain's point. But losing one's bearings is more related to direction, and seems a stab at McCain's "Straight Talk Express" idea than his age. But if we've learned anything from the Democratic primaries, it's to take offense at anything and try to ignite a political firestorm out of it (see bitter, controversy the). Note, however, that the tactic hasn't worked well for Clinton, and I'm not sure that manufacturing controversies will work much better for McCain.

    May 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. jimmy vekmen

    MCCAIN WILL BE 72 YEARS OLD AND IF ELECTED PROBABLY WILL BE A ONE TERM PRESIDENT. HE WILL HAVE TO CHOOSE A STRONG AND YOUNGER VP RUNNING MATE.

    WHO BETTER THAN COLIN POWELL OR MAYOR BLOOMBERG BOTH WHICH ARE BETTER THAN OBAMA.
    COLIN POWELL HAS THE STATURE, EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE
    AND HAVING SERVED UNDER REAGAN AND BOTH BUSH PRESIDENTS.. MAYOR BLOOMBERG HAS ADMINISTRATIVE EXPERIENCE AND UNLIMITED RESOURCES WHICH OBAMA CANNOT HOPE TO MATCH.

    May 9, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. meggy

    obama is black....think about it.

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. E for Obama

    Also, Obama's 'new brand of politics' is common sense. Something this republican administration knows nothing about.

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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