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. LuLy, Chi-town

    I don't think his comment was refearing to his age at all, but rather to his "political" bearings (as in he says one thing, and then does another), but I am so glad that McCain brought this issue to the forefront.

    I think age and heath are serious issues to consider for the position of president and I personally don't feel comfortable supporting someone who is not only REALLY OLD, but has had a history of serious health issues, and WHERE ARE MCCAIN'S HEALTH RECORDS ANYWAY????? What is he trying to hide?

    Let's dwell on that point for a while, CNN.

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Matt Hardeman

    If obama doesnt offer clinton the VP slot i will personally be furious.

    why should i vote for a man who talks and talks and talks about 'uniting' people when he's not even willing to reach out so far as to offer clinton the VP slot?

    it will be his single act of hypocrisy yet. I'm a lifelong democrat. But at least McCain's showed more respect to Clinton than the obamacists... I WILL vote for mccain if obama messes this up. So will millions like me. He's hard enough to get elected as it is, without infuriating every last person who voted for clinton.

    You've been warned, Obama people.

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. TJ

    Nonsense!

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Octavia Best

    The definition of "bearings" is orientation, relative position, location, direction, sense of direction.... the manner in which one bears or conducts one's self, behavior, carriage...purport, meaning, intended significance, aspect... I do not think Senator Obama was referring to Senator Mccains' age! I think the Republicans took his comment way out of context. They jumped on the opportunity to distort this comment, backing what I got out of what Obama said, which was that Mccain was "out of touch."

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Patrick

    "Losing his bearing" has nothing whatsoever to do with age. A young, old, big or small man can lose his bearing – meaning direction. What planet is Salter from??

    Patrick

    Toronto

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Tony in Douglasville, GA

    This is simply a case of McCain trying to remain relevant.

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Mike

    The reference to "losing his bearings" has more to do with "navigation" and "finding your way."

    Clearly it has nothing to do with "age."

    Freudian slip?

    Sounds like the McCain campaign is paranoid!

    May 9, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. MOBILE251

    people will put a spin on anything. everything people say it seem like it is taking out of text. get over it we no you old. we can see that. we no barack black and we no hillary is a woman. what i dont no is why is gas $4.

    May 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Matt Hardeman

    the comment had nothign to do with mccains age. did someone say TOUCHY?!

    ps-

    If obama doesnt offer clinton the VP slot i will personally be furious.

    why should i vote for a man who talks and talks and talks about 'uniting' people when he's not even willing to reach out so far as to offer clinton the VP slot?

    it will be his single act of hypocrisy yet. I'm a lifelong democrat. But at least McCain's showed more respect to Clinton than the obamacists… I WILL vote for mccain if obama messes this up. So will millions like me. He's hard enough to get elected as it is, without infuriating every last person who voted for clinton.

    You've been warned, Obama people.

    May 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. Melissa

    I don't think that Obama meant his age at all...just that he's losing site of what he should be talking about, worrying about, and thinking about. That's "losing your bearings".
    However, John McCain's age SHOULD be taken into consideration. As this campaign as gone on...he's looking more and more worn out...more and more tired, and you have to wonder, if the campaign is taking this much of a toll on him (when he doesn't really have anyone to campaign againts yet! It has barely started!)...what will the presidency do to him?

    May 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Brian

    McCain is lost at sea, lost his bearings in what America needs, which isn't 4 more years of failed Bush agenda! We need an end to unjust wars, bought policies in Washington, and a government that serves the few. By the people for the people – not by the rich and for the rich!

    Yes – I want to be PROUD of AMERICA again! Unjust wars that lead to thousands of people who died too soon doesn't make me proud!

    May 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. Kisia

    McCain is Old! We all know that...for Salter to point it out again...is a mistake. The more we look at him (McCain) the older he looks.

    Salter keep up the good work! LOL

    May 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. Jimmy

    Wolff,

    I think that the McCain camp is just obsessed with his age. They see it as a major obstacle themself.

    That's why they are so jumpy on the subject.

    May 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Extinct Snipe

    Look! McCain's age is an issue and we all know it. The Republican party is trying to blame Obama for McCain's age. A perfect example of counter accusation.

    Just like the Republicans are getting ready to run anti-Obama ads, I'd be great to see an independent group run ads about McCain's age and war history. Ads like McCain in the heat of battle fighting side by side with Teddy Roosevelt and McCain advising Teddy that his horse is coming up lame and he needs another bullet, as a member of the Rough Riders, and trudging through the trenches of WWI with a gas mask, and so forth.

    Obama for President!

    May 9, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. ml

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

    well, Obama has his history of saying that he did not mean what he said. So it is not easy to believe him. He seems to have problems to express himself clearly, or he is just backing out.

    Some people get carried by their own talking to the point they forget to pay attention to consequences of their words. Or they just simply do not think in that moment of talking about the impact of their words. Which is not good for the politician, leader.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. Karen Anderson

    Wolf,
    You do a great disservice to Obama by only reporting, and repeating, half of his quote about McCaine loosing his "bearings." Obama didn't just, out of the blue, spout McCaine has "lost his bearings". Obama was talking about McCain's camaping changed directions–first trumpeting that they would focus on issues, not personal snipes, but then quickly turned around and did exactly that with the "Hamas loves Obama" theme . Obama clearly said that McCain's campaign had "lost its bearings" and changed direction on the way to keeping its promises. He never said, or inferred, that McCain was old, nuts, or anything else.

    The fact that McCain over reacted so publically gives pause to make voters wondering if "he doth protest too much"– because he, himself, feels that it is one of his biggest obsticals to overcome on the long and arduous campaign road ahead. (Especially, in view of all the misstatements and gaffs he has already been caught making, long before the real fight has begun.)

    You owe Obama's an apology for not using his full quote–relating to the change of the campaign's directions–versus the sound bite which makes it look like he is saying McCain lost his bearings/marbles.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. Ron Yourkowki

    There are some in the Republican party that will turn the easter bunny
    into a monster. Obama said "losing his bearings" not losing his marbles.
    That's what I say.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  18. Wrong impression

    Wolf,

    I saw the interview yesterday and I do not think that Barack answered that questions angrily as you descirbed. He didn't raise his voice but was very firm in his response.

    Please don't try to insight an emotional uproar; make a mountain out of a molehill.

    The response wasn't nothing as it is being portrayed.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. Mike Kramer

    I think he was simply saying McCain is straying too far from his strengths and principles in the quest to win. Losing himself, so to speak.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  20. Male_Independent

    Implying Obama was insinuating that McCain "loosing his bearings" was an attack on his age is ridiculous. Look at the comment in context. He was referring to McCain loosing his bearings on his morals and integrity by participating in smear tactics.

    For the record, I plan on voting for Obama, but I vey much like McCain. However, it pains me to see him starting to use the same Karl Rove tactics that he fell victim to in 2000.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  21. Jeremy

    Bearings are not marbles.
    McCain and his people know that.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  22. Mary Rouleau

    Mr. Blitzer:

    Two thoughts. First, you have taken the McCain bait. This Obama supporter and former admirer [to the horror of my friends] of McCain believes that Obama was referring to the pandering/change of direction personna of McCain as he pursues the nomination. He has embraced people and positions that he didn't touch with a 10-foot pole in 2000. Second, I just watched the interview w/Lieberman. Yes, I expected a puff piece for McCain, but did you have NO obligation to challenge Lieberman [another political opportunist] when he touted McCain's foreign policy "experience"? After all, it was Lieberman who had to help McCain regain his bearings when distinguishing among Shia, Sunni and Al Queda...

    I hope this isn't an indication of what is to come at the network....

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  23. Adrian

    Wow, of course he was, "I think he's starting to LOSE HIS BEARINGS?"" That is such a loaded comment.
    Obama is so disrespectful, he did it to people of faith, people that believe in the 2nd amendment, to women, now to old folks.

    God save this country from his ilk!

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. Jeff Drake

    September 11th 2001 was a hugely successful and painful terrorist attack. Not a single attack has succeeded since then- showing that the U.S., when vigilant, has little to worry about from terrorists. The Bush administration deserves some credit in this regard.

    However, the administration's actions have also cost more than 4,000 American lives and 50,000 wounded in Iraq. That more than negates the credit for keeping the bad guys out of the U.S.

    McCain's bluster that he would be Hamas' worst nightmare follows the Bush game plan of keeping Americans supporting his policies through the use of fear. Senator McCain does not appreciate that our very presence in Iraq and Kuwait is a recruiting tool for Al Qaeda.

    John McCain is known to be a man of character. In recent months, however, he has been saying things that a man of character would not say. His remarks about Senator Obama and Hamas fall into that category, and in that sense he is losing his bearing. He also seems to be losing his bearing by shifting his positions in a number of areas- all calculated to get elected. This is not the same "straight talk express" that earned the Senator the respect of the American people.

    I still respect John McCain, but in my opinion Senator Obama takes the high road more than any of the other candidate thus far in this election cycle.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Jigoro Kano

    The interpretation is in the mouth of the beholder. You interpret what you want according to how it suits your purposes. A fair translation of losing one's bearing is changing one's demeanor. And this can happen because of age or because of other factors. Obama was responding to an attack but I don't believe he was referring to McCain's age.

    May 9, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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