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. Samantha

    Of course not.

    Here comes round two of the 'adult media' acting like kids in a schoolyard again.

    Please, grow up Wolf! Be a man. And tell you collegues to grow up as well.

    How about being a true patriot, a warrior, for once in your lives and actually HELP this country become a better place.

    At least this one year. This one election. Just help us out for one election cycle is all that we ask. Don't ruin this election with distractions and trivial instigations.

    These are serious times. Perhaps the most serious in recent history. Although your life doesn't reflect it, we have people dying, losing everything they have, jobs, homes, everything.

    Please Wolf. Please.

    May 9, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Pete

    The argument of Obama's comments being "age-ist" is ridiculous. If he had said the McCain was "losing his marbles", then that would be a different story. By McCain "losing his bearings" implied that he has lost his way politically and is going off in the wrong direction. Either McCain's camp is trying to make mountains out of molehills, or somebody's a little sensitive about his age.

    May 9, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Gary

    Typical of the McCain (and Clinton) camps to throw mud and call foul when the target responds. McCain is losing his bearings and is not in touch with the American people. While it may have nothing to do with his age, even he has to admit that his age IS a factor and needs to be considered. McCain's comments about Obama in regards to Hamas are unethical and downright "dirty" politics. The worst kind of politics old or new. So McCain throws mud and then throws more mud when he doesn't like the response. McCain and Clinton need to raise the bar and talk issues or policies and learn to expect / accept a response when they try to smear a candidate. Talk about a hypocritical candidate-look in the mirror!!!

    May 9, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. Ben

    How is "losing his bearings" worse then consistently promoting "Obama has been endorsed by Hamas" when he doesn't accept the endorsement and is just another wedge issue. Come on CNN lets talk about the issues not gossip.

    May 9, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. Amy

    I think he was referring to McCain losing his grip on the election... That he is not as ahead as he thinks he is and is clinging to ridiculous statements by terrorist organizations as way to continue putting fear in people... Very similar to the way that George Bush got himself into office the second time around... The Republicans are only concerned with their own agendas and will use whatever means necessary, including trying to call Obama the terrorists candidate, to stay in power.

    May 9, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Michelle

    It's preposterous...and simply points out they're on the defensive about the age issue

    May 9, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Randall

    First of all, these are not John McCain's words. He was merely doing what you do, report news.

    Here is what Mr. McCain was referring to –

    During an interview on WABC radio Sunday, top Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef said the terrorist group supports Obama’s foreign policy vision.

    “We don’t mind–actually we like Mr. Obama. We hope he will (win) the election and I do believe he is like John Kennedy, great man with great principle, and he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community but not with domination and arrogance.”

    Randall
    Georgia

    May 9, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. Douglas Burden

    I find it hiarious that the GOP wants to denounce Senator Obama for negative campaigning or negative comments. He told the truth. Senator McCain is losing his bearings. Have you seen him in action lately? I am 61 years old and a Vietnam Veteran myself, and there is no way I can support Mcain and his ideas. And as far as all the so-called democrats who call themselves Reagan-democrats, they are Republicans who can't afford to live like the normal Republicans. The Reagan-Democrats are the same people who left the party in 1968 to join George Wallace. Make no mistake about it. I actually respect those who come out and say that they will not vote for Obama because he is black.
    I don't agree with them, but at least they are being honest. The hypocrites are those who refuse to acknowledge that their opposition to Obama is based on the color of his skin.

    May 9, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  9. steve in mn

    I didn't find anything offensive in Obama's remarks. I don't think saying that someone is "loosing his bearings" necessarily implies old age. I do, however, find McCain's reaction was indicative of his sensitivity about his age and, like it or not, it will be a real issue in the upcoming election. McCain needs to find a better way of making people feel comfortable about his age rather than simply yelling "foul play" every time the issue (and it is a real issue) is brought up.

    May 9, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. jeff

    seriously though.

    he is old. mcain, i mean.
    no really......o-l-d.

    i know people that old........i would never vote for those people.....
    for any public office.

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. terri, montana

    Whhaaattttt? Good thing the McCain campaign explained what "losing his bearings" meant, otherwise I would have never guessed that it had anything to do with his age. I think they are grasping at straws to find something to attack Obama with.

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Allen deLuca - Florida

    Yes, he has made several subtle hints of McCain's age so far in this campaign. He probably thinks no one has noticed. The older folks in this country had better notice what with Obama's talk of "experimental government" and "change"....

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. Alimi

    Why are you surprised? It is called pre-emptive strike. Let Obama come out, as he had done, and deny it, then if Obama refers in future to McCain's age, they will come back at him and say that he had denied making age an issue. Clever ploy, one for the McCains.

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  14. Dan , TX

    Both sides need to stop and take a breath. What are the important issues again? I'm voting based on issues, not age, religion, patriotism, or any other crap. Both men are extraordinarily talented patriots. That is not an issue. What are their philosophies of government and the role of the government in the lives of its citizens? What are their philosophies of the role of our country in the world? Those are the issues that matter. Period.

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  15. Hillary/McCain

    Yes he was taking aim at his age. That's exactly what I thought when I heard it. He's doing the same thing he did to Hillary. He likes to run a negative campaign. If Hillary doesn't win the nomination, I and my family members will vote for McCain. Obama is a sneaky politician with a very bad background. He can't be trusted.

    PA-voter

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. Gary

    Typical of the McCain (and Clinton) camps to throw mud and call foul when the target responds. McCain is losing his bearings and is not in touch with the American people. While it may have nothing to do with his age, even he has to admit that his age IS a factor and needs to be considered. McCain's comments about Obama in regards to Hamas are unethical and downright "dirty" politics. The worst kind of politics old or new. So McCain throws mud and then throws more mud when he doesn't like the response. McCain and Clinton need to raise the bar and talk issues or policies and learn to expect / accept a response when they try to smear a candidate. Talk about a hypocritical candidate-look in the mirror!!!

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  17. Johnjones

    Probably he wasn't, at least not much. Obama was taking more of a swipe at McCain losing his moral and ethical bearings. The idea that a Hamas "endorsement" should be taken seriously is odius and unworthy of a person of McCain's stature. Obama was correct to point out that McCain's "straight talk" was turning as twisty and foul as that from the Serpant in the Garden of Eden.

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. Sean

    No! It was not an age comment. Not even by stretching the comment can it even be made such!

    May 9, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  19. Greg-St. Louis

    From listening to the question and then the answer and how it was presented... It does not sound or appear in any way that Obama was attacking his age. It appears to me as though the McCain campaign at this point is attempting to engage the Obama campaign so that they can get on with campaigning for the general election, and make sure they allow themselves enough time to smear and damage Obama's name.

    May 9, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Danny

    Obviously, it has nothing to do with age. It has to do with Senator McCain adopting more and more of the "Republican attack dog" tactics and moving farther right as he seeks to gain the support of the Republican party, most of which reluctantly nominated him.

    May 9, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  21. Jeff

    This is just the sort of deliberate misinterpretation we expect from politicians, and goes to prove Senator Obama's point that McCain will stoop to the same old tricks.

    May 9, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Gail Ketchmark

    I did not think Obama's comment was referring to McCain's age when I first heard it. I interpreted the comment to mean that McCain was losing his ethical bearings in using smear tactics in his reference to Hamas. I think the comment is subject to interpretation and, naturally, McCain and his supporters would choose the more 'negative' one, as if ethical lapses don't matter.

    May 9, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. No More Years, Lake Forest CA

    A swipe at his age? Really? Wow. Wonder if Salter pulled a groin muscle making that much of a stretch

    Sounds like his campaign is a bit hyper-sensitive and worried about the age issue. I took Obama's statement as meaning that he'd lost his way and had strayed from the high road. If he had said that McCain was trying to tell him to get off his lawn, then I could see it.

    May 9, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. Chotzie

    Mr. Blitzer,

    I never thought for one moment about McCain's age when Senator Obama made the comment.

    I believe "losing his bearing" to Senator Obama meant that maybe McCain is not in as strong a position to win the White House as HE may have thought. However, Mr. McCain,..."if the shoe fits, your nurse can help you put it on"!

    May 9, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. Dee

    To me he ment that he had lost his way. I woul never in a million years think that he was talking about his age.

    May 9, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
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