May 9th, 2008
01:47 PM ET
10 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)

    No, Obama was not taking a shot at McCain's age. The comment was in reference to him losing his direction (bearing) on which way he said he was going to go in terms of how he was going to run his campaign.

    May 9, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Democrats Rule

    Oh good grief – tempests in teapots – "losing his bearings" does not equate to raising the age issue. I agree with a poster on another thread who posed the possibility that McCain's senior advisor may in fact be "losing his marbles". Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Lee From Treasure Island Florida

    I waited for the interview...and watch you HYPE "Obama even gets angry.", but Obama's comment "lost his bearings" was not a dig to his age....and YOU know it, McCain knows it, its just more SPIN!.
    Bearings are on the "staright talkbus"
    Stop with the frigging spin.
    Obama first was not angry.
    and it was not a remark on age.
    give me a break Wolf.

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

    A person of any age can "loose their bearings". Unfortunately what Mr. McCain tried to do was attach Mr. Obama to a radical organization.

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Inside-out

    This should prove interesting..We can get the republicans to ask what the media are reluctant to ask. Michelles' thesis? The land deal with Rezko? His voting record or lack thereof as a US Senator? His fathers real job in Kenya? Was he born because of Selma? How could Kennedy have brought his father to the US? What is the real theology of the church he attended for 20 years..How much drug use is he refering to in his book? Where is his typical white grandmother? What are his dreams for his fattherland, Africa? Will he push for reparations for Slavery? If Obama is the nominee, write in Hillary Clinton in November…

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. mary cleveland, ohio

    I don't think Obama was taking aim at McCain's age. I think he was stating a fact that could apply to anyone of any age. We can all lose our bearings about things, especially when we are trying to swim in waters way above our head! McCain is going to make alot of news in the months to come. Bad news. He is a war hero because he got caught and imprisioned and lived through it. He has ridden through his career on that accomplishment. Until now. Now, he is going to have to have to THINK for a living.

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. Beverly, NYC

    Obama said nothing about his age. He was talking about his moral bearing, in trying to link Obama to a terrorist organization. Given that we have some people in this country who still think Obama is a muslim. It was a cheap shot and he was right to call him on it.

    By the way McCain you are old, it does not take a high IQ to deduce that. You are 71, it is not the new 30, 40, 50, or 60. It's 71. If you are touchy about your age deal with it.

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. Brandon

    i can't figure out if McCain has gone from tough to sensitive or from straight talk to feigned outrage...

    Either way he is not the man I supported in 2000.

    Obama 08!

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

    Obama and his camp are all hypocrites. They are the first to cry foul if someone takes a shot at their messiah, but they then turn around and pull these stunts. David Axlerod is the equivalent of political herpes.

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Johnny from NY

    i thought it was a pretty clever way, didn't even realize he was undermining the age thing until this thing blew up

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. Joe the Troll

    "This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning."

    This might fool people who didn't see the interview, but I did and it doesn't fool me. People at any age can "lose their bearings." In fact, I expect such a thing from the very young more than those with more years under their belt.

    For myself, I'll take Obama's style of campaigning over the fear tactics that McCain chooses, or the race baiting that the Clinton camp is flirting with, any day.

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

    This has nothing to do with age at all. I wonder if this is paranoia or just really bad spin from McCain's campaign. He either doesn't have a very good control over his campaign, or he is being duplicitous in having them raise issues which he later says are not issues.

    May 9, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Darth Vadik, CA

    Yes and he should, I wouldn't trust McCain to drive a car let alone have the most stressfull job in the world.

    May 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. David in Missouri

    It's a pathetic attempt at spin on the part of Salter, who's desperately attempting to find ANYthing for John McCain to fight against in November. You can't run against Hope & Change, so you run against...insignificant gentle criticisms of your candidate. I predict that despite McCain's claims to dislike negative campaigning, he will do nothing but. He has nothing to run on but Bush's legacy. He can't run as a Republican maverick, because he'll lose the far right wing nutter base, and he can't run as a conservative because he'll lose the independents. So Salter has decided to run on tiny imperceptible glitches in Obama's speeches. Pathetic!

    May 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. Pandering

    McCain needs to take his medications! I see an impending memory problem! What am I running for again? Oh, the presidency....Thanks for reminding me honey.

    May 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. Peter Damoah-Afari

    Suugested Titles of New books:

    1. From The Cold Streets Of IOWA To The White House

    2. Experience vs Change: The Case of Obama and Hillary

    3. How A Young Man Changed Washington And America

    Some sayings about how powerful Obama is after winning in IO:

    2. Obama is a Senator Killer (Mitt Rommey, 2008)

    3. Obama is an Excellent Campaigner (McCain, 2008)

    May 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |

    When in life one loses one's "bearings", it means that you have lost your sense of direction....Just as John McCain has in this case.

    It is something completely different to say 'losing his "marbles"'. That implies the loss of wits and mental faculties...And that is neither what Obama said or implied.

    May 9, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |

    NOW, if Obama had said McCain was losing his MARBLES.....THEN IT WOULD BE A DIFFERENT STORY....The media will try to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Johnny from NY

    but it's good to see the conversation move from clinton to mccain.
    nobody wants clinton to be the president except herself,

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. American

    I really don't like Obama, every time, i just see him put his hands in his pockets, which give me a feeling he is not a diligent person, and just stand beside , watching other people doing everyting. I really like Clinton (or John McCain). Really wish she will win. BTW, Obama heavily rely on black people, which can't represent the whole America.

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Independent

    I personally didn't see "losing his bearings" as an attack on McCain's age. Your bearings are sense of direction, but less literally, your moral or ethical guideposts. McCain has said repeatedly that he won't engage in negative or smear campaigning, and Obama was saying that McCain had shifted his direction, and now was doing something McCain said he wouldn't.

    I think it is a stretch to call that comment an underhanded attack on McCain's age.

    On the other hand, if a Hamas leader did say that Hamas preferred Obama, then Obama should expect that his opponent will bring that up. This is politics, after all, not a kindergarten fight over a jar of paste.

    I think both candidates should toughen up, and stop crying foul every time someone opens their mouth!!!

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. Tim

    Mr. Obama didn't say, "McCain is losing his marbles", which is what my folks like to refer to their aging issues! Is this a card that we will see more of from the McCain campaign? I hope not, as much as any candidate tries not to use their "gender card" or "race card".

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. a REAL American

    The obvious answer is yes, of course he did. I keep hearing (from the usual left-wing children) how he's "too old" to make rational decisions. My grandfather lived to the age of 87 and was sharp as a knife until his last breath. I think I speak for many adults in here (not applicable to millions of Obama's "fans") when I say that age means experience, not just in politics, but in life. Besides, whatever happened to the old saying "respect your elders"? Apparently, Obama's supporters have no clue what that means since it's not coming from a video game or an ipod.

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. Unbelievable

    Well we should be used to this Republican style of mincing words and trying to make them be what they want – since Clinton has been doing it throughout this campaign.

    I think this was a very feeble attempt at the McCain team to draw away criticism from the fact that their candidate and campaign has made a major blunder in trying to equate support from Hamas to how Obama will be as President. That was a ridiculous attempt by the McCain team and I think they are regretting, and they used Obama's comments as a way to deflect outrage over their tactics.

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. Jordan, NY

    Obama routinely refers to McCain's Straight Talk Express "losing it's way" or "veering off course." To say that McCain is "losing his bearings" is clearly another way of using the same metaphor. The most appalling thing about this story is that this phrase is in no way synonymous with "losing his marbles," which is the phrase that Salter is pretending to take offense to.

    May 9, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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