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)
  1. Robert

    I think he meant MORAL bearings.

    I love McCain, but I agree with Obama on this point.

    May 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Fed up in California

    Uhhhh....if you're stating the truth, it's not a smear. it's stating a fact. McCain is old as dirt. It would be like McCain calling Obama an African American, and Obama's campaign writing an outraged memo stating that it was an obvious slur to be called that.

    My father is a psychologist who specializes in military delayed stress syndrome and geriactrics (old people). He's told me that delayed stress syndrome is often brought out by stress (it isn't always nightmares about combat...sometimes it's just odd behavior). He's watched McCain carefully, and says he is displaying both signs of delayed stress syndrome and the onset of senility.

    McCain is an honorable man who has sacrificed a great deal for this country during his military service, and continued to do great things once he has returned. The fact, however that he's too stressed, and getting on in years, cannot be ignored. And if he and his staffers think the phrase "losing his bearings" is a slap at his age, then perhaps they are overly sensitive to the issues of age. Getting brittle about perceived insults at this point in the campaign (before it's even really started) doesn't bode well for the health of McCain's campaign in the long run.

    May 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. Kel in Auburn, AL

    They had nothing to do with his age. Obama was merely pointing out that McCain has been flip-flopping over some issues.

    This is just another example of how people have been trying to spin everything Obama says.

    May 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Had Enough In Florida

    Thats the way Socialist work- look every where they have gone in the World they destroy the people and the culture- be careful what you wish for America.

    We may find ourselves in the position of having to take back our country by FORCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 9, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Ron Wojtkowski

    I am tired of "waiting to be offended" crowd. The media should lambast McCain for such a gross over reaction.

    May 9, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. SamSunny

    Wow, McCain sure does whine a lot. He talks Reverened Wright, Hamas, no experience. But let Obama say anything slightly suggestive and McCain yells "foul". So much for McCain not going Negative, and that's what Obama meant about his bearings. Besides, McCain is old. I am ten years younger than McCain, and I am old.

    May 9, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. John

    Obama has no right to smear the reputation of ANYONE based on age. After what he did to my democratic vote in Florida, I want him to know, we Floridians do not forgive or forget.

    May 9, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. csimp

    Hello, is anybody there? He is old.

    May 9, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. McCain Clinton 08

    I think America has "become familiar with Senator McCain's old brand of politics, first he demands civility from his opponent, then he attacks him, distorts (him), sends out surrogates to question his integrity"...
    It is called "McCain's presidential campaign, and it truly is the oldest kind of politics there is, because it is coming from one of the oldest politicians there is!

    May 9, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Lee WV

    No I didn't link any remark with age.If someone acused me of backing terrorism I would be highly offended too.

    May 9, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. Remi

    Tell the Republicans that, complaining will not make Mcain young. He is old. 71 years old is not young. If they have a problem with that, they can change their nominee. He is old, he represents the past.... Obama didn't talk about Mcain's age, I think the Republicans themselves feel unconfortable with Mcain cause he is OLD.

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. J.Johnson

    This is a crappy issue and you should not dignify it with this question. And Leiberman has become a nutcase!

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Douglas

    It sounds more like Obama was referring to McCain's tempers, not his age. Anyway, either appears to me to be a much more legitimate consideration to voters than race.

    So Salters comments apply more to his own comments than to Obama's.

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

    Looks like McCain's people are revealing their vulnerability before it need be addressed. I saw the interview, and I hardly think Obama's sentiments were "hypocrisy". However, McCain's side might really be losing their barrings now.

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Michelle

    I think it's clear from the context that "losing his bearings" refers to McCain's loss of focus on the clean campaign that he said he was going to run. Interesting that the McCain campaign went this way with Obama's comments. Methinks the senator doth protest too much.

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Richard

    I give Sen. Obama credit for quick-wittedness, being Sen. McCain is a previous Naval officer, losing ones bearings in that context is more plausible than thinking that Sen. Obama does not know the difference between "marbles" and "bearings."

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. Tim From sacramento

    I think the McCain camp is reaching for something right now to discredit Obama. Unfortunatley It has nothing. They threw the first shat by suggesting that Obama favors Hamas. Obama merly responded to their initial attack. They say hipocracy. How can you call the other guy a hipocryt when you were the first to throw stones?

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. MB

    No I dont think so...

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. RB

    Oh, please. The only thing that is linked to "age" is that John McCain has obviously "forgotten" everything he learned as a military officer. He knows that we counsel young men/women every day on "losing their bearing". It means (in case John McCain is having another senior moment) that one has lost situational awareness and is not conducting him/herself as an officer, or military member. i.e. saying things that serve no meaningful purpose, which is what McCain did.

    OBTW, tell "Lap Puppy Joe Lieberman" to go back and sit in his corner! He obviously doesn't know what loss of bearing means.

    CT, is this the guy you voted for???

    May 9, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Alex in Cali

    Losing his bearings means losing one's way or origional direction. I think that they are either confusing it with losing one's marble or just trying to pull a political misdirect. In the case of the former, it was origionally a nautical term, so you think a navy man like McCain would be familliar with it.

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

    Wolfe, GIie me a break!!! I can't believe you are allowing anyone to make anything of this. What about the comments Hillary made about making the claim that she is the most electable because she is getting the majority of the white votes. That is a much bigger issue, something that should not ever come out of the mouth of a candidate that is running for the presidency!! Something that many people have taken great offense to. Give that some air time. Why you give Lieberman any air time at all is unbelievable, a total turncoat, who did so only to make sure he remained in politics.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. rick

    It is old school politics at it's best, The McCain camp is trying grab on to anything they can smear Obama, I am 37 and I lose my bearing sometimes. The McCain should stick to issues, and stop grasping at straws.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. American Politics

    What is the big deal even if he did aimed at his age. The guy is old and that is a fact.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  24. Jim

    I don't think it had anything to do with age. I believe he was refering to McCain being *off course* and needing to get back on track.

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  25. jim

    how did you take it at the time, Wolf?

    I didn't think of McCain's age at all when Obama said that. I voted for the OLD McCain in the 2000 primary. This NEW McCain is a Bush in sheep's clothing...reminds me of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Very sad...

    May 9, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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