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. Rose - Baltimore, MD

    What do you think Blitzer? I don't think he stoops that low. He is not in the kind of business.

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

    Hell no. I do not think so.

    May 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. Carolyn Mitchell

    Yep, Salter had it right. That's exactly what Obama does! He did it
    with Hillary and now with McCain. Obama's nothing but the same
    'tired, old politics' to steal a phrase from Sen. Change, himself!

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

    I tell my mother all the time that she is loosing her barings. She has no sense of direction and can get lost in a parking lot. The phrase has nothing to do with her age and I agree with the way Obama said it. McCain is looisng his barings if he thinks the economy is safe and the war efferts need to last 100 years. He has lost his direction and fr this I di not feel safe that he should be our president.

    May 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. David, AZ

    The response by the McCain campaign shows their sensitivity to Mr. McCain's age and that they know it will be a factor in the election. If they accuse Obama of making it an issue, then it makes HIM look like the biased bad guy. I watched your interview and when he made the comment, that interpretation never crossed my mind. McCain may be losing it after all.

    May 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. you said what?

    To me, "losing your bearing" means that you have lost your direction. I have never heard that term used in relation to getting older... just going the wrong direction from where you need to go. Now if Obama had said that McCain was getting senile... that would be an insult. It sounds like McCain's staff is very uneasy about his age and looking for mention of it anywhere- even when it isn't there.

    May 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. Pandering

    Duh? Wolf, you were interviewing the guy...then you are asking such a stupid question? The question should be.... Is John McCain for real??

    May 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Luke

    No, simply put, he wasn't. Obama said "loss of bearings" which means directions. That does not imply an addled brain, rather Obama pointed out that McCain said he would not use smear tactics, and sent out mailers explioiting a Hamas statement.

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

    Of course Barack doesn't need to lower himself to that level, what's the use of talking about his age ?? he respects McCain and he respects every American, Hillary including, he's not interested in the old politics of attacks and negative ads, he really doesn't need to talk about McCain's age, he doesn't need that.

    McCain himself is not comfortable with his own age, especially now that he's running for the presidency, he's been waiting for that for so long, after the kitchen sink campaign Bush run against him in 2000...

    May 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. melikeyhill

    wolf c'mon you and i both know what obama was talking about, he in no way was referring to mccains age, just his policies....mcsame is being silly.....

    May 9, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. Tyler from Canada

    This has nothing to do with age – McCain has lost touch with what once made him appealling to voters. It seems rich (and not elite rich) that his surrogate is making these claims about Obama. I think McCain has done a good enough job of reminding people of his age and mental capacity – Obama doesn't need to do it.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. Nick

    Bearing is a direction. Although the comments from the McComplain people sounds like a squeaky wheel whose bearings need to be PAC'd with a little GOP grease.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Kathy - Illinois

    It doesn't take reading between the lines, just an understanding of idioms...he was referring to John McCain losing his relative position on the issue. No surprise that words are being picked apart. It would be nice if those seeking the White House would have a basic understanding of the English language. Why should things change in the Republican Party from where they are now? Go Obama!

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. valentine

    macain is out of his mind.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. NY Independent

    Was Obama taking aim at McCain's age? Was McCain taking aim at Obama's race? These are two questions we will ask ourselves many times till November.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Ben

    McCain has flipped on many issues in recent years (tax cuts, torture, his vote for Bush) and "losing his bearings" means that one becomes bewildered. Age can be implied as a factor, but anyone can "lose their bearings". So the McCain campaign is being very sensitive about the age issue. We know McCain is old, and the McCain camp knows it will be an issue in the fall, so they are on the defensive at all times on this issue.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Niky

    I didn't think he was attacking McCain's age... maybe McCain's team is over-conciousabout his age 'touchy... must we say'.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Larrry

    The old man is getting very grouchy...McCain is OLD

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. TL

    I didn't take it as an age comment. Although age is a real issue and I think it should be talked about.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Spencer Velott, Oregon

    That is reaching at anything to make a stink! I never once considered age as an issue with McCain until his campaign mentioned it. I actually don't think McCain is that bad, but c'mon... we're stretching here folks.

    May 9, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Chuck Murphy

    Whether or not Senator Obama was attempting to raise Senator McCain's age is irrelevant. McCain's age is a legitimate issue. McCain's rights and interests are also irrelevant. What must control in such cases is what is in the people's interest – and the fitness of any candidate for the presidency is a matter of concern. As people age health concerns accumulate and the people have a right to consider the facts of human mortality. John McCain may think he will live as long as his mother but there are no guarantees.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Jimbo

    Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black to me. Oops, sorry - that metaphor could take CNN off on a month long racism investigation couldn't it!

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Mark

    So, cann't Obama respond to John't smear? Hello, John, could you tell us how you would respond to that kind of smear?

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    McCain/AARP 08

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. Bayou Joe

    When you only have speeches to offer and no real solutions, the best strategy is to deride the opponent. This worked with Hillary, but it will not work with Senator John S. McCain (Decorated Vietnam Veteran).

    Go ahead and bring up his age. Age equals Wisdom. Something Obama does not have. Age equals judgment.. something Obama does not have.

    We are not as dumb as the Obama people think we are. The Hillary Democrats and the Moderate Republicans will put McCain over the top in every state.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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