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. Dan

    I think this is more political games that simply mince words instead of talking about real issues. I think McCain and the media need to grow up and start focusing on what really matters.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. F. Wheeler

    I watched the interview live and I got the impression that Obama was referring to McCain's bearings along the trail of the positive campaign McCain insists he will run. From the rabid and rapid response McCain's camp you get a glimpse of the conservative political war machine foaming at the mouth for Obama.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  3. Wayne Daley

    I think McCain is losing more than his bearings.POOR CINDY.

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

    If this is what the McCain camp think is going to derail Obama, there are really small potatoes compared to him and are in the fight of their life.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. machiavelli; Bagton Rouge, LA

    I heard the remarks Obama made, and I heard nothing that remotely sounded like a reference to McCain's age. What, does someone in the McCain campaign have an issue with his age–some kind of complex? People of all ages lose their bearings for whatever reasons; therefore, what does Obama's statement have to do with McCain's age?

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. Brook

    McCain is loosing his bearings though. He is out of touch with todays Americans and economy.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. John - Orlando Florida

    Interesting .......Age Matters...If we have an age limit for example for commercial pilots how can we possibly elect the older candidate to the most powerful and stressful job in the world ..Common Sense ??

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. Helene

    Why is the McCain campaign so upset about this ? Unless they are so sensitive about his age that they call attention to it ...

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. Hillary for President

    Well that is Obama, when he is in truble , he start to said this is "offensive" look what he said to Rev. Write before he said he was family , then said he dishonered him, you never dishonored your family!!! point? Obama is not onest.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Jason

    Obama today said he had been to 57 states. Maybe he is losing his bearings. 6 supreme court justices are over 70. Justice Scalia is older than McCain. Colin Powell is over 70. 23 U.S senators are older than McCain including Diane Feinstein. Ron Paul is older than McCain. Speaker Pelosi is only a few years younger than McCain and so was Bush Sr as president.

    May 9, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. Mike - Texas

    The truth of the matter is that Hamas DID make that statement.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  12. BettyBoo

    Maybe McCain and camp thought Obama said...

    'Losing His HEARING'

    Now that would be playing the 'age-card'

    Give me break, McCain knows Obama didn't mean to attack his age, I see the dirty poliTRICKS are beginning. *SIGH*

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  13. Nina

    I think Senator McCain is being a bit sensitive about his age and has clearly overreacted.

    OBAMA '08

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. Dr. Powers

    Wolf, give it a rest. If this is all you can focus on from the broad interview, you have lost your bearing as well.

    The mistake is Senator Obama's. I do not understand why he bothers to grant generious interview with you, a suporter of HRC, who at every turn looks for ways to hghlight non issues in to issues for Obama.


    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  15. JA Cook

    Without thinking about his age at all, I agree that McCain has lost his direction and is caught up in pandering (gas holiday) and saying whatever it takes to appease his current audience.

    Apparently his campaign is overly sensitive about his age and THEY are the ones that brought it to everyone's attention in this case.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Andy

    Now if he said "Losing his Marbles" I'd think that was age related.

    Losing his bearings relates to this piece in a way that suggests McCain is "going off track" in his effort to not run a dirty campaign.

    Anyways McCain is old as dirt, Looks old as dirt, and sounds old as dirt. Don't tell me the media isn't going to bring it up daily. I mean come on this is America we want a handsome (or at least not ancient) and socially exciting president.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Mike from Michigan

    I never thought of it as a reference to age until the McCain campaign brought it up. I thought "losing his bearings" meant that he knows what a fine man Senator McCain is and that his Hamas comments are inconsistent with that kind of character. Senator Obama seemed to suggest that Senator McCain can change course and get back to a tone that reflects well on the kind of man he really is.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  18. joe






    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. Joe Kasiak

    I believe it is a predictable reach by the McCain camp. Barack used the phrase in terms of McCain losing his ethical "bearings." He was criticizing McCain for making negative comments and fear-mongering, when McCain has gone on record as stating he wouln not campaign in that manner.

    Clearly, Mr. McCain will try to win at all costs, just as Ms. Clinton did in the primary. It is for this reason that I am excited for an Obama presidency. It holds the promise of a new type of politician. One who tells us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  20. O'REILLY: Did you vote for President bush?

    McCAIN "Of course not. I campaigned all over this country for him" That right there my friends sounds like a man who has lost his bearings and that has nothing to do with his age.

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

    NO, it was taken totally out of content and everyone is trying to make a big deal of it. They need to be focused on Hilary's "working, hard working, white workers, who are uneducated". If I was supporting her I would be very offended! But hey since I'm educated I guess I'm doing the right thing and not voting for her.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  22. Peter

    First off, I am an Obama supporter, so I am going to come across as biased no matter what. I can see how someone might interpret the term 'losing his bearings' as a reference to senility. Key word here being interpret. One can spin anything into a new meaning depending on how you load your retort. I too have lost my bearings on subjects from time to time and I'm 28. It's called a moment of weakness. Being unaware of that which we ought to be aware. Especially if you are looking to be president. McCain has shown us time and again that it's not his age but his lack of knowledge about key current events, that is his failing.

    McCain has some strong political advisers working for him now. Key word there being Now. So these types of interpretations will come along at ever increasing speed as Obama or Hillary approaches the actual nomination. With the full force of the GOP machine behind him, McCain will be able to fair better as time goes on. With the full force of the Democrats' machine behind, hopefully the candidate won't have to resort to what Salter calls "the oldest kind of politics."

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. Jake

    Sounds like the McCain camp is pretty sensitive to the age issue. His reference to hypocrisy sending out surrogates is certainly the "pot calling the kettle black!" as my mama used to say.

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

    I watched the interview and didn't pick that out of it

    He could have meant that, but I doubt he did

    But then again Mccain is old as dirt

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. Mama Sue, Chicago, Illinois

    I thought Obama meant McCain's moral bearings, that he said he was going to take the high road in his campaign, but was now taking the low. I guess McCain and his camp are a little sensitive on the age issue. Or, maybe they just want to attack Obama...

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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