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. Peter

    Nothing to do with age, McCain camp is just using every opportunity to find an excuse to go back on their word when it comes to a "fair campaign"

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. Was not here

    I think your coverage of the subject is stupid. You are a tool to the so called senior advisor's spin.

    May 9, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Uncle Sam

    John McCain's bearings seem fine to me. I find it interesting that the Obama campaign claims that Pres. Bush's endorsement of Sen. McCain means that they share the same philosophy. Let's see, didn't Hamas endorse Sen. Obama?

    Americans United for McCain '08

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. ca chris

    losing his bearings? that could, I guess, be construed as doddering old fool. now if he had said that mccain is not fit to be commander in chief because he wears depends....

    we had one president already suffering from the onset of alzheimers; we don't need another.

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. Debbie

    Did he know the questions in advance?

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. jb

    This is of course utter nonesense, and I can't believe there's anyone stupid enough to fall for it. It was WAY out of line for McCain to try to link Barack with Hamas, and it's just absurd for him to try to claim the "age card" is being played on him

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. MB in Carolina

    John McCain is OLD and age is definitely a factor in the upcoming election. What does a WHITE, RICH, 70+-YEAR OLD MAN know about the needs of a young African American single parent? NOTHING...............

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Tony

    No one latches on to the comment that Hamas would rather have Obama as Pres.? That one is worse than anything Obama said and in fact, proved his point. We would expect this rhetoric from Bush/Cheney but not the 'maverick' McCain. In any event, it may have been a subtle hint that McCain is a doddering old man, but if the supposed predilections of Hamas is on the table, McCain's age is similarly fair game.

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Stacy Clarks



    DEMOCRATS IN 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Patrick Tate

    Are you really Wolf or do you want to make a non-issue an issue? CNN please post this, I'm tired of all my posts being rejected inspite of good grammar, etc.

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Who is offended now!

    He wasn't referring to McCains age, this is just something for McCain to try and capitalized on the age thing.

    May 9, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Stennis, CA

    If Mark Salter thinks that statement is not a clever way for Obama to address McCains age, then it's not a clever way for McCain to suggest Obama in in bed with the militat Palestinain group Hamas. I am not in politics and don't support anyone as of yet, but I've seen McCain lose his bearing if not toughts a lot of times buy suggesting we went to Iraq for the oil and also when Joe Lieberman corrected him multiple time on Iran issue. Duh!! Mr. Salter get a grip.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Mary

    Why is it racist or divisive for HIllary to state that whites in various states support her, but it is not racist or divisive for Barak to say African Americans in NC supports him? This is unacceptable journalism. CNN lacks critical thought.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Video Guy

    When I heard it, Senator McCain age did not come to mind. I understood Senator Obama as saying that McCain was changing the way he was running the campaign.

    Now that the McCain camp has bought it up, maybe his age is something to be concerned about.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. Ben in KC

    I think it was an absolutely ridiculous jump for the McCain camp to make. I never would have even though about it until the McCain camp brought it up.

    Everyone knows McCain is old, and everyone is going to consider it.

    It's like they think he said "example of his senility as he pursues this nomination"

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. Tony Burroughs

    It had not occurred to me that Obama's comment was at all related to age. I saw it as reflecting more on something that seems to occur more frequently these days in heated campaigns where you will hear candidates say things that you would have previously thought unimaginable. No one really seems completely immune to this.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. Dave

    McCain is too old..what can I say.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Nene

    I watched the entire interview yesterday; and, I do not believe Obama was referencing McCain’s age. In the context of the interview, Obama was simply stating that McCain is not holding true to his decision to not engage mud slinging. The McCain camp needs to remain focused on the issues. Mark Salter’s interpretation of Obama's words is delusional and reflects Salter “lost his bearings.”

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. A True black American for Hillary

    American media is runing crazy .There are a lot of people that are very cray in this contry , the first is the useless , worthless and a brutish American media .Your support for Obama is finally destroying and will finally destroy the DNC. I will ever in my life regret being a member of this party . I am finally going away for ever from this useless party it is filled up with senseless people like Pelosi etc .

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Vicki NH

    I agree with the McCain campaign. Obama was raising the age issue. Obama is very good at subtle smears so he can pretend he didn't intend his comments to sound like an attack.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Janet

    I think that McCain's people really need to look up the meaning of "losing his bearings". It is used as a navigation term in which there is a deviation from a particular direction, such as claiming to not use negativity and then trying to connect Obama with Hamas. And I am very disappointed that you and the other media heads allow this to continue. If you truly want to appear unbias, it is your responsibility to point these things out instead of allowing misconceptions to continue.

    May 9, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. manufactured offence


    I think 'losing bearings' is open to interpretation. I think Obama was implying that McCain used to have policy positions that were more in line with his but now is changing tone and message as the Republican nominee. There is nothing about age there. Salter seems a bit jumpy. If this is a sign of things to come, Obama's team is going to absolutely slay McCain. Whew!

    The way the Obama and McCain campaigns are suddenly going at it, it's like the Clinton-Obama feud, but without the guilt!

    May 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. Ben in TX

    I think the McCain camp might be hard of hearing. American's are ready new leadership and a new kind of politics. What has happened to the McCain of 2000?

    May 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Whether I believe Obama was talking about McCain's age or not is not important because there is nothing McCain can do to change his age and he can't hide it. Boy, if McCain is so sensitive about his age, I'd say he has some serious issues. By the way, where's his medical report.

    May 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Lisa in Cincy

    Now THIS is rediculous. His own campaign is the one that just brought up and made an issue of his age. BUT HE *IS* VERY OLD.

    May 9, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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