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. Glory

    First of all McCain is OLD, I don't think that is a secret. He even said he is older than dirt (of course a lie) but he is older than Coke and every fast food joint on the face of the earth. Losing is bearing is related to his straight talk express. The wheels are coming off and boy he is getting desperate... Hamas and Obama. Next Osama is a big fan of Obama.

    May 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Shane

    Every word Obama says they dissect and try to twist it. Anyway the guy is old, and yes I said it. He's too old to be the President. How can McCain go back on word when it comes to the Bush tax cuts.

    May 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Cheryl

    Senator Obama simply responded to an attack on hisself and all of a sudden "losing his bearings" is a slam on McCain's age?! I thought he was being rather nice about it myself. I have said that McCain has a major bolt lose on more than one occasion! Somehow I don't think Obama was trouncing the old guy's age, just his slimey mentality for making such a comment. If you did not want a response, you should not have asked the question. What is he going to say?! "Oh yeah, me and those hamas dudes are really tight ya know?" DUH!!! *rolling my eyes*

    May 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. sheep

    touchy ????to me thats a negative reply like there defending his age why do they have to ??are they worried?if so why are they so worried that they fell they have to defend his age?my father is 80 and could out work alot of 5o year olds ,,ive never felt conpelled to defend him when someoone says something about him ..all there doing is drawing attention to AGE..

    May 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Sherriea Collins

    Losing his bearings could mean allot of things. Why can the republicans always say what they want, but as soon as a democrat makes the slightest comment its always, transfered to something super negetive. Why is'nt anyone talking about what Macain said to bring on the statement anyway. Mcain was wrong for making the Hamas Statement.

    May 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. Mistake by McCain

    This is McCain's campaign trying to take the focus off of them since they are guilty of smearing. Do we really care who Hamas wants as president?

    May 9, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Nicole, Atlanta

    I think that it is absolutely ridiculous that the McCain camp would accuse Obama of targeting McCain's age because he said "losing his bearings". I have been hearing my mom use that phrase for years in reference to herself and I have used it referring to myself. It simply means that a person is a little confused or off course a bit. It has nothing to do with age, anyone of any age can "lose their bearings". I think the McCain camp is just trying to stir up some controversy or maybe trying to use this to discourage seniors from voting for Obama.

    May 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Matt

    No, it had nothing to do with age (although I personally am concerned with the Senator's age). In fact, one may lose their bearings at any point in their life. Just as the teenager who rebels against their parents is self-destructive, John McCain's efforts to unify a Republican Party and garnish the support of conservatives (and, in turn, using tactics they are comfortable and familiar with) have made him lose his bearings as to what he has claimed for many years are important.

    May 9, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    I strongly agree. This is Obama's technique. Mean something but say it in such a way that if your back is up against the wall, the terminology can be change to mean something else.

    May 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. LisaSF

    I think the McCain campaign is a little too sensitive on the age issue. You can use the phrase "lost his bearings" to refer to a crazy statement of a person of any age. And by the way, saying that Hamas has a preference in the U.S election is crazy. As far as Hamas is concerned, Obama, McCain, Bush, Clinton, . . . they are all the same to them, all evil in their opinion. This all underscores how little he understands the dynamics at play in the middle east. Saying McCain "lost his bearings" is pretty polite . . . I would have said he is a complete idiot if he thinks that.

    May 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Kev, Golden, CO

    When I first heard the remark, I can honestly say that McCain's age did not even cross my mind.

    I took it to mean that McCain has been moving away from the things that made people like myself admire him in the past, such as clean campaigning (his Hamas comments are out of line) and opposing the Bush administration on matters of principle (irresponsible tax cuts, torture, etc). I may have been fooled back then, but he's no longer the McCain that I admired.

    May 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. Brian

    Wolf. This is so stupid. It's petty and indicative of children on a school yard with name calling. Obama CLEARLY was stating he is losing his bearings in respect to his control over how he thinks about topics. McCain's people were just sitting there, WAITING FOR SOMETHING and it never came. I think that to Obama's point the other day, they have nothing left to say or find on him and they have to reach. Quite simply, they are not used to having a politician who they have trouble picking on. It also further supports Obama's message of change. If McCain and his people think this is going to work in the general...let them look at Hillary's efforts to bad mouth Obama and those results. Focus on issues, not each other. Let American's decide on your principles who they want. We are all SICK of this back and forth...hey, if it's not allowed on the school yard, it shouldn't be allowed in this campaign.

    May 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Mike in Manchester NH

    I don't think he did it intentionally. It does however raise in interesting question, clearly a candidates race or gender should have no impact on whether or not they should be considered for the presidency, but is it neccessarily correct to extend that blanket to age. I think the fact that Sen. McCain is 71 years old IS a valid issue. I'm not saying it means he shouldn't be president and he has certainly shown he has the energy to keep up with anybody this primary season but I think it's a fair thing to take into consideration.

    May 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. womensgroup

    Wolf reminds me of a scandal sheet editor! Always sniffing and trying to dig up dirt....NOT news or clarifications.
    CNN and Blitzer do more to divide and stir up trouble in the U.S.A
    than even the candidates.

    May 9, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. Kristina, Seattle

    Oh of course not. I think John McCain's just getting a little paranoid... (in his old age...)

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. Toni - Atlanta

    Wolf, I heard the interview (which BTW was great). I certainly didn't find the comment to be age-based, but rather related to the tone of McCain's campaign. For the McCain camp to try and perceive it as being so makes me believe that McCain's age is not only a very sensitive issue for them but also a real concern.

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  17. Rick Ruenes

    Obama's comment of McCain, “losing his bearings" doesn't bother me... what bothers me is Joe Liberman saying "I checked McCain's bearings today"? Huh? How good of friends are they?...

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  18. aceclub

    The comment to me implied that McCain was losing his stance or position on running a fair campain. As it gets closer to the general election every word will begin to get bent and analyzed and multiple directions.

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. og_77

    I think that the McCain camp pulled this trigger way too early. They are so anious to get running against an actual opponent that they are showing that their strategy is to attack Obama by crying foul and try to retain the moral high ground. Not very deceptive seeing as they can't wait to deploy this clever strategy. To use it in this case shows little patience.

    Where is the John McCain of old? Pandering to the far right might cost him big. If the middle is up for grabs he should be the guy that got him there and stake out the moral high ground for real.

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. Skekat

    What dictionary are you people using for the meaning of the word bearings????
    Mine says nothing about age (or ref. to losing ones marbles) that you in the media and McCain seem to indicate. McCain, as a
    military man should know if you lose your bearings you will never
    reach your destination..

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. yj

    FYI, losing one bearings means to become bewildered.
    Hillary wants the white votes... and McCain the old white votes.

    The presidency is not about race, age or gender!! It about ISSUES!

    GO OBAMA08!!

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Robert

    It is clear to me he was refering to McCain's (and his wife's) insistence they will NOT run a negative campaign, and then in the same breath utter such an offensive point. Obama was being nice; I don't think McCain lost his bearings, I think he was obviously insincere in the first place. And Salter's comments are just more of the same. Talk about hypocrisy!!

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. Krystyn

    I think McCain's age is more relevant than what Obama's pastor had taken out of context and plastered all over the media.

    Although, I don't think it was a swipe at his age, maybe his faculties, but not his age. Desperation from McCain's campaign is all this is. His age IS an issue, so they're very sensitive to it.

    Why couldn't Obama talk about that? Health is tied to age and health is always a factor in a candidate. Ask Bob Dole.

    May 9, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. Brandon

    A refrence to Hamas is one of the worst attacks of words anyone could say. To say the someone is losing their bearings is an attack . . . come on.

    May 9, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  25. Joshua

    McCain will try to do the same thing that Clinton has done, go after the older vote.

    May 9, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
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