August 1st, 2008
07:15 AM ET
4 years ago

Obama camp says McCain tactics worse than Rove's

Obama's campaign said the latest McCain ad is beyond Karl Rove's playbook.
Obama's campaign said the latest McCain ad is beyond Karl Rove's playbook.

(CNN) - Few names inspire more of a heated reaction among Democrats than Karl Rove, and Barack Obama’s campaign is making a concerted effort Thursday to link the former Bush advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign.

On a campaign conference call with reporters responding to the Arizona senator's latest television ad, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the spot is worse than anything Rove would have developed.

"This is not the John McCain voters thought they would be seeing in this presidential campaign," Plouffe said. "He's not just embracing the Rove playbook that people really are tired of, he's taking it to a further extreme."

Those comments came only hours after Plouffe circulated a fundraising e-mail to supporters in which he said McCain's campaign had taken a "nasty turn” with its "Karl Rove-style ploy."

"This Karl Rove-style ploy misleads people about Barack's energy plan and even mocks his ability to inspire voters and bring Americans back into the political process," Plouffe wrote in the e-mail.

The television ad in question compares Obama's celebrity status to that of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and questions whether the Illinois senator is "ready to lead." Obama dismissed the ad as "game playing" Thursday while McCain said he was "proud of it."

Watch: McCain ad compares Obama to Paris Hilton, Britney Spears

Rove has no official role with the McCain campaign, though Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser in charge of the day-to-day message, was a longtime protégé of Rove's.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain • Karl Rove
soundoff (219 Responses)
  1. Dave

    Obama keeps playing his sleezy games as he did with Hillary. He keeps playing the race card while acting as though he is the victim. This is soon to all catch up with him.

    Hillary 08
    Go Mccain

    August 1, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  2. Tired of the jabs

    This guy is pathetic.. This is your best shot... Come on people wake up

    August 1, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  3. Carol - Litchfield CT

    "All's Fair" – yadda yadda yadda yadda ! Get over it Obama ! Suck up like the " real " celebrities do. Move on.

    August 1, 2008 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  4. Wayne

    Is there a reason for this story being posted TWICE on the Ticker, other than CNN's obvious bias in favor of Obama?

    August 1, 2008 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  5. linda

    Not only are McCain's ads misleading, some are nothing but lies. Do we need another president that tells us lies.

    August 1, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  6. Luann Brutus

    Why does the media think that anybody really cares about Karl Roves opinions. I don't get it, there is no living human being that respects this man.

    August 1, 2008 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  7. BWM

    The McCain ad can be interpreted in many ways. In my opinion, McCain is saying to the american people that even though Obama is arrogant, considered a celebrity, but he is no Hilton or Spears, he is still BLACK and must not be misconstrued. It appears that McCain has repeatedly played the race card.
    McCain would do anything to divert people away from the real issues, because he is an empty suit.

    Go OBAMA

    August 1, 2008 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  8. NPA

    This is an election. All is fair game - especially for McCain who has nothing to lose. If Obama's tactic is to talk about McCain's "unfair" attacks, then that too is part of the game. McCain knows he can't win; but he can get Obama to lose. Such are the cards.

    As it is, as far as smears go, the American people have set the bar much higher for Obama than for McCain; McCain is free to smear. This is a democracy; may the people follow their whim. This election is not about the economy or the war or healthcare or any sort of substantive issues. It's about Obama. This election is about how the American people feel about electing a black, super-intellectual but inexperienced candidate whose middle name is Hussein.

    August 1, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  9. deliseo-hartford, ct

    He has no choice but to be negative because he has no positive energy what so ever. I never seen such a boring candidate. I'm sure their staff will continue to chew in on every tactic possible and his negative outpours are going to turn against him just like Hillary.
    I'm really looking forward to the debates because that will show just how boring McCain is.

    August 1, 2008 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  10. Jonathan, Hartford, CT

    For all of his Campaign riches and celebrity status, why is Obama not doing better in the polls? PUMA PUMA PUMA!

    August 1, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  11. Dee

    Why shouldn't McSenile embrace Rovian tactics. The mainstream media loves it, the tactics give the MSM more opportunities to give McSenile free air time and talk about how he is hurting Obama. Good luck in manipulating the election this year, CNN et al. I don't think it's going to work as it has in the past.

    August 1, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  12. Ann, MI

    I really hoped that John McCain was different than Bush. I am disappointed.

    It's becoming increasingly obvious that his stances on the issues are not what the American people want to hear, so he is going to let his campaign be hijacked by a pack of vicious attack dogs and their stupid ads.

    Hear me and hear me well. I don't care about celebrity. I don't care who a person's parents are, or were. I care about what a candidate is going to do for ME. Yes, that's right. I want it all to be for my benefit. WHEN WILL THESE PEOPLE LEARN??!!

    August 1, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  13. Kpawlak

    What a bunch of babies!
    Obama is going to have to get a little thicker skinned when not dishing it out himself. I guess truth hurts. I guess next we will be hearing that McCain is a a big bad mean republican racist.

    August 1, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  14. dmw

    Whiner Obama is at it again. Obama was successful in the Democratic primary because he played the race card, was able to talk down to Hillary with humor, convinced people he had good judgement on something he never had to vote on, and he did it all with a smile. The media and the liberals loved it.

    Now in the general he is trying it again and the Republicans are not going to buy it and the general public will not as well.

    Nothing John McCain has done is that bad. But, it must be working because Obama and his campaign are complaining and complaining. His showboating in Europe did not work, his thinking that he is the one to save us from ourselves and save the world will not work either. He is just a man with little experience who is being called on the carpet to prove it!!! He will not be able to because actions speak louder than words.

    I continually hear him, his buddies in the media, his buddies in Congress, his supporters, etc. say that Americans do not know him yet. Surprise, we do know him! We've listened to him give speech after speech after speech for almost two years thanks to the cable news media documenting every breathe and step he makes. We've listened to his wife, his campaign, and his supporters.

    Americans are not stupid and we know John McCain is not worst than Karl Rove. Obama, typical politician.

    No matter who wins in November, there will be change. It is a matter of type of change you want.

    August 1, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  15. Amy

    It seems every day McCain's campaign comes up with a new low. Where is the positive campaign? He has never said one good thing, certainly not anything about what he's going to do to heal the nation after 8 horrible years of Bush. People are sick of dishonesty and this kind of politics. Obama has shown he will rise above it. McCain, you are digging your own political grave.

    August 1, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  16. rob

    I think the Obama campaign is over reacting to this ad. it was a cleaver ad that critisizes Obamas policies. It is not a personal attack or dirty or negative. Obamas use of the race card the other day is the Old School Dem way of trying to paint all repubs as racists, and it is extremely divisive. When The McCain camp called him out on it they and their friends in the Media went nuts, I guess they think it's ok to call McCain a racist and he should just shut up. The old tactics from the dems won't play like they used to, the public is starting to see through them.

    August 1, 2008 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  17. RSR

    Of course Obama's people have to go after Rove, just like they have to link McCain to Bush in anyway they can. Why? Thats easy...because they can't tout Obama's experience or qualifications, Because Obama has none.
    Put a socialist Obama in with a very liberal, democrat controled Congress, and Lord help us. You think Congress can't get anything done now,,,just watch as they and Obama send America spiriling downward.

    August 1, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  18. BWM

    It appears that noone, not even McCain has explained the comparison of Obama with Hilton or Spears. It is all speculation from those strategist who are attempting to make some sense of this comparison. Of course, McCain will attempt to justify his motives as purely innocent and he in no way has implied race.
    As I previously stated, this ad can be construed to mean that Obama may be considered a celebrity, but reminds the american people to not forget that he is no Paris Hilton or Britney Spears, but remember he is still BLACK.
    Blacks have always been labeled as arrogant or uppity and should not forget who they are, even though they have some intelligence.

    August 1, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  19. Doc

    I didn't even know that John McCain was running for President!!!

    August 1, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  20. Rocky

    Plouffe said in this conference call that McCain has mislead people on Obamas energy plan. I for one haven't heard what his plan is except to tax oil companies and air up my tires. I don't understand how taxing oil companies helps me at all with my problems.So either the oil companies have my money or the government does I don't like either choice. Maybe one of you BHO supporters can explain it instead of ranting about how evil Bush is.

    PS I already air up my tires regularly.

    August 1, 2008 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  21. Matt in Cleveland

    It truly is sad that McCain has done this way...but i suppose we should not be surprised. He is behind in the polls and this is what the GOP does, go personal and over the line. McCain said he wouldn't do this but he now has for a month put out negative ad after negative ad. not mentioning what he will do, but only what he is against. The paris and brittney ad was the height of slime and shows how morally bankrupt mccain and the GOP is.

    sad sad day-my only hope is those mccain supporters who thought he stood for honesty and a better way of politics will see him for what he is. a rove clone...and truly in the same mold of GWB.

    August 1, 2008 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  22. Tom in S.A.

    "This Karl Rove-style ploy misleads people about Barack's energy plan and even mocks his ability to inspire voters and bring Americans back into the political process," Plouffe wrote in the e-mail.

    Well, what's his plan??

    This has been a media circus act about Obama, no doubt about it. He doesn't take questions unless it's scripted, because when he did he had to change his mind after opening his mouth. McCain on the other hand takes questions and therefore has had a few more gaffe's than BO but at least he answers, doesn't say Oh sweetie I can't right now............

    August 1, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  23. CL OT

    Everything that is being said about Obama by the McCain campaign is true. I guess Obama is having a little trouble taking the heat.

    August 1, 2008 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  24. Maggie

    As the saying goes, :\"if you cant stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen". Obama's camp want to be able to say anything they want but as soon as anyone responds to it they are ready to call it racist. I am tired of Obama and his people using the race card. I am a black person and I am disappointed with this man's reaction in this election. They want to run an unfair election like how he did during the primaries where his camp accused Bill and Hillary Clinton as being racist. Obama does not know how to run a fair election. He is doing it mafia style where he tries to take the other side out maybe not by killing them but by using the race card. White america are so afraid of being called racists that they are being so careful about not saying too much about Obama's negative and unfair reaction in this campaign and also the primaries. I am tired of seeing you white folks trying to please Obama because you don't want to look racist. Call a spade a spade and stop pandering up to Obama and his camp. This is not going to win him the election.

    As I said before that I am a black person and there is more racism in our race than there is from outsiders. We have to clean up our own backyards before we can start accusing others. Obama needs to be put in his place and told to run a fair election. He wants to use the race card whenever he is having a bad time and therefore make it impossible to have an election that you have to be so careful of what you say. I am not a McCain supporter but I am glad to see McCain standing up to him and his racist talk and hopefully we will eventually get a fair election based on issues.

    August 1, 2008 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  25. Dealt

    McCain certainly seems a bit hypocritical. He keeps saying there's no place for this and that on this campaign and then he unleashes his campaign dogs. The Britney ad is astonishingly silly. After all McCain keeps posing as those actors in old war movies. Now he's saying Obama played the race card and again "there's not place for that in this campaign". Obama's black (or mixed or whatever). He can't help that as much as McCain can't help being older. And McCain has played the age card often enough, albeit confusing age with positive experience.

    Obama's race is part of America's pattern. There's no denying most black man has a harder path to success than most white people. The reasons are varied and won't fit here. And a black president is something different and has never happened yet. I think Obama's colour doesn't matter. He's just the best chance for America and the rest of the world and would still be in any other colour.

    But McCain's reasons for playing the race card do fit here and are clear. He and HIS campaign simply can't do better.

    August 1, 2008 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
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