August 1st, 2008
03:59 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama: McCain team looking to politically 'exploit' race comment

Obama said Friday the McCain team was looking to “exploit” his original comment.
Obama said Friday the McCain team was looking to “exploit” his original comment.

(CNN) - Barack Obama fired back at John McCain’s campaign Friday over accusations that the presumptive Democratic nominee had played the race card, angrily denying the charge and calling the claim part of a “typical pattern from the McCain campaign.”

At a Wednesday campaign appearance in Missouri, Obama said that “nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky.”

He has made similar comments throughout the campaign season.

In interviews Friday afternoon, Obama did not elaborate on what scare tactics from McCain he had been referring to in his original remarks earlier this week, and said his opponent’s team had “amplified” his Wednesday statement in a way he found “troublesome.”

The Illinois senator said he had delivered the remark the McCain team has pointed to in front of a small-town Missouri audience he described as “98 percent” white, rural and conservative. “And what I said was what I think everybody knows, which is that I don't look like I came out of central casting when it comes to presidential candidates,” he said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times and Bay 9 News.

“There was nobody there who thought at all that I was trying to inject race in this,” added Obama. “What this has become I think is a typical pattern from the McCain campaign, whether it's Paris Hilton or Britney or this phony allegation that I wouldn't visit troops. They seem to be focused on a negative campaign. What I think our campaign wants to do is focus on the issues that matter to American families."

Asked in an NPR interview Friday for specific instances in which McCain or the Republican Party had used scare tactics, Obama said that "in no ways do I think that the McCain campaign has targeted race issues."

But he added that "I will say that the way that they’ve amplified this, you know, has been troublesome. And the eagerness with which they’ve done it indicates they think they can exploit this politically. But, in fact, what I have said, and there’s no doubt about this, they’ve said it themselves, is that they want to make me appear risky to the American people.”

He also accused the McCain campaign of “just a sustained caricature of me and character attacks against me.”

On Thursday, McCain told CNN’s John King that his team’s criticism of Obama was a legitimate one, and that the Illinois senator had improperly injected race into the campaign.

Watch McCain: Obama's playing the race card


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. yns

    It is quite interesting he is denying his own use of the race card. If McCain had made these comments regarding Obama, it definitely would have been perceived as racist!

    WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Here Obama goes...whining again!

    August 1, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. Texas Trail Dog!

    IT IS TRUE OBAMA DOES USE THE RACE CARD. HE WAS OH SO WILLINGLY TO USE IT ON HILLARY AND BILL CLINTON. HE AND THE MEDIA TEAMED UP UNTIL IT WAS A RIDICULOUS JOKE. IF HE CAN NOT WIN WITHOUT TRYING FOR THE SYMPATHY OF THE PEOPLE TO KEEP FROM BEING IDENTIFIED A RACIST THEN HE DOES NOT NEED TO BE RUNNING FOR THE HIGHEST OFFICE OF THE LAND. RELIGION, RACE AND AGE SHOULD HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SELECTION PROCESS OF PRESIDENT. YOU KNOW THEY PROCLAIM McCAIN TO BE TOO OLD WELL BROTHER YOU CAN ALSO BE TOO YOUNG, KNAVE, AND STUPID TO ALSO BE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.

    August 1, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. The Clear Thinking Independent

    McCain knows some of his backwoods, bigoted supporters, some of whom maybe on his staff, have planned coded racial attacks on Barack.

    This was an attempt by McCain to fire some cover over their heads so that they could make their race-baiting appeals in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, the Florida pan-handle, Western Pennsylvania, rural Ohio, and parts of Indiana.

    McCain has attempted to manufacture a race charge against Obama. No one in the crowd with Obama viewed his comment in the context of exploiting race. What they, and other thinking Americans, saw was Barack stating that time-testing Republican campaign tactic of using whatever they can to make some Americans afraid of Senator Obama.

    Unfortunately for the Republicans, and the country, George Bush Sr. used race in the "Willie Horton" ad to frighten voters about Dukakis and Jesse Helms used race to frighten North Carolians about Harvey Gantt in a senate race ... and this was BEFORE Karl Rove. I for one, don't trust the GOP not to do it again.

    Obama didn't say how the McCain campaign will try to frighten voters. History is on Obama's side of the argument though ...

    August 1, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  4. jane in CA

    Too bad, McSame can't learn from Hillary's mistake. Keeps going negative and providing no solutions for the economy, foreign policy, clean energy, oilmen independency, safety of the troops in Iraq, hi-tech future intelligence and military. Attack and attack, McCain and his camp can focus on now.

    August 1, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. Aunt

    Bozo The Clown McCain.
    I have No More respect For Sen. McCain
    He's A Clown, Go Back To The Circus!

    This Is How I Picture Sen. McCain Now!

    Bozo The Clown On His Right and Homie The Clown On His Left Side!

    The Three Stooges.

    August 1, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Agnes

    SHAMEFUL.

    McShame is EVIL. Please do no exploit race or regiion for political gain to hold on to the the 4 more years of Bush policies.

    August 1, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. Rave

    Mr. Obama dont worry about that idiot McPain. He is nothing
    We all like you and I hope Race wont be an issue this election.
    You are driven by God's strength and may God Bless you and this nation
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    August 1, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  8. obama is unfit to be president of this country

    High gas prices.................hey stupid, it's the democrates in congress. Kick the bums out.

    August 1, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  9. ED ORL

    I have been waiting since the primary to hear Obama actually say something vice preaching rehearsed speeches. None of this has happened. He has not given an honest statement about the realistic problems that face the country or its potential solutions. I as a diehard democrat that always votes the straight demo ticket .Imam not in favor of this one. I cannot and will not vote for Mccain so I probably will sit this one out and for sure we will have a better choice in 2012. Mccain [if he wins] cannot screw this country anymore than Bush, Mccain and the GOP. So I will take the bumps that come withit and look foward to 2012.

    August 1, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  10. GJ

    McCain is such a hypocrite... Ive lost all respect for him. I cant trust him now.

    Come up with JUST one original idea or solution to the problems the US faces....

    The surge is remotley successful since Al Sadir has instructed his army not to attack the US soldiers... you think thats out of fear?

    Please tell the whole story... McCain's argument that the surge is working is like saying every one who eats a carrot will die in a hundred years – there could be something else that is the true cause of the result we are seeing.

    Not that I expect this to get printed...

    He has nothing original so I guess its time to call up the dark overloard Rove for some help (using his protege)

    He's showing his true colors, which he has been hiding carefully since his Keating 5 days.

    August 1, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  11. David Peter

    McCain got nothin

    August 1, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  12. Rob in NY

    Obama is truly amazing : he knows the bad things his opponents will say about him before they say them. More evidence that he is truly the Messiah ....

    August 1, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  13. NC Democrat

    Who in their right mind is considering voting for John McCain? His latest antics prove that he is not concerned with the plight of the American people...can we debate the issues please!!!!!

    August 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  14. RENEA

    Mccain does the same thing with his age that Obama does with his race.Mccain mocks his age all time how come he is not called out the same way Obama is called out?

    August 1, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  15. james messina

    As for the Europe trip what new or pre president should not visit other countries to establish connections? The negative comments are of course those who preconceive Obama as not their choice for president so no matter what he says or does they will interpret and twist it to fit their views
    "You can't teach and old dog new tricks"- but you sure can teach a puppy plenty
    This man Obama may not have the so called experience in war as McCain has but experience is not always better. It is wisdom that is needed, knowledge without wisdom is futile. So far what I hear and see when Obama speaks is coherent and makes sense. He has vision and is sensitive on the most important issues. He will not concede to sycophancy projects that have shallow patches in order popularize with the uniformed mainstream. Everything he says agrees with the scientific and intellectual community.

    August 1, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. Mickey, NY

    McCain uses useless psycho-babble to try and empower his party and constituents, but even members of his own party are appalled by his bizarre behavior. Time to up your dose, McCain, if thats what it's going to take for you to run a respectable campaign, because your lack of solutions to REAL americans' problems is turning into a real boat anchor.

    August 1, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  17. Angel

    Don't try to back paddle, Obama. You know what you said and why you said it. You're just mad McCain called you on it. Grow Up!!!!!!!

    August 1, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  18. Charlotte

    Obama has played the race card over and over. In the beginning Oprah and he could not say anything that was not implying MLK and "I have a dream" speech. Michelles comment, "ain't no blacks in Iowa." Every speech he makes he slides in a comment about his skin color. Most recently, " he doesn't look like other people on the dollar bills." He is a typical politician, the only difference is, he is black. This is his plan to somehow make us feel like we are racist if we don't vote for him. Rev. Wright, Father Pfleager and that racist church for 20 years is all it took to turn me off. His pompous attitude has only re-affirmed my feelings about him. I will write Hillary Clinton on my ballot in November, regardless. Obama thinking he is the, " choosen one," only makes me more convienced he is not good for this country. The urgency of now, is for me to not vote for this racist jerk.

    August 1, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  19. Jon

    It's sad to see that John McCain has now gone down the same road as Bush did with his Rowe ad attacks. I liked McCain at one time his 2000 campain was the man that had American's respect but with the attack ads that just came out it sickens me. If anyone can really beleive in McShame after this you must be that 23% that still thnks Bush is doing a good job. Remember McCain said just 5 months ago that he felt America is better off the it was 7 years ago and the GWB has done a good job.

    August 1, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  20. Peter of Oregon

    The McCain camp definitely amplified whatever it was Obama had said in order to get more press coverage, and attempt to shed a negative light on Barack Obama.

    We're seeing really despecable tactics coming from the McCain camp.

    August 1, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  21. Lesley

    This is true. McCain's only claim to fame in this campaign is attacking Obama on everything he says. He follows in Obama's footsteps snapping at his heels and tries to paint his efforts at campaigning in a negative way. He is more a commentator on Obama's candidacy than an actual presidential candidate himself. The sooner people wise up to this the better. He's covering the Obama campaign more than the media, throwing out soundbites and the media is lapping it up giving him free advertising. He's making a fool of the media, using them, getting them to do is bidding, and now there's a backlash from the media about all the attention being given to Obama? Give me a break.

    August 1, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  22. Independent-woman-4-Obama

    No matter what McCain & His McBullies says they ARE playing the race card, ever so subtly. Who DO you think started the emails with the lies about Sen. Obama being a Muslim????????????????????????

    And why is it, that we, Americans, always have to have someone to hate?????

    THE HILLARY PEOPLE HATE OBAMA; THE MCCAIN PEOPLE HATE OBAMA & DEMOCRATS????????????????????

    WHY THE HATE? AND.........why is it that NO ONE in the media is making a BIG DEAL about McCain saying that HE WAS NOT GOING TO GO NEGATIVE WHEN HE HAS??????????????????????????

    THE LIES HAVE STARTED. WE BETTER WAKEUP.

    August 1, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  23. mike

    Already Obama is shifting on his objections to drilling. Lets face it – he will say whatever it takes.

    August 1, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  24. Susan

    This is so simple to figure out. The Republican Party has nothing to offer to clean up the mess they made, so it is earsier to make stupid ads and try to smear the integirity of theor opponent. The Moses aad was extremely offensive to all religions, and showed how childish they are acting. McCain+bush, you cannot change the truth!

    August 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  25. California Gold

    McCain: Barack's mother is as white as yours.

    August 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
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