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. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Of course McCain will try to exploit anything that Obama says. He knows full well that Obama was not playing the race card. McBush is grasping at straws in a pathetic attemp to draw attention away from his lack of and viable future plans for this country. He is throwing everything he has at a wall of public opinion and waits to see what sticks. I know that his personal attacks will continue and become more viscious. That's the republican way of doing business. Obama needs to fight fire with fire. McBush has thrown the gauntlet down by continuing these attack ads, so Obama needs to really fight back. Evidentally, McBush will not wage a fair and issue driven campaign, so Obama needs to play McBushs way. If it's nasty he wants, then nasty he shall get. Obama can't let himself get swiftboated like John Kerry did by not fighting back.McBush laughs and says that his campaign is acting fairly and he's just having fun with everyone. That's

    August 1, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  2. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Of course McCain will try to exploit anything that Obama says. He knows full well that Obama was not playing the race card. McBush is grasping at straws in a pathetic attemp to draw attention away from his lack of and viable future plans for this country. He is throwing everything he has at a wall of public opinion and waits to see what sticks. I know that his personal attacks will continue and become more viscious. That's the republican way of doing business. Obama needs to fight fire with fire. McBush has thrown the gauntlet down by continuing these attack ads, so Obama needs to really fight back. Evidentally, McBush will not wage a fair and issue driven campaign, so Obama needs to play McBushs way. If it's nasty he wants, then nasty he shall get. Obama can't let himself get swiftboated like John Kerry did by not fighting back.McBush laughs and says that his campaign is acting fairly and he's just having fun with everyone.

    August 1, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. hatred will kill the democratic party

    Teach the demagogue that playing the race card has caused lifelong democrats to support Republicans for the first time.

    Watching McCain play dirty against Obama will be more acceptable than watching Obama, his campaign, his ugly hateful supporters, the DNC and the biased media gut, carve, trash, insult, bash, attack, destroy, ridicule, mock, demean and hate Hillary and all her supporters.

    You did not force our support of the puppet Obama- you forced us to defect from the democratic party for the first time in decades.

    I will welcome a swiftboat attack on Obama- after how he sabotaged and destroyed the party for his own advancement and glory.

    August 1, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  4. Roger from CA

    As much as a supporter as I am of Obama, I have to say they blew the response on this whole "race card" thing. No one in the press or in the public–and, I'm sure, in the Obama camp–believes that Obama wasn't referring to race–at least in part–by the "he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills" remark.

    It probably wasn't the wisest comment to make, as legitimate as the (real) point is. "Playing the race card" only serves to alienate white voters (especially independents who are currently on the fence), who will resent the implication that failure to support Obama is tantamount to racism, and will make them think that Obama is "just another old-fashioned Black politician" playing on liberal white guilt.

    By, frankly, disingenuouosly trying to say that Obama meant nothing racial about it, the Obama camp just digs the hole deeper, and hurts his credibility. (Not to get TOO cynical–but one could almost imagine that the Black hecklers he faced today were Obama plants, to make him look less beholden to "radical" forces in the Black community).

    Obama's response to McCain's "race card" shot should have accepted that race was part of the meaning of Obama's remark, but that it was just "one of many" aspects of the differences that he says are played up by the other side (he sort of did this last part, but erred in denying race was part of it at all). Also, he should have stated (correctly) that he wasn't speaking specifically of comments made by John McCain, but of various persons arrayed against the Obama camp.

    August 1, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. Aunt

    So, The McCain Camp Want To Get There Funny On!
    Good, What A Bunch Of Clowns
    Sen. McCain Should Replace Mo In Three Stooges!
    Sen. McCain As Bozo The Clown!
    Sen. McCain As abbot, and costello
    Homie The Clown McCain, Homie Don't Play That!
    He Wants To Be Funny Join The Circus.
    McCain The Clown Hound!

    August 1, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. DM

    I'm just waiting for McCain's next ad where he accuses Obama of fathering 2 black children.

    August 1, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. deji from agbooba,ilorin

    i think mcbush does not have anything to offer other than to cause confusion. Obama must be focused in his quest for the white house. Obama 4 presido! No shaking!

    August 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. ratten

    McCain is doubling down on every bad bet that Bush has made.

    August 1, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. ANDROLOMA, Commerce City, Colorado

    I know it's a stupid idea, but why can't the candidates discuss the issues instead of vitriol? Is it really so hard to do? I sense desperation on one party's part, and I'm not even looking closely. And I'm not favorably disposed to the second party's part. Democracy means more than two political parties, and more than two decisions at the voting booth for one office.

    August 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. Dems are stuck in the fix they rigged

    Hill played nice and look at how she was knocked out of the race by Obama's use of the race card.

    Yeah... Bill and Hill are racists... no one believes that- NOT EVEN all the African Americans who used that as an excuse to vote for the half black candidate for no reason OTHER than race.

    They pretended to believe that Bill and Hill were racist- just to propel Obama's campaign early on. Obama egged that racial division and intra-party hate on- knowing full well that divisiveness would destroy the party.

    Obama thought that he was SOOOOOOOOOOO Good and charming that with a swwp of his almighty hand, he could bring everyone back.

    I will never forgive Obama, his supporters, the DNC, the superdelegates and the Media for denying us the best candidate and forcing the worst one on us.

    Now you try to MAKE us vote for him- JUST because he is a democrat? His tactics and dirty politics tell us otherwise.

    August 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  11. b

    Jesus is the one. But I thought you knew that John McCain! What blasphemy!

    It appears that the McCain campaign is grasping at straws again. Anyone with a 5th grade education can read his inuendos about race and background. He has tried as much as he can to make Obama's positives negative (popularity, charisma, the ability to motivate. Oh wait, the current administration is unpopular, uncharismatic and unable to draw support, so I guess that's more normal?), as well as use his connections to keep the whole "hussein" thing alive among other dirty tactics.

    What I heard Barak say is that he is black. Well he is, in case anybody missed it. I don't think that qualifies as the race card. I can't wait until this whole thing blows up in the republicans' faces. People want substance, or has this been totally lost on them? We want answers, not childish jealousy. We have real issues facing real people. But I guess since he's aloof and unaware of our problems, he feels he's got the time to waste amusing himself staying uninvolved and dragging us through his hatefulness. So sad.

    August 1, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  12. ObamaTears

    This is exactly what he did with the Clintons. He is like a spoiled little kid. Its OK as long as it benefits him, however, if it doesn't he cries foul. What a loser!

    August 1, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  13. Marge Hibbing Mn

    I guess McCain is going to fight back with obama and his race baiting. Every time Hillary tried to explain that it was not her doing he came back with another outrageous claim and all the good old boy blogs flamed and slurred her for "picking" on the ONE .. darn if McCain didn't hit that one on the head..

    And obama now believes he is the one. Remember Jim Jones well one of his disciples who escaped from Jonestown said this about him..I really don't think that he wanted "change" I think he just wanted power. AND DARN IT THAT DOESN'T HIT OBAMA ON THE HEAD ALSO.

    August 1, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  14. Turn about is fair play

    In a fair fight. In an unbiased primary. In a world where racism is evil but sexism is fun for a good laugh- Hillary would have taken this empty braggert down.

    Her hands were tied- do not damage the darling Obama... run against him but do not say ANYthing negative about him... do not voice his failing and do not draw attention to his flip flops and contradictions.

    So down she went in the flames of hate. Up Obama went on the wings of propaganda and celebrity power.

    The democratic party will rue the day they decided to swiftboat their own best candidate. God was watching... and so were 18 million democrats.

    WE WILL WE WILL TEACH YOU.

    Don't mess with the electoral process... don't rig elections... play fair... let people vote and count their votes.

    August 1, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. mello doug New Mexico

    After the adds that McCain has been running I would not Blame the Obama camp for running something a little nasty. Frankly I hope that they do. i am so sick of McCain's politicking that it makes me sick. The man is becoming a liar and another swift boater. If people vote for that they will deserve what they get.

    August 1, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  16. linda from South Dakota

    lets face it,,,, mccain cant get it together soo he and his campaign are bein so dirty and vendictive. all they have is the "race" game,,,, mccain doesnt reaslize it but his last play is really goin to hurt him the play about his ad,,"the one:,, this is very low and doesnt represent americans at all,, religion never should enter politics like this and mccain probably doesnt know this because hes senile,,,, sooo, take your meds mccain,, go to bed and take a longgggggg rest,,,,, mccain,, you have truely disgraces americans by your last trick, and its goin to bite you a big one ,, trust me,,,, go obama!!!!!!!!!!08

    August 1, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  17. shammus

    heres the pattern...someone says something (obama, mccain, a racist pastor, jesse jackson, it doesnt matter) and everyone rushes to defend their guy obama. obama calls a press conference to tell everyone that hes still an american and hes saddened by the (baseless, racist, unpatriotic, unfair, pick one) attacks on him (even if the words being used against him are his own) and calls on everyone else, including mccain, to defend him as well.

    nothing he says should matter, since even the liberal national radio program has told their adoring listeners that "it doesnt matter if he goes to the center as long as he wins" (gun rights, telephone evesdropping lawsuits, etc) while they entertain callers labeling conservative talking heads as racists

    everyones got the message by now. if you dont vote for obama youre a racist. Larry King fill in hosts from the View show have let us know that they expect, deservedly, that the ethnic majority should feel "white guilt"

    if a large group of people turn out to protest and spit on president obamas motorcade next year do you think the media would entertain as much coverage than they did when the same thing happened to bush in 2000?

    August 1, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  18. Donald Jean

    Wow how low will you go with these ads JOHN MCCAIN? This one ad with MOSES will not fair well with the religious base because no one with very strong religious beliefs doesn't like their saviors be used for political smears, BE CAREFUL YOU DONT SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT! BETTER YET PUT YOUR FOOT IN YOUR MOUTH.

    August 1, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  19. hate drove us away

    May Obama get from McCain as GOOD as he gave to HRC.

    McCain will enact the revenge for all the intra-party hatred and race-baiting and trashing that Obama encouraged against fellow democrats.

    How stupid can the media and DNC be- to NOT have seen the defection coming the minute they played favorites.

    No one likes Oprah, Caroline, Dean, Pelosi, Kerry, Kennedy, Richardson and the superdelegates telling us that IT WILL BE OBAMA- by hook or by crook. By cheating and hate. By strong-arming and threats.

    NOW WE WILL VOTE FOR McCain. The nastier he gets against Obama, the more we will like it.

    Next time don't trash your own and don't sabotage and politically rape your own best candidate.

    No sophisticated, activist, free-thinking, independent woman will simply watch and cheer as a woman is gleefully politically raped on national TV. For having the grit and strength and qualifications to run. The less activist women may pretend to accept it- but not in the privacy of the voting booth.

    August 1, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. Tracy, Chicago, IL

    It's time for Obama to take the gloves off now. I know he didn't want to stoop to the GOP & Clinton’s level and I didn't want him to in the beginning but now it’s time. He was kind to Hillary Clinton and her supporters and they were from the beginning nasty & insulting to him and his supporters; his kindness got him no where with them, he can’t make the same mistakes with McCain. Unfortunately I have learned that most voters like negative campaigns and don’t care about the truth, so it’s time for Obama to hit him low.

    August 1, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  21. Hitler youth for Obama

    For the democrats that Obama and his nasty race-baiting supporters drove out of the party.... McCain can do whatever he wants... and we will be okay with it.

    Nothing can compare to the horrible, disrespectful treatment HRC got from her OWN party.

    Democrats sat shocked in their living rooms as HRC was torn apart just for running. We watched in horror as Obama silenced everyone with the race card. We were stunned at the hate, vulagarity, filth and disrespect he inspired in his cult following. We were taken back by the silence of the DNC and the Media as this hatred and racial divide was unfolding.

    Just more praise for the Obama and more insults and derision for Hillary. So So funny. I remember each and every filthy blog... so so funny... so charmingly persuasive.... and my memory will guide my vote: NEVER OBAMA

    So go get him.

    August 1, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  22. tim, mississippi

    mcshameless and his neo-con buddies are insulting people's intelligence.

    but then again, enough people voted for GW not once but twice.

    oy.

    August 1, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  23. Anna Colburn

    Campaign comments are always subject to scrutiny.
    What comes out of your mouth is how we get to know you.

    What did Obama hope to gain by telling his audience:
    "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.”

    Sympathy from them? Other voters?
    In that crowd he is certainly preaching to the choir.

    If he doesnt think he can get elected, being black, why is he running for office????

    August 1, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  24. Puff

    Gee, someone finally questioned Nobama and got away with it. Oh boy the skies will open now. How dare we??

    August 1, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  25. tim, mississippi

    avoid CNN and other corporate media that are in the neo-con's deep pocket!

    go to DEMOCRACY NOW and get real information and insightful perspective!

    CNN, you think you can sensor and silence people?

    you're so irrelevant!

    August 1, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
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