August 2nd, 2008
03:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama: McCain camp cynical, not racist

Sen. Barack Obama speaks in Florida on Saturday.
Sen. Barack Obama speaks in Florida on Saturday.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama denied Saturday that he is playing the race card against Sen. John McCain following several speeches in Missouri last week in which he said McCain is portraying him as scary and risky because he doesn’t “look like all the presidents on the dollar bills.”

“In no way do I think that John McCain’s campaign was being racist, I think they’re cynical” Obama told CNN during a Saturday morning press conference. “I think they want to distract people from talking about the real issues.”

“Their team is good at creating distractions and engaging in negative attacks and planting doubts about people,” Obama said, noting McCain’s recent comparison of his celebrity to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and the repeated accusation that the Illinois senator skipped a visit with wounded troops because he couldn’t take the press.

Obama was asked how he could deny playing the race card when at a Jacksonville fundraiser in late June he told donors that during the campaign Republicans would say, “He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?"

“I don’t come out of Central Casting when it comes to presidential races,” Obama explained. “I’m young, I’m new to the national scene, my name is Barack Obama, I am African-American, I was born in Hawaii, I spent time in Indonesia. I do not have the typical biography of a presidential candidate.”

“What that means is that I’m sort of unfamiliar and people are still trying to get a fix on who I am,” Obama continued. “So what I think has been an approach [by] the McCain campaign is to say ‘he’s risky.’”

The McCain camp responded to Obama’s comments with an e-mail to reporters saying they’re moving on from the issue, adding, “The only ‘cynical’ candidate in this election is Barack Obama, who has opposed every element of John McCain’s comprehensive energy plan that includes additional oil drilling, affordable nuclear energy and gas tax relief for hardworking families.”

As for whether he thinks the McCain campaign’s attempts to label him as presumptuous or arrogant will stick, Obama rejected the idea that the perception exists, again accusing his opponents of feeding the storyline to the media.

"If I was presumptuous or taking this for granted, I wouldn't be working this hard this week. I'm beat," Obama laughed.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. JP Bless

    Obama should stop sounding too conciliatory… because republicans are feisty and pumped for dirty campaign. Reason is Republicans know they can’t win if they run on issues (as a result of George Bush’s mediocre presidency.)

    McCain/Republicans have switched to “gear negative campaign” partly because they have no option and secondly; they won the last two elections on the back of Rove’s ultra negative campaign. We say we want competent leaders yet we resoundingly reward candidates who play dirty. The polls have tightened since Republicans turned negative. Obama/democrats better watch it.

    August 2, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. Priscilla

    McCain is old and paranoid. He is suffering from Dementia. Is this what Americans want in the whitehouse?

    August 2, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  3. David from Bremen,Germany

    There is racism practised in every day life but now especially in the presidential campaign. Admitting racism or talking openly about it is a taboo subject. So over many decades the racist community has developed codes of communication to express themselves, brighten their message an be understood without being accused by the public of practising racism.
    One of the methods is accusing the victim of being himself a racist or having played the racism card. In such a way, one keeps the subject being actual in the hope that the more people hear about racism every day, the more people will consider racism in politics and everyday life as crucial and important.
    The Republicans – McCains campaign – (thanks god not all) know that exactly an they are now sending hidden racialist messages in the campaign. The democrats must have open ears and open eyes in order to be able to block this machine the republicans are and shall be using all the way through this campaign.
    DON'T LEAVE IT TO BARACK OBAMA ALONE !!!

    August 2, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  4. Omama 08/12

    Cnn you can't make us believe you are fair when removing anything about McLame blog after blog???I never thought I was on Fox since I never watch Fox .

    McShame so old and decrepit that when God Said "Let There Be Light " McShame was the one who hit the switch.(That was during McLames break he was a server at the "Last Supper" .)

    August 2, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. Diane

    McCain has obviously compromised his honor and integrity by putting out ads that he knows are untrue and full of distortions. How sad for him and us. He has sold his honor for his desire for power. I hope he realizes what he has done soon and begins to address the important problems facing our country. We deserve better!

    August 2, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  6. Shay

    You are being too nice Obama. I would say MCCain is negative all the way. I bet the negatives are paying off into your campaign. It struck a nerve and I surely donated for the first time into Obama campaign.

    How that's McCain.

    Obama 08

    August 2, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  7. KE

    Nobody said he has funny name, but he said it (he need to stop saying that, it's a normal name in Kenya right? It's not a funny name). Nobody thought of comparing him with those dollar bills, but he did (he need to stop using color of his skin for an excuse). He’s risky, that we decide. He need to stop using the race card.

    If anybody Obama should listen to now is the Clintons.

    August 2, 2008 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Mauri

    Senator Obama, remember the saying, "A rose is a rose that by any other name is still a ROSE?" John McCain and his campaign group have not raised the race issue; you have, and then try to convince us that you meant something else. Get a life, kid! I suppose it was John McCain that inhformed a California audience that a certain group (blue collar) in Pennsylvania are wary of someone who is different from them." Now, I just noticed that you're now claiming that you've ALWAYS been in favor of drilling. Say what??? I suppose tomorrow you'll be telling us that what you told General Petraeus is not what you said at all, that you really meant something else! It's time you stop all this nonsense, quit messing with your ethnicity. We get your message.

    August 2, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  9. Dave, Illinois

    Obama is a typical dirty Chicago politician resorting to race baiting and dirty tricks. Anybody that believes his shallow slogans: I have a bridge to sell you.

    August 2, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  10. Phil Newton, Murphy, OREGON

    The truth is the truth.

    OBAMA 08

    August 2, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  11. Desmond Sequeira

    “I don’t come out of Central Casting when it comes to presidential races,” Obama explained. “I’m young, I’m new to the national scene, my name is Barack Obama, I am African-American, I was born in Hawaii, I spent time in Indonesia. I do not have the typical biography of a presidential candidate.”

    Precisely the type of US President the USA and the world needs. Else you get the likes of Bush and McBush and McSame.

    The McCain campaign is doing its best to hurt McCain by its pathetic McSameness and is succeeding. I think they definitely want OBAMA to win. And I do too!

    August 2, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  12. Cynthia Perry

    For all those out there who believe in the worth of pray, please begin to pray for Sen. Obama. He is being slattered iby the media and John McCain is going scot free. Let us stand against the old politics that Republican party is used to using and stand up for the issues that confront us as Americans. I know that there has to be descent people who don.t believe that an opponant has to crusify the other with lies to gain. That is McCain.

    I will never vote for a person like McCain. He wants to run on his experience. Well if he had so much experience then tell we why did he and others with lots of experience get us into a wsar that was based on total lies? At some point we youngster need opportunity just like opportunity came to our elders. Obama is intelligent,smart and need a opportunity to prove himself. You gave Kennedy an opportunity why not Obama?

    August 2, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  13. pam Eugene OR

    Barack is so right. He had only about 8 hours of sleep on his way home from his world wide tour. We all got to see how hard he worked there. He busts his as* for us and what he believes in. All the while McShame is not working weekends and needs a nap during day.
    I want a President who will work tirelessly for me. It so so upsetting seeing McSame swift boating this remarkable man. He promised an honorable campaign and then he lies to us. The is no honor in him any more and that is sad. I might have considered voting for the John McCain that ran in 2000. He seemed to be a decent man. The old man we see now isn't nearly good enough to tie the shoes of that "Maverick". Too bad.
    Obama for President!

    August 2, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  14. Tim E

    "I'm beat." Sounds like a prophecy for The One.

    August 2, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  15. Kevin

    I agree. Mccain is not racist but he is prepared to be known as one if that would improve his chances of being elected president.

    August 2, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  16. Alex

    Wise words from hopefully America's next real leader, Barack. This is a man with a true vision for our country and, contrary to the current Republican lineup, he has incredibly good judgement. Look at McCains ads from the past two weeks, good judgement ? No, juvenile crap.

    August 2, 2008 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  17. Charlotte

    August 1st, 2008 7:24 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    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 2, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  18. RENEA

    I am a 52 year old white woman.I voted for Mccain in the 2000 election primary. Is Mccain not a Republican? Did the TX RNC not put out a button: If Obama win the election can you still call the White house white? Did Mccain not put out flyer:Obama is the candidate Hamas want to win.Meaning Obama is a muslim.The RNC in TN,OR and NC have used race in ads or flyers about the Obamas.A web ad put up by Mccain in June show Obama on a dollar bill with stars in his eyes.Mccain can not cry innocent on t

    August 2, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  19. William Courtland, Earth

    Your government is trending to Parliamentarism due to the overlap displayed by the party system.

    The party petitions amendment, but the individual represents independently, and without secretary interference...

    August 2, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  20. RENEA

    I am a 52 year old white woman.I voted for Mccain in the 2000 election primary. Is Mccain not a Republican? Did the TX RNC not put out a button: If Obama win the election can you still call the White house white? Did Mccain not put out flyer:Obama is the candidate Hamas want to win.Meaning Obama is a muslim. The Paris celeb ad used to slam Obama is the same ad used against Harold Ford.The RNC in TN,OR and NC have used race in ads or flyers about the Obamas.A web ad put up by Mccain in June show Obama on a dollar bill with stars in his eyes.Mccain and the RNC are and have used the race card!

    August 2, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Indiana Bob

    Cynical, not racist? Just like Obama is divisive, not a uniter. He painted Hillary as a racist, when she wasn't. Now he is doing the same thing to McCain (who has an adopted black child). Anything to win for Obama. Same old politics. Change you will be ashamed of.

    PUMA - Vote McCain

    August 2, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  22. kb

    the republicans would never even think of doing such a thing. Yeah right!! mccain and his cronies would kill their young to keep this iraq war and open theft policy going for him and his cronies. to use moses is unreal even for them. never mind mccain is as old as moses

    August 2, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  23. Belle

    Let's see....you don't trust the voters enough in the South, so you repeatedly mention "they" are trying to scare you, "they" are going to say you have a funny name, "oh, and by the way I'm black."

    If it is NOT McCain...then WHO is "THEY" Senator Obama? Could it be "YOU"? All the while YOUR supporters are the ones blogging with vicious personal degrading remarks toward your opposition....your PAID bloggers.

    Time to take back the CNN website folks....ignore the hate comments, and talk about issues....A common war tactic is to divide then conquer...that is Senator Obama's Strategy.

    NEITHER CANDIDATE HAS A PLAN THAT WILL HELP THE ECONOMY! BOTH PLANS WILL ONLY INCREASE THE DEFICIT!

    DEMAND DETAILS!!! So "We the People" can make the best choice for this nation.

    August 2, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  24. Pierre Podo

    Obama couldn´t be 70 ,unless he takes away his face, he couldn´t be an all time senator like John Mc, bcs he is just 46,. He couldn´t be white bcs he is black and white. He cannot affford to be like John Mc bcs, he wants a change in Washington. To make that change, Obama doesn´t need to be like John Mc.

    Obama is the change himself.
    To change the economy, the health care, education, taxes, deficit, wars, and aspiration of all Americans, we need a new policy. New ideas and new directives. That´s change ,and thats Obama.

    Religion should not be an issue for elections, yet George bush said he had a vision to lead America. Hey , if that was a true vision , then America has lost its religions emblem of great and honest people. Yes George B vision was to take America back 50 years. Thats why America needs the Obama change.

    On the add by John Mc comparing Obama to Paris Hilton,
    , its as if Obama makes his own video to compare Osama B Ladin to John Mc ? That will be a good John Mc change.

    Please do not forget that his name is OBAMA and not OSAMA?
    Lets get the story right.

    August 2, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  25. lisaque

    Obama playing the race card? well of course he is whats new. Mccain as a life long Dem just wanted to say I looooved the ad The One.
    YES WE CAN AND WE WILL VOTE NOBAMA

    PUMA PAC

    August 2, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
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