September 4th, 2008
05:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama: 'I've been called worse on the basketball court'

Sen. Obama spoke with reporters Thursday about attacks leveled against at the GOP convention.

Sen. Obama spoke with reporters Thursday about attacks leveled against at the GOP convention.

YORK, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Barack Obama said Thursday that attacks on him at this week’s Republican National Convention were no big deal: “I’ve been called worse on the basketball court,” he told reporters at an afternoon press conference.

“What did you guys expect?” he asked, smiling, “This is what they do. They don't have an agenda to run on. They haven't offered a single concrete idea so far in two nights about how they would make the lives of middle class Americans better. They've spent the entire two nights attacking me or extolling John McCain's biography, which is fine. They can use their convention time any way they want.”

Watch: "I've been called worse," says Obama

Wednesday night on stage in St. Paul, both Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani belittled Obama’s work as a community organizer in Chicago in the 80s. Obama called the reaction “curious,” as if he were trying to jump from a post-college job to the presidency.

“The question I have for them is that why would that kind of work be ridiculous? Who are they fighting for?” he said. “I think maybe that's the problem – that's part of why they're out of touch and they don't get it because they haven’t spent much time working on behalf of those folks.”

Obama dismissed accusations from Republicans that comments and reports from Democrats and the media about Palin are sexist, saying that digging into her record can only be expected.

“I assume that she wants to be treated the same way that guys want to be treated, which means that their records are under scrutiny. I've been through this for 19 months. She's been through it, what, four days so far?”

But Obama isn’t treating Palin the same way he is McCain — he’s not going after her with nearly the same ferocity. Since the Alaska governor was tapped to be McCain’s running mate, Obama has only mentioned her twice in speeches - and only to criticize her for supporting McCain’s position on equal pay for women.

“I’m running against John McCain and as far as I can tell, I don’t get a sense that Governor Palin has ideas that are different from John McCain’s,” said Obama.

So if the Republicans blows are glancing off of him, what’s he used to being called on the basketball court? “You’d have to bleep it out.”

soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. Andrew

    I agree with the person that said look at the records of McCain and Obama and the respective VPs. I have looked at them and how they vote and I must say voting present on issues is hard for voter to determine where the person stands.

    For the people that keep say they have not presented any plans, well I think last week was kinda of the same. And to say McCain/Palin is just Bush/Chenay 2.0 is lame.

    The thing that is true, Palin is new and an Outsider to Washington, the other three are not.

    Just remember to Vote!!!!

    September 4, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  2. barry

    So this is the depth of American politics is it? No discussion of policies, no discussion on how to pay for policies...just mud sling after mud sling. As a father of young children what am I going to show them and teach them...that politics in America is nothing more than who can belittle the other person more. Yet we try to teach our children that 'fighting, swearing and calling others bad names' is wrong....and what examples do we have out there...Bush, Palin, Biden and the majority of 'comments' in these blogs. No wonder we continue to elect self serving politicians (from both parties)..they care absolutly NOTHING for you and me..You and I are nothing but a check mark on a voting slip....line the pockets of their best friends and live in the lap of luxury while the rest of us work our socks of to pay the bills.

    September 4, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  3. swingstatemom

    I would love to see a woman in the white house...

    But not Mrs. Palin. I prefer a woman who supports a woman's right to choose, who agrees that young girls should not be forced to carry the progeny of rape and incest, who would allow my daughter to be taught about all the options she has in her sexual life. A woman would support my children in any life choice they make, even if it doesn't adhere to her evangelical standards. A woman who places more emphasis on protecting my family from guns than on protecting them from gays.

    Sarah Palin disappointed me. She was mean-spirited and hateful. Excuse me, I have some community organizing to do. Someone has to get us ready for this Naziette, after all.

    September 4, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  4. Martha

    Yes, who and what are they (McCain and Palin) for. I think it was Giuliana who said last night at the Convention that Washington currently is "liberal," and that McCain and Palin will make Washington conservative. Like many things Palin said, this is one of the most ridiculous remarks I've ever heard. Unfortunately, most of these Republicans attending the convention "believe" all the nonsensical things, not to mention the outright lies about Obama (that Obama wants to raise taxes - indeed, on the big oil companies) that are being told by Palin and Giuliana. What kind of condition of the mind is this? And "country first" - Only Obama has even brought up helping the American people and the disastrous problems the Bush administration has caused. The only context I've discerned for the "country first" slogan is that of the continual fear tactic that we might have another terrorist attack at any minute. It's going to take more than protection to save this country from our current problems and suffering caused by Bush and gang. It's not the terrorists I'm afraid of; it's more of the same. I just hope the media will provide the viewers, in a very timely manner, with people who will quickly correct the absurdities and lies, who will get these people (the Republicans) in touch with reality, if that's even possible.

    September 4, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  5. Ann

    Perhaps, but she had 40 million viewers.

    September 4, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  6. William

    YES WE CAN !!!
    NO 4 MORE YEARS !!!
    8 YEARS is ENOGUH!!!


    September 4, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  7. Ed from Milwaukee

    Mc Cain and Palin are just ridiculous, but thanks to the divisiveness of the GOP they just handed Obama-Biden the white-house. I think its funny that Mc Cain now is trying to run Obama's theme of change. Picking Palin, Mc Bush just through out his theme of experience. She has no experience at all on the economy or foreign policy for that matter. Mc Cain’s decision making skills are horrible, and reckless he would run the country the same. God help America!! if he gets into office. So I have to ask the question was Mc Bush having another senior moment when he picked Palin?

    September 4, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. Obama Fan

    The reason the GOP is coming out so aggressive is because they are so desperate – they have realized that people are turning away from them.. In the case of the Obama's Camp, they do what they do best, win!.

    People, it is a revolution! Obama is using all means, to including technology to reach voters. Where have we ever seen this before in the American politics?

    September 4, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  9. Enlightened Voter

    Question – if repuglicans like mccain and palin claim they are stuanch pro-lifers how can she be an avid hunter?

    September 4, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. James

    Wait until the old angry guy speaks tonight, maybe obama will get more money, and a few more % points more in the polls...

    September 4, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. Dovie from oregon

    The only think I observed was Palin dismissing all the hard work community organizers do and critisizing Obama and the democrates. I did not hear anything about what the Republicans hope to change or do differently. She is still using her children to promote herself which I think is shameful. If my daughter were 17 years old and pregnant I sure would not be promoting her as a trophy with her boyfriend. She appearently forgot to tell her daughter not to have sex before marriage and isn't she a little young to get married?

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  12. Diane

    It was unbelievable to me that men were wearing "Hottie VP" buttons last night at the RNC. How sexist is that? Typical hypocritism from the Republican party.

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. geb

    Responsible black fathers for Obama/ Biden '08

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Ex Republican in a battleground state

    I admit that I have voted Republican for the last 4 elections. But, how can a campaign that promises to reach across party lines be so hostile to the party they are promising to reach across to? The fact that American's are supporting this negativity is upsetting. I cannot – Obama – Biden '08!

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. jojo

    Sure wish he would go back or would of stayed at the basketball court
    maybe he can play that game better !

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. Patrick

    I'm a McCain supporter but I thought trying to poke fun of Obama has a community organizer was over the top. Sure his record doesn't stack up to McCain's but that's undermining McCain's call for service if you make fun of someone for helping out in their own way.

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  17. janine


    What empty promises? He's not even president yet.

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  18. Stacy

    Sarah Palin just proved yesterday that she is quite comfortable lying to the American people about her record. Sarah Palin lied with a straight face, even knowing that most people are well aware of the truth that she actually supported the building of the "Bridge to Nowhere", and about her record of hiring lobbyists to lobby Washington for money. Isn;t she supposed to be against earmarks I guess that's just a bunch of talk.
    Sarah Palin claims she is against earmarks, BUT THE TRUTH IS, in the short tme she was governor (20 months), she requested earmarks totalling $750 million dollars from the federal government (the largest amount per-capita request in the nation).

    Sadly of all is that Sarah Palin claims that families with children with disabilities will have her as a champion in the White House, BUT the fact is in Alaska those same parents had NO champion in Sarah, who actually CUT by 60% funding to programs which helped children with disabilities in her state.
    Sarah Palin also CUT funding to programs which help HOMELESS pregnant teens, have a place to sleep while pregnant.
    Hypocrically, of all is that Sarah Palin boldly sites an ethics bill in Alaska, it seems she has forgotten that she herself is RIGHT NOW under investigation for ethics violation. Sarah Palin is ALREADY participating in the same type of behaviour that we have seen in the White House over the past 8 years, the coverups, and lies to try keep that behaviour, of ethics violation, from the public. We really would be getting another Bush, and Cheney in the White House!!

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  19. kemu

    Harry Reid calling Sarah Palin's comments shrill? What left wing loons he and Nancy Pelosi both are. Obviously he didn't listen to Joe Biden's attacks on John McCain or George Bush during his speech last week in Denver – guess he fell asleep.

    And the morons who mention Palin's comments about community organizers as attacks? What idiots – do they actually understand the basis for those comments – Palin being characterized by the left as inexperienced and not ready for office vs. the clown Obama who has NO executive or business experience of any type except as a community organizer?

    Obama is by no means ready to answer the 3 AM call – unless it's the pizza delivery man at the front door of the White House...

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  20. Shirley-Ohio

    You are such a good man. I know you not running against her you're running against McCain. Good Job, stand tall above the rest and you will go far. Keep up the good work. This Presidency is for you babe.

    September 4, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  21. Debbie Joyner

    I wonder why CNN isn't posting the new poll numbers? Could it be because Obama has lost 8 points in the last 8 days and McCain and Obama are now eve?

    To respond to to the posters that responded to me directly:
    1) voter – my comment was very specific – voters have more than a right to look at Palin's experience they have a DUTY! Immediately after the announcement the Obama camp, ignoring that Palin is a governor, ridiculed her as being an ex-mayor of 5,00 people and the media has jumped all over the talking point, now when Palin points out that she was a mayor when Obama was still a community activist (yes she has been in elected office longer than Obama, look it up) CNN uses the word "belittle" Call it sexist, call it liberal bias, call it whatever you want it sure isn't neutral reporting
    2) Cindy McCain is not a candidate – Obama has said families are off limits and I respect that and will not comment. I don't believe Obama's drug use precludes him from being president – but he was not a confused child – he was in his early 20s and getting that wonder Columbia degree we now hear so much about. Furthermore – I was using it as an example of how ridiculous the MEDIA has been. If CNN or FoxNews started an article with former drug-user we would all be screaming foul. But saying former beauty queen is okay?

    September 4, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  22. marie

    The American presidency has become a sideshow. the part that curious to me is that John McCain and Cindy McCain are not the same type of folks. Oh that is why he got her, so that he does not go out there and humiliate himself.

    As for Rudy Juliani, a man who tells his wife that he is divorcing her while on tv, enough said.

    September 4, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  23. jojo

    Dem are so brain washed tehy dont even need to look at track records any more - just Jive talk works wonders

    September 4, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  24. Donald in MD

    If you let the good folks of the McCain/Palin ticket tell it, the only qualified community organizers in this country are ones with an annual income of at least $5 million and with a minimum of three homes. Obama's response was wonderful, and shows genuine coolness in the midst of a RNC smear campaign.

    September 4, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  25. TC in Florida

    I liked Sarah Palin's speech, because it shows the true nature of raw partisanship in all its awful glory. All she needs now is someone of William Safire's caliber to be her speechwriter. Remember Spiro Agnew? He had that great phrase, "nattering nabobs of negativism". Boy, those were the days! Then again, maybe Palin doesn't need any speech writer. She can give it direct from the spleen.

    The state of the economy will determine the outcome of this election, not the craft of the speeches. Right now, things that should be going down are going up, and things that should be going up, are going down. It's all catty-wompus. And with a whiff of the ol' C___ W__ out there courtesy of Putin's excellent adventure in Georgia, it's only a matter of time before a change of the helm is made. And I say the sooner the better.

    So far, Obama and Biden are keeping their cool. And that's the way to do it, because name calling, while it may stroke some people's egos, is not going to do it.

    September 4, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
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