September 12th, 2008
08:59 AM ET
6 years ago

McCain, Obama exchange fire in tough new ads, memo

McCain, Obama campaigns released a string of ads Friday.
McCain, Obama campaigns released a string of ads Friday.

(CNN) - The temperature in an already-heated race rose a few degrees Friday in a flurry of overnight ads and memos from the McCain and Obama campaigns accusing each other of unfair attacks, desperation, lies, and gutter politics.

The McCain team called the Obama campaign’s charges "disrespectful." The Obama campaign again said McCain is “out of touch,” and seemed to imply the number of years McCain has been in Washington might be partly to blame, in what could be interpreted as an indirect reference to the Arizona senator’s age - as the Democrat’s campaign manager vowed to respond to attacks with “speed and ferocity.”

Watch: New McCain ad calls Obama 'disrespectful.'

Two days after releasing an ad that portrayed Democrats as a pack of wolves hunting down Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin, the McCain team launched a 30-second spot aimed at what they called “the Obama campaign's desperate efforts to attack and smear Governor Sarah Palin.”

Watch: New Obama ad paints McCain as out-of-touch

“He was the world's biggest celebrity, but his star's fading,” says the announcer. “So they lashed out at Sarah Palin. Dismissed her as ‘good looking.’ That backfired, so they said she was doing, ‘what she was told.’ Then desperately called Sarah Palin a liar.

“How disrespectful. And how Governor Sarah Palin proves them wrong, every day.”

But the ad’s implication that Obama, who is shown as the “good looking” quote is relayed, is incorrect. Obama's running mate Sen. Joe Biden offered the remark not as an attack, but as a compliment, joking to a campaign crowd that the "obvious" difference between Palin and himself is that "she's good looking" – a toned-down version of the message sported on buttons worn by Republican delegates at their convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, which described the Alaska governor as “hot.”

And as Factcheck.org points out, the quote "they said she was doing 'what she was told' appears to have been distorted from its original context. The Obama adviser quoted was not saying Palin was “meekly following orders,” Factcheck says - he was actually softening the accusation that she had lied about Obama’s legislative record by adding that the errors were not necessarily deliberate on her part: "Maybe that's what she was told" about his voting history.

The Obama team released two new ads of its own overnight, along with a tough new memo from campaign manager Devid Plouffe that accused McCain and his campaign of turning to “smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues.”

The first ad refers to the number of years McCain has been in Washington to paint him as out of touch: “1982. John McCain goes to Washington,” says the announcer. “Things have changed in the last 26 years. But McCain hasn’t.

“He admits he still doesn’t know how to use a computer, can’t send an e-mail. Still doesn’t understand the economy. And favors two hundred billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class.

“After one President who was out of touch… We just can’t afford more of the same.”

Listen to an Obama campaign conference call on the state of the race

In a July interview with The New York Times, McCain said that he didn't e-mail - "I don't e-mail, I've never felt a particular need to e-mail." He said his aides “go on for me,” but added “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Friday that the senator "travels with a laptop, and knows how to use a computer."

The second spot does not mention McCain at all “We’ve heard a lot of talk about change this year. The question is, change to what?” asks Obama himself.

“To me, change is a government that doesn’t let banks and oil companies rip off the American people. Change is when we finally fix health care instead of just talking about it. Change is giving tax breaks to middle class families instead of companies that send jobs overseas. Change is a president who brings people together.

“I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message because this year, change has to be more than a slogan.”

The ads were followed by a related memo from Plouffe.

“Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign, and today we are releasing two new ads that go directly at the fundamental issue in this race: John McCain is out of touch with the American people and unable to address the challenges facing the country in the 21st century and bring about real change, and that Barack Obama is the candidate who will bring about change that works for the middle class,” he wrote.

“We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people," Plouffe wrote. "We will not allow John McCain and his band of Karl Rove disciples to make this big election about small things.”

Plouffe said Biden would act as a central attack dog figure. He also tried to goad the media, which has been a target of the McCain campaign, pointing to what he called “discrepancies” in the Republican nominee’s message and reminding reporters that McCain’s manager said the press should treat her with “deference.”

The McCain campaign said its new ad would air in "key states;" the Obama camp also said the two new spots would air in "key states," and on national cable television. Neither would reveal the extent of their ad buys.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. jason, tx

    obama is right and mccain is full of it,

    September 12, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  2. TyWebb

    Palin is "good-looking" and she did lie.

    September 12, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  3. hello

    I did not find any depth or thinking in her answer, not a well read person like our present president.

    September 12, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. American Ariman

    How can Obama criticize McCain for the problems in Washington when his own running mate has been in Washington longer than McCain? Also, what has Obama done to change Washington in his two years in the US Senate? The answer, nothing, he has used those two years to run for President.

    Obama is an empty suit.

    Country First.

    September 12, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. lol

    the sexism spewing out of the democrats is beyond belief. you think the dnc would have learned after the outrage people had after hillary's brutal treatment. obama is sinking fast, he is becoming unhinged, and so are his surrogates. mccain/palin 08, hillary 2012!

    September 12, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  6. American Voter

    I thought Henry Higgins did a pretty good job of preparing Liza Doolittle for her interview yesterday. Who cares about the country or family values? My money is on Henry Higgins.

    September 12, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  7. Independent Women for Obama

    Republicans you have had your way with negative ads throughout this campaign. You cannot have it both ways. Palin and McCain are liars. Everyone has heard their speaches.

    She is a "pig with lipstick" and should not be in the next administration. Can we say "Oink! Oink"...

    September 12, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  8. Lets-Meetup.com

    It's really irritating watching these ads and candidates trying to pull each other down....

    September 12, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  9. Spencer from VA

    More importantly than the ads, I want to know why McCain hasn't denounced Rudy Giuliani and Sara Palin's comments about community organizers. Last night in that service forum, he should have been called out on that.

    September 12, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  10. USMC Mike

    Ohhh boy – o- boy ...

    The GoP is getting frickin' desparate ...

    Too funny... Palin was exposed last night on ABC for how weak she really is ... If the election was last week, McCain might have won, he should have waited until the weekend before the election to announce her as his VP pick....

    It's all coming apart ... the folks I watched the interview with last night all said she's going to be "dangerous" as a VP ...

    Popular vote (not that it matters) will be:
    55% – 44 %
    Obama

    September 12, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  11. East Coast Bum

    Not only is she a liar, so is John Mc90%. That is a fact, but they still put lies on the airwaves. I would like to know, as Americans, WHY do we put up with that kind of politics? Really. It makes no sence to me. John Mc90% has only the same to offer, so he is allowed to say ANYTHING on TV that is TOTALLY unture and proven, to play the uniformned. That fact alone makes me even more to vote for OBAMA.

    September 12, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  12. HillDem

    Sure, Meeting with Clintons have put fire in his belley...

    September 12, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  13. JENNY

    PLOUFFE - THE ADS SUCK - GET TOUGH OR LOSE

    September 12, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  14. pat C.

    obama should never mention sarah palin at this point. mccain is trying to get him on attack of her and this takes him off message. mccains ad is rediculous and makes him look like he is defending his daughter instead of running a race for the whitehouse! biden should be the one to go after palin. with obama attacking sarah it just gives her more importance than what she deserves. remember obama ...it is mccain that you are running against and you are soooo much better than that old fraud!

    September 12, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  15. Jim

    McCain is a wimp for hiding behind a woman. Secondly, if Sarah Palin can't take the heat of an election whe should go back to Alaska where it is nice and cold.

    September 12, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  16. Jim

    Mccain's campaign is a dispicable circus freak show and I cannot WAIT until November when they get their reality check!

    September 12, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  17. REPUBLICAN FOR OBAMA

    PLEASE OBAMA CAMPAIGN DONT TALK ABOUT PLEASE BE ABOUT IF THEY ATTACK U COME BACK TEN TIMES HARSHER DO NOT RELAX. THIS IS FOR OUR FUTURE THIS GUYS ARE PHONIES I CAN BELIEVE I EVER VOTED TO THIS REPUBLICAN PARTY

    September 12, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  18. Too Bad

    PALIN IS A COWARD AND A LIAR... and so is John McCain for running such an ad – what about the real issues facing the American people, and the global economy for that matter??? What about accountability? Healthcare? And now we are engaged in 3 poorly planned WARS??? Plus sanctions against Russia??? Who is buying this crap?

    And why isn't Karl Rove in jail?

    The republicans are finished, and this kind of desperation just shows you.

    Please vote for America, even if you choose Barr or Nader or write in Hillary's name. Keep the republicans OUT OF OFFICE!!!

    September 12, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  19. LOL

    DING DINIG DING .....

    The fight begins.

    September 12, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  20. Darryl

    The Sad story is when Gov Palin who in a intereview said that tough sanction against Russsia may be needed.. She really does not understand the world as it is.

    You can not threaten sanction again another super power such as Russia during a election yea r. Now this is some that you bring up to NATO and for some that congress and the president that should take about not some one that does not even have the knowledge of what the VP actualy do!!

    She is truly an AIRHEAD with a pretty face..I have seen many people elected on even less..

    Go ahead grandpa and your bnext wife..

    September 12, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  21. Elizabeth in Texas

    How about CNN report on the falty MILLIONS of voter ballots that the McCain campaign mailed out to Ohio and North Carolina. Media, DO YOUR JOB.

    September 12, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  22. Oh Boy!!!???

    Is 3 weeks enough training for an interview.

    Deference, why? Is this what we will say to foreign adversaries?

    "Go easy on this one, she is a girl, and pretty new to boot."

    PLEASE.

    A Pit Bull that needs to be pampered, no less.

    September 12, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  23. Palin has more experience than Obama

    Obama = change..........nope.....just another person running for the White House.

    September 12, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  24. kim,richmond,va

    The republican party needs to give it a rest and focus on the issues. This is unbelievable! If we can't take McCain/Palin serious, how in the hell would the rest of the world. Stay on the path of the issues and I guarantee, Obama/Biden will win the election. McCain is acting like a grumpy old man and Palin is acting like a ditzy receptionist from the 70's "WKRP" tv show who think she is more important than she is, give me a break!! Ughhh!!!

    September 12, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  25. Darryl

    The Sad story is when Gov Palin who in a intereview said that tough sanction against Russia may be needed.. She really does not understand the world as it is.

    You can not threaten sanction again another super power such as Russia during a election yea r. Now this is some that you bring up to NATO and for some that congress and the president that should take about not some one that does not even have the knowledge of what the VP actualy do!!

    She is truly an AIRHEAD with a pretty face..I have seen many people elected on even less..

    Go ahead grandpa and your bnext wife..

    September 12, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
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