September 12th, 2008
08:59 AM ET
10 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 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. Bill Johnson

    I noted that, in Sarah Palin's interview with Charlie Gibson, that she clearly did not even know what the Bush Doctrine is and evaded the question until Mr. Gibson was nice enough to define it for her later.

    So much for being a foreign policy guru. Ms. Palin is apparently not even familiar with her party's basic foreign policy positions.

    And, what about the Bridge To Nowhere? First she was for it, then she was against it-shades of 2004!!! Then had the gall to keep the US taxpayers money allocated to the bridge rather than return it to us.

    My one overriding impression of Ms. Palin was one of hubris-she simply does not know what she does not know, or thinks that it doesn't matter!

    September 12, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  2. Blair

    The ad about John McCain stuck in 1972 was pretty funny. Americans
    should want a president who at least knows how to use a computer.

    Democrats 08.

    September 12, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. manlius

    Seems to be that telling baldfaced lies over and over again (like McCain and Palin have been doing) is what is truly disrespectful.

    September 12, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. jerry

    I have notice a lot of post saying McCain 2008 Clinton 2012, my question to all of you is why vote for McCain for one term, that says that you don't trust him but yet you going to vote for him out of spite?have you been sleeping for the past 8years? How stupid can someone get to wait to make a change 4yrs from now? and do you actually believe that Clinton with get it in 2012? Look at what happen in 2004, we needed a change but yet bush still got in again,

    Think about that choice you have to make I am sure you are hurting in some ways but yet you u want the same thing.

    September 12, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  5. Casey

    I thought it was particularly interesting when McCain justified lying repeatedly to the American people because Obama wouldn't hold town hall meetings with him. By that logic, what will McCain do when some world leader cancels a meeting or decides to change their mind?

    Also, this is just about the closest I've seen the "Liberal" Main Stream Media come to calling McCain and Palin on their lies. And yet, people still come on here and announce how pure and righteous they are. Do they go straight to leaving comments without reading the article or do they live in some other reality?

    September 12, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  6. bert

    Palin will have us at war with every body. She is already calling out other Super Power's and threatining war as the first option. Palin was wrong for that just because of the tone used to make that point about Russia. Palin will continue the wars we are in already and while we are obviously stretched out Palin is courting a conflict with Russia. I am a war veteran ex Marine, so know I believe in protecting this Great Country, but I am smart enough to know that WORDS can start a war or conflict. Palin just showed us the TACT, or lack thereof, she will use if she gets the chance to. Palin uses bad judgments as shown in the way she fired that guy because the guy would not fire Palin's brother in law. Palin gives me a bad vibe. McCain is just another W. Bush and McCain's pick of Palin shows the bad judgements he will continue to use if given the chance. We can not let that happen. We the people deserve better, we deserve a leader who is smart, caring and strong enough with the right temperment to lead us in this globally connected world. People are mad at America because of all of the tough talk to people Palin didn't even take the time to get to know before hand. Palin does not even know what the Bush doctorins are. And Palin is calling out Russia! Palin does not understand all of the things that goes into the job she is applying for. And we will be the ones to pay for Palin's lack of knowledge. We need a leader will be willing to sit down with other leaders first before we have to go to war with them. Obama is that kind of leader! The needs we have and the needs of the people in this world our too great for us not to take advantage of the best candidate available. We do not have time to live in the prejudices of yesterday, we need to act on electing Barack Obama! If we take great action and elect a great man (Barack Obama), we will get great results. Vote for Obama 08 and 2012.

    September 12, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. Steve A. , New Braunfels , Texas

    I agree with Jim, McCain is a wimp for hiding behind a woman, I would like to see the RNC quit protecting her like she is on the indangered species list.

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Dea Dibb

    Disrespecting the elderly Mr. Bama? How bad...first women, now the elder, you have no shame at all?

    This man has been CANDIDATE his hole life. Oh! ím wrong! Candidate AND "comunity organizer"(what?).

    We can afford such king of issued person on the white house. Obama is a sicko. Unprepared, not ready, unfit do lead.


    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. The Voice of Common Sense (Independent Voter - Charlotte, NC)

    Ah...just forget about both of them, folks...Listen to Ron Paul and vote 3rd party now!

    Baldwin/Castle 08

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  10. Rudy NYC

    During her interview with Charlie Gibson, he asked her about Georgia. Didn't she immediately state that she had "already spoken" to the Georgian President and had given him promises of support?

    Palin has already been setting US foreign policy with a foreign leader before she describes what her policy is to the American people? Actually, no. We already know "where she stands" on Georgia because her stance would now be in line with whatever McCain's stance is.

    Why is any presidential candidate speaking privately to foreign leaders about a current crisis? Isn't that pre-empting the White House?

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |

    Its sad to see Palin not getting any negative flap for being a celebrity, I guess its because she is a white woman! Its also sad to see a socalled religious person make up stuff on another person, knowing because she and Mccain is white, that white people tend to believe each other's facts even if they haven't been checked out. Especially, if its on an African American or other minority. All we have to do is look at how many minoritied have been falsely accused and got exonerated by DNA or prejudged just because of black stereotype. They can make up stuff and say anything and not back it up factually, because they know they are speaking to majority white population, who will believe them over Barack Obama anyday! I also am sick of hearing about Barack Obama’s not admitting the surge is working or has worked! The fact is John McCain voted for the Iraq War which has cost Americans a trillion dollars. Does John McCain take credit for the trillion dollars in debt, or our failing economy, caving infrastructure, diminished reputation around the world and the American dollar’s down turn? Well, I think Barack Obama saying the surge has worked is a good thing , and I also think John McCain’s persistence in claiming credit for the his and his party’s hoping for deliverance from the deep trench the Iraq war and their worst politically charged judgment decision of the century is obviously an act of desperation! Then during the republican convention they laugh at Barack Obama’s humble beginnings as a community organizer, which I think was another tragic mistake in judgment. When they laugh, they were laughing at Martin Luther King Jr. (whose holiday McCain voted against), C. Chavez, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Fredrick Douglas, Eleanor Roosevelt and many more Americans who weren’t elitest or looked down on the poor! They will not hesitate to do anything!

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  12. Lee

    Obama is an empty suit. He is a rookie wimp!
    Biden has a son that is a Washington LOBBIEST.
    Sarah and John will work to get rid of the scum-bag lobbiest culture that has turned me OFF to federal corrupt government.

    McCain Palin 08

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  13. Good Experience vs. Bad Experience

    American Airman: John McCain has voted with Bush 90% of the time. THAT is why his experience in Washington is not good experience. Joe Biden has been in Washington for a long time but has been on the RIGHT side of those failed Republican policies.

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. Rebecca

    She is a liar. And how about CNN report on the Troopergate scandal and how Palin abused her power. It is pretty clear she is guilty in the fact that she is now trying to cover it up and won't cooperate like she said she would.

    Palin also will not release a mound of emails that she is being accused of campaigning from her official computer citing EXECUTIVE PRIVELAGE. Sound familiar? Yes, Bush and Cheney have cited that same privelage more than any other President in history. The problem is that Todd Palin, not a government official, was copied on many of those emails she will not release. Do we really want another 4 years of this?

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  15. Teddyann

    What a disgrace? Sarah Palin bombed that interview. She tried to fudge her way through the questions and barraged the viewers with meaniless words. She is not very smart, and she showed it on national television to millions of voters. She is being used by John McShame to get women votes, but her stupidity have just lost her vote from me. She was like a kid in school trying to come up with the right answers. Sarah Palin is not smarter than a fifth grader, and neither is grandma McShame. Mrs. Palin, please don't compare yourself to Hillary Clinton and her ivery league education. She didn't go to 5 schools in 6 years, and she knows foreign policy. You can't crack the 18 million voters ceilling, you are not smart enough. You are being used by the rePUBICS, and your dirty laundry will be aired–Troopergate, lies, and please remember every idle word you have said will come back to haunt.

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. texas mama for obama

    Finally, someone even mentions the fact that at the RNC people were wearing very sexist buttons..."McCain and the HOT CHICK...please don't scream sexism will backfire...

    September 12, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  17. Chi from NJ

    If anyone is desperate..It's definitely the Obama Campaign...It's definitely not like them to throw so much attacks out in such a short period of time..especially when most of them are directed to Sarah Palin.
    So let's see...
    Ever since Sarah Palin joined Mccain, the polls have been in his favor
    and Obama is realizing that this will actually be a REAL much for thinking that the american people would just hand you the job of president because he keeps yelling Change!
    I want change, but he is not the kind of change i want, He spent his 2 yrs in washington running for president. I have to admitt that i didn't know who the man was until i heard he was running for much for bringing change, he obviously wasn't fighting that hard for it. If he becomes president, he'll probably spend those 4 yrs yelling change all over again, running for a second term and in the end not bringing any new change....
    If he wants change...Sarah Palin is change...

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  18. Pat

    Could we please all stop lowering ourselves to the Karl Rove method of smear attacks. It gets us no where. Our country deserves better. Was yesterday just a facade? Stop acting like unruly children on the playground and start acting like adults.

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  19. NoDumbA$$ Cheesehead, WI

    Funny how last night at the FORUM McCain suggested that negative campaigns could have been AVOIDED if Obama accepted his offer of weekly town hall meetings.

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. nerakami

    I am gravely sickened that almost everyone, commentators and voters alike think that Obama has to "attack" McSame to reclaim his credibility.... as a mother of an impressionable 11 yr. old , there is something very wrong with that premise.

    Are we really saying that the only way to elect a President in this nation is to go into nasty, negative, attack-style politics? That is very troubling. The highest position in the land and the process is about attacking and belittling your opponent in the nastiest ways?

    The media commentators are "egging" this on to the point where the public is thinking Obama will not appear qualified unless he joins McSame in the gutter.

    Let me say this, if that is how we elect our President... AMERICA DOES NOT DESERVE ANY MAN OR WOMAN OF INTEGRITY TO LEAD THIS NATION.

    We will remain stuck in the cyle of choosing people who will continually lie and deceive us as President. It's a simple case of... getting what we ask for....

    this is a shameful day in America.

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  21. Independent Voter

    John "I was a POW" McCain when will you stop with the negative ads and come up with a plan on how you will get this country back on the right track or are you really just for more years of Bush.

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  22. Cor

    I am so disgusted with how my fellow Americans are falling yet again for the lies, smoke, and mirrors the Republican machine is throwing at them. This is the same tactic that Bush used in his elections. I guess policy isn’t the only thing McCain mirrors Bush on. Why is every time we have an intelligent, clear thinking, honest and correct policy wielding person running we go into the voting booth with brain damage and vote for the other person. I just don’t understand why. As a former President said “How many times do you have to get hit over the head with a hammer before you realize who is hitting you?” Enough! Its one thing to vote because you understand both candidates’ policies and agree more with the other. However, to vote without any understanding or knowledge and only just lies, TV ads, and misinformation is a severe punch to the gut to anyone who has ever served or died to protect one of the most pure and powerful of our rights as Americans. I say this through the eyes of a veteran, blue collar worker, now college graduate, and partner in a small startup business. We are facing without a doubt some of the toughest times in our American history and you have to decide, do we move forward or go backwards, Do we care about what our nation will be ten years from now, For the first time in a long time I fear that our children will be left worse off than our parents left us. That scares me as a strong patriot.

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  23. East Coast Bum

    Did you guys see the so-called 'interview" of sarah the liar last night...what a joke. Charles Gibson was not tough at all, or atleast did not ask the right questions. The bookgate/troopergate/fill in the blank gate is what I wanted him to focus on. She was a very bad pick in my view, but hey who the heck am I, right!!

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  24. KW

    I saw the interview last night and she failed. Sara Palin does not have foreign policy experience to deal with the world leaders. The republicans will try like heck to spin this that she hailed her own. The facts are the facts and she did not. When will the news media hold these people accountable for answering the questions that are asked? John McCain did and interview yesterday, please see "Huffington Post" for results. McCain was asked how does S.P. foreign policy experience make her ready to be presidend? He responded with, S.P. has a lot of knowlede on energy. He kept spinning this B.S. over and over. When are we going to get some real question and answers? Any one who is of draft age better be wary of a McCain/Palin adminitration. You will be going to WAR before you even know it.

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  25. Nate HUSSEIN

    Everyone saying Palin '08 and Hillary '12, are you serious? Do you really think that Hillary will have a chance in 2012 or 2016 if Palin is seen as the incumbant? Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.....sheez.

    Obama/Biden 08'
    Clinton/Sebelius 16'

    September 12, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
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