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. Vincent Spaulding

    Palin is an idiot as was demonstrated during the interview with Charlie Gibson. She is no more than a prop that speaks on the campaign trail. If she's qualified to be a VP nominee, a simple reduction in the age requirement would qualify every 7th grader in this country. As for McCain's age, well, age alone is not really the issue. The real problem is his physical and mental condition for his age. I key and submit these words with the certainty that he will never read them since computers are just too complicated for that throwback.

    September 12, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  2. none American

    if you Americans are stupid enough to put an other republican
    in the Whitehouse you deserve all you get

    September 12, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  3. Dee Jay a young republican

    McCain is so scared to talk about the issues, thats why las night he really had no answer to why his campaign has been negitive

    Obama/Biden are whats needed to get us out of this mess

    September 12, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  4. Judy in Minnesota

    I think it's obvious that the Republican's are running scared. They know that Gov Palin is the empty suit. Not a bad person...just not qualified. Their accusations are getting more ridiculous every day.

    September 12, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  5. Trent

    That interview with Palin, DID NOT leave me thinking I want her as president or vice president.

    The bush doctorine? You are running for VICE PRESIDENT and you dont know the bush doctorine? I disagree with David Gergen, when he said that he felt sympathy for her on that one. This is a big deal, I don't understand why people are thinking she is ok. She has only been to Canada, Mexico, and Germany/Kuwait once...IN HER ENTIRE LIFE. That is like me saying (living in Minnesota), I went to Wisconsin, Mexico and I had a trip overseas. Have you ever met a head of state? " No, but I think a lot of VP candidates may have not either." This is false. This should never happen. She needs to do her homework otherwise on Oct. 2nd, all this is going to come to a screeching halt with Biden. And this coming from someone who was going to vote for them.

    September 12, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. Bruce

    This is just getting stupid....
    It is time for all of them to stop acting like children and to start to discuss the issue and what they are going to do.
    Get both campaigns out of the gutter, becuase the country is going down the drain.
    One candidate says country first, but he has not said how he is going to do this, and his VP nominee is so green and without knolwdgge she deos nto even know what the " Bush Doctrine" is, and can do nothiong but repeat what she told.
    On the other side..we have a VP candidate who says he is not the best choice. make you wonder if he really wants the job, and a candidate that took his eye off the ball and is not discussing the issue with the other candidate fro President.
    It is a sad state of affairs in the country....Canada is looking better and better....

    September 12, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  7. elisabet

    My friends, I have morphed into a Carl Rove attack dog, it is not my fault, it is the Barracuda infection.

    September 12, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. Jeff an Independent

    It's McCain that's desperate: witness the VP from nowhere as an "identity" vote grab, the flurry of attacks. Well, this MOOSE IN THE HEADLIGHTS who wants to GO TO WAR WITH RUSSIA will be his undoing.

    September 12, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  9. Jeff

    This race has degenerated into a mudslinging free for all, spending time and resources on personal attacks rather than address the issues in an intelligent and pragmatic manner. We would have expected as much out of McCain, but Obama who we Democrats attempt to portray as the Messiah of a "new kind of politics" and "change in Washington D.C." consistently shows us that he is not really any different than any other politician. What a disgrace. I will be sitting this election out as I sure won’t vote Republican, but I cannot support Obama either. Obama is a suit filled with ego and hot air and very little substance. And that wife of his, ugghhh...

    September 12, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  10. Clinton/McCain

    The Obama campaign is desperate. How sad. This Democrat will be voting for McCain.

    September 12, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  11. tim

    Palin's interview.... can you say "deer in the headights"???

    She looked nervous and unprepared. I can't believe she tried to link national security to energy. Gibson was right to question her on that because it was a dumb statement that she gave. She was insistent that she was prepared by having power over the national guard. Please!

    September 12, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  12. ES NYC

    I am now more and more convinced that a Mc Cain/Palin administration would be worse than Bush.

    Obama will bring back the American Dream that has become a nightmare.

    September 12, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  13. We love Sarah

    Noticed how CNN removed ALL the negative comments made about Palin from bloggers in several articles, or removed entirely.

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

    Omaha, NE loves Barack Obama

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

    America needs help.if we vote McCain into office,we are in for hell.I cannot believe that we are this stupid.

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

    The difference between these ads is Obama's are clever, and McCain's take quotes out of context and turn them into bold faced lies.

    September 12, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  17. linda from prescott

    McCain has done nothing but release dis-respectful dare he complain when we fight back.

    September 12, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  18. Danielle --VA

    Republicans lying and smearing their way into the White House again. The fact that the American people eat up their disgusting tactics with a spoon never ceases to amaze.

    September 12, 2008 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. FEED UP

    I love Obama but he really needs to get a new ad team!

    The ad that Obama did himself on Change is really good but the other one is so lame! He had run a brilliant campaign so far with the ad team being the only exception. He needs to hire some of Clinton's ad team.

    Having said that I think McCain is a man who claims to have honor and is proving that he has none. He is forcing Obama to defend all the lies that McCain is telling and for the most part people just don't follow this election close enough to be able to know that they are lies. Obama has enough truths out there about McCain to bury him .

    I pray Obama either get's a new ad team or they step it up a few notches.

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

    You can tell the Obama team is slipping in the polls-
    So much for a new kind of politics-
    We always knew he was just another Liberal with some ideas and no way to pay for them-
    He should have picked Hillary as his VP-
    Inexperience and so much of himself - he couldn't do it-
    Now he begs the Clintons and Dem Women to help-
    He can't make 1 correct judgement call with all the time he had to make it-
    He is truly an empty suit-
    It's Over–

    September 12, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  21. rory

    McCain you are not a leader . A leader does not need to stoop as low as you have. What does your cut downs have to do with running the country * uck all. Wow. Feable.

    September 12, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  22. EBC


    John McCain is still all about attacks. lies and scandals...



    September 12, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  23. Maggie

    So... what are the issues again?

    Remember? Issues? The things the nominees are supposed to be talking about before the election?

    September 12, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. Done with Dems

    Enough with the ads. Bring on the debates!!! The dem camp looks desperate and confused.

    September 12, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |

    I am very disappointed in Senator Obama. He PROMISED us all there would be "No More Politics as Usual" yet he is the ULTIMATE politician...
    I wish I could get my money back...

    September 12, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
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