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. Jan From Boca Raton Fl

    All we have to do is sit back and wait,the Republicians are going
    to bury themselves. And the lipstick pitbull toting mama ,well
    the truth will come out.

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

    Get at him B...Enough is enough!

    September 12, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  3. We love Sarah

    I wonder if McCain will ever talk about America's problems and what he wants to do to help Americans; and without his constant cheap talk of America first (he has yet to prove this).

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

    haha zing!

    September 12, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. Clinton, no, wait, McCain Supporter

    Palin is truly insufferable! Now she thinks adding yet another war tothe tab is our "obligation." REALLY????

    What an ignorant person! It sure says a lot about Alaska that she was elected governor. I used to think it would be interesting to go there. Forget I ever said that!

    I prefer a governor who would raise a son who wanted to go to college, not to war. And the daughter and her boyfriend are dropouts. What a record of achievement!

    As a disaffected Clinton supporter, I had decided to vote for McCain-but who can do THAT?!

    Does that mean I'll vote for the DNC selection process? Or for the racist sexist Obama?

    No way. I'm sitting this one out. I have standards, too, Mr. Obama, and they don't include you or Mrs. Palin.

    Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, anybody. Yeah, anybody.

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

    LETS GET IT ON ...

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

    she reminds me of a young teenager cheerleader with a VERY BIG MOUTH. but nothig in her ehad at all.

    September 12, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  8. Palin is A Step Back In Time John Mccain is Older than the Telephone

    Obama needs to keep hitting those Republican the Reason gore and Kerry Lost is because they did not figh the smears this time we will fight the Smears donate to the campagign

    September 12, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  9. You Can Run But You Can Not Hide!

    Now you guys must be kidding! Palin belittled "Community Organizers" and Obama GOP convention and you backboneless individuals won't own it, worst of all your leader McCain at the interview with Judy (SP)had the gut to pander "Community Organizers", etc ! You guys are shameless!
    McCain Flip-Flopping have reach such heights in its lows that is amazing how unreliable McCain is!
    Honourable people do stand by their words and acts, obviously it does not apply to Elites like McCain and Palin. What examples are you guys setting for the next generation, is it pack of lies and smears?
    McCain used the "pig with lipstick ..." expression without anyone seeing negative but when Obama did GOP propaganda advocates/ministers were all over it! We are no fools, we are watching every step you are taking!

    September 12, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  10. Doug R.

    It's very evident John McCain is completely out of touch with the American people. It's like he doesn't know what to do. Just look at this man. He cannot tell the truth, he whines about everything, he's a fraud.
    He needs to retire to one of his 7 or 8 houses.

    September 12, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  11. Purple in a Red State

    After watching Palin's responses to the questions Charlie Gibson asked, the Obama campaign has plenty of new ammunition. She really displayed her ignorance on a wide range of subjects.

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

    I too am concerned about the tone of the presidential campaign.
    If only someone had suggested a series of town hall meetings.....


    September 12, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  13. CC Reston VA

    That is what I am talking about OBAMA get McCain and throw him away! I know some of us Americans are stupid but we can't afford them to be this time. This is getting really crazy playing games with Sarah Palin like the issues don't matter any more. They accused you of being inexperienced now they feel that cocky wacko is? Do the republicans realize the precedence they are setting? Anyone with 2 years so called executive experience will feel qualified to run for the Presidency even if they are the governor GUAM. Talk about hypocrisy at its best. This election is yours and OURS the American people not the lobbyists and big companies. Look at Russia and China for crying out loud they are growing economically at a geometric rate.

    Republicans are really stupid!

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

    I don't pay any attention to the McCain ads against Obama, I have found so many lies in them, that I ignore them....they should get their facts straight....I find that they are making FOOLS of themselves on all those "incorrect ads." I even put their ads on MUTE or change the channel.....McCain ought to tell ROVE that he is really off base on all his ads that he is making up for McLame.....

    NO WAY NO HOW NO MCCAIN/PALIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    Pour it on! Douse the G.O.P. smear machine with a little fire of your own!


    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  16. Adam

    You can put a rookie Harvard grad in this election cycle, but hes still a rookie

    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  17. KJ, GA

    I'm glad Obama campaign is responding with quickly and succinctly. Republicans ads are complete lies and fabrications, it's really kinds sad how many Americans are allwoing themselves to be wooed by Palin and McCain....such a shame that they don't see the truth.

    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  18. Christine

    By all means Democrats, attack. That will show Sen. Obama as the Chicago Pol he is, rather than the ' great change and hope in politics'.

    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  19. Cynthia

    Senator McCain tends to forget things or is not really aware of what things in campaign people are putting out there. He said that he would run an honorable campaign – if his campaign is being honorable I would hate to see what he calls dishonorable. Just think of the ad they ran saying Senator Obama wanted to teach kindergarten children about sex when in reality the bill wanted to teach children about pedophilia.

    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  20. GOP=win at all cost....Lies are currency with uneducated base

    Nice, way to give only the McCain attack ad. Fair and balanced I guess.

    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  21. ATLian

    McCain comes out with these ads with half-truths and lies. When Obama responds with the truth they cry foul or "sexism". And did McCain know at the convention that he would be siting on a stage in front of the American people talking about national service when his cohorts were mocking Obama for his community organizing? What a hypocrite.

    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. Steve

    Why does McCain continue to put out these empty ads? I was an early McCain supporter, but I can't vote for him if this continues. In my heart, I believe this isn't the real McCain – come on, John – bring back the old McCain!

    September 12, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  23. Lisa M

    Typical political lying.

    What a bunch of idiots.

    Must be if you throw enough mud some of it will stick.

    September 12, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  24. steveg

    How McCain can claim to be running a campaign on the issues is beyond me, and having the gall to accuse the Obama campaign of being negative would be ludicrous if it were not so pathetic in its transparency.

    Even sadder is people are buying into without listening to what each man is saying. One is a politician, and one is a leader. If you have to ask which is which, read or listen to what the candidates have said and stop listening to the surrogates and talking heads at CNN, Fox, MSNBC, etc..

    September 12, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  25. Chris

    Another lie ad by John Mccain and another high road, issue minded response by Barack Obama.... If the majority of American people aren't idiots, I like our chances.

    Obama/Biden 08/12

    September 12, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
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