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. TRUTH

    Stick to the issues: Who do we TRUST to be our president. McCain, through his ACTIONS, has earned our TRUST. Obama, so far, has only offered WORDS. He may still EARN our TRUST through a track record of ACTIONS to come, but clearly he does not have one yet.

    We all know politicians will say ANYTHING to win... we saw that over the past two years with the battle between Clinton and Obama. We also know that politician's WORDS are empty – to be reversed faster than a stoplight going green to red.... or to be disavowed as "I misspoke" or some other excuse.

    ACTIONS speak louder than WORDS. McCain has a track record of ACTIONS. Obama only has WORDS.

    September 12, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  2. angie - dallas -28

    American Ariman- OBAMA is running for president against McShame, NOT BIDEN.... Is was the smart one to have someone who knows the b.s. that goes on and has stood for more than keeping federal money and saying "they did well"

    do we really want a war with russia, and afganistan, and iran and pakistan all while STILL FIGHTING IN IRAQ???

    i'm voting OBAMA / BIDEN i don't care who you're voting for but if you want to stay out of WWIII don't punch that hole, or pull that level for the republican candidates this year!! VOTE 3RD PARTY- NADER, BARR, MCKINNEY, THEY ALL BRING SOMETHING WE SO DESPERATELY NEED, SO DOES BARACK OBAMA!

    September 12, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  3. R, Ohio

    McCain's manager states that the press should treat Palin with "deference". Oh give me a break!!! Can we say DOUBLE STANDARD! If she gives a punch, she should be able to take a punch. She has entered a new league with the big dogs. She CAN'T have it both ways. What?? Treat her like a lady, don't criticize too much, it's sexist. But on the other hand she's strong enough and intelligent enough to hold a position as any other man has in the past. She's free game just as MCCain, Obama, and Biden are.

    September 12, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. R. Phillips

    Obama needs to just ignore them...ESPECIALLY PALIN...and just get back to his message and his plan...cause let's not forget Obama is the one with the plans and the real message of change. Mcsame and Palin just copied him because they know they don't stand a chance.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08!!!!

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

    The republicans opened that door with those buttons. I think it's childish for them to cry foul when a democratic canidate makes reference to her that is not sexist. The comment Joe Biden made was innocent enough and was meant as a compliment. There is a double standard here. Now everything the democrats say in regards to Palin is "sexist". This will become more and more apparent and if the McCain keeps up this strategy they will inadvertently present her as fragile. Oh don't say anything about Sarah or it might offend her. This undermines any confidence that she can stand fast in the face of the leaders of the rest of the world. It makes her look like she needs protecting. She should be offended that the Republicans treat her this way. She is either a future leader of this nation or a gimmick to win votes. If the later is true she should be highly offended and the rest of us should be offended for her.

    September 12, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  6. Big D

    I'm so disappointed to see McCain whine about how the Obama campaign has treated Palin. For the most part, they've treated her with dignity and respect. In some cases, they went out of their way to keep the tone positive. But she sure hasn't returned the courtesy to them. She's mocked and insulted them over and over. And then when they say anything, even if it's of a much lower magnitude, she and McCain complain and display false outrage. Even factcheck is appalled at how McCain has distorted this issue!

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

    Why all this hoopla over Palin's "good looking" status.
    Don't people in her own state have a bumper sticker that says something about "Hottest Governor"?
    She wasn't insulted by that was she???
    I am sick of all this wimpy whinny crap from the McCain campaign.
    She is supposed to be a pit bull. My poodle has a thicker skin than she does.

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

    I have been checking daily to see what is posted there. The 'ads' distributed by the McCain campaign are disgusting. The distortions and outright lies contained in them are truly staggering. When is the press going to lay into the McCain campaign and expose it for what it is? Gutter politics!

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

    I am tired of all this...both parties should be ashamed,
    The country is going down the drain, and yes epoelmthe threat of a dperession is real and grwoing get back to telling us what you are going to do, and how, and not all this attacking and stupid stuff...there is way too much at stake in this election for politics as usual, that we have enbdured for 8 years.

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

    When she started talking about the BUSH Doctrin she proved beyond a doubt that ther is NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HER AND BUSH. The idea that if you just think you might be acctack give you the RIGHT to attack first is exactly what got us into IRAQ.

    That line of thinking could be used by RUSSA to gustify their actions in Georga. Once you open that logic you leave the world in danger. She wants a new COLD WAR so the wepons companies can get rich. So she can pump more oil out of Alaska and make more profit.

    September 12, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  11. McCain wants women to Vote Vagina!

    I would like to see ONE John McCain ad speaking about him that doesn't have the phrase "P.O.W" or "Maverick". I don't particularly care right now about what he used to do or be. What I am interested is in what he is going to do in the future. And the Obama campaign needs to start attacking his LIES. I was watching Morning Joe before work and the man on there from a factcheck website said ALL of McCain's ads are barely true. It distorting the facts... which to me is called lying.

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  12. AM

    The republican mentality is: Win elections by any means necessary. Slush and burn politics. The Obama campaign should stop being nice and start attacking them harder and harder. For the republicans the end justifies the means. As long as they win they don't really care about running a decent campaign or a campaign about the issues or lying or telling hafl-truths. If you don't win you can't bring about the necessary changes that this country needs. So, let the gloves come off. Play them by their game. In the end, if you lose you will be remembered as having LOST and not as having a decent campaign although you have lost.

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  13. Mariam-Chicago

    excuse me, to the comment left by "lol", I am a woman, and by no means do you see Obama playing the race card. I mean Palin herself said in an interview about Senator Clinton that women should not play the sexism card at all, and if anything, then puts them behind. Please, save your words for something that is right. Because when you get into a tough race, be ready to be ridiculed by everyone, whether it is right or wrong. And in this case, Obama is not being sexist at all. ANd for your information, McCain has used that pig and lipstick comment before, aimed directly at Senator Clinton.

    This time, Obama was referring that to McCain, not even driectly to a woman. Get your facts straight.

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  14. The Bush Twins : George and John

    Whatever you do boys, protect Sarah. Since she can't seem to come out on her own right now and speak without reciting the same "I am a hockey mom" line. If she knew what she were doing, why is she being guarded?. She should have already been out on the trail. But you guys have to prepare her for that. If she can't take the heat ...

    This is one white woman that will not buy the into Sarah !!

    Go Obama !!

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  15. Grandma for Obama

    McCain claims to have made changes in Washington, shook it up, blah blah blah.

    Can somebody please tell me all these GREAT things he'd done for us commong folks in the past 26 years.

    You know common Americans, who don't own $500 shoes, seven homes, don't make $5 million, or $1 million for all that matters.

    What have you don't for me John McCain in the past 26 years,


    You're no Maverick, you're one of the good Ole boys. Period!

    Grandma for Obama

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. A Hillary Democrat

    Obama is a sexist and is doing the same dirty tactics he did with Hillary. Why? If he would have chose Hillary as VP he would have won the election and now he is desperate. McCain in 2208 and Hillary in 2012

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Shane

    Did you see the Charlie Gibson interview with Sarah Palin. She had to no clue what the Bush Doctrine was. She didn't even know how to answer foreign policy questions. She look like a bumbling fool, kind of reminds me of Bush lol. That's why hockey moms and 20 month governors can't be a heartbeat away from the Presidency.

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  18. BFields

    Sarah Palin *is* a liar. Everyone knows it. John McCain might be a war hero – but he had poor judgement when choosing her. My vote is for Obama.

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  19. Stephen

    The libs are so accepting of everyone, unless you don't think exactly like them.

    The problem with the Democrats and their current campaign is that they are not trying to beat John McCain and Sarah Palin, they are trying to rid the earth of the Republican party...sorry to tell you folks that this is obviously not going to work.

    Mt Rushmore= 3 republicans, no democrats.

    Keep trying to tell us the republican pary (as a whole) are lyars and cheats, and you will lose because you are making generalizations (that' obama's plan). Sweeping generalizations about everything except race.

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  20. H. Charles

    Anyone who supports the republican lies that Factcheck has pointed out is an idiot. Palin and simple. I mean, plain and simple. If you help to get McCain elected, you'll get exactly what you deserve...the same thing you've been getting for the last 8 years after you voted twice for Bush.

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  21. Grandma for Obama

    ..McCain claims to have made changes in Washington, shook it up, blah blah blah.

    Can somebody please tell me all these GREAT things he'd done for us commong folks in the past 26 years.

    You know common Americans, who don't own $500 shoes, seven homes, don't make $5 million, or $1 million for all that matters.

    What have you don't for me John McCain in the past 26 years,


    You're no Maverick, you're one of the good Ole boys. Period!

    Grandma for Obama

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  22. Magdalene

    I used to respect and support McSame until he became the GOP nominee and took a rapid 360 degree turn. Where is the maverick in him when he's stood so low by lying to the American people and distorting OBAMA's record? OBAMA has two little girls of his own and it's disturbing that McSame accusses him of teaching kids about sex before they could learn to read. As a parent this makes me sick to my stomach and anyone who doubts that McCain is another Bush needs a reality check. What Washington is he going to reform when his top advisers have ties to lobbying firm. McCain keeps saying how he knows how to fix Washington, win the WARS and catch Bin Laden, however, he hasn't given this information to the FBI until we elect him oue President. I have a message for McSame and it's thanks but no thanks.
    Boston, MA

    September 12, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  23. Truth Squad..?

    The McCain camp would have nothing to run on if they didn't steal from Obama, Lie and put their "cult of personality" nut job VP up front to hide behind. John McCain is dead wrong on every issue, unless you love war and blindly bombing your way through foriegn policy.. He has no idea what the common man needs, or you could say a lack of SA, which is probably why he had so many problems keeping his planes aloft. after getting laid off I have lived the whole "temporary" job lunacy that he calls his economic policy, let me tell you, with a republican in office, that higher paying, permanent job will never come.
    It will only be four more years of the same. Trickle down has never worked and republicans can not give one example of when it did. You cannot drill your way out of the high cost of oil, it will take more of your money to drill, and what they will get will only cover 1% of the need! we didnt start drilling in the middle east for kicks and giggles, we did it because it was the only cheap oil left! now you want to give more money to the very people that are making record profits and stealing from you at the pump? GET REAL! McCain has flip flopped the reall issues countless times and his VP can't be trusted to run this nation.


    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Chantelle

    Does John McCain actually think that he can hide behind Sara Palin? It it going to become clear eventually that the McCain campaign is not going to focus on the issues it is going to focus on distracting the American public. If people go for this kind of gutter politics and vote for McSame then they deserve everything they get. When are people going to say enough is enough and vote their conscience?

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  25. Mickie in PA

    McCain and Palin are touting real change – what's so different since McCain has all those lobbyists working for his campaign and what's so different with Palin hiring a lobbyist to get earmarks for Alaska. The republicans might buy it because I liken them to the same people that followed religious leader Jim Jones – they will swallow anything even if it's poisonous. The male republicans only like Palin because she doesn't think for herself, defend women's rights, and looks good in a skirt. (I'm a 64 yr old, white, PA female by the way)

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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