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. Tony

    Obama's tone has switched from unchecked arrogance to snide and disrespectful attacks. It's painfully obvious that he thought he had this in the bag along and is blindly swinging now. The few Independents who were still on his side have by now jumped off that sinking ship of "change" and onto the real ticket of change with some actual substance: McCain/Palin.

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  2. Are you kidding CNN

    no article on her saying she would consider war on russia!!!
    No article on her not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is!!!!!

    Start reporting please!!!!!!!!

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. tim in IA

    Enough, already!
    Hey, America!
    Ever wonder why there are so many negative political ads?
    It's because a significant number of Americans react to every attack. We have a huge national problem when we apparently want to believe the worst about our leaders!
    Both Obama and McCain are able and honorable people.
    So, PLEASE people, realize that picking our national leaders is not about tearing them down. We can't afford as a nation to select a leader based on their negatives. They both have them. SO DO YOU!
    The question this year is: Which of these leaders can do the best job for US!
    We have a huge national debt, rising gas and food prices, rising unemployment, rising inflation, record home foreclosures, a costly war in Iraq, inadequate troop levels in Afghanistan, too much money invested in China, too many Americans without health insurance, and lower family incomes!
    These are what we need to talk about! PICK AN ISSUE then ask yourself which candidate has YOUR best interests at heart!
    There's plenty of REAL issues to talk about. The next time a media outlet or polster calls to ask you who you're going to vote for – or sadly, whether stupid attacks make a differnece to you . . . TELL THEM YOU'RE FOCUSED ON THE ISSUES, AND YOU'LL LET THEM KNOW ON ELECTION DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  4. A Concerned American

    Here are four quotes from history that I think best represent the tactics and philosophy of the McCain campaign:

    "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it."

    "All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those whom it seeks to reach."

    "How fortunate for leaders that men do not think."

    "It is not truth that matters, but victory."

    McCain is avoiding the issues, making up lies to distract the American people from the real problems, and trying to make himself an agent of change when it's clear that it is all just talk and hypocrisy. So who said the quotes above? One of histories most despicable and evil leaders but one that managed to fool people effectively, Adolf Hitler.

    I love my country and have been following politics here closely for 40 years. It is because of this that I know it will be a historic mistake if McCain and Palin are elected. Nothing will change for the better if they are elected, and they will prove once again that lying to and misleading Americas is the way to win an election.

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. Larry

    Palin is Bush and Pat Robertson in lipstick.

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  6. Allen

    Dear Barack Obama,

    Leading a country doesnt require a computer it requires leadership and a brain which you dont have.

    McCain and Palin are right you are wrong

    McCain/Palin Country First!

    Barack Obama where did your "change" go? You are going against your word Mr. Obama...Not the first time

    September 12, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. Joe in DE

    McCain has been caught in a lie saying the licstick on a pig remark was aimed at Palin. HE is probably just ignortant that the remarkr was in regard to energy, or maybe he is self-conscious. Ironically he has used the same phrase – was it in regard to Hilary? THis is trivia that distracts from issues but lying is is a serious character flaw.

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Accept the facts

    It was funny to see Obama quoting his grandfather's example, in efforts to showing how close he is to military, and that he belongs to one.

    Mr Obama, you can't meet John McCain's sacrifice and efforts, never no way.

    For 22 years, John McCain wore military uniform, and today if the whole world accepts American military supremacy is becuase of people like John McCain.

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  9. Lisa from VA

    I don't see any mention of the fact that Sarah Palin had no clue what the Bush Doctrine is and looked like a deer in headlights when asked by C. Gibson. I know what it is, therefore I think I'm more qualified for VP than Ms Priss. McCain, give me a call. I won't cry sexism everytime someone calls me on something...nor will I have to be handled with kid gloves.

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |

    Sarah Palin is good looking. So is Barack Obama. But Sarah Palin is the one who looked like a moose in the headlights last night when asked about foreign policy.

    Obama is the one who looked presidential and had a command of the facts last night.

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. Roger Urquhart

    The Messiah is slipping. Despite having most of the media on his side, in an year where Dems should have had a landslide he is falling behind in the polls. Media are concerned about Palin being a heartbeat away from the Presidency but are not bothered about a man with tissue thin resume and questionable anti American friends occupying the Oval Office. Every time they mock at Palin they fall flat on their face. She has silenced her critics time and time again first with the convention speech and then with her tv interview. The Palins are a normal American family with normal flawed children like the rest of our families and a breath of fresh air. Her down to earth appearance is a refreshing change from the coiffered looks of Hillary and Pelosi. Most American families can identify with her and the McCains poll leads will only continue to grow while the One implodes. Did I hear sounds of a champagne corking and a high five from the Clinton residence.

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  12. BK

    The Republicans are standing up for their candidate. Thats more than I can say for the Democrats that let Clinton get trashed daily by the media and Obama on a daily basis and never said a word. The DNC is a disgrace.

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  13. milo

    McCain's ads are going to backfire.

    She constantly repeats that same lie about the bridge to nowhere, and thankfully the press continues to point out that it's a lie, even expressing surprise that she keeps it going after she's been called on it.

    The reaction from most people is going to be, Obama called her a liar? Everybody knows she IS a liar.

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. Chris

    Bet CNN doesnt print his !! hee hee hee

    Sure begining to sound like Nobama is fighting against Palin ..
    guess the teleprompter must be off .. hey .. Nobama .. wake up ..
    the presendtial nominee is Mccain .. NOT Palin

    Mccain '08
    HRC '12

    September 12, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Annie

    After all the attacks McCain has made on Obama, including some stupid nonsense about lipstick, he is saying the Obama campaign is attacking Palin. McCain said it clearly last night that the tone of this campaign would have been different if Obama had agreed to the town hall meetings McCain wanted. Do it my way or I'll act as dishonorable as the media lets me get away with acting?

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  16. e. Rothchild,

    Are Americans stupid or what? No disrespect
    to John McCain, but a captured POW and a hard headed woman (like
    George Bush) with absolutely no foreign relations policy experience
    is suppose to protect this country from harm? If Americans don't wake
    up to their stupid voting habits, they will be instrumental in electing the
    most dangerous couple in American history. Even more dangerous than Bush.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  17. CB2

    This election shouldn't be about Sarah Palin!! If you are going to attack, then please go after Obama...McSame.

    McSame is trying to play to women's weaknesses, like silly Mika on MSNBC. She thought that Charlie Gibson asked Gov. Palin questions that he wouldn't have asked a man. Based on what?!?!

    You know I guess he should have asked about the color of her hair dye. Give me a freakin break!!!!

    You shouldn't say that a women has every right to be president/vice president and then say that the questions she was asked were unfair. That is crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She is running for the vice president and she should be questioned accordingly. Get thick skin if you want to run with the big dogs. Hillary did....

    Mika is a loser and so is the McSame Campaign.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  18. Jonathan

    I just don't understand how telling the truth about someone can be considered sexist. The Obama campaign hasn't made one untrue remark about Sarah Palin and everytime they attack her she cries out sexism. McCain made a smart choice. Palin can attack Obama/Biden all she wants and it's considered cute and/or tough because she's a woman. But the second she gets attacked they play the sexism card because she's a woman. McCain is trying and is getting it both ways right now and that needs to stop.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  19. Susan

    It's terrifying for the future after reading some of these comments. I am starting to think that people should be required to take an IQ and psychological test before being allowed to vote.


    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. sandy

    What Obama should do is go back to his rally's that have drawn big crowds. He does better with more people he seems to get his energy from them. On Palin interview so far, it looks like she is good at another thing called evasion.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Nichole

    If Sarah Palin's party doesn't want Biden calling her good-looking then they should stop calling her "the hot chick" DUH!

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. barbara

    The McCain camp can dish it out but they sure can't take it. I would like to share a few of my observations. How could Senator McCain say he respects community organizers when he was asked during the Service Forum but laugh and clap every time Gov. Palin mocks Sen. Obama? And, I would like to know if I was the only one who noticed how quickly Gov. Palin walked past her family after exiting the jet in Alaska. She patted her youngest daughter on the head and brushed a kiss on Trig's cheek. Family values??? Finally, I think the decision to run as v.p of the United States takes a little bit of thought,, not without hesitation. Very Scary.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Hello!!!!

    McCain/Palin needs to come out with an ad outlining Joe Biden's OWN words describing Obama as not ready to be President, and how Biden himself believes he is not the best candidate to be VP.....foot in mouth disease.

    The left wing nuts are losing their screws. 🙂

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  24. UMBlue

    Palin has no business being a VP candidate . . . If she was ready to be McCain's running mate she would have been able to answer questions and give interviews the day she was announced as McCain's running mate . . . But, no. The GOP had to rush her into seclusion so she wouldn't say anything damaging . . . they rebooted her, reinstalled the GOP company lines, one liners, and talking points . . . Does needing to be programmed to look experienced make someone experienced? The GOP just got done with their little make-over to turn her into something she ain't . . . and I, for one, ain't afraid to say . . . "You can put lipstick on a pig . . . but it's still a pig." So the GOP can window dress and reinvent Palin to be "vice-presidential", but she's still the inexperienced ideologue/extremist that she was before she was selected by McCain's political strategists . . .

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  25. wycliffe, NJ

    Palin is an outright liar




    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11