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. Kevin, Austin TX

    Everybody keeps saying Obama should stop attacking Sarah Palin...

    Name one attack that has come directly from Obama toward her. Do it. Name it. Send it to me. You can't.

    Any reference to Palin has been in response to a question.

    So, please stop falling for the GOP talking points that Obama is attacking Palin... this is their plan and it is so obvious.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  2. dollorbil

    This whole thing is begining to make me sick. Get to the issues.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  3. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Keep it coming Obama. The Country needs you. This is about the top of the ticket. Not about Palin (which is what the Republicans want it to be about) and Biden. It's about Obama versus McCain.

    September 12, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. theonay7

    Good job Obama/Plouffe...these guys are getting way too much of a free ride. Republicans are blatant liars. I'm not even sure how they sleep at night

    September 12, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  5. independant voter, Texas

    Hmmm, it seems people dont even read other peoples messages, just read story, skip tro bottom to post their own sarcastic credit where its due, the ones who are not sarcastic, and sticking to the issues, I thank..Its the ISSUES people, the ECONOMY..Obama himself asked us to concentrate on that..are people not listening to him either ???
    not childish backbiting..

    September 12, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  6. Allen




    September 12, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  7. Hello!!!!

    Too Bad....please go to to see who the real liars are. Palin did a great job in her first interview. And will only get stronger in the weeks to come. 🙂

    September 12, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. Natasha/Ohio Democrat

    LOL......she did a terrible interview. She is really dumb.

    September 12, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |

    John McSAME is a sis; hiding behind a woman instead of coming out to talk about the issues!

    September 12, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  10. Done with Dems

    To independant woman for Obama:

    She is a "pig with lipstick" and should not be in the next administration. Can we say "Oink! Oink"…

    Very mature. A direct reflection of the cesspool commentary I've come to know and love from the democratic party. My hope is when McCain/Palin win the election that you and your cohorts find solace in the 57th state of Canada. Go away!!

    September 12, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  11. carmen collins-foran

    Fire back hard at their lies Mr Obama.Please dont let Mcfool and and his pitbull ruin our country.

    September 12, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. Gman in Columbia

    The wheels of the Republican party are about to fall off the Palin bandwagon. If anyone saw any part of the interview with Charles Gibson it is obvious, obvious she is not ready to be VP and absolutely not ready to be Commander in Chief. Obama is about to get his swagger back. Sorry GOP


    September 12, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Kaching

    How I wish Hillary Clinton would take the stump against Palin. It is going to take a woman to confront her. Whenever a man criticizes her, all the Conservative zombies, who have never thought about sexism in their lives, say, "He's being a sexist. He's hurting a woman!" This gal is a loose cannon. She needs to go back to her village and let her husband support the family.

    September 12, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. fella from Chicago

    Love to see Obama for what he really is; a down in the gutter Washington politician. So much for change.

    September 12, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  15. Julie--Obama Supporter

    Fellow Obama supporters:

    Please, please do not underestimate Sarah Palin-the woman has won at everything she has tried-basketball, hunting for bear and moose, fisherman, running for Mayor, running for Governor, and now at 44 selected to run as VP of the United States.

    The large crowds she draws should tell you that she's not to be toyed with. Let's be careful.

    Obama 08'

    September 12, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  16. Shari, NY

    GMA's interview between Gibson and Palin revealed even more lies and produced evasive answers to serious questions. All educated and mentally fit Repubs must be hanging their heads in shame.

    September 12, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  17. Xavier, Saint Louis, Missouri

    If people would pay attention to what the GOP talk about, they would know that they never talk about serious issues, like unemployment, healthcare, foreclosures, high gas prices and the list goes on and on. The GOP would rather talk about things that are irrelevant to America's needs, like lipstick, Is he (Obama) ready to lead and he's a celebrity; nothing but things to distract American on how they screwed up our country during these last eight years. ENOUGH!


    September 12, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  18. hello

    I agree that candidate's children should be off limit in campaign, but problem w/ Republican is all the time they talk about God, Religion, Abortion and Family value, and if you cannot teach that value to your children then you cannot blame media or public for talking about.

    September 12, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  19. Leo

    I was just wondering when people were going to ask when is Palin going to Iraq? A big deal was made of Senator Obama's failure to tour Iraq for two years.

    He attacked Obama's foreign policy credentials, implying that the Illinois Senator was not ready to lead by saying:

    “Senator Obama has been to Iraq once. A little over two years ago he went, and he has never seized the opportunity, except in a hearing, to meet with General Petraeus."

    McCain then proceeded to nominate a Vice President who didn't know what the "Bush Doctorine"–the basis for our presence in Iraq–was, and the Governor has never set foot in Iraq. Is McCain expecting us to believe that Governor Palin who hasn't set foot in this country, and doesn't know the premis for our invasion is ready to be our President should she be called upon to do so? When will the media ask about this?

    September 12, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  20. Greg in AR

    McCain’s newfound profession of being the candidate of change is like rearranging the location the special sauce, pickles, lettuce, and cheese and on a Big-Mac and calling that a “change”. might be…but it is still the same old sandwich.

    Today is September 12, 2008, seven years one day and since al-Qaeda attacked us, McCain talks about change. I want to know-- Where the hell is Osama Bin Laden, you know, that guy you republicans said you would follow to the gates of hell to catch…looks like winning an election is more important than catching the animal that attacked us.

    September 12, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  21. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    I'm pretty sure that Barack (and even people in the Bush administration) know that it was mostly Saudis and not Iraq or Iraqis who attacked us on 9/11. Apparently, in addition to wanting to go to war with Russia (and not blinking) no one bothered to let Palin know this very important fact. Way to fake foreign policy experience!

    September 12, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  22. Ana

    By the way, did anyone find it bizarre that after 4 years of war in Iraq, when Mr. Bush's reign is about to be over, he finally decided to go after Bin Laden where he actually resides?
    Is it because he is afraid democrats will be the ones getting this guy in 2009? Shame on you and all the ididot republicans and independents that voted for you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  23. Mike in Columbus

    Go watch Puppet, err Palin in her interview. Her aggresive demeanor is so clearly an act... an act to cover that she is scared to death of being exposed.

    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  24. Yankee

    Wake up America. The new Republicans and their kind do not represent the type of people we as Americans really are. Bush is a punk, acted that way during both his campaigns, and continues to act that way as President. McCain is a bully, and if his campaign is any indication, he will be that way as a President too. These type of personalities and people do not represent who we as Americans are, nor wish to be. Is this what we want? Is McCain the type of person to lead us out of the mess left to us by Bush and Co.?

    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  25. Lorna, NY

    I saw her interview and I have to say I am afraid. When will the media take her to task? This woman is not prepared for the White House and neither is McCain. I can see WW3 in the future if these people ever enter the WH.

    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
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