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. Teen girl for McCain

    hey, obama has done nothing these past years and now hes teling the US he will 'change,' what 'change'? every democrat president all said these ideas but in different ways. now he decided to bring it out. Vote for McCain if you don't want the world crashing down and guess what we are going to still be in this war whether u like it or not. we won't be able to pull out and obama keeps on changing the time he is going to pull the US out of the war.

    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. GOP can't win on the issues

    That's funny, McCain still hasn't mentioned one issue in an add since the GOP Primaries ended. Here are a couple of highlights from his economic and heath care plans:

    McCain's economic plan, including HUGE tax cuts for corporations will increase our budget deficit by more than $8 trillion.

    McCain's heath care plan will actually result in as many as 25 million people who now currently covered to lose their health insurance.


    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. Jan

    I am not sure why my fellow Republicans are concerned about the questions given Sarah Palin..She was wonderful with her answers and came across as strong and leader like. Agree, that Obama has not been given these tough interviews, but O'Reilly of Fox news did grill him and he stuttered and stammered his way through. Yes, she is new to Washington cynicism, but still can hold her own. This comes from being open and positive about her policies and those of McCain! No Bull in this woman!

    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. Mike Finelli Severna Park, MD

    McCain is running his campaign like a coward and will run the country as a coward. His absurd attacks like the one that paints Obama as a some sort of child sex enabler is the result of a man who has no confidence in his abilities to think or govern. Give a man like that an army at his disposal and that coward will hide behind it and use it to justify his views. Like Bush has done for 8 years. I hope everyone wants a war with Russia, because McCain is going to need "his war" to make himself feel like a real president. It's scary.

    It is amazing that anyone who thinks women should earn less than men for the same job until they have more training, in the year 2008, could call anyone sexist. Maybe he should tell more jokes about how ugly Chelsea Clinton is or his famous Gorilla rape joke.

    September 12, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. pat

    McCain campaign can lie in ads and the american people will accept it as fact, even if indisputable facts contradicting the McCain lies are plastered right infront of their faces, because McCain already won the perception race, and once that's won, Obama has virtually no chance in winning the election race.

    September 12, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  6. Joseph in Dallas, TX

    Palin is not ready....she seemed very annoyed during her ABC internview (about darn time), just look at her face and body language!

    Let's be smart...ALL of the other candidates have been at this for almost two years! And we're supposed to put this woman with in a heartbeat of being President after knowing her ONLY two months at the time of election! Come on America...we have to be smart this time!

    If you closed your eyes last night and LISTENED to both candidates last night, no one in their right mind would vote for McCain. Time after time OBAMA explained in detail what he wanted to do for this country and what it truly meant to SERVE.

    September 12, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  7. Ken in Dallas

    "Disrespectful", he says. Respect isn't a one-way street, and McCain's campaign has yet to show Obama any respect. Looks like the McCain campaign can't swallow a taste of its own medicine without whining like a five-year-old. Some hero.

    More diversion, more distraction, more dissembling, more manipulation, more pettiness, and more of the same from John McCain.

    Now that he's let Palin off her leash, she proves to be ignorant, bellicose, and unprepared. She's going to have to earn some of that respect she wants, starting with her own party. Republican rednacks like her because she's "hot." How respectful is that?

    September 12, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  8. jackie

    Palin is not ready for President, she just think she is. She is nothing more than a product of the old repulican party.

    September 12, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  9. Ms. RDS

    Of course he should go after Mr. 10%...that's what McCain should change his name to 7%Bush, 2%Rove, 1%Change....

    September 12, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  10. Palin = biggest liar

    Explain to me how someone can dismiss another by saying "You are good looking? Are we stupid McCain? Serioously. Is that the best you got. You are going to confuse everyone with your ads.

    September 12, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. KY grandma

    The negative ads from both sides must stop. I want to hear your programs and intentions for a better America, No more negativity, please. My mute button comes in handy whenever the negative ads come on.

    September 12, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  12. Marie

    Palin's first-ever interview as VP was a meltdown and the Republicans are trying to distract the American public from the real issues at hand. Palin is *obviously* 'not ready to lead' and she would NOT be 'ready on day one' if something were to happen to McCain. She 'performed' as if she were in a beauty pageant, replying to questions with forced conviction. I'm a 25 year old female, so Republicans, stop with the fake 'sexist' comments. Presidential and VP candidates need to be held accountable for their political and yes, religious views. Americans have the right to know as much as they can about each candidate because too much is at stake to let another Bush surrogate back in the Whitehouse. –Obama/Biden '08

    September 12, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  13. Kansas for Obama

    The McCain camp is so despirate that they look for every single little word that they can take out of context so they can cry & whine about it and play victim. Throughout this whole campaigne Obama has taken the high road, Obama has only gone negative in defense. The Republican smear campaigne is in full swing and is out to scare all of you into voting for the them. American was tricked into voting for Bush, not once but twice! Don't be a fool and do it again.

    Obama came up with the idea to talk to Iran – Guess what Rice recently did?

    Obama wanted the time table to get out of Iraq & Iraq agrees – now Bush is adopting that idea.

    Obama wanted to allow troops to cross into Pakistan – now Bush is letting them.

    Obama was the original "Change Agent" – all of a sudden McCain is claiming "change" as his mantra.

    Obama wanted to stay out of Iraq – we all know how big of a mistake Iraq is.

    Does anyone see the trend? Obama's ideas are good and he's been right every time, his judgement is sound. WAKE UP! Barack Obama is already leading this country, cause everyone is jumping on his ideas and are trying to claim them as their own to stear you away from him...don't be fooled by the Republicans, they don't have anything of value to bring us.

    President Barack Obama is already a reality, deal with it.

    September 12, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  14. No cocky wacko

    No, sorry – the latest ads prove it – the Obama bunch are respectful, and perhaps that's a problem. The ad message is simple, and not very strong, but not wrong. The McCain ad on the hand, like most of their ads, is disingenuous beyond belief. How can they think we're all that dumb, or perhaps they don't mind alienating those who actually are paying attention. Say anything to win is their mantra, and I for one am sooo tired of that – bet I'm not alone.

    PS- Palin's 1st interview, for which she undoubtedly crammed like crazy, shows she doesn't know what the Bush doctrine is, doesn't understand what recently happened between Russia and Georgia, doesn't know when the Soviet Union fell...this should be our next VP?

    September 12, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  15. 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 run a decent campaign although you have lost.

    September 12, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  16. LT for Obama

    Some of you are SO ill informed. Much like Sarah. First of all, Obama nor his campaign have ever attacked her nor have they said anything sexist. This is just another McCain camp lie. Only bloggers and media have.

    Also, Obama has been in the US Senate FOUR YEARS, not two. I see some of you still don't know this. Really, you should do the research on the candidates instead of spouting the lies and crap that you hear. If I can take the time and go online and research the candidates and their running mates, you can to. Spend less time here repeating lies and actually do the work.

    September 12, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  17. Amber, Burke, VA

    This is it! I have made up my mind. There is no way I can vote for McCain. His ads are so dishonest and full of lies. Not only that, there is no substance in any of them. I used to have a great deal of respect fot his man and was so excited when he beat rudy and mitt, but no more. He is using the same old nasty tricks that was once used against him to bring down Obama. I have been voting republican for 3 election cycles but I have decided to vote for Obama this time. It seems to me like McCain will do and say anything to be president and the first proof of that was his selection of Sara Palain. As a woman, I don't have anything against Gov Palin but when you look at what she believes in, it really scares me to think that this woman coule become President- the leader of the free world. That is a really scary thought.

    September 12, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  18. Matt

    Hi Everyone I have a Question, why is the media giving so much media play to Sarah. I understand she's a beautiful woman, but she not running for President, can we please focus on Mccain. Unless she is somehow running for the President of the United States, and John Mccain is just a pawn, for a bigger plan. By the power that be. Something to think about

    September 12, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. Pat

    Democrats need to stay calm and collected...and HAMMER the Republicans on their record!! Link McCain to Bush and his miserable record because McCain is in the Rovian Repub's pocket now–he knows he has to be because he's desperate and that's his only hope. So he will continue what Bush and Cheney have started. Forget about Palin! She is nothing to us. Don't even respond to her. The Repubs are using her as a distraction and to anger the Dems so they stay off message. ISSUES, ISSUES, ISSUES!! Stay on issues message and how McCain will be more of the same!

    September 12, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. Michael Morrisson

    When on earth are we going to have candidates and nominees who treat the public as intelligent beings?! If I want to see a fight, I'll watch Jerry Springer. In the meantime, why don't they just talk about what they want to do, and that is it. Let us decide which we like better. I personally think that Obama's campaign should not even respond to these rediculous accusations coming from the Republican Party. I really am not even that drawn to Obama anymore, but McCain and Co's childish behaviour has me firmly on the other side this time around. Why did no one vote for Ron Paul...?

    September 12, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. simmerdownow

    Its about time Obama and the Democrats hit back and hit back hard. If we have learned anything from the last 2 elections, we cannot sit back and take the onslaught from the GOP.

    Gov. Palin showed her true colors last empty shell. Isn't it odd how she fails to mention her son going to Iraq didn't really inlist, he was forced to it because of a drunken driving conviction. Hmmm...there goes those family values again.

    September 12, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  22. Justice 4 All

    Do not fall for the distractions. McCain obviously took a gamble with Sarah Palin. That just shows he is not ready to make solid decisions with careful thought. He will gamble with the country, in a time when gambling is no where near what we need.

    Please people don't be so easily swayed.

    Obama/Biden 08 and beyond . . .

    September 12, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  23. Mary in PA

    After one week will any attack hurt Gov Palin?
    1. Iraq, Afghan wars are holy wars.
    2. she wants a cold war with Russia.
    3. she wants to ban books.
    4. global warming is good.
    5. she is a bad mother.
    6. she wants americans to find/use more american oil.
    7. republican -turned -independent ex-Senator says about Gov Palin: She's a "cocky wacko".
    8. actor Matt Damon is scared.

    Let's see if there are at least 1-2 new attacks each day maybe one will stick.

    September 12, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. crazy


    September 12, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  25. wildcard voter

    I don't know how people can still want to support the mc chickens, when its so obvious that there playing politics. Sarah palin is a bad act, they think were stupid. Dems all the way!!! Puma = ignorance

    September 12, 2008 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11