September 26th, 2008
10:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Who played Obama in McCain's debate prep?

Rob Portman played the part of Obama in McCain's debate prep.

Rob Portman played the part of Obama in McCain's debate prep.

OXFORD, Mississippi (CNN) - After days and days of denials that they had anyone playing Obama in debate prep sessions, two McCain campaign aides admitted to CNN they were using a stand-in for the Democratic nominee: former GOP congressman and OMB director Rob Portman.

Portman has been playing Obama in mock debates, including a two-hour session Thursday night in McCain's Virginia apartment, and one at an Oxford high school hours before tonight's debate.

Ironically, in 2000, Portman played Joe Lieberman in mock debates for then VP candidate Dick Cheney.

Now Lieberman is a close friend and supporter of McCain's, and a regular on the road with him.

soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. DM

    Given the McCain campaign's self-destructive tendancies, how long do we have to wait for the minstrel show pics from someone's cell phone...

    September 27, 2008 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  2. Matt

    Funny way of suspending your campaign.

    September 27, 2008 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  3. Ons

    I don’t see someone who was prepared if he could not give us answer as to why he voted for Bush’s taxed cuts that benefits a small percentage of American population while almost 90 some percentage of people are faced with foreclosures, job loss. And then after all this financial crisis, call on the same people working doubles to get by, working two jobs to pay for mortgage to bail the lobbyist and CEO’s mistakes. If you have free highway with no police manning it what did you expect?

    September 27, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  4. Matt

    Funny way of suspending your campaign.

    What I SAW:

    Obama 44, McCain 22 (net)

    It was your own panel of 6 bipartisan "experts" CNN. You can't not report that. Pony up, don't equivocate. Even if it costs ad revenue, how can you honestly equivocate?

    September 27, 2008 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  5. Independent but Leaning

    What he means is that they used one of his empty suits as the Obama stand in. They just put a empty suit behind the podium. The Democrats did, I mean. Just now.

    Seriously, would Obama know the truth if he tripped over it? God help this country if Obama were to get in office.

    September 27, 2008 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  6. sandee in Portland

    Time and again, the McCain campaign as well as McCain have lied to the general public. So...this is not really news

    September 27, 2008 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  7. KRG

    Lieberman is a disgrace to the Dems.

    September 27, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  8. Thomas T. Minja (Tanzania-E.Africa)

    What a joke.... These guys(MacCain Campains & their looser candidate) r even afraiding of maintining the american savier OBAMA.... Maybe they thought it will deepen their(Republican) grave after 8years of their arrogance around the world and suprisingly even in their own country(CATRINA-New Orlens)..... But that's TRUE!!!!!!! THEY(Republicans) JUST DONT DESERVE TO BE GIVEN ANOTHER 4YRS... GO BARACK OBAMA.... GO....

    September 27, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  9. CADem

    Was McCain able to look Portman in the eye during the "mock" debate?

    September 27, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  10. Cody

    So this is what McCain really did while 'working' on a failed bailout plan... I see. It is a bit ridiculous to make up such an excuse to prep for a debate. He isn't even president and is already lying to us. Sounds like Bush, again.

    September 27, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  11. Mary, ex-PUMA

    No lie seems to be too petty for the Straight Talk express it seems.

    September 27, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  12. john

    who cares??

    September 27, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  13. Sheila

    McCain started off in the muck: he invoked Ted Kennedy in the most egregious and blatantly canny attempt to drag the viewers by the heart into his camp.

    McCain went on like a kicked dog through the rest of the debate, fearful of ever looking Obama in the face, even as Obama directed his comments straight at him. Never once did McCain direct a comment at Obama.

    In every question, McCain seemed to get more flustered, and was even making sniffing sounds like he was ill near the end of the debate. Obama's demeanor was always prim, calm, and intelligent. McCain's was confused, ill-equipped, and angry.

    Barack Obama won this first debate handily.

    September 27, 2008 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  14. Chicago for Obama

    Bush stood in for McCain for Obamas mock debates. He was SPOT ON

    September 27, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  15. Scott M

    Who cares who got in the best one liner or the best sound bite? We need to deal with the real issues facing our country like healthcare, global warming, high gasoline prices, ending the war in Iraq, home forclosures, and the economy. I want to hear what is going to be done about these problems, not who is the better speaker or who misspoke about an issue. The election is less then forty days from now and the American people deserve better.

    September 27, 2008 02:32 am at 2:32 am |
  16. Mason-Dixon

    McCain won the debate – hands down.

    September 27, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  17. A Woman In California For Obama

    Looking at McCain tonight the world knows why we are in the mess we are. He's an angry, greedy, dirty old man who needs serious help. I'm sure he wanted us to feel he was tough and in command and all I felt was pity for him. His attitude would provoke any leader to declare war on the U.S. He is dangerous and is in no position to lead anyone. I hope his supporters saw how mentally unstable he really is. Obama on the other hand had a very good night. He showed he does know how to LISTEN and reach across party lines. McCain showed nothing but anger. It's his own fault it took him 50 years to get this far NOT Obama. Maybe instead of TRYING to be sarcastic he should learn some manners. Again, Obama definitely won this hands down.

    September 27, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  18. Mason-Dixon

    I notice CNN thinks Obama won the debate. Oh well, now we have ONN.

    September 27, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  19. Bigbubba

    as usual with the Republicans, they lied. Even when asked a simple question about who took the place of Obama in the preperations, they lied. Do they believe McCain practiced with a cardboard cut out?

    Admittedly, Obama could have used a cardboard cutout when he practised and gotten more intelligent answers than the moderator got from McCain tonight.

    September 27, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  20. Sarah Palin

    Ticker is getting dumb with Headlines....Ok,I was there with my pimp,mcshame. Can we discuss the issue please? I fill sad for ignorant Americans that are not dual citizens,incase the economy melt down with Mcshame being the potus.
    OBAMA 08-012.

    September 27, 2008 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  21. Pablo Lynch

    I would like to hear somebody making a comment about Mccain's judgement mention to Obama. How much more could Mccain have than Obama after he choosed Mrs Palin and Obama Biden? The way I look at it Obama would like that you get an experience president if he is not there and Mccain is just trying to pull an ace from the sleeve.

    September 27, 2008 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  22. Jim

    That's impossible! McCain couldn't have been spending 2 hours Thursday on debate prep because he had suspended his campaign!!!

    September 27, 2008 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  23. pecanpii

    Independents and undecided voters will determine who won, but John McCain looked like he was enjoying the debate a great deal more than Obama.

    September 27, 2008 03:09 am at 3:09 am |
  24. jack

    With all that time spent on debate prep and to have only "held your own" against your opponet, makes you wonder "if" you can "hold your own" come Nov.

    September 27, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  25. monty


    That is all you hear coming out of this campain......what is wrong with these people......this is serious.....why do they prefer to deny little none important things.....can only imagine what they would do or deny referring to greater and more important issues

    September 27, 2008 06:50 am at 6:50 am |
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