October 6th, 2008
06:15 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain gets more aggressive: 'Who is the real Barack Obama?'

McCain will hold a rally in Tennessee later Monday.
McCain will hold a rally in Tennessee later Monday.

(CNN) - John McCain raised questions about Barack Obama's background and questioned the Illinois senator's truthfulness at a rally in New Mexico Monday, one day before the two White House hopefuls square off at the second presidential debate.

The comments, which came hours after Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin publicly questioned Obama's patriotism while raising questions about his connections to onetime radical William Ayers, are among McCain's harshest language to date on the campaigning trail and signal the campaign is ratcheting its attacks on the Illinois senator with less than 30 days remaining until Election Day.

Earlier: Palin says Obama 'palling around with terrorists'

"I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people," McCain will say according to prepared text sent out by his campaign. "And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn’t seek advice from a Chicago politician."

McCain delivered the remarks at a rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the hardly-fought battleground state where the latest CNN poll of polls shows the Arizona senator trailing slightly.

"My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned," McCain also said. "For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that."

The new language is part of the McCain campaign's effort to move away from the country's economic crisis as the primary narrative on the campaign trail, aides told CNN's Dana Bash earlier Monday. McCain, the aides say, will try to reframe the economic issue into an overall theme that Obama is still a virtual unknown, and is not the right person to steer the country through its current financial turmoil.

"All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain said.

Read excerpts from McCain's speech Monday

The Obama campaign quickly responded to the comments, calling McCain the "one truly angry candidate in this race.

“On a day when the markets are plunging and the credit crisis is putting millions of jobs at risk, the one truly angry candidate in this race kept up his strategy of ‘turning the page’ on the economy by unleashing another frustrated tirade against Barack Obama," Spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

My opponent has invited serious questioning by announcing a few weeks ago that he would quote - “take off the gloves.” Since then, whenever I have questioned his policies or his record, he has called me a liar.

Rather than answer his critics, Senator Obama will try to distract you from noticing that he never answers the serious and legitimate questions he has been asked. But let me reply in the plainest terms I know. I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people. And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn’t seek advice from a Chicago politician.

My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that. Whatever the question, whatever the issue, there’s always a back story with Senator Obama. All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? But ask such questions and all you get in response is another barrage of angry insults.

Our current economic crisis is a good case in point. What was his actual record in the years before the great economic crisis of our lifetimes?

This crisis started in our housing market in the form of subprime loans that were pushed on people who could not afford them. Bad mortgages were being backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it was only a matter of time before a contagion of unsustainable debt began to spread. This corruption was encouraged by Democrats in Congress, and abetted by Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has accused me of opposing regulation to avert this crisis. I guess he believes if a lie is big enough and repeated often enough it will be believed. But the truth is I was the one who called at the time for tighter restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that could have helped prevent this crisis from happening in the first place.

Senator Obama was silent on the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his Democratic allies in Congress opposed every effort to rein them in. As recently as September of last year he said that subprime loans had been, quote, “a good idea.” Well, Senator Obama, that “good idea” has now plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

To hear him talk now, you’d think he’d always opposed the dangerous practices at these institutions. But there is absolutely nothing in his record to suggest he did. He was surely familiar with the people who were creating this problem. The executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have advised him, and he has taken their money for his campaign. He has received more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than any other senator in history, with the exception of the chairman of the committee overseeing them. Did he ever talk to the executives at Fannie and Freddie about these reckless loans? Did he ever discuss with them the stronger oversight I proposed? If Senator Obama is such a champion of financial regulation, why didn’t he support these regulations that could have prevented this crisis in the first place? He won’t tell you, but you deserve an answer.

Who is the real Senator Obama? Is he the candidate who promises to cut middle class taxes, or the politician who voted to raise middle class taxes? Is he the candidate who talks about regulation or the politician who took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned a blind eye as they ran our economy into a ditch?

Is he the candidate who promises change, or is he the politician who has bought into everything that is wrong with Washington? We can’t change the system with someone who’s never fought the system.

Washington is on the wrong track and I’m going to set it right. The American people know my record. They know I am going to change Washington, because I’ve done it before. They know I’m going to reform our broken institutions in Washington and on Wall Street because I’ve done it before. They know I’m going to deliver relief to the middle class, because that’s what I’ve done.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (431 Responses)
  1. Judy

    McCain why oh why are the little old man is gone. Oh why oh why do he do the things he do. John/Sarah what are you doing. You are killing me. You can't even run a good campaign and your good ole boy system is letting you down except Joey so tell me what are you going to do. Attack attack atttack and guest what John/Sarah no one is listening because we are on the economy. Backsliding Sarah has already done the damage. Practice what you preach old man practice what you preach. No Negatism in this campaign but guess what again old man you don't know how.

    October 6, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Daisy

    Does American need a President who would MUD his way into the Oval Office...McCain is it by "any means necessary?" This man should have retired years ago...this is sad and pathetic that he has to resort to these gutter type of tatics to try to obtain the highest political seat in the land...McCain, remember when you sling MUD some of it will splash back on you.

    October 6, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. John from Florida

    Dear Mr. McCain,
    The market is down 700 points. Perhaps you could talk about how you plan on repairing the damage Republicans have caused instead of trying to change the subject. Senator Obama is a patriot and devoted public servant. Stop your shameful attacks.

    Regards,
    A Registered Republican

    October 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. Kristen Atl

    Ok here we go...we knew this was going to get personal.
    Let the games begin.

    McCain's last chance is to attack Obama personally. Pure desperation.

    Americans want to hear a debate about the real issues. Mainly the economy. People are stressed out, about jobs, gas etc...

    Does McCain not have any policies in place for these issues?

    These attacks will not work.
    McCain.. please stop the lying and stick to the issues. Americans deserve better.
    Not presidential at all

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Nancy, White woman, kentucky

    Mr MacCain, shame on you. American families are faxing one of the worse economic time they can remember from 1929 and you are talking ... about obama ??? This is so desrespectfull MrMacain. WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT AMERICA REAL PROBLEMS LIKE ECONOMIE ??? AMERICA DOESN'T NEED NEITHER WANT A PRESIDENT THAT WILL TALK ABOUT X-FILES, X-MEN, OR JAMES BOND PAST WHILE AMERICA IS WORRIED ABOUT IF THWY WILL HAVE FOOD FOR KIDS (BECAUSE MACCAIN AND CINDY DON'T HAVE THOSE KIND OF ECONOMIC PROBLEMS WE HAVE)!!!

    October 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  6. Lorna, NY

    The more McCain's campaign try to swiftboat Obama, the more his poll numbers will go up. It did not work with Hilary and it will not work now. The American people are smarter than this. If he was so concerned about the American people, why did he not bring these issues up before? Why wait until you are on your last political leg to start with the sleaze? I have lost all respect for John McCain and I hope he gets voted out when he goes back to the Senate. His political career is over.

    October 6, 2008 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
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