October 6th, 2008
10:15 AM ET
6 years ago

Obama camp raises McCain’s ties to Charles Keating

The Obama camp is highlighting McCain's ties to Charles Keating.
The Obama camp is highlighting McCain's ties to Charles Keating.

(CNN) - After months of avoiding references to the decades-old “Keating Five” scandal that nearly derailed John McCain’s political career, Barack Obama’s campaign is highlighting the Republican presidential nominee’s ties to Charles Keating, an Arizona businessman who went to prison during the aftermath of the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s.

The campaign is releasing a new 13-minute “documentary” about the scandal, and sending a message to supporters that ties McCain to the federal bailout that followed.

A preview of the new Web video, "Keating Economics: John McCain and the Making of a Financial Crisis," shows clips of McCain's hearings before the Senate Ethics Committee two decades ago, as the narrator says "the Keating Five involved all the things that have brought the modern crisis” and that McCain "has not learned the lessons and has continued to follow policies that are going to produce a disaster."

Watch: 'Keating 5' dogs McCain

McCain was one of five senators, dubbed the "Keating Five," who met with regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, the owner of Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Listen: McCain aides fight back over Keating on a campaign conference call


In a message to supporters Sunday, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe tied McCain to the lack of oversight that led to the savings and loan crisis of that era, and the massive federal bailout package that resulted. "During the savings and loan crisis of the late '80s and early '90s, McCain's political favors and aggressive support for deregulation put him at the center of the fall of Lincoln Savings and Loan," Plouffe writes. "More than 23,000 investors lost their savings. Overall, the savings and loan crisis required the federal government to bail out the savings of hundreds of thousands of families and ultimately cost American taxpayers $124 billion."

The Obama campaign had largely avoided mentioning the disgraced Arizona financier for most of the year. After an Obama backer referenced the Keating Five scandal this spring, the campaign appeared to distance itself from the comment — but Obama signaled it might be fair game later in the year: "I was just asked previously about a whole host of associations that are a lot more flimsy than John McCain’s relationship to Keating Five," he told reporters.

Two weeks ago, as controversy over deregulation and financial oversight began to dominate the public consciousness and the McCain campaign started to step up its attacks over Obama’s associations with controversial Chicago figures, Obama spokesman Bill Burton raised the issue for the first time since May. The McCain camp had accused the New York Times of supporting Obama's presidential bid; Burton responded by sending reporters a list of investigative stories the paper had run about the Illinois senator, complaining that McCain’s relationship with Keating had not come up for similar scrutiny over the course of the campaign.

The Senate Ethics Committee investigated and cleared McCain in 1991, but said that he showed poor judgment in his efforts for Keating, who had been a major contributor to his campaign. McCain later turned over $112,000 in campaign contributions from Keating to the U.S. Treasury.
The documentary will be released online at noon.

The move comes two days after Gov. Sarah Palin accused Obama of "palling around with terrorists who target their own country" because he was supported by Bill Ayers, a founding member of the Weather Underground.

Responding to the new attacks over McCain’s history with Keating, the GOP nominee’s spokesman Brian Rogers raised those links again.

"John McCain has been open and honest about the Keating matter, and even the Democratic special counsel in charge recommended that Senator McCain be completely exonerated,” said Rogers. “By contrast, Barack Obama has been fundamentally dishonest about his friendship and work with the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, whose radical group bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. Nor has Barack Obama come clean on his close friendship with Tony Rezko, a felon convicted on bribery charges who subsidized the purchase of Barack Obama's home. It's obvious that Barack Obama is frantically attacking because he knows that most voters find these kinds of friendships, and the failed judgment they expose, to be unacceptable for our next president."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (188 Responses)
  1. larry

    McCain left Obama no choice, if he just sick to the issues Obama could focus on what America needs.
    But this is why the Mccain camp is in the mess it's in

    Obama/Biden 2008-Until

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  2. Tim

    McCain: unfit for command!

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  3. mitch

    as they should. the current crises is similar in nature, because of DE -regulation. republicans are tanking our country,and john mccain is leading them. he is far from being an honorable man. palin's attacks are baseless lies and the mccain camp. will pay at the polls. did anyone know john mccain just voted for a bill containing $140 billion in earmarks? he just made himself famous and we all know his name. if he vetoes beer,again, he's finished.

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. rich

    The McCain camp want to sling mud and point fingers. Well there are three pointing back at ya in the words of Sarah. Deal with it now.

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  5. stay at home mom for obama

    Obama I 'm glad your fighting fire with fire but also staying on message...don't forget that Pail has some bad stuff in her background too....USE those!

    OBAMA 08

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. a combat Vet

    from a real combat vet.

    I do not like Obama dissing our troops. Don't forget our troops gave us the freedom we enjoy today.

    If Obama thinks combat is easy why did he avoid going to Iraq and Afghanistan early and often.

    Obama is a jerk for saying this, "

    "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there," Obama said of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. Tara

    It's about time they bring this out!! AIR IT ON TV BARACK!

    THANK YOU!!!

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  8. Rob

    That is the perfect photo of crooked Keating 5 McBush. Looking Angry and Confused.

    October 6, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Female Voter

    Oh please. McCain was exhonorated after the investigation.

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. Cyrus K.

    About time!! There is a time for politics and playing nice, and there is a time for a hand-to-hand fight, and counterattack. Time for politics and playing nice has come and gone.

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. John

    "It's obvious that Barack Obama is frantically attacking because he knows that most voters find these kinds of friendships, and the failed judgment they expose, to be unacceptable for our next president."

    LMAO, look who's talking! Ridiculous hypocritical Republicans!

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. RIF

    As many of us have been screeming, the Keating Five is far more revelant than any of this Ayers, Rezko stuff. McCain was right in the middle of this scnadel which ironically was part of the last big Wall Street mess in the country.

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Max

    As long as we're talking about connections to crooks, right John?

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  14. bobby

    Why don't McCain offer any solutions on how to solve the economic crisis?

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. dEMOBRAT

    Now should I repeat all of the Obamabot claims from the story above? "how desperate," He'll do anything to win an election." "What a slimy smear."

    McCain was exonerated.

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  16. Obama supporter and a woman

    How ironic, McCain wants to compare his judgement as a US Senator against Obama's when he was 8 years old. This speaks much more about McCain's lack of judgement. The fact that his is so poor, the best he can do is draw comparison to someone when they were a child. Give me a Break! McCain and Palin are pitiful.

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  17. anon

    And before you McCain supporters get on here screaming "I told you so" about how Obama is a dirty politician and supposed to be running a clean campaign, you need to take a look at the FACT that your candidate stated he was going to run a clean and respectable campaign...NOT!

    We keep trying to tell you folks that Obama is NOT John Kerry and he will not stand for the swiftboating and not hit back. I personally didn't want him to go down this road but sometimes you just gotta get down and dirty with the best of them!!! On that note...

    SIC' 'EM BO!!!!

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  18. Beth

    McCain asked for it and he got it.

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. PUMBU

    millionaire Mccain is done!!!!!!!!!!! you can't fool american people, period.

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  20. Tracy

    Okay, this is on point. But Barack, keep your head above the fray. Don't stoop, no matter what. People who have to play dirty do so because they have no skill. This is what REAL (soccer/hockey/softball/water polo) moms teach!

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  21. Get Real

    Don't forget to bring up.....

    G.Gordon Liddy
    The Bonanno Mob family
    Sarah Palin – Troopergate
    Sara Palin – Alaska Independence Party

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  22. HSNP

    JOHN MCCAIN:

    OUT OF TOUCH

    OUT OF IDEAS

    ALMOST OUT OF TIME

    DESPERATE

    October 6, 2008 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  23. Freedom Loving Patriot (God fearing too!)

    NOW HEARS THE STORY!

    How did McCain get away with it? With Cindy's connections maybe?

    How did McCain GET AWAY WITH IT?

    October 6, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  24. Shari, NY

    I guess this is retaliation for the ugly smears now being pinned on Sen. Obama. Palin and McCain are a dishonour to their party and religion, having broken a few of the ten commandments. If they were Catholic they'd mostly likely have to live in a confession box.

    October 6, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. HM

    Ah yes, the Candidate of Change, the "post-political" candidate, one who was going to bring us all together in a spirit of peace and unity, to join us all together in hand and sing Kumbaya... yeah, to where did that guy go?

    October 6, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
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