October 9th, 2008
08:05 PM ET
11 months ago

McCain surrogate raises Obama's past drug use

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Keating is a McCain campaign co-chair.
Keating is a McCain campaign co-chair.

(CNN) - A prominent surrogate for John McCain on Thursday raised Barack Obama's admitted cocaine use as a teenager and said the Illinois senator should speak candidly about it to the American people.

Speaking to Dennis Miller, a comedian and conservative radio talk show host, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating said Obama should be more forthright about his background and what he called his "very extreme" record.

"He ought to admit, ‘You know, I've got to be honest with you. I was a guy of the street. I was way to the left. I used cocaine. I voted liberally, but I'm back at the center,'" Keating, a co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said Obama should tell voters. "I mean, I understand the big picture of America. But he hasn't done that."

An aide to John McCain said Keating was not directed by the campaign to make the comments.

"We didn’t ask him to do it,” the aide said. “He didn’t clear it with us, but obviously he’s read Senator Obama’s books.”

The Obama campaign has not responded to the comments.

The remarks ring similar to comments made by prominent New Hampshire Democrat Bill Shaheen, a Hillary Clinton supporter, during the primary. Shaheen predicted in December that Obama’s drug past would be a major Republican talking point if her were the Democratic nominee. He later apologized for the comments, but stepped down from his role in the Clinton campaign. Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson, another Hillary Clinton backer, also had to apologize after making overt references to Obama's drug use at campaign rally in South Carolina.

In Obama's 1995 book Dreams of My Father, he writes that he was once headed in the direction of a "junkie" and a "pothead. Referring to his emotional struggles as a young man, Obama writes, "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."

Obama did speak during his primary campaign about his past experimentation with drugs and alcohol in high school.

"I made some bad decisions that I've actually written about," he told New Hampshire high school students last November. "There were times when I, you know, got into drinking, experimented with drugs. There was a whole stretch of time where I didn't really apply myself a lot."


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra • John McCain
soundoff (676 Responses)
  1. NJ

    Drug Abuse- another side of Sen Obama he is hiding from the American people!!!!

    October 9, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  2. sms

    How much more do these guys need to dig up the dirt???? Are you kidding me???

    So sad that it has come to such juvenille behavior in the home stretch. If you think that bringing this up is going to win McCain votes, you are sorely mistaken. Idiots.

    October 9, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  3. NoMccain

    This is not news. It's old, and in his books he wrote. All of these latest allegations against Obama are old news, they've been deliberated already, and the Mccain campaign is grasping at straws. As far as talk concerning voter registration... this is simply a sign of the power behind the Barack Obama campaign... a Movement that cannot be stopped.

    October 9, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  4. barackobama4prez

    uh....Cindy McCain was addicted to pain killers. Nice try though.

    October 9, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. Tooele, Utah.

    If they want Obama to talk about his Drug addicting maybe Cindy McCain should talk about her past drug abuse.

    October 9, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  6. Chris

    Are they really going after drug use...really!?!?

    October 9, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. Don in Florida

    Everybody makes mistakes, especially when their young. "That One" in 08

    October 9, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  8. John Stevens

    Let the garbage continue .... What about McCain's gambling and adultery ?

    Seriously it is sad that the campaign of McCain has gotten so low.

    October 9, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. Dan (Redmond, WA)

    Who cares? I don't care about the past. I want to know what the candidates offer for the present and the future.

    October 9, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. Monica, Texas

    Just as soon as McCain talks about his gambling and his wife's drug use.....Keathing 5, and US Council for World Freedom.

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  11. Randy

    Pathetic McCain surrogates at it again. I guess Cindy McCain stealing drugs from her charity to feed her drug habit is ok but teenage experimentation which 95% of American have done is horrible.

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. texas democrat

    I think that is one of the requirements to be president. Let's see Bush, Clinton {he didn't inhale though} so do i really care? Now what about stealing drugs from people who doesn't reallly need them and not spending any time in prison!

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  13. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Guess that opens up Cindy Lou stealing from her charity for years for her habit.

    HA HA HA HA HA HA

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. Erik

    Oh good grief. This is just getting absurd. Will the Republicans bring up the time Obama stole candy money from his mother's purse at age 7 next? We're laughing at you out here in America, McCain campaigners. Laughing.

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  15. Bezekial Jones

    If he wrote it in his book and put it out there then why does he have to come out and say it. Would that be Redundant.....They are grasping at straws.

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  16. Ben

    I wish Keating were running!

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  17. annie - never again a dem.

    This is so not presidential material. His only plan is to sell our country down the river!!!

    October 9, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. Jon

    This is why McCain will lose the election..... Looking at everything that is not relevant now... John McCain, get a grip and try to be the man you used to be!!!

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  19. CJ

    This is still dragging up the past. The GOP is trying everything possible to change the course of this election.
    Everday they come up with something new. Makes me really wonder if I would want a man like McCain in the White House when all he can do is throw crap on the wall and see what sticks.
    Obama still takes the high road.

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  20. Victor of MI

    So, this is the absolute BEST argument the republicans can come up with to win the White House? Seriously??

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  21. Barbara CA

    Let me get this straight, Frank Keating thinks that Obama is hiding his drug use by writing about it in a book?

    Interesting.

    Back to reality. Go Obama/Biden.

    One man, one vote.

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  22. Frank, MO

    How low can you go, McCain ?

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  23. Independant, Ohio

    This is funny. McCain is trying to make an issue out of an openly discussed bad decision that he made as a youngster. We all make mistakes when we are young. The problem is that McCain is still making horrible mistakes that effect many more people than just himself. McCain made a terrible mistake by voting to fight a war in Iraq. Many many people have died because of this. McCain is still making bad decisions.

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  24. Nation in Crisis

    "He ought to admit, ‘You know, I've got to be honest with you. "

    Barack already admitted to it in his own book in 1995?
    With the stock market dropping 500 points a day, wouldn't it be better to focus on the real issues facing this country rather than engaging in Rove-like smears? Enough already.

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Jeff

    That's weird–he's admitted all of this in his books and in speeches. How can he be any more candid?

    At any rate, he's been more candid about it than John McCain's been about his womanizing, gambling, and drinking.

    October 9, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
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