October 9th, 2008
08:05 PM ET
9 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. Abby

    Obama needs to be checked out – before it's too late!
    Wright, Rezko, Raines, Ayres – ACORN – now drugs – is this guy really someone we want to lead our country????
    All these corrupt type "friends" – this is scary – we need to know the
    TRUTH!

    May God Bless America

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  2. ag

    Wow, I think he already spoke about it during the primaries. But what this does show is that the McCain camp is looking for anything negative, anything at all, that they can throw at Obama and hope it sticks.

    That, my friends, is call the ultimate act of desperation. If you can't campaign on a high note, then by all means, drag the other guy down with you.

    How pathetic.

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  3. Joe in Mo

    Well here you have it, the final card has been played by the Republicans. Obama has written about this. He admits, like many other young men in the 70's and 80's, that he did drugs when he was young and it was foolish and irresponsible.

    Obama's drug use 20+ years ago does not affect my paycheck, the economic crisis facing us or the looming Social Security crisis. Can we get back to the issues?

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I lost my job and all these idiots are doing is mudslinging each other.....Do they seriously have a plan to help me.....???

    Please create a bailout/rescue for me..I have been paying taxes for a while now...

    McShame..Barbie Palin...nobama...average joe...a helping hand here please...

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. Walt

    Does this rule apply only to Obama? Governor, I dont' recall you demanding such explanations from the former coke head and alcoholic who is currently running the country into the ground. Then again, maybe that is why you a requesting it now...

    Now using drugs is a "left" thing, that is too funny. Another old dude moving his lips and ain't saying a dang thing.

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. ok

    The problem is that Media just like CNN for reporting this nonsense. The McCain is using this smear (1) to divert the attention from the economy crisis, (2) to have free media talking point. If all media ignore them, they will stop. Shame on you CNN and all media.

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  7. Trent

    This is stupid...and already has been talked about in the primary...same with wright, ayers etc. Get over it GOP. You are going to lose!

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  8. Hopeful

    Obama was underage, so it is irrelevant. Bill Clinton was in college but it still didn't make him lose election. I would much rather hear about Cindy McCain's very adult drug addiction!

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. Curtis McMinn

    This is becoming pathetic. I think this squad is a disgrace.

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  10. MS

    Running out IDEAS...Game Over Go HOME

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  11. emily

    clearly, this is just another example of mccain and his merry followers grasping at whatever straws they can find in the eleventh hour of this campaign.

    it's incredibly pathetic and obviously the mccain mob is scared stiff at this point. as well they should be.

    October 9, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  12. Cam

    DESPERATE..............I was a guy of the street? What the *%^&* is that supposed to mean? That sounds pretty racist to me.

    Also, the fact that he experimented with drugs as a teen and got past it is something that should be seen as a positive. He obviously recognized that going down that path would lead him to ruin and turned himself around. Look at him now, he's on the path to become President. It's a story that many hopeless people who are down can relate to. I don't see it as a negative at all.

    McCain gambles a lot.....that's an addiction too. The difference is he has continued to do it throughout his adult life and obviously doesn't have the strength of character to stop himself. Also, Cindy STOLE from a charity to get her drugs. Shouldn't she have to admit she was a criminal and a drug addict too under the Republican's logic?

    October 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  13. Vt Kentucky

    We know all this already.... I read somewhere that Sarah Palin did the same thing when she was younger... Can someone confirm this?

    October 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  14. Keating Five or Frank Keating?

    Unlike Bush, at least Obama has been honest about his past drug use.
    Maybe McCain should start talking about his gambling.....

    October 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  15. Amy

    There's nothing too low for the McCain Palin campaign to go. First of all, it once again points out how old McCain is because Obama admitted his mistakes and this is like something out of an 80s campaign. Second, let's hear about Sarah & Todd's drug history. Somehow I suspect they've experimented like many other people did. Third, there's lots of rumors of Bristol Palin experimenting (pre-pregnancy) and who knows about McCain and his kids. This is a loser issue for a loser campaign.

    October 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  16. What the ****?

    This is hitting below the belt. If McCrazy has any decency, he'll reject Keating's comments. But, then again, the McCrazy campaign hasn't shown much decency.

    October 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  17. A Taxpayer

    I lost my job and all these idiots are doing is mudslinging each other.....Do they seriously have a plan to help me.....???

    Please create a bailout/rescue for me..I have been paying taxes for a while now...

    McShame..Barbie Palin...nobama...average joey...a helping hand here please...

    October 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. Cam

    I look at that Keating guy in the pic and I immediately think "Republican". I mean, are they all white, old, and racist?

    October 9, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  19. Roland

    What? Is Mrs McCain wanting to share a line?

    October 9, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  20. Desperation

    Hello all,
    I'm sinking in.

    Best Regards

    October 9, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  21. Kalyan

    Who cares about what he did during his teens?

    October 9, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  22. Darryl Miller,

    What about Gov Sarah Palin Abuse of Power:

    An investigation into Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's firing of her public safety commissioner can proceed, Alaska's Supreme Court ruled Thursday, clearing the way for a Friday report to the state Legislature on the issue.

    Do America need another VP Dick Chaney?

    October 9, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. Gustav

    Remind me again how this is relevant on a day that the Dow dropped below 9,000 for the first time in five years?

    October 9, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  24. The guy that is smarter than you

    Obama has been very forthcoming about his past drug use, unlike George W. Bush was during his campaign. The Republicans are really grasping now. It's great that Obama already talked about this, so it's not like it's a skeleton in his closet.

    October 9, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  25. Tyree in Virginia

    Once again "Racism" rears its ugly head at the base of the RNC. So what Obama did drugs so did Bill Clinton, George Bush and 90% or the world at one time. He tried it and he got past that nieve stage that just about everyone goes through in life. I can't pay my mortgage and I don't have a job and these fools keep spreading this underlining racist message. Forget the old hags, the racist bums and the dumb bimbos.

    Obama 08

    October 9, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
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