October 11th, 2008
08:44 AM ET
3 months ago

McCain to crowd: 'Don't be scared' of Obama presidency

McCain called for the crowd to cool its rhetoric Friday.
McCain called for the crowd to cool its rhetoric Friday.

LAKEVILLE, Minnesota (CNN) – John McCain heard boos at a town hall meeting Friday night after the Republican presidential nominee called for the crowd to be more respectful towards rival Barack Obama.

“We would like you to remain a true American hero,” an elderly military veteran told him. “We want you to fight.”

“I will fight, but we will be respectful,” McCain said. “I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments and I will respect him.”

When the crowd began to boo, McCain told them “No, no. I want everyone to be respectful.”

Watch: McCain tries to calm the crowd

Along with the veteran, four others pleaded with McCain to put up more of a fight against Obama.

One woman who said she had a lot of undecided neighbors said she wanted McCain to “go to the mattresses” on in his third and final debate with Obama on Wednesday.

While McCain said “I got my marching orders” from the supporters, he still seemed to resist their red-meat rhetoric.

One man said he was scared of an Obama presidency.

“My wife and I are expecting our first child, in April 2nd, next year,” the man said. “And frankly, we're scared. We're scared of an Obama presidency.”

McCain told the man he should not fear Obama.

“I want to be president of the United States, and I don't want Obama to be,” he said. “But I have to tell you, I have to tell you, he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared as President of the United States.”

McCain's response was met with more boos from the crowd.

A McCain campaign senior adviser later denied that there was a change of tone at Friday night's town hall.

“I believe someone called (Obama) an Arab Muslim, which is factually incorrect, and he corrected that person,” said Mark Salter. “We’re going to campaign hard against this guy. I don’t think he pulled any punches on any issues.”

Since last weekend, when Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin first accused Barack Obama of "palling around with a terrorist" - a reference to 1960s radical William Ayers - rowdy crowds have called Obama a liar, terrorist and worse.

Asked about these outbursts, campaign manager Rick Davis said that he didn’t know who those people were, and if they were there as supporters or to disrupt the rallies. He said while people are “incredibly frustrated” that he is “very confident that it has nothing to do with what our candidates are saying or doing on the stump because I think that if you compared the rhetoric of Barack Obama on a daily basis with the rhetoric of John McCain and Sarah Palin, you’ll find that our rhetoric pales in comparison to what Barack Obama says about John McCain every day.”

And while McCain may be trying to tamp down the rhetoric on Obama, he may be walking a fine line, careful to not extinguish the enthusiasm he needs to win.

"Now, I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity, but that just means it's got to be respectful. Ok?” he told the crowd Friday.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain • Minnesota
soundoff (175 Responses)
  1. Maggie Muggins From Selwyn

    The fact is the rhetoric of the McCain campaign has been so hateful that the Republicans with any self respect are jumping off the wagon with many of them now openly supporting Obama. It would appear McCain made a huge mistake using the lobbyists and Rove tactics that have resulted in him having absolutely no chance of success in November.

    October 11, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Justin

    'Ferocity' is such a bad word. You realize the root of that means 'wild,' right? Is that really the way you want supporters of a presidential candidate to behave?

    However, I'm glad he at least did SOMETHING (albeit too late) to try to tone down the terrible things his supporters have been saying.

    October 11, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. WhoaNellie

    Well, I can't imagine McCain/Palin would be surprised when someone called Obama an "Arab", which I'm sure is Minnesota-Nice for a much more charged term. What would they expect when they're hammering on and on about "palling around with a terrorist"? I don't understand how McCain could campaign in 2000 under a "straight-talk/no negativity" umbrella, experience getting smeared by the Rove Machine, and then turn around and embrace the machine that made him so angry a few years ago. Oh, wait, maybe I do...winning is more important than integrity. What happened to you, John McCain?

    October 11, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  4. LettuceB1

    Sorry Mc Gang, you can't put the genie back in the bottle! You wanted a mob, you got a mob!

    October 11, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  5. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Never was scare of Obama – the one that believes in and protects the Constitution.

    Have always been afraid of you and your Power Abusing Pitbull.

    October 11, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  6. Bill

    i just don't get it. do these hardcore, ideologues just want more war, more poverty and more economic crisis? or do they just hate 'liberals'? they don't seem to understand any policies. they just want 'one of them' in office. very frightening.

    October 11, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. Owanemi Iyalla

    How can John McCain hope to lead the country during these tough times when he can't control a crowd that essentially supports him and his "maverick" ideas?

    October 11, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. If you like the last 2 years.... vote Obama

    He was just being polite on a personal level, which shows his character. However, you should be very afraid of Obama as president from a political and economical standpoint!!!

    October 11, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. M. WINNERS

    I went to a McCain/Palin lynching party (aka campaign stop) and you could smell the tar boiling, see the cross burning and the feather pillows waving while the "supporters" moronically chanted "USA USA" and "drill baby drill". Some of the repug neocon thugs were even wearing their white pointed hats. True Americans all…

    A vote for McCain/Palin is a vote for returning to the 30's…

    October 11, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. tt in iowa

    I think that all of sudden to just decide to do the "right thing" doesn't quite ring true. It seemed a bit staged because that woman who said Sen. Obama is an arab, almost couldn't even get the words out. I would like to see her interviewed to see if those were her real views or if she was prompted to say those things. As well as the guy who stood up and said he was "scared" of an Obama presidency. Wasn't what he was really saying is that the country would be scared of a black president.

    October 11, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Will the Real Maverick Please Stand Up?

    Hahahaha...has McBoob finally realized the folly of his hateful ways? Too late, methinks, he's already let the genie out of the bottle. How can anyone be so delusional and still vote for this buffoon?

    October 11, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Chris F.

    The Rebublican Party is the Party of Fear and scare people into voting for them. I think it is sad that some people believe all the bull crap. I think having a job, saving for the future and a future for our Children are the most important. I am not araid of Obama being President he is an American and has our best interest in mind. The Republicans want us to live in Fear, give up our freedoms because of fear and while they are scaring us our jobs are being sent overseas. I live in Ohio and 180,000 jobs have been lost the past eight years. I think it is un-American to scare people and have us live in fear. I know that some groups around the world do not like us but if we give up freedom, our jobs and future then we will lose in the end..

    October 11, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. Amy, Kazoo

    I'm confused. I thought McCain and Palin were saying Obama hasn't had any accomplishments and when one sees all of his attack ads and smears against Obama, it seems he doesn't have much respect for him. Not to mention he couldn't even look at him or shake his hand after the debate.

    More talking out of the straight express's rear end.

    October 11, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. ET

    Sorry McCain you're wrong, the people should ba scared of Obama, with the kind of friends he has.

    October 11, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. anne

    McCain is the worst.

    October 11, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Arabphobia

    Those pitchfork bearers need to crawl back into their hole. I hope the Feds are profiling these McCain Mob rallies..U just might locate a domestic cell among these losers

    October 11, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  17. UAWMick

    I'm not a McCain supporter at all, GO BARACK!, but I will give kudos to McCain for taking the high road and saying to his supporters that they shouldnt fear Obama. At least McCain see that his supporters are now going overboard. And to the lady that said she read Obama was an Arab, she needs to re-read again and then check her facts!

    October 11, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. Vicki

    This is funny....trying to put out a fire you started. Forget Obama you should look at the crooked trick you're palling around in Sarah (I abuse my power) Palin. TOO LATE!!!!!

    October 11, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. Obama/Biden 08

    Thank you, John, for finally coming out and saying this. I hope that you follow up on this by refocusing your campaign on the issues. Maybe there's still the old maverick in there.

    October 11, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. American

    In other words....Lets lose with dignity.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08/12!

    October 11, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. McCain-Palin are LIARS !

    McCain's so-called new awakening is pathetic. Remember it was he and Palin who planted their evil seeds in the first place, and the only reason they are toning it down – if you choose to believe it – is because it's not working for them. Voters are rejecting their stupidity because they fail to understand that it's all about the economy !

    McCain-Palin's campaign is in the toilet. The question now is how will they exit and be remembered – as someone who tried to focus on the economic wows with real solutions, or as someone who spent all of their time in negativity and divisions. I wonder which one will they choose.

    I truly hope everyone will turn the page on this old dirty stale politics, and choose a better path. It's time for the American people to get it right and NOT vote for McCain-Palin, instead vote for change. It's time for this country to turn the page and seek a new and better future for ourselves and our children.It's time for REAL change in Washington, it's time to elect Barack Obama for president !

    Obama-Biden are the wiser and stronger team to solve the crucial challenges we have in this nation and abroad !

    Obama-Biden in 08 and 2012 !

    October 11, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. JR

    Looks like even McCain is beginning to recognize how despicable his campaign has become, but wait 5 minutes and he'll flip flop around and call him a terrorist again, just wait and see. McCain's desperation will win out over any remaining honor every time.

    October 11, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. IF I HAVE TO CHOSE BETWEEN A SOCIALIST HIPPIE OR A RELIGIOUS-FASCIST NAZI, THEN ALL I AM SAYING, IS GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

    I am an Obama supporter, but I do believe in a strong 2 party governing system, it is just too bad it took so long for the adults to stand up to the reptilians in charge of the party. The same can be said for McCrypt, POSSIBLY, when he actually defended Obama at the KKK rally his stump speeches have become. I will wait to see if McCain has actually rediscovered his integrity or was this just another senior moment.

    I hope it is not too late.

    October 11, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. JAM

    Well, after he and Palin incited these lunatic fringe voters, at least he's made some attempt to tone them down. Let's hope it's not "too little, too late".

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 11, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Linda Flayton

    Finally, McCain exhibited some conscience when he refused to join the crowd in defiling Obama. There is some decency left in the old man, yet.

    October 11, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
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