October 11th, 2008
08:44 AM ET
4 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. j

    This is the first time McCain has shown any dignity at all. Too bad he can't get the rest of his campaign to take this approach. Unity is better than division and right now, McCain is running the campaign of division.

    October 11, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  2. Alex L

    Wow, a bit of the 2000 McCain shining through. Nice to see that.

    October 11, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. Jeff

    And people call the Obama supporters mean. I have never seen so much hatred or disrespect in any politacal election. McCain and Palin are relying solely on fear and smear tactics. Obama's attacks are on McCain's issues not him as a person. GOP please be respectful, do not split this county into two.

    Obama 08

    October 11, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. T, MN

    I have no comment other than to say I'm ashamed.

    October 11, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. Andrew

    Thank you John McCain. Only courageous acts like this will save our country from descending into hate.

    October 11, 2008 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Keith

    McCain might not care if voters fear an Obama presidency, but if it means they vote McCain, I don't see him being too opposed.

    His attack adds certainly want people to fear Obama, so this "Let's be respectful" nonsense is just him trying not to come off as a xenophobic racist, like much of his base seems to be.

    October 11, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. floriduh

    Please, Mr. McCain – please list Mr. Obama's accomplishments....it shouldn't take too long...oh, yeah – that's right – he's the Democratic nominee.
    That's about it.

    October 11, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. blarsen

    Darn! Now he'll probably go up in the polls.

    October 11, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  9. kenny cole

    THATS TOO LATE

    October 11, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. lcourt

    McCain and Palin want elected so bad, because it's his last chance since he is 72, that they aren't throwing the kitchen sink at Obama, but the toilet.....Shame on them. They don't know how to compaign the correct way, what they are doing is down right dirty from Karl Rove's play book.

    October 11, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. Claude Zesseu

    Dear candidates and supporters, please keep the political and campaign rhetoric civil. History will judge each and everyone by what they say today. So, let's wise up! C. Zesseu.

    October 11, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Precious Coker

    McCain should be proud of himself and his VP pick.

    Who is Obama? what a stupid and silly question!!

    What was MCain thinking of? as for Sarah, her position in history is been written as we speak. After Nov. 4th she will be remembered as an intelectually challenged, hate fueling and fear spreading miss pick of the century- who cost McCain the presidency of the united states of America in 2008.

    The law of the land will take its course. Sarah Palin you abused your office. Period!!!

    October 11, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. Time to move on

    Obama/Biden the clear choice.
    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 11, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  14. Colleen

    finally...Senator Mccain, you are doing what is honorable...please make sure your running mate follows suit...I fear a terrible tragedy more than I fear ANYONE as our next president...please refrain from giving wackos ANY reason to even THINK you or your running mate would condone a violent resolution to this political debate..if I can stomach 8 years of Bush..anyone should be able to live with 4-8 years of "That One", or yourself for that matter...:)

    October 11, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. pittpa

    palin+mccain=demagogue

    October 11, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  16. McCain offended Arabs and blacks

    The fact that some republicans think a) that Barack Obama is muslim or arab and b) that there is something wrong with being muslim or arab is because the republicans have spread these lies. Big deal that McCain is defending this. His party started the ball rolling and every muslim / arab and black person out there should make him pay for racial profiling. Move over "driving while black", it's now "driving while arab". p.s. Barack Obama's mother was WHITE. Any senior out there who won't vote for a black person because of skin color deserves to lose everything they have in the stock market.

    October 11, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  17. Todd

    Why dont I just pay 20 of you to stand and openly call Obama a terrorist, muslim, and let you spout your racial slurs. Once you are finished, I will just say, settle down, I admire the man and you should to...but in reality, the damage is already done. Some turncoat in America is watching and you might have struck a chord. SHAMEFUL tactics and this stuff is totally transparent.

    October 11, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. JC, South Carolina

    He is beginning to acknowledge that Obama will be the next President.

    October 11, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Winnie in Montana

    Uh huh, Sen. McCain, you've realized that all this hate and divisiveness may have negative consequences for your campaign. I doubt you really care, but you can't appear as if you are hosting Klan rallies, right?

    October 11, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. John

    John McCain and Sarah Palin let this hate genie out of the bottle and are now stuck with the consequences of these Republican wing nuts spewing anger and hate. It is a little late to try to stuff this particular genie back into the bottle.

    October 11, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Guy in Chico

    Hi We were just watching an over enthused fan for McCain, He said Obama is like a "South American Dictator and offering a Chicken in every pot". I hope he knows that was a slogan from Herbert Hoover, a repulican candidate for president.... So shall we re-think that???
    People better check their history facts before deciding who to vote for!

    Guy in Chico

    October 11, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  22. Charles, Miami

    how ironic really. I actually felt sorry for Mccain when he had to take the microphone away from that lady claiming Barack was arab. Mccain seemed to be thinking, " What have I done....".

    October 11, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  23. KL

    Its not McCains style. Where have most people been under a rock.
    McCain was so mad when they used those tatics against him, that deep inside he probably hates his campaign staff.

    Its not McCain to throw mud, but if he does he will be sorry because the Obama campaign has a trap set for him.

    October 11, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  24. Bat 242

    WRONG! You ought to be scare of an Obama presidency but for those folks who likes a socialistic government on par with France, Cuba or N. Korea than Obama's your guy

    October 11, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  25. Bennie

    I was scared of a Bush presidency, and all my fears have been realized. I'm sure the people that are scared of Obama voted for Bush, and can you honestly say you are better off now than 8 years ago? I know I'm not. What is really scary is those crowd McCain is drawing.

    October 11, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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