October 11th, 2008
08:44 AM ET
3 weeks 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. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    This is McCain's fault. He is now trying to repair what he helped to create. Both he and Palin are going to places where there is already an undercurrent of racism and hatred. McCain is reinforcing this hate and ignorance and it is shameful!

    October 11, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Steve T

    McCain could do himself a big favor and "bump" his standing in the polls overnight with a simple announcement:
    "My friends, I'm announcing that first, I am firing Karl Rove as a campaign advisor and second, I'm putting a muzzle on my pit bull."

    October 11, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. LouAnn

    Once again McCain flip-flops. After a week of very nasty campaigning he saw his polls drop and once again decided to change his tactic. While it was nice to see him acting nice last night, I have to ask, who is this man? He has changed his strategy and beliefs so many times that no one knows who he is anymore. How can we have someone like that for a president? He is much to erratic for my comfort.

    October 11, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. To Rick Davies

    You say Barack Obama has said worse things about McCain, can you please list them? and ofcourse if you have something called conscience still left in you, can you please say which one compares with "palling around with terrorists?

    October 11, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. phil .c

    lol lol lol its funny all that is transpiring

    October 11, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Western Voter

    Rick Davis is a Karl Rove wannabee...no question he stirred the hatred but the people in these McCain/Palin crowds are serious wackos. Palin was chosen for one purpose...her appeal to the nut cases who attend the GOP rallies and say such goofy things.

    They are the GOP base, carefully and methodically cultivated these last 8 years by Bush and Cheney...now McCain has reaped the whirlwind. Our responsibility is to make certain these folks are not put in charge of the nation's agenda come January.

    October 11, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. Hanson in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

    AMERICA YOU ARE A BETTER COUNTRY THAN THESE HATRED AND RACISM. IF YOU CAN BEHAVE LIKE THIS IN YOUR POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS I WONDER WHAT YOU WILL EXPECT OF A TYPICAL RALLY IN A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY, SAY NIGERIA!

    WAKE UP AMERICA , VOTE OBAMA/BIDEN ON NOV 4TH!

    October 11, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. ezekieldas

    At this point I liken the republican party to a sad drunken man, out of money, and about to stumble on home. He's desperate, incoherent, and in between the belligerence, apologetic.

    October 11, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Helena

    I wonder if the Secret Service told him to stop because it is a crime to "incite to riot"?

    October 11, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Please read Sarah Palin and Todd Palin's court transcript, now that's what is truly scary.

    October 11, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Gambi

    Nice try McCain however you have fed ignorant people with lies and I pray to God you and Palin have not brought out the worst in America at a time when we need to pull together and help one another and not live in fear of our leaders or our neighbors. I'm so dissappointed in your behavior in the past few months.
    Vote Hope Note Hate
    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 11, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. DEE

    scared?....The closer we get to Obama being in office, it seems people are really showing true colors. I hat pulling the race card but i have never seen people acting like this.

    October 11, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Independent_me

    It took his own Republican Party members to stand up and decry McCain and Palin's horrendous foray into the dark side of politics to get McCan to stop. After whipping up their base to murderous inclination, McCain FINALLY tried to put the dragon back in its cage. Let us hope that it was not too late.

    Question for Palin and McCain: What does it profit a man (or woman) to gain the world and lose his/her soul???

    As a Christian, Sara, was it worth the shame you have brought on the Body of Christ?

    As a once noble soldier, Senator McCain, was it worth dishonoring your own principles and character to incite people to call "Kill him!" and "Bomb Obama!"? during yours and Palin's incendiary speeches??

    Was it?

    October 11, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Al P.

    Too little, too late!!

    October 11, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Jimmy268

    I'm not a big fan of either candidate, but I do think McCain is an honorable human being

    October 11, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. DB25

    Yeah, those Republicans better not be scared – because it looks like what's going to happen....an Obama presidency.

    October 11, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  17. Kathryn

    Too little too late, my friends.

    I do feel a little bad for the guy having to deal with all these nutbags at his rallies though.

    October 11, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Nick

    It's going to be tough for McCain to gain support and close the gap while being respectful. I think the hard core Republicans want him to get down and dirty with Obama, but he doesn't need to win their support, he needs to win over undecided voters, and that isn't doesn't by calling Senators terrorists!

    October 11, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. S. Boatman

    There Is No Need To Fear An Obama Presidency! . . . There Is A Real Need To Fear A Mccain Presidency!

    October 11, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. KMAN

    In McCain’s muddled mind ... it is apparently impossible to be an Arab AND to be a decent and loving family man. Yes, he will make a great leader for all Americans EXCEPT for Americans of Arab descent.

    October 11, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. isaac

    He knows that being negative at Obama will not get him anywhere. poll shows it.

    October 11, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. McHoover Would Destroy What's Left of America

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

    McCain to crowd: 'Be afraid' of my presidency

    October 11, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Sue in Alabama

    “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.”

    He is a DECENT PERSON, ya got that Barracuda?? You betcha, by golly, and don't you forget it!

    Obama/Biden '08-'12

    October 11, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. JD in NC

    The McCain campaign is spiraling out of control....

    October 11, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    HYPOCRITE!

    October 11, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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