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. T. Mckinley

    What is going on with these McCain/Palin supporters? Are these people so obsessed with keeping an African American from becoming president that they are willing to brand Obama a "terrorist" and even call for his murder?

    And why isn't Sarah Palin doing anything to stop this behavior?

    October 11, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Tom

    BUT A PALIN PRESIDENCY . . . .

    Democrats 08.

    October 11, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Too late

    It is too late to run a respectful campaign now. The damage has already been done.

    October 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  4. sabuc for Obama

    What's the difference between Aaron Eckhart and John McCain? Aaron didn't portray Two-Face in real life.

    October 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. john lowe

    john mccain has finally demonstrated why he is not george w. bush, but too little too late

    October 11, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. kaz

    I wish John Mccain good luck in his life, I like John, but he bacame McBush during last two months. I saw the real John Mcain last night, but it is too late to change my mind. I voted 3 of last four election for republican President, an will be vooting for Obama

    October 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  7. Mortimer

    It's about time McCain started acting like a honorable candidate instead of the sleazeball he has been.

    Too bad it took the Secret Service looking into comments made at his rallies to make him understand that allowing that behavior is not presidential.

    October 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  8. UNITED WE STAND

    this is crazy this explains why George Bush got elected twice. People are no longer reasonable.

    October 11, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Lorna, NY

    Too little, too late!

    October 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Antipholus

    Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
    Take thou what course thou wilt!

    Apparently, McCain, Palin, and none of their staff read Juluis Caesar. Or did they?

    The McCain campaign has dredged its last, gasping messages from the muck of this country's xenophobia. How sad that so many "good" Americans crave the stench.

    McCain's eyesight may be good, but he's lost his vision.

    October 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. FAYE, NV

    McCain is aware that he is causing false accusation about Obama. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hard campaigning and to question ones ability or judgment. However, to incite anger, anomosity and hatred is cruel and offensive.

    What if someone question McCain on when he had an opportunity to leave, when captive he choose to stay.

    October 11, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  12. Pat

    John McCain is the man to fear.The man who is speaking untruths. The man who has to use smear tactics to try to puff himself up. The man who lost all integrity and credibility. The man whose Campaign is based on attacks versus issues. The man who put his smear Campaign ahead of his Country and allowed it to keep Americans from hearing about the real issues!

    October 11, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Thomas

    It's hard watching an honorable man "John McCain " aline himself with the same people that smeared him and his family back in the 2000 election . McCain was once the target of the
    Rush Limbaugh , Glenn Beck school of fear , hate and denial . Now McCain has let himself become
    there pawn of division !

    Sad

    October 11, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Sharon

    Campaigning hard should not mean mudslinging and defamation of character. Thank you, John McCain, for finally standing up to these types of comments in your rallies. Regardless of who wins in November, the American people still have to pull together to get out of this mess.

    October 11, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. kaz

    First time I saw the real John McCain, but it is too late. John need good rest.

    October 11, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. Rich

    I think John McCain is scared of being labeled a hate monger which I don't believe he is. Oh the other hand, Palin either is clueless as to what she is saying or is so coldly calculating that she is whipping the crowd up to a frenzy and is trying to play the hate monger role. Either way, she is dangerous.

    This is uncalled for and very anti-American. Obama may say things about McCain, but he doesn't call him or allow him to be called a terrorist or a Muslim. This is a rift in the US that will be difficult for Obama to heal as president. And the thought of McCain and Palin running the country scares me more than ever.

    When did the KKK take over the Republican Party?

    October 11, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. SwingVote2008

    So McCain admits he is wrong but his Campaign manager is delusional and can't admit that there tactics create fear and separation. This is why racism is still alive! You have people who admit that there is a problem and work to a solution and on the same side are people who just ignore and deny the problem. If you turn a blind eye there to a problem the people will continue to hate. Ignoring the problem does not make it go away. In 2008 things are not EQUAL and will not just go away because you act like it Never Happened.

    October 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Diane, New York

    That's the John McCain I once respected. Were it not for "his" choice of Palin as VP I would not fear a McCain presidency either.

    October 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  19. Chris

    i've been very critical of McCain's policies and the rhetoric of the past few weeks but I'm glad to see that he is trying to calm his mobs down to focus on issues and to be respectful. The last thing we need is a divided electorate after the election.

    October 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  20. Gene

    Thank you John for your words of wisdom... too bad you have your other half out there spewing the hate while you try to sit there and try to act civilized.

    What is this? Good cop, bad cop?

    October 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. SC

    As a McCain supporter I woulkd like to know what he and Governor Palin (especially Governor Palin) are going to do about the absolute hate and violence they have inspired on the campaign trail. I dislike very much Obamas ideas for this country, but I am becoming much more scared of the hate Governor Palin seems to have for Obama and wishes to instill in her supporters. Why is a very honorable man like John McCain allowing her to create such a vicious and possibly violent divide in our country? Why is she allowed to incite at her campaign stops such chants as 'terrorist', 'off with his head' and people using ugly racial slurs against their fellow Americans? What is being done to curb her outright hate mongering? I agree Obamas shady past should come to light, but there must be a better way to do it than to incite people to hate and violence.

    October 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  22. Big D

    McCain and Palin should acknowledge that it would never have gotten to this point if they hadn't supported and encouraged it before. All of those ads that falsely trashed Obama, all of those smears from the McCain surrogates, all of those 'pal around with terrorists' statements from Palin, they all added up to this. McCain and Palin are responsible for things getting this far out of control in the first place.

    October 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  23. SHELLI1313

    Mr. McNasty, you are a Bigot, a Racist and a Fear Monger. That is why I have left the Republican Party because you are still running racist ads, your so-called lier of a VP pick is still promoting harm to Senator Obama with her Racist Speak, She has been found guilty of Truth and Trust of the People and neither one of you can be trusted. I am now a Democrat and I love it because they are addressing the concerns of The American People. Senator Obama and Senator Biden and the Dems are concerned about the Economy, Healthcare, Energy, Education and a boat load of other things that they want to fix if the people vote for them and I as a former Republican will be VOTING FOR SENATOR OBAMA AND SENATOR BIDEN BECAUSE I WANT THE TRUTH EVEN IF IT HURTS ME AS A BUSINESS OWNER MAKING OVER $200,000 PER YEAR! I THINK IT IS WORTH IT!

    SHELLI IN GEORGIA

    October 11, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. don

    Don't be afraid? I'm still waiting on the answers to the "rhetorical" questions about Obama"s ties to people and organizations. I'm afraid when rulers of countries against America want him to be the next president. It's kind of scary when the biased national news medias state that peo[le are willing to overlook these rhetorical questions because McCain is addressing other issues besides the state of the economy. One man can do nothing about the economy. Wake up people.....Rhetorical? The word change has been used through out history in every local, state, and national election. Tell me who you are and what you will work for. I'm still waiting on the first answers to the "rhetorical" questions and I am afraid that fancy talk will win out over common sense.

    October 11, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  25. Denise OKC

    Don't worry Senator....I totally support and welcome an Obama Presidency!!
    Obama/BIden 08-12

    October 11, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
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