October 15th, 2008
08:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Martin: Obama is setting up McCain for the political rope-a-dope

Martin: Obama is setting up McCain for a knockout blow.

Martin: Obama is setting up McCain for a knockout blow.

(CNN) - Muhammad Ali was not only a great boxer, but an awesome tactician.

Remember the fight against George Foreman in Zaire? My man damn near went to sleep on the ropes as Foreman flailed away, using his energy to pound away at Ali. And at the right time, the Greatest of All Time started blasting away, eventually knocking Foreman out.

That's exactly what Sen. Barack Obama is doing to Sen. John McCain.

At no time during the Democratic primary has Obama tried to pick a fight. So when he told ABC last week that when it came to bringing up 1960s radical Bill Ayers on the campaign trail, McCain "wasn't willing to say it to my face," I instantly saw it as Obama throwing down the gauntlet.

Knowing full well that the senior senator from Arizona has a hot temper, he couldn't resist the bait.

"He has probably ensured that it will come up this time," McCain told a Missouri radio station.

And by doing so tonight, Obama will be ready to pounce.

I debated conservative Michael Steele last night at Fayetteville State University in Fayetteville, N.C., and he said McCain should stay focused on the issues. I concur.

By bringing up an issue voters don't care about, McCain will alienate independents, and make it easier for Obama to appeal to them.

If it happens, just watch Obama pound away at McCain, just like Ali did to Foreman.

soundoff (1,160 Responses)
  1. FathersLastSon

    Hey Roland he may pulverize him in the debate , but its the Actual election we need him take and you know how they did down in Florida in 2000, and 2004 , Dont think something similiar is not already in the Plans in those other Red States as well

    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Hannibal

    McCain can't help but take the bait, its in his nature. He's a hot head and can't step down from a fight, even when its clearly not in his best interest. Not a quality you want in a leader.

    He should just stick to his guns.
    "My friends" the fundamentals of the economy are still strong
    "My friends" The surge has worked
    "My friends" I have a plan
    Surge. Surge. Surge.

    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. Dj


    This is a good analogy... however, it breaks down in one respect; that is, George was a far more "dangerous" opponent than John is, was, or ever will be.

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. knurse10

    It's amazing how us "Liberals" have remained so "Conservative" these lasts couples of days!..The Repubs have made a fool out of themselves, thanks to his dumb supporters..

    Obama/ Biden 08'

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. Kiah G

    Barack had better watch out McCain is fixing to bear his you know what.

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. Worst ticket ever

    Homewrecker for First Lady...I think not.

    An unlawful abuser of power for VP...Nope.

    A Karl Rovian sellout for president...Enough already!

    An AIP secessionist for second "dude"...Are you kidding me?

    No way, no how, no McCain, no Palin!

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. Mike in Columbus

    Christine K,

    I've done that research... lots of it. Have you??? What I've found is that the Ayers relationship is something that can be made to sound much worse than it ever was.

    My question to you is, have you researched McCain? Put Google where your mouth is and do some real research on McCain. What I've found there is far more scary than anything I've found on Obama.

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. OBI-08 GA.

    This is really interesting, Obama has been scrutinized allot during this ellection cycle for being too soft, but I saw the eye of the tiger in than man. America is begining to see Obama in his truest form, diplomacy first, then.... lay the smack DOWN!!. What a rush!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Herman In LA

    That's all right Barack just Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee...

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Cherry For Obama

    I can't wait either Brain, New York the night is the night.

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Lu from Houston, TX

    Will McCain announce that he will get rid of Sarah Palin tonight? That may be the only sensible thing left.

    October 15, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. proud army and navy mom

    On Sept. 24, Hillary Rodham Clinton received a surprise phone call from the man she’s often denounced as an economic know-nothing: John McCain.

    This was no social call, even though Clinton likes McCain enough to keeps his photo on the wall of her Senate office. The GOP nominee had already chatted with Bill Clinton about the mortgage crisis and wanted to pick the senator’s brain about her new proposal to have the federal government buy up bad mortgages and renegotiate terms more favorable to homeowners on verge of default.

    “McCain said he had been motivated by it, he was very complimentary about what she had proposed and wanted to know more,” said a person with knowledge of the call.

    Clinton responded coolly. “She didn’t engage him, she just said, ‘Thank you’ and heard him out.”

    October 15, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. mitch

    barack will unite the country. except for the dingleberries that got us into the messes we're in.

    October 15, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. proud army and navy mom

    mccain is sooooooooo desparate!

    October 15, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. alda

    next, Barrack will TKO all the rich folks and then we'll all be jobless blithering idiots sucking on water bottles and blabbing into cell phones. Idiocracy, here we come!

    October 15, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. johnrj08

    If McCain brings up Bill Ayers, Obama cannot evade the question. He can't be perceived as being evasive, even on this peripheral issue. But he can turn it into a positive by answering with a statement about what his participation in the Annenberg Trust organization achieved for low income families and educating their kids. He can say that Ayers supported him for what he did WHILE IN THAT organization. He can then condemn Ayers' crimes in the 1960's and ask McCain if he's ready to talk about the economy. It's a win-win for Obama.

    October 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. N.S of Huntsville, Al

    Sharing a comment from someone called Brighter America08
    I like it!

    I believe John McCain has run out of "comebacks"!! How many times has he reinvented himself during this campaign, how many times has he stood for something and promptly was against it? McCain does not seem to know what direction to take, he veers here, veers there, veers everywhere to the point that he himself doesn't know just where he stands. Even a cat with nine lives eventually goes belly up! McCain has nowhere to go, he is confused. "My fellow PRISONERS" comment tells a lot about this old, erratic, washed-out politician. Time to rid ourselves of the old politics and this old, washed out politician of yesteryear and move forward. McCain claims he KNOWS how to WIN wars--then, why are we still in Iraq and Afghanistan?? McCain claims he KNOWS how to catch Bin Ladin-then, whay hasn't he?? McCain claims he can fix the economy crisis....really? Didn't he swoop into Washington to do this?? Then, why didn't he fix it?? McCain just keep telling us big, fat lies about what he knows and what he will do and some people just lap it up like little puppies lapping up sweet millk. At least the puppies DO get their milk. McCain has NOT ended the wars, he has not caught Bin Laden, and he didn't deliver in DC and he will not end th wars, he will not catch Bin Laden, and he will not deliver on the economy. With his own mouth he has stated he does not know economics. How can he fix something about which he knows nothing about??

    October 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Steven

    Steve From Dallas: If terrorism ties is an issue to you, you may want to look up McCain and his extremely close friendship and ties with G. Gordon Liddy. All Obama did was serve on a board with Ayers.

    October 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. Cath

    Christine L-- Sen. Obama has answered the Ayers question many times in the last 6 months, where have you been? Now, I would like to know why Sen. McCain's top transition guy was a lobbyist for Saddam Hussein? I think that is more of a question of judgment, along with his pick of Sara Palin, then someone (Ayers) who was a great friend of Pres. Reagan, on the board of something that was started by the Repulican Annenberg. I would also like to hear Sen. McCain explain his Keating relationship more, like how Keating sat on the board of Cindy's company and how Keating and Cindy were friends and business partners for 11 more years after the Keating 5 scandal.

    October 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. No Fan of Barracuda

    From before the debates, when everyone was freaking out about Obama not attacking, and he talked about elevating his game late, I've been saying this is the real contrast in styles. McCain's a brawler, a puncher who has bullied his way through every problem in life. Obama's a boxer, a guy with grace in his soul who seems to float above everything. Brawlers tend to rely on emotion, anger, and their self-perception as working harder than anyone else. Boxers may work just as hard, but they don't make it show. In this kind of a matchup, the boxer is favored as long as the brawler doesn't get in a lucky shot, playing defense and letting the brawler wear himself out. That's what Obama's been doing all along, scoring when he can, staying away from crazy haymakers.

    If this debate were a true free for all, we might well see McCain lose it completely. As it is, I think he'll get through it, but he won't like being that close to Obama for almost 2 hours and it will show at some point.

    October 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. The Refiblican strategy

    The Ayers issue is a "joke". Refiblicans can't handle the issues. In addition, their foreign policy towards the fight on terrorism (what the take personal pride in) has been backwards. Refiblicans are the "energy commission" party. Tonight will be terrible for John Mccain. He will bring up something irrelevant (Bill Ayers) against Obama...and Barak will bring up something relevant against Mccain (the Keating five).

    October 15, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. jimmy


    October 15, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. Karen- Bring on the Elections - WE ARE ONE

    Martin you need to stop it! You can't be telling the secrets of rope a dope. Gosh! Somethings are better left unsaid. Bring IT McCain, you can't began to understand what this election is really all about... We the people are taking back our country.

    October 15, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. get some sense

    I am sure that the " leftist media conspiracy " has tanked the DOW today just to make McCain look bad for tonight's debate

    October 15, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. sb

    I certainly agree with you Roland, however this election is not over. I wish Mcain would take the high road on the way out, but I don't believe its the Republcan way. If at some point he decides to go quietly into the night, we should respect that and him for his years of service, but not until tonight is in the bag.

    October 15, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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