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. Vote for Change

    Every time McCain mentions homeland security and inexperience, voters should think PALIN might be in charge if something happens. Heaven forbid she should ever be the President. She was a rash and irresponsible choice for running mate, a disastrous choice.

    Obama should remind McCain that McCain is a lot like William Ayers, as both were involved in some nasty business when younger (Ayers with the Weathermen Underground, McCain with the Keating S&L scandal) and both have rehabilitated themselves to become productive members of society. They are like brothers with parallel paths. Future President Obama should point out a willingness to work with them both regardless of their past mistakes.

    October 15, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  2. Pro

    If McCain says one more time i have a plan for this and a plan for that but has no steps or details as to how he will accomplish them. Obama will hit him a flurry that will put him away for the rest of this election!

    October 15, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. S. Shay

    A note on Ayers: Obama was starting to make McCain look really foolish by letting folks know Obama was 8 when Ayers was a radical. To counter that McCain tried to make Ayers look like a radical when Obama knew him (what a coincidence) so they talked Annebergy, Acorn (those sound scary now huh?) The problem is Ayers like Obama and many other Repubs and Dems were involved in an educational foundation that promoted activism and community and political awareness among low income kids but was by no means radical. However, when you read any material on the subject from right wingers they label just about everything the foundation did as RADICAL even though they have incidents or events to point to show radicalism and no bombed or shot up schools as proof that the foundation turned out a slew of America hating children. The extent the GOP would go to force an issue that is clearly irrelevant is astounding. And Obama never lied about knowing Ayers, he simply denied being best friends with him as others have tried to make it seem. All evidence points to Obama and Ayers being friendly, (they were on the same board) but not friends and Ayers certainly was never a political advisor. This needs to stop.

    October 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Ravi

    Johnny, angry Johnny... You're going down tonight, pops. My man Barack is the one who is going to "whip your you know what". Then you, your OxyContin doped wife, and KKKaribou Barbie can all go back to where you came from while Barack and Joe get us back on track.

    October 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. jackmack

    All that really matters here is that you DON'T FORGET TO VOTE

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 15, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Steve in CA

    I'm sure the old man has a trick up his sleeve. But I think it's too little, too late. He's already shown the real McPalin to the country, and the majority doesn't like what they see.

    October 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Sarah_OH Indep.

    I couldnt have agreed more than ever. The best from you so far. Keep going. We need foresighters like you.

    October 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. randy

    i total y agree with you roland john is tauting how he is going to do this and that to obama tonight it might be the opposite.

    October 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Ryan

    1 drink for each "my friends" tonight, I don't know if I'll still be conscious for the end of the debate.

    October 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. Mike, Ohio

    At this point McCain has nothing to lose. He might as well go all in. Nobody respects him anymore anyway.

    October 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. rufus

    Oh, Bama, verily wilt thou redistribute the wealth!

    October 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. Karen- Bring on the Elections - WE ARE ONE

    My Fellow Americans, Obama's not going to lose his cool and get loud and unruly, DON'T WORRY.... Obama will hammer McCain on issues, that the best way to knock out your opponet.

    October 15, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. Marc PDX

    Perhaps save the gloating until after the election, Roland.

    October 15, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. Jocely

    This is for McCain to loose and Obama to win.

    From the beginning of 2006 it has been clear this was stemps for Obama

    October 15, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. carol

    Sen Obama is far too smart for John McCain......even though McCain thinks he's going to kick Sen Obama's ........!!!!!. Yeah, right he may be able to in his dreams, but in realitity he hasn't got a prayer!!!!
    Still, McCain has to talk tough to the faithful or they might end up kicking his........ as one of his flock said the other day "we are mad, we are really mad......well, I think after tonight McCain better take cover or else that guy might coming looking for him.

    October 15, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. Linda32

    And McCain will fall into the trap. Go Obama! That's strategy for you.

    October 15, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. gerri

    Its more like the Ali vs. Patterson fight.Nomas.

    October 15, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. Gregg - Florida

    Ayers is water under the bridge, if McCain brings this up, he will only bring himself down more, its already been proven that this is a falsehood, and i did some fact checking on Acorn as well, Obama has nothing to do with this voter fraud scandal, lets talk about issues, and stop the fist fights, to much anger in this Presidency..........

    October 15, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. ho tc

    Obama is a dirty politician. He portrays himself to be a change agent, but actually, he does everything he can to win the White House.

    Remember what happened in the primaries. He offered no substance, no plan, just rhetoric, but he was able to win (or buy) the party nomination. Now, he's accusing McCain of offering nothing new. Is he just the pot calling the kettle black? Or in short, is he a hypocrite?

    No wonder why people are losing faith in American politics.

    October 15, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Phillis

    I have not missed a debate yet and is so looking forward to this one. I'm at work right now and the debate tonight is the highlight of my day.
    This subject of Ayers could be the one to show McCain what Obama is really like if he's pushed to far. Go O-b-a-ma "08'

    October 15, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. Steve

    Obama took on one of the most experienced and deadly political machines in existence during the Democratic Primary (the Clinton Machine). The Clinton Machine was arrogant, had a sense of entitlement, and grossly underestimated Obama's agile and carefully-engineered strategies. They lost.

    Now McCain has been following the Clinton playbook, right down to trying to make a big deal of Ayers, when there's nothing to make a big deal about. McCain is arrogant, has a sense of entitlement, and has grossly underestimated Obama's agile and carefully-engineered strategies.

    Everything Obama has done in the past debates and on the campaign trail in the past weeks, including saying that McCain didn't have the guts to bring up Ayers has been carefully planned to set McCain up for the final round. Tonight the gloves will come off. Tonight McCain will get knocked out.

    October 15, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  22. Greg285

    McCain talks a good game, but he’s too old and too short to be talking all that noise! His campaign is in shambles and his political career as far as the Republican Party is done…He’s history…Obama will win by TKO which is some cases better than a knockout..With a TKO, you can administer a thorough beating for 12 rounds, which is what I prefer Obama-Biden do to the McCain-Palin ticket! Have the referee (American People) step in and stop the fight with the losers hanging onto the ropes...Priceless…

    October 15, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  23. Tom in WA

    I helped keep McSame in the Senate while we lived in AZ, have respected his service to the country since day one and admired his 'old maverick' style. However, since 2000 I have seen the old maverick gelded by 8 years of increased alignment with failed Bush doctrine & policy, not to mention his VP pick.... sheesh... what a joke she is. People like her should not be allowed to own guns, much less be elected to a position of leadership. The thought of Caribou Barbie having her finger on the button in the soon-to-be-vacated Cheney bunker inspires me to run out any buy more ammo!!!

    This moderate Independent is going OBAMA in '08!

    October 15, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  24. President THAT ONE 2008

    McCain is the one who is green behind the ears. Whose telegraphing there punches now??? It looks like McCain is the one who is also naive......now Obama will be ready to make you look like a complete fool.

    October 15, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. Pat from NM

    McCain is the rope and the dope!

    October 15, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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