October 15th, 2008
08:30 PM ET
6 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. Obama all the way to the White House

    Mr. Cool will float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

    Too bad the candidates will sitting on chairs, however. It was a blast watching McCain walking around in circles at the last debate as tho he was looking for Mr. Puddles.

    Please VOTE EARLY.

    October 15, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. I'M GOING STRAIGHT OBAMA ON YOU!

    A SONG FOR THE DEBATE:

    TO THE TUNE OF "GO DOWN MOSES":

    GO DOWN...OBAMA...WAY DOWN...IN DEBATE LAND...AND TELL OLE....MCPAIN IN (THE YOU KNOW WHAT)...TO LET THE ELECTION GOOOOOO!

    October 15, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Hoku

    tonight will be the 3rd and final round of this debate. Here's a little Muhammed Ali jargon to go with your editorial, Roland:

    "He'll float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,
    McCain will go down by Obama in 3!"

    October 15, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Eight Is Truly Enough

    When will the blind, jealous and yes, at times ignorant, realize that Barack Obama is not some street corner thug/hoodlum who stumbled into the political arena because he got bored with "pimping and drug dealing?" Bawahahaha. I know that's what many who fear his intellect want to tell themselves and truly believe because they buy into that nonsense from bygone days about racial superiority, etc. but it is all BS. Anyone from every walk of life has the capability to obtain and most importantly retain the knowledge necessary to improve the quality of their lives but those of every single person around them. We always hear about what a hero McCain is like that trumps a man with a law degree from Harvard. Both are equal and admirable additions to life's resume but only matter when you use these experiences for good. So for those angry because Barack has intellect and common sense...get over it. We should all be so lucky to know so much book-wise and yet have the humility to admit there is so much we don't know and aren't afraid to learn.

    October 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. GM

    All you Obama supporters either don't have any money, or don't have any sense. Why everyone puts their heads in the sand about his background and blindly follows this guy is baffling. He has you all in a trance. We'll get change all right, but you won't like it.

    October 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Marc

    Let me ask Obama supporters this: Do you like what he said about "spreading the wealth" the other day? For a guy who said his policies don't ooze Socialism, he basically defined Socialism with that comment.

    Is this what America needs?

    October 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Jonathan

    It is too bad that people think the Obama/Ayers relationship is not an issue. Obama clearly lied about his relationship with Ayers ("he's just a guy in my neighborhood". Do you Obama supporters want another liar in the White House?

    October 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Katran Miller

    Elections are not won or lost by debates or knockout punches. Elections are won or lost by WE THE PEOPLE, the voters. IT'S ALL MAKE-BELIEVE UNTIL THE VOTES ARE TALLIED.
    VOTE. MAKE SURE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY VOTE.
    Can't stress it enough.

    October 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. Pat, Pa.

    Ayers is such old news. Not only old, but not even true when it comes to Barrack. Get the story right all of you folks who keep hoping that Obama's followers will think that this is important. We don't !

    Go Obama.

    October 15, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. Suem

    You can bet if McCain loses tonight it will be an all out attack on Obama from here on out........and if you thought it has been low down and dirty in the last couple weeks, it will be worst......that is his only option , unless he gets the balls to drop Palin and gets someone the GOP can get behind and support......

    October 15, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. jean from orlando

    I hope McCain does bring up Ayers – and i hope Obama responds to him by bringing up the Keating 5 and the 7 lobbyis that McCain has in his camp including the one that used to lobby on behalf of Saddam Hussein

    October 15, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  12. I'M GOING STRAIGHT OBAMA ON YOU!

    A SONG FOR THE DEBATE...

    TO THE TUNE OF "GO DOWN MOSES":

    GO DOWN...OBAMA...WAY DOWN...IN DEBATE LAND...AND TELL OLE....MCPAIN IN (THE YOU KNOW WHAT)...TO LET THE ELECTION GOOOOOO!

    October 15, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. onelove

    I am a Obama supporter but I would like for both Senators to stay on course and speak to the issues affecting our lives.

    I just finished reading another horror story about a woman who killed herself because she lost her house in foreclosure. Thus far I have read about nine people killing themsevles, their families, and pets.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 15, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Carl

    Great analysis and I agree fully. McCain has got to do something to rattle the cage but everything he does makes him look weak. He is down by 10 points now in Virginia and might loose NC as well. So, as Palin said "What do I have to lose?" since it looks like he is already losing the election. Stay tuned for a possible interesting debate.

    October 15, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Meka

    AND MCCAIN IS FALLING FOR IT!

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08-'12

    October 15, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. FAYE, NV

    Obama has a real plan for this great USA. We do realize a change need to happen and its not Palin/McCain.

    Americans are looking for solutions and getting us back in the spot light that has faded away in eight years.

    Obama/Biden

    October 15, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  17. Peter of Oregon

    Oh shoot! The Ol' Rope-A-Dope! My friends, Barack's gonna knock him out, also. You betcha!

    October 15, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. Amy For Obama thus For America

    I CONCUR Martin!! You are the man!
    As usual, you came up with an original piece, pertinent and true.

    Obama will win.

    October 15, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Toby

    All Obama needs to do is to point out that Annenberg, a highly respected and much admired Republican, was the one who put Ayers on that committee. Does that make him also a person who "palled around with terrorists?"

    October 15, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. JL

    The Ali strategy is an excellent metaphor, Mr. Martin! That is why you are one of my favorite journalists.

    It was obvious that Obama and Biden were stirring the pot and daring Sen. McCain to bring it up knowing full well that it would be to Obama's advantage.

    What I wonder is how many people in McCain crowds urging him to bring it up tonight were plants. Afterall, Obama is one of the best strategical thinkers I have ever seen.

    October 15, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  21. Cindy Nelson

    Nothing that would happen in this debate would change my vote. I think for most Americans they feel the same.
    I just hope it's not boring like the last one.
    I'd like to see McCain start lashing out. At least I would be entertained by it. heee heee eeeeh eeeeeh!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. Sifa

    This is toooo funny. I can't wait for 9pm to get here!

    October 15, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. President THAT ONE 2008

    McCain is the one who is green behind the ears. Whose telegraphing their 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 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. Rachel Farris

    Made my day. Obama has had a better plan from day one. Maybe this country is waking up and smelling the coffee. Mrs Obama was quit impressive on Larry King Live. Obama/Biden all the way!

    October 15, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. 800lb:Gorilla

    Jonh McCain, history will judge you from here on out. Do you allow yourself to be so easily baited? If so, then how well can you form strategies in real world events? Who else in the rest of the could jerk your chain and set you up? How can you prove you are a leader, if you follow this breaded trail? History is watching John McCain. Your move.

    October 15, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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