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. C.Pickering

    Look i thought is kids lie,lol,but it's once a man twice a child.lire McLame & Plien

    October 15, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. McFraud

    I have a feeling McCain has something really nasty other than Ayers up his sleeve. I believe he will drop the Wright bomb as well, lets see how this pans out.

    October 15, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. Jonathan

    I thought Obama did the same thing with the "Lipstick on a Pig" comment, knowing the Republicans would jump on it as sexist and about Palin, even though McCain himself had used the same phrase in a similar context in the past. The Repubs. took the bait hook line and sinker.

    October 15, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. Love USA

    This is better than the Thrilla in Manilla!

    October 15, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. John Sawyer

    I know that Obama, like all good politicians, uses tactics, but his best feature isn't a tactic as such–it's the fact that when he's talking, he's often not just mouthing slogans, but he's also thinking on his feet–he knows better solutions to many problems, he knows the facts better, and he's more committed to helping people than McCain, and so he can talk about the issues with more authority and personal certainty. McCain isn't doing much thinking on his feet, since he's caught in a web of his own lies, and the lies of his party.

    October 15, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Obama-Junkie, IL

    I agree with you on this one Roland. If McCain gets too focused on talking about Ayers, Wright or ACORN, Obama could quickly make McCain look small, petty and out-of-touch, by quickly pivoting to today's economic issues.

    Obama will pounce with the DOW is down again another 700+pts and retail sales are down. He should also mention that the job report for October will probably be another high loss number.

    October 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. david,baltimore,mamryland

    It will be all over tonight as Obama gets MmcCain to lose his cool and the american people cringe at the thought of him on the nuclear trigger.It is no longer an election but a demolition of a man and his party.Of course with talent like Palin in the wings the republicans should be able to make a quick comeback.

    October 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Brian NYC

    The only thing McSlain will say is "My friends"...LOL.. Obama will be kewler than Bill Cosby.

    October 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. Therese

    This heavy-weight title will be won by decision on November 4. Obama has landed so many more punches than McCain on the economy, foreign policy, leadership, temperament, intelligence, and judgement. It will be a unanimous decision, no doubt.


    October 15, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  10. Pat from Canada

    You just have to admire how Obama has run his campaign. He has just created one of the most successful BRAND in politics worldwide. Its incredible. I mean this guy has a tax calculator tool on his website to harness his tax savings message. What a genius.

    I must say the OBAMA brand should be bottled up and sold in the market.

    October 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |

    The person charged with planning the McCain administration, William Timmons, lobbied for Saddam Hussein in an effort to get the international community off his back. Obama challenged McCain to talk about William Ayers to his face at the debate tonight and McCain accepted the challenge. What was Obama thinking? Maybe he will bring up Timmons and point that he (Obama) was 8 years old and living in Indonesia when Ayers was planting crude bombs but McCain knowingly chose Saddam Hussein's lobbyist for an important job in his campaign. There could be fireworks if Obama brings this up.

    October 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Cebu

    What a comparison! I think all of you have been smoking something funny.

    October 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Lipstick Wearer for Obama

    This is a horrible article! The commentary was not necessary

    October 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Lance

    As an independent, there are still a lot of ideas Obama has that concern me. I don't know of Obama's plan is the way to go, but McCain HAS NO PLAN (if he does, he's not telling us anymore). American people aren't dumb. Name calling won't change anything. Senator Obama has stuck to the issues and I think that whether your a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, you have to respect that about the man.

    October 15, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Gene

    We should just skip the debate and just have one of those celebrity boxing matches between the two...

    That might eclipse superbowl ratings 🙂

    October 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Sarah Palin is Obama's best friend.

    Stop saying Obama will win, he can actually fall flat on his face.

    October 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Marie Canada

    This debate is not a fair contest with the much more equipped Obama going against an elderly man who can't get himself or his thoughts out of the past.

    Unfortunately John was railroaded by his own campaign and the desire to lock up the evangelical votes. McCain has basically sold his soul for votes and doesn't have any legitimacy left to show the public.

    His choice of Palin for VP was simply a political stunt but the joke is on America and world. No one in their right mind would even consider having her lead their nation in such a time of crisis. If Sara can't face the press for interviews how can she possibly be expected to face any of the issues facing America.

    October 15, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX


    Bush got you in 2000 (South Carolina primary antics), and now (through his wildly successful 8 years) he's doing you in, again!!!

    October 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  19. Obama/Biden 08

    Palin will come to his rescue, "also."

    October 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Tired of the Nonsense

    To Christine K –

    With people losing jobs, homes, gas prices soaring, 401K's reduced to nothing – YOU still harboring on that Ayers crap????

    Take off the hooded sheet and join the rest of us.


    October 15, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. political junkie

    What really bugs me about McCain at these debates –
    he NEVER looks at Obama – even in this picture when
    he's shaking hands with him!! You know what they say
    about someone who can never look you in the eye!!!

    October 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. Rena

    Cherry are you in Las Vagas?

    October 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  23. Frank Chase Jr,

    McPain will be swift boating Obama with everything including the kitchen sink. So Obama needs to watch out for the IEDs from the McPalin camp in these last days to the vote. But I will say that the voting across this country will be suspect if Obama is up in the polls and looses. It will another stolen elections as W stole it from Gore.

    October 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  24. thomas

    The harder McCain campaigns, the further he falls in the polls. Isn't it time he realized that no matter how he paints him, Obama won't look as bad as the budget busting war-mongering right wing extremists that have been running the country for the last eight years.

    October 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. Tannim

    Expect McCain to bring it up, and expect it to be polished up nice and shiny, turned sideways, and shoved straight back up his candy ***, If Ya Smell What Barack Is Cooking.

    McCain will go for broke, and he'll get it, and Obama will win.

    Meanwhile the market tanked again–YAY! Let the overdue adjustments happen so we can get this recession over with!

    October 15, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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