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)

    Obama doesn't need to rope that DOPE.....McCain has PROVEN he is ERRATIC and UNSTABLE. Palin NEEDS to ask her husband about the GROUP her husband pals AROUND with.

    October 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. David Goldman







    October 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  3. OHIOmomforO

    Let's put McCain out of his misery. We honor him & his service, but his policies are not good for American families.

    And as for his running mate, well, bless its little black heart... I can't wait to send it home to Alaska.

    October 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  4. Unwilling fellow prisoner

    Let's get ready to RUUUUUUUMMMMMMBLE!
    After Obama finishes McCain, feel free to bring out Palin for the encore...

    October 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. 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. His intelligence, demeaneur, interpersonal skills and team...this is the OBAMA brand. I think that is enough to vote for him.

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

    October 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Phoenix

    While I love to hear this sort of talk, I have to say that I am a little heart broken to see how McCain is behaving. He was the guy, that me and my friends all use to say, "If he runs, I will vote for him." He has sold his soul.

    Bitter Republican who will vote for Obama

    October 15, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  7. Truth Be Told

    The Thrilla in Longisland! Ali must be very happy to see himself in Obama, who'll do the rope-a-dope and suddenly BAM! Mccain's picking his brains from the mat.

    October 15, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. margarita

    ...Just like 'Obama doesn't understand' issue in the 2nd debate. Yes, what Obama doesn't understand is America fighting a useless war based on lies...

    October 15, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Empire, CO

    Round 3, Ding Ding! In this corner wearing the blue trunks, we have Barack "Yes We Can" Obama. And in the other corner, wearing the red trunks, we have, hey what's that old man doing in the ring? Oh he's supposed to be there? We have John "Warmonger" McCain. Let's keep this a clean fight and no punches below the belt.

    October 15, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. tomagoose

    I dare McCain to bring it up. Either way, he's going to lose the argument. If he does, he'll be honoring his words to the party loyalists and get slammed by Obama, who's ready for that fight and if he doesn't he'll be a yellow belly.

    October 15, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  11. james in s.c.

    GO BARACK!!!
    lets keep it clean, no rabbit punches, no hitting below the belt. lets have 90 minutes of fun watching mccain getting clobbered!

    peace y'all

    October 15, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Tolu

    Dunno why I am affording the man any benefit of the doubt, but I still find it difficult to believe that McCain would be that stupid. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and for him to pull out his ace, but nooooo..... But hey, make no mistake about it, I'd be happy to be wrong and to find out that McCain IS indeed that stupid.

    October 15, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  13. Philip Shade

    People keep saying that something will come up about Obama. The man's been on the campaign trail for almost 2 years. Fighting against some of the toughest political machines out there (first Clinton now the GOP). If there was anything seriously damaging to be dug up, it would'a been dug up by now.

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  14. Francheska

    I will only watch the debate just because I love seeing how much McCains grin reminds of Jack Nicholsons "Joker" in Batman. ;-). He is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO grumpy!!

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  15. Vincent, Great Lakes, Illinois

    Palin needs to go back to Alaska and dress up as a gray wolf for halloween.

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Dan In Portland OR

    I agree with you Roland... I took notice as soon as Barack said what he said to Charlie Gibson... and he's been baiting McCain all week. I don't know what Obama has got up his sleeve... but I do know this... win or lose... Obama has shown himself to be a political genius and has run an extraordinary campaign. If he wants to take this risk... I'm a-ok with that and I'll be rooting for him every step of the way!!!!!

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Truth Be Told

    i'm waiting to hear mccain tell obama when they touch gloves tonight, "you're going down, oh, yes, you're going down!" and obama says, "no, i'm not. you are."

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  18. Unwilling fellow prisoner

    Tim Tn,
    Pardon us... we've suffered 8 years of Bush and his republican pals

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. Lauren in California

    mccain is a coward, he does not have the guts to say it to his face. He would rather hide behind his wife's skirt and palin the parrot.

    Like Joe Biden said, as he took off his coat, "when you got something to say to a man, look him in the eye and say it to his face !!"

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. Herman In LA

    What happen to all of those PUMA fools now?

    October 15, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Colony14Author, Mt Prospect, IL

    Obama may "win" the debates with "rope a dope," but America will be the loser.

    America: 7/4/1776 – 1/19/2009
    Amerika: 1/20/2009 – the revolution

    Hello, socialism.
    Goodbye, money and freedom.

    It's time to move to Texas and secede from the union, leaving all the leftist parasites to fend for themselves. What will Obama do when everyone goes on the public dole?

    I'm retiring and going into hiding... after I fire all the liberals who work for me. Let them try to create jobs under Obama's tax burdens.

    October 15, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. anne

    McCain is a coward. He won't have the guts to say anything and if he does he will only end up looking stupid. Either way, he loses. On another note, I am sick to death of Palin lying about the report that said she abused he power. She says the report found she did nothing at all wrong. LIE. I am insulted I even have to listen to her and McCain and can't wait until Obama is our President.

    October 15, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Deborah from Canada

    Is this a round-table format so McCain doesn't wander off the set again?

    We had a round-table format debate recently in Canada. I really liked it. The four opposition candidates really lit into Prime Minister Harper. First time in a long time he actually had to sit there and answer questions Canadians wanted to hear answers to. Harper was very cool but I imagine he went off set and broke a few things. Wonder if McCain can keep his cool in a more open format.

    October 15, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. RICK



    October 15, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. Sally from Cali

    McCain is not in control of his campaign. He was not allowed to pick his running mate so now he's stuck with Palin, who was not vetted properly. The wheels came off the bus when he hooked up with her. His campaign has gone totally downhill ever since the RNC.

    Somebody took advantage of McCain. I would feel sorry for him except America deserves better and he knows it.

    October 15, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
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