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. Stung.

    Great article. Concise but packs a punch, no pun intended.
    One candidate is hitting the mat tonite, bet'cha it is he that throws the last punch.. A knockout.

    October 15, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. A Munoz

    I think McSame is toast..funny part is his line is " I know how to Win Wars" I know how to capture BinLaden, I know how to fix the economy..
    Which war did he win ??? if he knows how to capture BinLaden please tell us how.. if he knows how to fix the economy.. fix it !!

    October 15, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. McCain All the Way!

    Yes, McCain..all the way to LOSE the election + Honor!

    Obama is head and shoulders for this clueless old man!

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Steve, Jacksonville, Fl

    Dang Martin, you gave away the secret!

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. McCain is TOAST!

    McCain said he had Obama and Americans just where he wanted us.

    I can't wait to see where that is.

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. Andre

    I think another slick tactic by the McCain camp is brewing under the surface. Why would McCain announce that he plans on bringing up a dead issue that has sunk him these last couple of weeks? So he can look cool, calm and mature when he changes his mind and doesn't, winning praise from the GOP. He will instead speak about his economic plans and his tax plans in more detail, winning more praise and even opinions from the GOP that McCain won the debate. And lets face it, the GOP are starving to say something good about this campaign. Meanwhile, Palin will continue to sling dirt until November. Its the smoke and mirrors people are tired of, but McCain keeps pulling rabbits out of hats anyway.

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. Betty

    Roland, I don't agree with you very often but on this, you are right on.

    Obama/Biden '08!!

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Bruce

    McCain has painted himself into a corner. He told a person at a ralley he was going to bring Ayers up at the debate. Now if he does he plays into Obama's trap. If he does not bring it up he flip flopped on a prmis to a supporter. He could also be considered a two faced coward. Is this what we want as a leader?

    McCains quick temper is not a good ttrait. He is just like Bush shoot first then think about it. World is not that easy to deal with. This is not some Movie plot where the GOOD GUY wins. It takes lots of thought and listening to where others stand to find the common ground. McCain has constantly taken the ideas from Obama and others and tried to pretend they were his own ideas. Not what I calll leadership.

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Brian, New York

    I cant wait...

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

    I am just waiting for McCain to bring up Ayers at the debate, it will be as if McCain has fallen on his own sword, he just does not get it, the old trick do not work any more, get a new playbook or lose this election!

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. meridithl

    dope being the key word here

    October 15, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    I vote tomorrow for Obama/Biden – the constitution loving guys. NO to abuse of power – YES to rights for the little people.

    October 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  13. ObamaROCKS!

    I agree Roland!...McCain should stay far away from Ayers or Rev. Wrong..oops i meant Wright. 🙂

    Go Obama!

    October 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  14. obamacrat

    Man how I wish the late, great Howard Cosell was around to moderate tonght's debate. I can hear him now......
    "Down goes McCain!, Down goes McCain!, Down goes McCain!"

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

    I figured that when Biden threw down the challenge.

    October 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. MEP

    You cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Negativity will not salvage the McCain Palin campaign. The DVD in the newspaper is really ugly

    October 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Becky

    What McPalinistas forget is that Barack Obama is a highly educated Constitutional Law attorney who has been well trained in the art of smacking baseless attacks down!

    October 15, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  18. Steve From Dallas

    Voters are primarily concerned with the economy...

    But you have to think twice about someone that runs around with a TERRORIST.

    Lets see, a person who tries to push their politcial agenda by threat intimidation or force... yep thats what AYERS did in the 1970's. And that makes AYERS a TERRORIST by definition.

    Just the facts.

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Mike from Calgary

    Does look like Obama is keeping his powder dry!

    McCain is always shouting FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT, but he cowers and shudders from his tawdry shameless insults when he's in Obama's presence.

    Palin says McCain is a Navy aviator and a fighter and a Maverick.
    I don't see McCain as a "Maverick" in the Navy's Top Gun Program in California. McCain was not a Fighter engaged in dogfights, and he never won a dogfight in his life. He lost three planes – all of which were the Navy's small A4 Skyhawk Bombers. . He failed in his mission over Hanoi – dropping bombs over the city.

    McCain won't fight with Obama, BUT HE'S GREAT STARTING A FIGHT IN AN EMPTY ROOM.


    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. sinbad

    Martin: I can't believe that someone else was thinking the exact same thing that I was. It would seem that Obama is setting McCain to take a pretty hard fall tonight, seeing that most Americans look negatively on attacks and personal "diggs" at each other. But what really surprises me is that McCain is falling for it hook, line and sinker. He's not only willing to take the low road in tonight's debate, but he is ensuring Obama that he will, which basically takes his focus off of the issues that Americans want to hear being discussed.

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Bruce Hauptman

    Let McCain get angry, upset, belligerent, whatever....Obama is ahead because he took the high road. Keep speaking the truth, stay on the issues and stay cool..like my father used to say..if you lay down with dogs you get up with fleas....

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. JayInNewHampshire

    I am a Obama supporter but I know the hardest thing to do is put your opponent away because they have nothing to lose, so tonight McCain will throw everything at Obama but the cool,calm,collected one will prevail.

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Knucklehead

    I hope if Obama gets elected he can get Donald Trump behind joining the International Criminal Court and get Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice up on war crimes.

    If McCain brings up Ayers Barack will hit him over the head with the Keating 5, Phil Gramm and bank deregulation, and when McCain's hanging on the ropes he will ask him about the Palin's support of the secession of Alaska. Give him an eight count.

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. Creighton

    Right on, man! I know this voter doesn't care that Obama's been hanging out with some old revolutionary. In fact, we could use a little bit of that revolutionary spirit about right now...

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. Common Sense


    The moderator will bring it up and make it all null and void. I'm in the Obama camp, but even I can see a non issue when it emerges.

    Otherwise, I would agree, that would be suicidal for McCain to bring it up.

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47