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. Bill

    Careful Barack, If the old guy falls down he may break a hip!

    October 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. mike kernbach

    This fight is more like Foster Brooks taking on Denzel Washington. Unless Obama says something completely stupid or off the wall, like he wants to eat little white babies for lunch with Idi Amin, he should do very well.

    October 15, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. Latina Voter

    Go Obama, our vote will finally be heard for all republicans to hear loud and clear !

    October 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. Zac Umdenstock

    This has been my first year to follow politics. All I have to judge the candidates is how they manage their campaigns. McCain's is very negative and eratic ~ Obama's is very calm, smooth and on target.
    My vote is for Obama.

    October 15, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Nevada Independant

    Martin is probably right.
    Obama has so masterfully crafted this campaign, from the primaries until now. Of course, no small thanks to the Davids (Plouffe and Axelrod).

    Still, Obama doesn't have to do much to appear more presidential than McCain tonight. He simply has to keep his cool and draw from his enormous intellect and grasp of the facts.

    McCain has to perform some kind of crazy high-wire act tonight and, at the risk of sounding mean, sometimes a person is just a bit too old to perform those hig-wire feats. We're not as nimble and responsive as we age. We're seeing that in the ways McCain has been unable to pivot his message successfully, when the need to change directions is obvious. He just can't quite manage.

    October 15, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Marie

    nothing Roland Martin says is credible, he is an angry hack, who hates white people! CNN should be ashamed to have him on their network!

    October 15, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Matt

    Please. McCain set himself up for the rope-a-dope. He's a one-man waltzing political disaster. I honestly have come to believe he is hellbent on self-destruction the way he has run his campaign.

    If McCain takes the bait and brings up Ayers, he's toast. Plain and simple. Too bad for him he already said he was going to do it. Now, if he gets wise and forgoes the Ayers commentary, he has egg on his face.

    October 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. Former Republican in Texas

    Just look at that picture of the two of them... it is SO obvious that McCain doesn't even want to touch or get near Obama. What a closet racist McCain must be!! We already know Palin is, and it appears McCain too.
    People, don't let the polls cause you to get complacent & perhaps skip voting next month. We need to make sure this election represents the peoples' choice– elect Obama & Biden. I'll be honest, he was not my first choice– I was a hardcore Hillary Clinton supporter. But we can't afford to let McCain/Palin even have a chance. Those people are just flat scary.
    I have a friend (probably not anymore as of this week) in TX who is still making some of the most outrageous statements about Obama. I am stunned that she would believe the lies floated out there... but I think I now realize that she is more bigoted than I thought. Get past color, people. We can't afford another 4 years of the corruption & lies of the Republican party & its failed policies. We must elect Obama/Biden not only for our sake but for our children's & grandchildren's sakes.
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE– vote Obama/Biden!!

    October 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. Ted:Canada

    Obama – TONIGHT – be respectful!

    It is not his fault – he is just a product of the PAST and past failures…

    Obama FOCUS ON THE FUTURE – for us and our children – that is all we have NOW!

    Obama! NOW ! JUST DO IT!

    “North Amercia Rules”

    October 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Obamalism

    HOW IS AYERS A NON-ISSUE?

    Barack only told half the story and you ate it up.

    He served on TWO education boards with him and doled out money to radical groups rather than the schools. Ayers said his new choice of weaponry is education. "not math and science, but political activism. I'm a small 'c' communist"

    Couldn't Barack and found a better education program to champion???

    Of course you don't want McCain to bring it up, because BARACK HAS NO DEFENSE other than to "stick to the issues"

    QUESTION: How can you trust what Obama is promising if his small record says opposite. Can you trust that he's not a socialist liberal if he's been around them all his life?

    McCain wasn't the best choice for president, but at least I KNOW WHAT I'M GETTING.

    October 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  11. hollerbode

    I hope he sees stars!

    October 15, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. GERRY

    WELL WELL WELL, IT IS ALMOST TIME TO RUMBLE. IF MCPAIN IS SMART TONITE, HE WILL STAY ON ISSUES. DOESN'T HE REALIZE PEOPLE ARE SICK OF THE CRAP HE HAS BEEN SPREADING AND THEN THE OTHER DAY TELLS A NICE LADY, "NO NO NO, OBAMA IS A DECENT MAN" GIVE ME A BREAK – HE IS SICKENING AND SO IS THAT "WHATEVER" YOU CALL HER, IS IT "MOOSEHEAD" I CAN'T REMEMBER – GET THIS COUNTRY GOING RIGHT – VOTE OBAMA AND BIDEN, TWO DOWN TO EARTH GUYS.....

    October 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. Scott Tucson

    The only dopes I know are the Obama fanatics on this site who wish to elect an inexperience, naive, Chicago leftist political hack as their leader.

    October 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. Sean

    All Obama has to do is bring up that McCain's transition chief has a history of helping Saddam Hussein politically, his VP candidate Palin has been found to have engaged in abuse of power and ethics violations as Governor, and Palin's husband was a member of a group that advocated Alaska's secession from the United States.

    Who cares that Obama served with Ayers on charity boards that were aiming to improve Chicago schools over a decade ago compared to these glaring concerns about both McCain and Palin?

    October 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  15. THE WATCHER

    right on

    October 15, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  16. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Obama will make the country realize what an old fool McCain really is! I don't watch debates, but I"m fairly sure that Obama will come out the winner tonight just as he has the last two debates. His cool confidence and his knowledge of what it will take to get our country out of the mess that McCain and the republicans have put us in will overshadow anything McBush will say. My family has already voted and it wasn't for McCain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama will TAKE COLORADO ALONG WITH A MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY! The republican rule is OVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  17. Beth

    Palin attacked Obama on the abortion issue, saying he is too far to the left. That is first of all not true.

    But what about Palin? She is extreme – to the right – she does not support abortion even in the cases of rape or incest!

    And McCain on his website has said that he will try to undo Roe v. Wade.

    Maybe abortion should also be publicly discussed – in a second debate between Palin and Biden. Unless of course, McCain is afraid to let Palin be part of a second debate.

    October 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  18. Lois

    I'm a former beauty queen with common sense,Barack is the best thing that has happened to this country in this time of crisis, he is sooo intelligent and handsome doesn't hurt. He and Joe will get us out of this mess in a couple of years, Roland I think you are great!

    October 15, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. Independent 08

    I hope old man McCain lets it all out tonight...he has nothing to lose. Obama's cool charisma is nothing but ARROGANCE! He's a second George Bush; You'll see for yourselves when he's on T.V. giving a state of the union address and he's talking down to all you "po folk."

    Martin! read this one on the AIR, I dare you!!!!

    October 15, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. Chuck

    Howard Stern sent a reporter into Harlem to interview black voters — who proved they are voting for Obama just because he is part black.

    They read off McCain’s positions on issues, thinking they were Obama’s, and black voters were 100% McCain when they thought those were Obama’s positions.

    They also believe Sarah Palin is Obama’s VP pick.

    After all the accusations of racism that have been tossed out there by Obama’s campaign, it’s time to start calling the black community out on its racism. 95% of blacks are supporting Obama — and in Harlem at least, these voters have no idea what Obama stands for.

    October 15, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  21. Ken in NC

    Float like a Butterfly and sting like a Bee. Sock it to McCain and run Palin up a tree.

    October 15, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  22. Beth

    Maybe abortion should also be publicly discussed – in a second debate between Palin and Biden. Unless of course, McCain is afraid to let Palin be part of a second debate.

    Palin attacked Obama on the abortion issue, saying he is too far to the left. That is first of all not true.

    But what about Palin? She is extreme – to the right – she does not support abortion even in the cases of rape or incest!

    And McCain on his website has said that he will try to undo Roe v. Wade.

    October 15, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  23. Republican for Obama

    I voted early last night and sent it off this morning. I didn't vote a straight democratic ticket... but I did vote for Obama and Biden. I also encourage those who can to vote early and use these next three weeks to encourage others you know to go out and vote!

    October 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  24. Karen

    I have to say, Obama will be the best president.McCain acts like a little spoiled child who can't get their way. Obama is cool, calm, and collected and has proved that he can take on anything bad thrown at him. He will be a great leader for our country.

    October 15, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  25. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Sarah Palin claims the media won't engage in talks with her, four times yesterday the media tried to talk to her and she refused. Palin's problem is she doesn't like to answer hard questions, just the easy ones and that's why she uses the "street thug" tactics against Obama.

    October 15, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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