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. Paul DObro

    I am not convinced McCain can actually sit 2 feet away from Obama. If he looked uncomfortable at avoidinf eye contact at debate 1 and calling him "that one" at debate 2, we is going to loose it tonight.

    Must see TV!

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Sammy

    It depends on how hard McCain attacks. If its just a one liner then it wont require much attention from Obama.

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  3. Kristy in FLORIDA

    That campaign is so dern intelligent. Brilliancy and Honesty.

    OBAMA-BIDEN '08/'12!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  4. The Republican Conscience

    Agreed. Everybody knows how 'macho' McCain is, and how important his ego is to him. While Ayers might be important to the GOP base, it does nothing for anybody else. McCain is going to come off as a bitter old man, and Obama will sidestep and show himself as more presidential. The McCain camp has got to see this.

    October 15, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Steve - St. Louis

    John and Sarah are finished, finally! It's over. The folks who had the audacity and stupidity to fall for "W" twice, have tried to slip Sarah and John on us. Well, finally, their run has come to an end. Too much baggage, a scattershot campaign, and it all just got too heavy to carry.

    October 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. IndependentGA

    I think the Obama campaign has an October surprise of its own, concerning John McCain. It will be interesting to see how these final weeks play out.
    In the end, Obama will prevail and the American people can begin to recover from the predicament the republican party has put the country in and its people.

    October 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. NB

    That is what I am wishing for. To see McCain loose his temper and make a fool infront of the national media.

    October 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. Jim

    Is this even a contest anymore?

    October 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  9. Chelle in Fla

    Maybe McCain won't say anything at all, we shall see...

    October 15, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  10. Lee from FL

    For once someone at CNN made me laugh reading something.

    Float like a Butterfly,sting like a Bee

    October 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. That one is Karl Marxs friend too

    Please Please Please John Stay on focus.. Your economic plan, taxes, your experience. Please point out the far left liberal with the socialist views.. Share the wealth is not an American way of life. I implore you to get this message across. Mr far left is not good for our economy or our way of life. I know you voted for the bailout- but I know you do not want the government meddling in my life, taking my hard earned money and using it how you see fit.

    October 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Chut Pata

    Remember, this time on Ali is 25 years younger than Foreman. BTW I love new and improved Foreman, while the McCain I loved is nowhere to be found.

    October 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. NYCVOTER

    What a pointless little article from a CNN contributor who also has those same qualities.

    Keep Up the Good Work, and use some visine already Roland, or just don't toke one before you have to be on set.

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

    Go Barrack. You can do it.

    Get back McCain, you're through.

    October 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. Republican voting Democrat 2008

    Well, I would still caution Obama..believe me..I was a republican..republicans are great hunters..they know how to zero in on their preys..so, I would say Obama.go into the debate being who you are, but prepared to administer your cool suave personality in dealing with any punchlines that comes your way..I believe you are ready for this..I would say GO FOR IT..I am rooting for ya..and I will still vote for OBAMA/BIDEN ticket..no turning back for me at this point. I have lost all respect for repubs at this time...early voting.. here I come!

    October 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. veteran for obama

    i love it! it's so lose-lose for mccain!! I'm still waiting for obama to come out and say, "let me tell you what john mccain has to say about me....." and steal all his thunder for the rest of the debate. it would be like in 8 mile and then he could call out all of the skeletons in mccain's closet (oh, and for all you republicans who think skeletons can vote, maybe acorn registered them you morons)

    October 15, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Lisa

    I hope that this will once and for all put McCain and Palin to sleep!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Dinah

    Another nail in the McCain Palin coffin.

    October 15, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. SPT NYC

    Barry might float like a butterfly, but it's McCain that stings like a bee. Fortunately, he mostly just seems to sting himself.

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

    I think Obama will have a quick counterpunch for all of McCains jabs. If McCain thries to through a hay maker, he will look desperate and angry.

    October 15, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Cirena

    Obama is going to win this debate just like he won the others.

    October 15, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  22. Kate

    Man, oh man. Would THAT ever be entertaining. Go Obama!

    October 15, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. DEBORAH

    I agree, no matter what McCain focuses on,tonite, he's lost much of his credibility, even with other high profile Republicans. Please pardon the analogy , but the atmosphere is like "rats abandoning a sinking ship"!

    October 15, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. Nan

    The best thing for Obama would be for McCain to show himself as he really is: an individual with a terrible temper and quick to anger.

    October 15, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. nobama

    Hey Roland, did you get $800K from Obama like ACORN did?

    October 15, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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