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. Carp

    Obama is still all talk. No REAL solutions. McCain 08 in NC.

    October 15, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  2. Shauna

    McCain is clearly beat. Be a man and at least talk about the issues. I saw a bumper sticker today. Saying "Vote for McCain and the chick" seriously?

    Did you noticed that McCain even stated to qouted "Hillary". Does that mean he has more respect for Hillary then Palin – I DO!!!!!!!

    I say out with the ols and in with the new. GOOD BYE McCAIN!!!!!!!!

    Hello CHANGE!!!!!

    October 15, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  3. frank in phoenix

    Goodbye to the Republican party. Goodbye Neo-cons. Goodbye Bush-Cheney. Goodbye McCain-Palin.

    You better create a whole new party. Or you will cease to be a political force in America from this point forward. Nobody is buying it any more.

    October 15, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  4. Wake Up USA

    I thought tonight's debate was very funny. McCain doesn't even seem comfortable in his own skin. I liked how Senator Obama kept bringing all of his comments back to the issues that actually face America right now. Senator McCain just seemed like he was getting ready to have a hissy fit.

    October 15, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  5. Tennisguypitt

    Obama's a very smart man. He knows how to play the game, and McCain walked right into it. Barack has the intelligence to not only beat his opponents but to be a great president. That's why I'm voting for him November 4th.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 15, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  6. phyllis

    We need a change right?, so...another 4 years with a republican president...where exactly would the change be?

    October 15, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  7. Laura

    I may be new to this but some of the reporters keep saying that McCain wins on "points." What is that exactly? The points that I saw were McCain talking about the same crap that he has been bringing up the entire campaign and he is the reason why the debates go in circles because he keeps bringing up points Obama and everyone else has proven wrong. How does how does this make him win on points? I don't get it!

    October 15, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  8. judy - san leandro, ca

    3 strikes your out McCain. Senator Obama won he stuck to the issues and he rebuked the Ayers attacks.

    Obama for President

    October 15, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  9. Mickey's an idiot


    My name is Mary but I'm not married to a man named Joseph nor do I have a child that was conceived through Immaculate Conception!

    Go read a book!

    October 15, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  10. Leandre Fields

    Belle how can you trust anyone who can't provide you a direct answer. McCain and Palin can never provide you a breakdown of what they plan to do. Tonight McCain says, Freeze and then Slice??? If you "Freeze and Slice" you can't help children with disabilities (which is very expensive) with $5,000 plus tax on healthcare. If McCain is put in office, we will all suffer and the same way all of the Republican's faces where red when Bush made the rediculas decisions... and you put Bush back in office and you all regret that decision. Well let's join together and prepare for REAL CHANGE!!!

    October 15, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  11. sheron

    I was very disappointed with McCain in this debate. He came across angry and hell bench on attacking Obama oppose to addressing the issues at hand. He never talks about DETAILS. He didn't answer the question regarding abortion. It is an issue that he and his wife disagree. I am very proud of the fact that Obama did not get on McCain's level and talk about negative issues. By the way, Palin's child has Down's. Once again it shows how much he knows about his running mate!!!

    October 15, 2008 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  12. aholaha

    John McCain won this debate hands down. Obama does have a somewhat shady past, and as an American with a vote, so I do want to know exactly how he is tied to Ayers, acorn, Rezko, and his father and half-brother in Africa. I want to know where he got the money to go to Harvard. There are still some unanswered questions pertaining to Barack Obama's past. I trust McCain, plain and simple.

    October 15, 2008 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  13. Danni Jay

    Mr. Martin, I truly love your directness. You say what you need to say with no fluff and sugar coating. I think you're the best on CNN.

    Go OBAMA!!!!

    October 15, 2008 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. bigcitygirl

    If.. a BIG IF..McCain become President...we are all going to be in the soup line..and that include Republican's too.

    October 15, 2008 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Are you serious about his connection to his father and brother... the relationship was practically non existent. He met his father once when he was about 10... him and his wife both said they have student loans... they should take your vote away for refusing to me informed

    October 15, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  16. marie in florida

    Throughout the debate i actually felt McCain's anger and disdain coming through the tv screen and i was afraid, very afraid. I can only imagine, God forbid, if he wins how he will respond to world leaders who he doesnt like. By then we will be in many wars Iraq, Afghanistan and whoever he sees fit. He is a George Bush clone. America, the best choice this election is putting Obama/Biden in the W.H.

    October 15, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  17. Pete

    Barack Obama-The last time we elected someone who said so little, but looked smiled and stayed calm, we ended up with Jimmy Carter. How did that work out?

    October 15, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  18. Dave

    McCain is a manure salesman with a mouth full of merchandise but even he couldn't say that Palin is qualified to be President.

    October 15, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  19. johnny

    they're called student loans, moron. obama 08!

    October 15, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  20. DavidB

    It's very interesting that John McCain continues to castigate Barack Obama for "not standing up to his party". Considering that the Republicans controlled both houses of congress for and provided a no-questions-asked rubber stamp the first six years of George W. Bush's presidency, what exactly was Senator Obama expected to stand up to? It seems that both candidates are running against the Republican party this year. McCain touts how he has defied his party as a maverick (in essence, adopting the platform of the opposition when he felt that the occasion warranted it) – so why would he condemn Obama for also voting the same way, with the Democrats? It makes no sense as a message. I thought McCain after almost 30 years in the Senate would be able to see that. Looks like he's asleep on this.

    October 15, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  21. Kraig


    Simply put all your questions have already been answered. Either you haven't been paying much attention, as most of us up til now, or you are trying to sway the discussion to smear O. ALL those questions have been satisfactorily and honestly answered by O. The research has been done and written about. I suggest to you that you do the research. Go to factcheck.org for instance. You'll find he's not 'tied' to Ayers...he's never supported any of his fringe activities and even condemned them. You'll find he's not 'tied' to Rezco. You'll find he's not muslim. You'll find he's not tied to nor supports terrorists.

    Let me ask you, what the hell does it matter where he got the money for college? I don't care if he got it from grants. loans, hard work, or his family. By the way, it was mostly loans and his family (which both also qualify as someone's hard work). PLEASE, get a clue and vote based on REAL issues. Economy, Health Care, etc. Let's deal with what matters instead of letting some dishonest VP candidate (Palin) motivate us to fear and incite anger and hatred. PLEASE cool down and be reasonable.

    October 15, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  22. Jimmy B.

    So If Barrack had agreed to 10 town hall meetings.....does that mean that McCain wouldn't have been so ruff on him(-: lol!

    October 15, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  23. DollBaby

    aholaha WHAT debate were you watching??
    McPAIN can not be trusted. You should fact check his information. John-boy was obviously annoyed that his facts did not pan out. He is a grumpy old man... why would you support such negative behavior.

    I do not want a BULLY who chooses his running mate because he thinks she is "eye-candy". He knows so little about her he got it wrong on what special needs her child has.

    isn't it a little lonely out there on that McPalin island....

    October 15, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  24. Tami

    OMG! Just reading most of your comments is proof of how LEFT and how biased CNN is. Some of you are morons; some of you make somewhat intelligent but uninformed comments. It is sad how so many "Americans" can be swayed by "eloquent rhetoric" and not wonder how all these wonders are going to be funded. (Same way as always - middle America). Welfare is up, not so much because of economy but because the negative atmosphere has given permission to not even try - just blame it on the government. And PUL-LEEZE, how stupid to blame all that on president, no matter Republican or Democrat. CONGRESS is responsible for almost all legislation, not the president. Brush up on your Civics education!!! I am not a supporter of Bush, but please put the blame where it belongs. And HOW could you consider voting for Obama? What does he have????? Roughly a year as a senator???? What are you thinking? Entrusting this position to a rookie with questionable alliances? The pastor? Business dealings with thugs? AND HOW DID HE PAY FOR IVY LEAGUE EDUCATION, BEING RAISED BY HIS GRANDPARENTS OF VERY MODEST MEANS??? Ever wonder where these never-ending coffers of support have come from (for his political campaign)??? Wake up America! Oh, never mind...CNN will never allow this to be posted anyway...

    October 15, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  25. S.L. Sessoms

    If Senator McCain cannot be civil to a fellow United States Senator colleague then how can we trust him to negotiate sensitive treaties and disarmament and trade negotiations with countries that America doesn't see eye to eye with? His dismissive and derisive tone and tenor is quite disturbing ; and it makes it hard to imagine how he would react on the World stage on behalf of the American people. Is he going to try to brow beat and denigrate the leaders of other countries and how does he expect that will go over?

    October 15, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 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