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. Sue from KC

    Good for you, Roland – and thank you for bringing up Timmons and the AIP last night – apparently you are the only one with any courage at your network.

    October 15, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. Oliver

    McCain needs to be counterpunch for a knockout, Obama give it to him!!
    Bait for McErratic, uppercut and straight knockout.

    We must seal the deal tonight.

    Obama/Biden 08/12

    October 15, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. Cathy - Hamburg, Pennsylvania

    Barack is so cool, calm and collected, he will win hands down tonight
    McCain will continue to alienate and hopefully people will get a glimpse of his hot temper and see he is not what this country needs to move it forward

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  4. Lacy Lady(Betty /Iowa)

    Thank you Roland for speaking out. I think too many in the media are dragging their feet. Palin is spreading soooooo much hate. I have never seen this kind of talk in a campaign–ever!!! And , I am 79 years old. We must elect Obam, to get our sanity back.
    I pray that Obama will win this election.
    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  5. stef

    I would love to see John McCain explode. McCain just can't help himself. After this election, Cindy should really be worried about McCain's defeat, he is going to get a beat-down. He probably won't recover from this.

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. F Kuhl

    To bad Obama has the same problem as Muhammad Ali, he cant seem to remember what he said a few months ago. Or will he remember all his friends in a few months?

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. ket


    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Al, NY NY

    If Ayers is relevant, so is the group that JM was involved with dealing with Right wing death squads in Central America during Iran-Contra. Watch what you say there John (and Fido too who has plenty of skeletons in her bony closet) because you both are tainted too

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. John C

    I hope Obama brings up William Timmons, who lobbied on behalf of Saddam Hussien, to ease US sanctions agains his regime. McCain has named Timmons as the head of his Presidential transition team!

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. karen-phoenix

    McCain has had very, very poor judgement all his life!! Affairs after affiars, destroyed 3 airplanes, Keating 5, voted with Bush 90% of the time, defended an unwanted war and worst of all he picked Palin who now may be impeached in Alaska for abuse of power and having her house built free on the backs of tax payers!!!
    If Obama or Biden had even done ! of these things they would be toast!!! And don't talk about friends as terrorists!!! One of McCain's lobbiest champaign managers was a lobbiest for Sadem Hussien and he has friends who belong to the KKK (the worst domestic terrorist organization in America)!!!!
    I'm a republican voting and praying for Obama/Biden!!!!
    Lets turn Arizona Blue!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. tigerakabj

    Exactly. Obama said "he can't say it to my face" and then Biden 2 days later said "where I come from, when you have something to say to a man, you say it to their face."

    They were calling McCain a coward (which he is) and less of a man. McCain's supporters want him to bring up Ayers.

    If McCain doesn't bring it up, he looks like a coward to his supporters.
    If he does birng it up, Obama will clear it up and then throw it back in McCain's face and bring out Keating 5, Gordon Liddy, and any other shady character for 70 million viewers to see.

    McCain fell right into the trap.

    I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL 9:00.

    Obama/Biden 2008/2012.

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

    ON OCT 16 Absentee ballots will be a mailing.. Down goes Mccain, Down Goes Palin.. (WE SHOCKED THE WORLD)

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. the other jd

    Don't let these polls make you complacent. The only polling that matters is the one that takes place on Nov 4.

    Please call your local Obama office and volunteer time to make sure Obama REALLY has the votes we need. And if you are blessed enough to be able to, please go out to Obama's website and make a donation, no matter the size.

    Let's get 'er done!

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. democrats /PA

    as a black man
    i cant believe the white people or so gullible
    if oobama was a white men every one would say he is racist
    but because he is black every one is afraid of him
    he look down on white people like white people look down on us

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. Know the truth

    Every voter... no matter who you are supporting should google:
    Philip J. Berg esq and Obama.

    You need to read about his lawsuit and how Obama and the DNC are trying to hide it from you. This is not an anti-Obama post, this is a serious issue. This is a pro USA post.

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

    Do you think Obama will counter punch with McCain's multiple (5 I believe) vacations to Charles Keating's home in the Bahamas or do you think the counter punch will involve a discussion of Cindy McCain's theft of prescription drugs from a nonprofit pharmacy to support her past habit?

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Goro

    That picture looks like either Barack's planting one on McCain or telling him, "It's over foo"

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. Larry-Minn.

    Does anybody actually care what martin says.?

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. johnrj08

    I don't agree. It's a win-win for Obama, either way McCain chooses to go in the debate. If he goes negative, his numbers will only get worse and Obama will look more presidential. If he talks about the economy, the same thing will happen because McCain is terrible at presenting ideas of any complexity to an audience. He becomes very repetitious and uses irritating phrases like "My friend" over and over again until they lose all their meaning. It's also a very old fashioned technique politicians use to buy time while they're figuring out what they should say. While some pundits have said that McCain will do well in this 'sit down' format, I don't agree. The man has so much neurotic energy that he will look increasingly uncomfortable as the debate goes on.

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. george

    Losers are often desperate. There's desperation in the Republican party and so their political discourse is real shallow. They are doing everything possible to bring Obama down. He is black, forgetting his mother was white. He is a communist, anti guns, anti christianity and everything evil. America will be fine when he wins. You won't lose your riches, guns, religion etc. fact is Obama is your best hope in this election America. As a Caribbean national, we look forward to real United States leadership. We are your peaceful neighbors, yes this incluses Cuba and Venezula and Haiti. May God allow Obama to offer real leadership and not neglect, guns and bombs given by the Bush Administration.

    October 15, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Eboni in Houston

    I don't think McCain will do it...he talks a big game but won't back it up. He said that he would before the last debate. And I don't remember seeing any gloves come off last week. But if he decides to, Obama will have him eating out of the palm of his hand!!

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

    Roland, once again, you call it. I have depended on you throughout this election cycle to speak truth to power about how this campaign is going in the real world that your colleagues on air never ever touch.

    They are whisked from their high-priced condos and country estates to the studios in limos so they can tell us what Joe Six-Pack thinks about Obama.

    You and I both know that Obama will come into tonight's debate armed with a variety of responses to the Ayers/Wright/Rezko slimefest that is the Republican Party's argument for returning them to power. And all of these responses will have already been tested with focus-groups of undecided voters to make sure they knock McCain out cold.

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  23. Lissa in Montreal

    Loved your "rumble in the jungle" comment today,Roland – you're spot on, this is gonna be an easy win!

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  24. Pro

    Virginia Rocks!

    It is OK for the rest of the states to vote for their own issues instead of the parties! So many are suffering because of Bush's, McCain's and Sarah Palin's and the shadow VP Todd Palin's, bad choices!

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. Christine - CT



    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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