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. KJ

    100% right, Roland. I think Obama has been playing his cards close to his chest these last 2 debates, just biding his time and waiting to drop the bomb in these final three weeks.

    Starting with tonight, I think we're going to see McCain get slammed like never before, and I'll go ahead and predict that Obama will win by a landslide.

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. John T.

    McCain is too hot-tempered to resist this challenge. He'll charge ahead like a short-sided RINO and Obama will dodge the attack like a nimble matador and deliver the killing blow that will put an end to McCain's mismanaged campaign once and for all.

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Doug in Renton, WA

    McCain is in a box over this one. If he attacks Obama over Ayers, Obama will almost certainly spin out of the argument on top, leaving McCain looking desperate and petty. And if he doesn't go after Ayers, then the rabid right will be complaining that McCain didn't do enough. This is going to be fun to watch!

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. Proud to be American

    Barack is going to knock you out; Barack is going to knock McCain out .... last debate prior to his walk into the white house ...

    ********************** Obama and Biden 2008! ******************************

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. weneedstrongleadership

    I support Obama, you all do have to understand that the McCain/Palin ticket started this all by using dirty politics by bringing up Bill Ayers. Obama was running a clean campaign up until this issue was brought up. Then Palin tried to run the terrorist hate path now that they see it isn't working have changed horses yet again and trying to run the sympathy card, america do not be fooled. McCain is trying to get the elderly vote by saying young taking on old. Give me a break, McCain, what happened to you, you said would run a clean campaign, you should have then everyone by not be as disguisted with you.

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. JJ

    Ok I think Roland is reaching a bit deep here. I don't agree nor do I wish to hear about Ayers or whoever McCain has tied to him. I DON'T CARE!!!!

    I only want to hear about the issues facing this country and hear each of their plans to bring us out of this mess we're in. The dow plunged 700 points today alone in fears of the word "recession".

    Now is the time to tell Americans someone has a solution. For goodness sake!

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. gabby

    i hope obama gives mc cain a one hitter quitter to night

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. Murf

    If Senator McCain raises the Ayers issue tonight he will be committing political suicide.

    Senator Obama has answered the Ayers questions already and it is clear that his acquaintance with Ayers began years after Ayers objectionable activity. Their activity related to efforts to improve the Chicago schools and it was funded by a conservative Republican philanthropist.

    However, if McCain attacks Senator Obama would be within his rights to compare/juxtapose his limited and innocent contact with Ayers with McCain's personal acceptance of over $100,000 from Charles Keating and McCain's direct /involvement with and interference in federal probes into Keating's misconduct which resulted in the failure of the government to end that misconduct for two additional years and fostered the Savings and Loan scandals which nearly destroyed the American banking industry.

    McCain came away from that experience with the wrong lessons – he later supported deregulation of the banking and investment industries – and his actions can only be said to have fostered our current financial crisis.

    Obama worked with Ayers on a committee to help improve the Chicago schools. McCain took a criminal's money and blocked governmental efforts to protect the public. Whose actions are more problematic? If McCain raises the Ayers issue it will prove how poor a student he still is – and that he is incapable of learning at all.

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  9. Too Bad

    After all being said and done, DON'T FORGET TO VOTE though!

    October 15, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  10. Tony

    We need 2 wrk on turning North Carolina BLUE!!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. Mike

    Rock the house Obama.

    Obama 08'

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Jane from San Francisco, CA


    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. Mary Beth Shemeluk

    I would like to see Sen. McCain bring up Bill Ayers. That way Senator Obama can ask if Mrs. Anneneberg is also "palling around with terrorists" since she has endorsed Senator McCain. If Senator McCain brings up Rev. Wright there is always Ms Palin's voo-doo dr which can be asked about. Or has Rev. Muthy exorcised the demons from Senator McCain???

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. NYC for Obama

    I couldn't have said it better myself. McCain will take the bait, and the greatest campaigner in the history of this country will annihilate him.

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

    I can't wait to see that old fool get KTFO!! Someone needs to put him out of his misery. The only way he can salvage his reputation at this point is to go to the hospital; maybe there's a cancer stunt in his near future. He was a good man, once...

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

    I don't beleive McCain can win this debate. Obama can lose it if he does something out of character, but McCain can to nothing to force a win. Obama will take a draw and keep on steppin.

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. Tony




    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    That's exactly what I was thinking. McCain is in a no-win on this one. If he doesn't bring it up now, he'll look like a wuss. And if he does, Obama will pounce.

    Obama – Fly like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. texas2step

    A very good analogy. Just like Mohammad Ali. He moves like a butterfly keeping his cool and having harmony in his motion and movement of being consistent. And watch him at the debate being one on one with McCain. Just like the Great Ali he stings like a bee because he has the answer for all of McCains nusiance and then some.


    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. As I See It

    As a Hillary supporter, I have had grave doubts about Obama's electability so soon in his career, but I am pleasantly surprised by how well he has managed his campaign thus far. I doubted not his intelligence and ability, merely his political maturity. I must now say that if Obama shows the cool-headed steadiness, determination, and intelligence in how he makes decisions when he's in the White House, I will be estatic.

    Bravo, Senator Obama...you've got my enthusiastic vote. Keep up the good work.

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. GA Independent

    I've actually thought that Obama has shown amazing tolerance and yes respect for an old man who is just about fit to have some sort of seizure during the previous debates. But there comes a time when you have to say "no more". Obama's approach is try to talk, try to reason, try to debate, but when you can't – wham. Sorry...

    McCain seems to believe that this country owes him the election and is genuinely baffled that it's not going his way. It's really getting to be sad to watch his repeated efforts to pop back up like those weighted clowns... same strained smile on the face.

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Chloe

    The reason the voters don't care that Obama was one of ten members of a charitable foundation's board of directors, one of whom was a 60's terrorist turned do-gooder, or a liberal organization doing voter registration had to fire some morons in Nevada for registering Micky Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys eighty times isn't because THESE ARE NON-ISSUES, it's because they haven't heard it enough times.

    I certainly hope McCain brings these issue up in the debate tonight. Man alive, that'll be a game-changer.

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Swing Voter in MN

    Just give us one reason to vote for you, Sen McCain. Just one reason. Thanks.

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

    This is the last debate before the Presidential election. This debate should be strictly limited to the present issues of this country! Any slander that hasn't been voiced and/or printed by now now should not be allowed during this debate. Isn't that what the campaign trail is for??

    October 15, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. 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 in.

    October 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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