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. Alex

    Of course by McCain promising to bring Ayers up several days ago that's given Obama all the time he needs to prepare a response. Not a smart move on McCain's part.

    I agree that short of a major screwup on Obama's part tonight (and of course any weird October surprise waiting in the wings in the next few weeks) tonight will be McCain's last hurrah. The apparent loss of Virginia by the GOP for the first time in 44 years is going to weigh heavily on the McCain campaign, make no doubt.

    October 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. Muneer

    AFGHANS FOR OBAMA! The Obama-Biden presidency will not only change political platform of the U.S., but it will boost the U.S. image around the globe. Obama wins by K.O!

    October 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Gregg - Florida

    We got your back Barack, and gratz on Virginia, show McCain what your made of, awsome post Roland, and keep up the good work.

    October 15, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. Yes. We can.

    "They said this day would never come. They said our sites were set too high. They said this country was too divided, too disillusioned, to ever come together around a common purpose." -Barack Obama

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. Mavwreck

    Christine K- Ayers is a non-issue.
    Get over it

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. Jenny

    Please VOTE on Nov 4th

    Augur that you will VOTE on Nov 4th
    Get out of your placate
    Do it for your son’s
    Do it for your daughter’s

    Do it for your nephew’s
    Do it for your niece’s
    Do it for your nation
    Do it for our hopes

    Standing in line to VOTE beats 4 more years of failed policies
    McCain… McBush… McSame…
    No More… No More… No More...
    We have the power to define America’s fortune

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. facts are facts

    McCain is way out his league with a below average D in scholarly achievements vs. a Harvard grad with outstanding credentials.

    Even if McCain had full control over his faculties he would be so far over matched it would be pififul. Now he has encumbered himself with a loser whose husband is now deemed a security risk because of his membership in the Alaskan Independence Party.

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. Kelby from Houston, TX

    Thank you for your over analysis, Martin. Obama is preparing to answer questions. There is no need for some elaborate strategy to beat McCain at this point. McCain has beaten himself. He sold his soul to the devil in order to get his base behind him. He chose Palin in a mad dash grab at disnenchanted Hillary supporters and then he...etc. etc. YOU GET THE POINT.

    Obama just needs to go in there and do what he's been doin and he will win the debate and the election

    THAT ONE '08

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Steve in Ohio

    OHHH YEAAAHHH!!! Obama hits another one OUT-O-THE-PARK!!! He was PHENOMENAL! McLaim didn’t stand a chance. He just stood there, talking geriatricly incoherent as usual! HAHAHA Obama has a real plan and spelled it out perfectly while McLaim has no idea what he’s talking about, as usual. I’m sure most of what he said was lies, anyway. Afterall-He’s just really McBush, and who can stand four more years of that? 8 years of tearing up this economy and ruining the United States and making the world hate us is enough. Score 3-0 in favor of Obama, the next President of the U.S.!! You couldn’t even relly call tonight’s debate a contest!! I can feel the wheels of change starting to move already! I have NEVER been this excited about an election before. I guess the only thing people have left to vote for McSame is that they are really racist. The color of someone’s skin shouldn’t be a factor in today’s society. I cannot wait to FINALLY have health insurance and for those making over $250,000 a year to start paying their share! Real Change!!

    Sorry, I jumped the gun a little, but I wanted to be the first to begin spouting the post-debate liberal talking points. Let the rhetoric begin!

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. David

    Last debate was characterized as a football game, this one as a boxing match. What next?

    The thing that McCain SHOULD do is to be a gentleman and quietly bow out of the race for the good of the country. Of course that won't happen. but it would ben the gentlemanly thing to do. Instead, his campaign will continue to be sucked into the cesspool of his own creation.

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Rebel Yell

    It is time for America to get past 'the past' which John McCain represents.
    We have the opportunity to elect a brilliant young man who is on top of his game. This redneck from Tennessee is moving to the clear blue sky and breadth of fresh air that Barrack Obama represents.

    Rednecks For Obama!!!!!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  12. Irma in North Carolina

    Hey everyone did you just see that Virgina turned to Obama. Well thats what Sarah and John get for there attacks and holding hate rallys. I think John better watch him self very carefully tonight and not do no attacking. If he does it will only be to Obamas benefit. I hope Obama makes John look shameless, and lets See if John will make eye contact with Obama.

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Pro

    McCain only talks tough behind Cindy's and Sarah's skirts! Men say things face to face!

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. ANGIE


    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. bill canada

    Where will the USA get its oil? When Obama pulls the troops from Iraq you will lose OPEC and Obama has told the Canadian goverment he will cancel FREE TRADE ,so he will lose Canada and Mexico. thats your top 3 suppliers .

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |

    “I’m rooted in the Christian tradition,” said Obama, who has declared himself a Christian. But then he adds something that most Christians will see as universalism: “I believe there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people.”

    Falsani correctly brings up John 14:6 (and how many journalists would know such a verse, much less ask a question based on it?) in which Jesus says of Himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That sounds pretty exclusive, but Obama says it depends on how this verse is heard. According to Falsani, Obama thinks that “all people of faith — Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone — know the same God.” (her words)

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  17. Phil from Indiana

    I'd love to have a beer with Barack – The difference is he's got the brain cells to spare!

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  18. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    a person who tries to push their politcial agenda by threat intimidation or force…
    Yep that's what Sarah Palin did in Alaska – it's called abuse of power in politics.


    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. scared of Americans ?

    All liberals and racist like Roland Martin have been calling "fact finding" queries as "distraction".

    There should be one standard, in democracy, people should be allowed to question and get answers from their Representatives.

    This is not "distraction" , but will cost heavily, if answers are known after bird has flown away.

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Mark Ferbet

    The problem with Ayers, is that the facts are right out there... but those that hate Obama, can't see them... And they forget that Republicans have been catering to terrorists for decades. Yes, decades. WE, the great United States supported what is now the Taliban against Russia. We supported Saddam against Iran. We have stirred up the radicals by interfering in their governments, and lives for decades. Ask yourselves which President was in office during those times... which Party had control of the White House...

    Bring up Ayers tonight... McCain... I dare you. Then you can answer some pretty specific questions about where and how you got your money to run for office back in 1982, and which "terrorists" you were involved with... OH... I forget... we don't consider organized crime terrorism in this country... do we.

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Americans unite

    4 1/2 hours till Obama time ......

    McCain't is going down 😉

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  22. Obamas Toast

    Only Pro Obama comments are being posted I see on one ONN ( Obama News Network). The last two debates all OBama did was stutter, stammer and uhhhh his way though them. Tonight will be no different. Another win for John McCain and yet the liberal MSM in the tank for OBama will declare him another victory. If he loses on November 4th, and I pray to God he does, The MSM will still declare an Obama landslide, they will refuse to accept John McCain as their next President.

    October 15, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Roy

    Come back a year from now & see the damage Obama has done to this country. Then after his four years of missteps and socialist policies, the republicans will carry the white house & congress until at least 2032

    October 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. Irish

    I think McCain will have a difficult time hanging on to his temper, but I think he will. He will, however, get blustery and red in the face and try his hardest not to answer the questions. Short of having a heart attack he will survive (physically). Obama, on the other hand, we be his cool, calm, collected self, continuing to appear more Presidential and informed.

    Believe me, Bob Schieffer isn't afraid to pound away until he gets an answer, so this one will be entertaining to say the least!

    October 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. Obama/Biden08inJesus'Name

    Come on Barack! I am praying for you!

    October 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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