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. ody



    October 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. Empire, CO

    The funny thing is that if McCain brings him up, McCain loses. If he doesn't bring him up, he still loses. That's what happens when you go into the ring against a better opponent. 3PD is going to Obama tonight and so is the election. I only pray that John can go out with dignity and not try to to stir things up.

    October 15, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Sylvia B

    Please people, we need to stay strong and do everything in our power to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States. Some Republicans are vicious and I said some because I know of some people who describe themselves as Republicans who appear to want the best for the country as well. It is amazing that the U.S. gets into wars with other countries in order for them to have a democracy, but where is the democracy in the U.S. when citizens are being suppress from using their right to vote. This is why the U.S. should not judge other countries especially when they are using some of the same tactics as some of these rogue regimes.

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. Ryan from K.C.

    Roland, apparently you and I think alike. I was very puzzled when Obama first brought it up, because until now only Biden has mentioned McCain's problems with making eye contact, and it seemed very Un-Obama to do so. But after thinking about it – it made perfect sense as a setup. It will be very interesting to see if McCain can resist the bait and not step into the trap – but I expect that tonight, he won't be able to resist. The real question is, however, what ammunition will McCain have prepared to fight his way out, if any?

    I'm looking forward to tonight's debate (even though I've already decided to vote for Obama).

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Surprise?

    McCain never was involved in a dog fight while in the navy...and certainly never won a dog fight?? We know he lost a number of planes while learning/trying to fly anyways...

    Why does he keep talking about fighting these days? Imagine if all US military, naval, marines, airforce-men all lost as many planes as he has lost in his career? Now he just wants to FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT??

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Thomas

    In opera, it is over when the fat lady sings...so the old saying goes. I wont say that she has hit her high C, but I do hear her warming up back stage. Go Obama!

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. weneedstrongleadership

    Lets see, a person who tries to push their politcial agenda by threat intimidation or force… yep thats what AYERS did in the 1970's. And that makes AYERS a TERRORIST by definition.

    Ok, Lets see, a person who tries to push their politcial agenda by threat intimidation or force… By trying to inspire fear and hate by implication, driving people in the audience to say "kill him", "Terrorist" "Traitor" yes that sounds about right McCain and Palin did this, so I guess they aren't terrorist.

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. AJ from Houston, Texas

    Whoo, Roland!!! You've outlined it perfectly! I want it to go down just like that!!!

    How exciting!!!

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. MissouriMom

    He won't have to lift a finger... McCain will trip over his own nasty temper and peevish pouting...

    I wonder how many times he'll gag me with "my friends"

    I have this thing where I donate $5 to Obama for every "my friends" McCain uses... it's getting kind of costly.

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. bud in NC

    I don't think Obama has to throw a knockout punch at all, just stay calm. McCain will throw a wild punch that will swing around and knock himself out.

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Walt

    If McCain brings up that nonsense about Ayers again while sitting at a table next to Obama, I suspect that Senator Obama will respond as he has responded in the past-with dignity, intelligence and civility. Obama's truth will show clearly how McCain's own words and behavior make him a foolish, nasty, bitter old man who doesn't put country first but rather his own enormous ego. (This is not agist as I am over 60-just simply the truth.)

    October 15, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. isaac

    Oh Yes Roland, you are very right. What Obama did was confront McCain directly, challenge the mavervick & show that Obama can stand up to anyone.

    McCain is always saying that Obama has never confronted his party, what Obama did was show that he is willing to be a man that faces his challenges in the face. McCain is now on the rope, if he challenges Obama, then his base is happy but independants are not & if he does not then his base is angry at him.

    October 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. zack

    Obama should respond to questions from McCain about character and judgment by telling McCain that I have never cheated on my wife so you have no ground questioning my character and I have not placed the country at risk by selecting an unqualified VP so you have no ground questioning my judgment. Obama should follow that with the famos line, "Sir, have you got no sense of decency?"

    October 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Rope a dope is exactly the right descriptive phrase for what we will be watching tonight. McCain is ready to pop his cork and it won't take much to make that happen.

    October 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. Andre Carrington

    It's a done deal! McCain will return to the Senate and Obama will be the 44th President of the United States with big majorities in both the House and Senate. I liked John McCain but his campaign has been utterly stupid, vapid and uninspiring. While Senator Obama is not exactly my cup of tea, I ended up voting for him (I cast an absentee ballot), since McCain is a disaster in waiting.

    Sorry to all my fellow conservatives. If we want to do better then we'll need more attractive candidates than John McCain.

    October 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Lawrence in Denver

    McLame, your Viagra will not help you this time.

    It's the 3rd round and you have been KNOCKED OUT!!!!


    Obama/Biden 08'

    ~Lawrence in Denver

    October 15, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. stephanie

    And while you're at it..give a good swift knock out to Palin, Ms. Abuse of power..arent we done with her yet??

    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. s

    "Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee." Obeema '08!

    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Joe in NJ

    Obama is really going to have to explain himself tonight on the comments he made to the plumber.

    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. BJGT

    Will he or won't he? It doesn't matter one way or the other. Which ever way McCain goes, Obama will deal with him. Obama has been hardened and tested over the past two years and the Obama who was not totally comfortable with debates was no where to be seen at the last one. Obama has stepped up to the plate. He's ready. He's presidential. When McCain attacks or if he doesn't, the answer he receives will come out of a deep, still pool of wisdom and strength and intelligence. Obama started out with the potential to be a great president and through the process and through the trials that the country has had to face, he has become exponentially better than that. Obama has become the leader that the country can follow and that will continue to grow. The country is bonding with Obama and Obama is bonding with the country. It's gotten personal.

    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. James


    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Blue By You


    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. Spencer/Bad Newz, VA

    Virginia is now BLUE. The fat lady is singing John.


    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. RCLGuard

    I never thought of it that way. BRILLIANT! It's a beautiful powerplay on Obama's part. Genius.

    Obama/Biden 08 12

    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. C


    October 15, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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