June 26th, 2008
10:20 AM ET
13 years ago

McCain camp: Obama puts himself first

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/05/art.obamamc.gi.jpg caption="Obama and McCain have been locked in an increasing war of words."]
(CNN)— In what appears to be the latest line of attack, the McCain campaign released a memo Thursday accusing rival Barack Obama of putting his own “self-interest” ahead of his party and American citizens.

“[Obama] has never put his career on the line for a cause greater than himself,” Senior McCain advisor Steve Schmidt said in a memo released to reporters. “We have seen Barack Obama forced choose between principle and the interests of himself and his party. He has always chosen the latter,” Schmidt wrote.

Calling upon McCain’s early days as a prisoner of war, Schmidt explains the presumptive Republican nominee has put his country first throughout his life.

“When John McCain was offered early release as a prisoner of war, he refused,” Schmidt said. “Subjecting himself to torture rather than give a propaganda victory to his captors.”

Watch: McCain talk about putting his country first

Mitt Romney, who has been a fervent McCain supporter since suspending his own presidential bid, reiterated the position to CNN Thursday.

“People recognize they need new leadership, strong leadership,” Romney said. “Not somebody who is consistently putting himself and his party ahead of the interests of the nation.”

Watch: Romney says Obama puts himself 'ahead of the interests of the nation'

The two presumptive nominees have been locked in an increasing war of words over their different policy stances since Obama all but secured the Democratic Party’s nomination.

While Obama has worked to brand McCain has a continuation of Bush’s presidency, the McCain campaign pushed further Thursday, saying Obama represents failed politics.

“While Senator Obama is certainly a fresh face, his campaign offers more of the same old typical politics that have broken Washington,” Schmidt said.

Update: In another clear sign the McCain campaign is pushing the message of loyalty to the country, the presumptive Republican nominee reiterated the language at a town hall event in Cincinnati.

“I promise you as president of The United States I will always, always put my country first above party and above every other consideration. I have had the honor of doing that since I was 17 years old and entered the United States Naval Academy,” McCain said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (236 Responses)
  1. bridgette

    John McCain if truth be told I have never seen a prisoner of war that has a photo album full of pictures from supposedly when they were a prisnor of war. What has he put his career on the line for. He has changed his position in the last month atleast ten times. His position changes depending on who he is speaking in front of. Let it go he didn't choose the public financing that you are talking about. But, his campaign is pratically public financing in the sense that his donors are people like me and other American citizens. I don't want my tax dollars going towards anyone's campaign. If you can't inspire people too donate too your cause then what kind of leader are you going too be.

    June 26, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Michael

    Look at the pot calling the kettle black, what have the republicans been doing for the last eight years. I respect the fact McCain is a war hero but that doesn’t do anything as far as what he will do as president. What about Charlie Black and his statement that a terrorist attack would help McCain, why hasn’t McCain tossed this idiot out on his ear? John McCain, Mitt Romney, and the rest of the Republican Party need to take a long look in the mirror, we know from Gorgy Porgy and his daddy they are about elitist as you get. If Bush ever comes to a sudden stop, McCain will go half way up his behind.

    June 26, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. John Y Des Plaines IL

    Is this really the best you guys can come up with? Really????

    June 26, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  4. Tito

    Well sure, Mr. Schmidt, it's easy to say whatever you want if you don't cite any examples. And as much as I admire John McCain for what he went through in Vietnam, I'm voting on policy, not personal stories.

    June 26, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. J.C.

    It may be a little unfair for Senator McCain to criticize Obama for putting himself first.

    After we lifted draft, only volunteers have the honor to serve our country. It's hard for Obama and many others to know what it's like to serve our country in uniform. If you have never been there, how would you know? How would you lead? It may be very hard.

    June 26, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Rom, NY

    Blablablablablabla ......
    What else?
    McBush is toast
    Can you spell DESPERATION ?

    June 26, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Chris

    McSaime, if you really support a cause greater than yourself, WHY DON'T YOU SUPPORT OUR TROOPS? Why do you oppose the GI Bill? Looks like you're putting yourself before your country and her countrywomen and men.

    June 26, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  8. soy

    I can't believe the republicans have mouth to talk after the 8 years of crap they've given us. They and their friends are much wealthier than every before because they put themselves, their party and their friends first. Please spare me the BS McCain and Romney

    June 26, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. Jaime

    So anything here related to Policy? Nope.

    POW story. Check
    Campaign Financing with public donations. Check

    Substantive isues? 0

    Waste of my time.

    June 26, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  10. Nostradamus

    Beware the arrogant one, the one who would make himself king.

    June 26, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. Michael


    June 26, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  12. Erika, KS

    Well, this is news? It's been obvious for awhile now.

    June 26, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. anon

    They just keep trying to add engines to the swiftboat don't they?!?!

    McCain must have forgotten about the part where instead of Obama taking a high paying job with a law firm, he refused that job and worked in the communities instead. Keep trying Repugs.... you haven't found anything that will stick... but I do smell something coming from the bottom of your shoes.

    June 26, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. Knoxville, NObama

    Wow, has Senator McCain hit the problem of Barack Obama squarely on the head!

    Obama = delusion of grandeur.
    Axelrod = delusion of potency.
    Plouffe = delusion of hope that Obama Almighty's cult following can magically turn into the electoral votes he'll need to win in November. Dave, the alchemy necessary just to convince the Chosen One's cult followers that he can reach 270 without Ohio and Florida by sweeping victories throughout ALL the other so-called "new map" swing states is staggering, to say nothing of the odds of actually achieving electoral victory in November according to your projections, which is infinitely unlikely.
    Yeah, I guess he can...
    in theory.
    But, tell the truth, Dave.
    In all probability, he won't.

    June 26, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    Gee, this sounds strikingly familiar to an article written by Karl Rove, well, just today!! Can none of these Republican candidates think for themselves. Does Karl Rove always have to be "their brain"??

    As far as Obama being for himself, that is what I'm sure led him to the streets of Chicago as a hardly-paid community organizer when he could have taken a huge paying job on Wall Street. Yeah, that makes sense!

    Obama's whole career has been dedicated to public service just like John McCain. For that, neither should be knocked.

    June 26, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Dan - Atlanta

    As a combat veteran myself who risked my life for my country during the Vietnam years, I believe that McCain needs to stop using his POW time for political advantage. Being a POW does not give anyone authority to criticize the public service of another, as his campaign is doing to Senator Obama. I honor McCain's military service, as I honor the service of the many millions of others who have served our nation (myself included), but remind Senator McCain that his POW experience was almost 40 years ago, and it is not relevant to today's problems. It's time for McCain to stop living in yesterday.

    June 26, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  17. Michael

    We do not need a Deomcratic version of George W. Bush!

    June 26, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. Get to work!

    Senator Obama has always put himself first? How about when he was a Harvard graduate who has his pick of high paid Washington positions but he chose to become a community organizer and give back to the people of Chicago? Get involved my fellow Obamacans. Don't let these lying Republicans swift-boat Senator Obama like they did John Kerry. We are in all 50 states. Go to barackobama.com and get new voters for Barack Obama! Don't be lulled into complacency because Obama is up in the polls. It is very early in the process. We have a lot of work to do.

    June 26, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. Ratgurl

    I notice they haven't quoted McCain on what his opinion is to this regard.... only surrogates are quoted. Wouldn't it be nice if the press stopped pandering to everyone who wants to put words in the mouths of the candidates?

    June 26, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  20. Boye

    Well, from what I have seen, the interest of the nation is for Obama to be President. The nation is on the same page with Obama on that one.

    June 26, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  21. Larry, GA

    As a republican, or should I say....as a conservative (because the two don't mean the same anymore), the republicans need to come up with a better plan than launching stupid attacks. I think people are not going to fall for it, well...maybe some...but not enough for them to win the election in November. Please debate the issues and policies that have brought us to this depravity! Part of the problem is the neoconservative agenda, which they have embraced.

    June 26, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  22. Anita from Arizona

    I don't think changing your policies, IE immigration & oil drilling, to suit a presidential election is a sign of a good leader.

    June 26, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. Debbie,Ewing,Nj

    Calling upon McCain’s early days as a prisoner of war, Schmidt explains the presumptive Republican nominee has put his country first throughout his life.
    So has every American soldier who fought in a war. That doesn't qualify you to be commander in chief. Like Wesley Clark said, McCain doesn't have any commander experience anywhere, not the military nor the gov't. And before you say Obama doesn't either, Obama is not running on that platform. He would choose somebody like Wesley as VP for that part of his presidency. Military experience is all McCain really has.

    June 26, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. static

    Is that all the McCain camp can come with lately, really?

    June 26, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  25. DB

    Wait a minute, just yesterday Obama went against the party line and voted for the FISA bill. He also disgareed with the Supreme court decision on capital punishment for child rape. How is it serving himself to against the party line and party base?? He is obviously doing what he believes is right and what is best for the country.

    June 26, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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