July 3rd, 2008
04:00 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain and Obama put it on the line

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/03/art.gambling.getty.jpg caption=" Both presidential candidates have been known to enjoy gambling."]

(CNN) – John McCain often brags about gambling with his political career by reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats or by voting against his party. But it turns out risking his political ambition is only part of a larger affinity for the thrill of putting it on the line.

An article published Thursday by Time Magazine takes a look at both McCain and Barack Obama’s love for the tables.

McCain is a heavy-betting high-energy craps man, while Obama prefers the slow pace and strategy of poker, reporters Michael Scherer and Michael Weisskopf write.

“Enjoying craps opens up a window on a central thread constant in John's life,” the article quotes former McCain strategist John Weaver as saying. “Taking a chance, playing against the odds.”

You won’t find McCain at the low-stakes tables, but rolling the dice with thousands of dollars at stake. He draws the line at taking markers, or loans, from the casinos to play.
He’s not in it for the money, the article says, but the camaraderie at the table and the thrill of winning.

Aides have recently curbed McCain’s casino visits, and Obama’s gambling days have waned since arriving in the U.S. Senate. But back in Springfield, Obama and three other state senators made up the core of a weekly bi-partisan poker game that often included lobbyists and bank, insurance and utilities agents.

Tight play and an unwavering desire to win kept Obama raking in the $3 top raise pots, and led a Republican rival to exclaim, “Doggone it, Barack, if you were more liberal in your card-playing and more conservative in your politics, you and I would get along much better.”

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. No Mcain

    Bush didn't even gamble with our United States...he merely fed it all to the dogs. Now McBush wants to pick up the scraps and finish everything else off with a bomb.

    July 3, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  2. Joe the Troll

    Why are Republicans still coming here pretending to be Hillary supporters? Do they think we haven't seen through that petty, manipulative, and frankly desperate move?

    July 3, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  3. ima Dolt

    I would crush Obama in a game of poker, espcecially if I cheated him the way he cheated America when he flew those airplanes around.

    July 3, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  4. Nate

    I bet McCain would beat Obama any day. Obama would be too timid.

    July 3, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  5. Robert from Oakland, CA

    I didn't think too much of this ticker article at first glance, but I actually do believe this speaks volumes (negatively) about John McCain.. really hard to deny that gut feeling – do i want a high stakes craps player running the country i'm raising my children in at _this_ critical hour of our nations history?

    ... NO _WAY_.

    July 3, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Zach

    I'd rather have a strategic poker player for a president than a go lucky craps player, that's for sure.

    And if Obama is a stereotypical poker player and McCain is a stereotypical craps player, than George W. Bush is definitely working the slots. It's going to be hard to lose in this election given what we've had for the past eight years.

    July 3, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. Hispanic For McCain

    For all the Liberals Dem on this Forum GUESS WHAT McCain is going to win the Latinos votes. That right the Hispanic people are NOT stupid they do NOT trust OBAMA. That right don't trust OBAMA he John McCain will get TONS AND TONS of Hispanic votes. LATINOS you know a true American Hero is and that is John McCain. Puertoriquenos con McCain. Los Mexicanos con McCain, Los Cubanos con McCain, Y TODOS los Latinos con McCain. So Liberals face the facts this is the year latinos will decide the race!!!!!!. for McCain!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  8. Lilah

    So McCain is a wreckless gambler who loses thousands of dollars at a time. Yep, that's precisely the guy I want for president! Craps man, indeed.

    July 3, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  9. TJ

    More personality-based drivel from CNN. Sadly, these are the kinds of issues people use to decide who to vote for. Once again, CNN lowers the bar for journalistic integrity. We might as well read the Enquirer or the Weekly World News.

    July 3, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  10. Mike in NYC

    (I'll bet some intern fresh out of college is deciding who gets on this board and who doesn't.

    What are you afraid of? "Sunshine" used the term "wetback". He gets on and I don't? I never, ever use slurs. Count on it.)

    July 3, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  11. seanm

    McCain gambles thousands of dollars per roll...yeah that will make him look like an everyday joe, and will endear him to Christian conservatives...

    July 3, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. Maxine

    Mccain will be the worst person for President because it will be more of the same Please this country can'nt afford another Bush term. Please People just look at this economy and if Mccain is elected for President we the will be sorry.

    July 3, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  13. RJ, CA

    Loved the bumper sticker I saw yesterday:

    Work - Succeed - Be Happy!

    July 3, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  14. rexx

    CNN this really is about the stupidest thing you have written about this race. And that says a lot with all the stupid things you clowns write

    July 3, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  15. Ian M

    At least Obama plays a thinking game. McCain just throws the dice and hopes for the best. Exactly what he's going to do with this country if he gets elected.

    July 3, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  16. Mosh

    if hillary is the queen, mccain is the king.... but obama is the ace. he won with aces over queens and he will win with aces over kings.

    poker players are usually strategy oriented people and are rarely gambling on other games. however, obama's aces held up against hillary's queens and will hold up against mccain's kings

    July 3, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  17. Wayne

    Anyone voting for McSame is mentaly ill. What changes would that old man bring to america? none

    McSame has no clue himself what he stands for accept his quest for war.

    McCain: My friends, I know Americans are hurting, high gas prices, homes lost, jobs lost, high food prices, lives lost. I know all about these things my friends.
    Reporter: How do you suggest fixing it if you are president?

    McCain: Uhhhhh well, gotta go, I'm late for a meeting with the Sunis or Shiites, I can't remember which one is on our side.

    Oh well my friends, lets bomb them all!

    July 3, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  18. Kathy in Oregon

    Molly - I could not have said it better!

    You are NOT alone...many out here share your opinion. Obama and his camp are in for a big surprise come November.

    July 3, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  19. Mosh

    obama is a grinder who slowly builds up his stack, and that turned out to be the winning strategy (not only in poker, but also in politics)

    July 3, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  20. Brenda

    Molly, Mrs. Clinton is done. Get over it. And I wouldn't count Senator Obama out. By the way, are you republican?

    July 3, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  21. Independant , FL

    Obviously, the media is not doing it's job if Mccain and Obama are almost even on a flip-flopping poll. To go back on Public financing just makes common sense when you are the unknown candidate and 10% of americans still think you are a muslim. Obama needs the extra money to introduce him self to the voting public. To say tax cut for the wealthy offend your conscience and then change your mind about your conscience is a character issue. Obama changes in position are minuscule in compared to McCain. Even if you think Obama flip-flops you can only point to a couple things.On the other hand:

    MCcain flip-flops:
    *flip-flopped on finance reform during the primary
    *Bush tax cuts for the wealthy
    *would vote against McCain-Feingold immigration bill(yes McCain as in John McCain)
    *would stay in Iraq 100 years, changed to would be out by 2013
    *against offshore drilling , for offshore drilling
    * called the religious right, agents of intolerance,then asks for there endorsement, and then rejected there endorsements
    *attacked Obama for be willing to meet with our enemies, yet he said , in 2006 on video we should be willing to engage Hamas
    *there is the thing about caring for the environment, yet saying we need more nuclear plants and need to drill off shore. (I know if it qualifies as a flip-flop but it sure is contradictory

    July 3, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  22. Hobo Joe


    July 3, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  23. Vivienne

    I prefer a thinking man to a man who delights at crapping out.

    July 3, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  24. The Surly Scholar

    Heh. Well, I don't know exactly how much we can infer about the candidates' character from their gambling behavior, but I guess it is kind of telling.

    It certainly doesn't make McCain seem any better, but I think we've all seen by now that he's not quite playing with a full deck, to invoke a relevant idiom.

    July 3, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  25. Michael

    This story is important why? I live in Nevada, gaming is an everyday thing, like this matters here.

    You love to argue, however White House is a proper noun and should be capitalized. The word never is an adverb so I am curious it is capitalized but not White House. Last point, what basis in fact do you have for your speculation that Senator Obama is a fraud, I have seen nothing to suggest he is a fraud. Do you know something the rest of the world does not?

    July 3, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
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