July 31st, 2008
09:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama camp says McCain tactics worse than Rove's


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/31/art.karl.gi.jpg caption="Obama's campaign said the latest McCain ad is beyond Karl Rove's playbook."](CNN) - Few names inspire more of a heated reaction among Democrats than Karl Rove, and Barack Obama’s campaign is making a concerted effort Thursday to link the former Bush advisor to John McCain's presidential campaign.

On a campaign conference call with reporters responding to the Arizona senator's latest television ad, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the spot is worse than anything Rove would have developed.

"This is not the John McCain voters thought they would be seeing in this presidential campaign," Plouffe said. "He's not just embracing the Rove playbook that people really are tired of, he's taking it to a further extreme."

Those comments came only hours after Plouffe circulated a fundraising e-mail to supporters in which he said McCain's campaign had taken a "nasty turn” with its "Karl Rove-style ploy."

"This Karl Rove-style ploy misleads people about Barack's energy plan and even mocks his ability to inspire voters and bring Americans back into the political process," Plouffe wrote in the e-mail.

The television ad in question compares Obama's celebrity status to that of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and questions whether the Illinois senator is "ready to lead." Obama dismissed the ad as "game playing" Thursday while McCain said he was "proud of it."

Watch: McCain ad compares Obama to Paris Hilton, Britney Spears

Rove has no official role with the McCain campaign, though Steve Schmidt, a senior adviser in charge of the day-to-day message, was a longtime protégé of Rove's.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra • John McCain • Karl Rove
soundoff (497 Responses)
  1. Gerrie Ryan

    No one has mentioned that Hitler was able to gather a crowd of 150,000 even without the lure of rock bands. Castro and Chavez also attracted large crowds on tours to foreign cities. All appealed to the yearning of the young. I don't care if Obama paints the white house black but I despair over his plan to tear down the walls of countries and the wall between rich and poor. Maybe the gated communities in the US will have to go. I love visiting Europe but sure don't want to live there. We do need change in the US but I'm not sure we want to demolish everything out country has stood for!

    July 31, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  2. Hitler youth for Obama

    53 y/o white female activist:
    I do not care about Roe vs Wade...
    Nor the Iraq war...

    I only care about preventing an Obama presidency: He played dirty, used race to divide Americans, and subverted the democratic process.

    Stopping this tyrant is priority #1 for all TRUE democrats.

    So stop threatening all of us- it will have the exact opposite effect.

    July 31, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  3. LINDA

    The Straight Talk Express has taken a nasty turn into the gutter. Sen. John McCain has resorted to lies and distortions in what sounds like an increasingly desperate attempt to slow down Sen. Barack Obama by raising questions about his patriotism. Instead of taking the Democrat down a few notches, these baseless attacks are raising more questions about the Republican's campaign and his ability to control his temper.

    The most offensive line comes from McCain himself. The Arizona senator has repeated that Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." That is one of the more outrageous statements by a major political party candidate seeking the presidency. The looming choices about the long-festering war in Iraq are not between winning and losing but about how quickly or slowly the United States can reduce its military forces without jeopardizing recent security gains. Even McCain acknowledges that, and insulting Obama in such a reckless way is not presidential.

    That is only one example of the darker tone enveloping the McCain campaign since several of Karl Rove's acolytes took the wheel. A new McCain ad suggests that while Obama traveled abroad last week he "made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." That's a compelling punch line, but it's below the belt.
    That's intense. McCain chose this path. He sold whatever was left of his soul to the Rove machine. It was a risky decision and it sure doesn't look like it's paying off. Instead, in the past few weeks, McCain has completely reshaped his image. He's become another puppet of Karl Rove, just like George Bush.

    And, the Obama campaign decided to fight back with a new ad, "Low Road," documenting just some of independent sources criticism of McCain - and linking McCain to the candidate he's morphed into - George Bush: John McCain how much lower can you go. And your wife will be working with CASTRO GET REAL MAN...WE DON`T WANT COMMANDER WITH CASTROL IN THERE POCKET....GEEZ


    July 31, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. Sacto Joe

    John McCain and Hillary Clinton have very little in common – except a willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Now, in our sad society, winning has become more important than anything else. As a result, we glamorize those who "tough it out", no matter how they accomplish their win.

    The problem is, a self-centered culture is inherently a weak culture, and will eventually crumble. Fascinatingly, the bottom line on unselfishness is that it can better stand the test of time.

    Senator Obama, you need to keep to the high road. And not just because this country desperately needs a leader who can show us the path back to true morality. Like you did with Senator Clinton, if you can stay true to yourself you will eventually outlast those who will stoop to anything to win.

    July 31, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. Terri in Fl

    I'm not surprised McCain would launch such lurid attacks. If we were to ask him to take a firm stand against Bush's doctrine of preemption, McCain would be waffling all over the place; if we were to ask McCain how he would get Sunis and Shias to bury the hatchet in Iraq he'd need help understanding why they're at each other's throats to begin with! If we were to ask McCain what POLITICAL solutions he has for the Israeli and Palistinian crisis, he'd have another Viagra moment. McCain doesn't want us asking those questions.

    For the peole who would fall for that crap – I hope they are the first in line to enlist for McCain's new wars.

    July 31, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. RJ, CA

    I think the McCain ad is great and right to the truthful point! Too bad, "Souffle" - I mean Plouffe. About time McCain calls a spade a spade. We ALL know what he's talking about.

    July 31, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  7. Look at their resumes and abilities

    In any case history will judge the last 8 years as the product of Rove tactics. McCain needs to argue with proof and substance why Obama is not qualified to be president. To be honest if I had to choose between a Harvard grad and a computer illiterate candidate I wouldn't choose the latter. This country is in a crucial position right now. We have learned what happens if someones isn't qualified.

    July 31, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  8. Maxine

    Mccain, wil repeat Bush failed Energy Policy and Bush failed Administration. Vote No Mcain

    July 31, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  9. KeKe

    David Plouffe

    We love you.. We know u are the mastermind behind Obama'a Campaign

    Keep you head up!! These next few months will be hard, but we will get through it!! '

    Remember A soldier will sometimes fall on it's own sword!!

    Obama 08'12

    July 31, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. Tim Young

    I have been absolutely disgusted by CNN's implication that John McCain has been using racial terms or code words toward Senator Obama. I haven't hear or seen one ad or one statement from Senator McCain about Senator Obama using the term "uppity", his ethnicity, or his name. The only time these items have been mentioned by Senator Obama or Roland Martin, and your network has made the accusations sound legitmate, which only makes Senator McCain appear as a racist. This is terrible. How can CNN endorse such an injustice. And, Mr. Martin has so distorted the truth as to appear as an Obama mouthpiece. This is pathetic. I can't stand Bush, but this is shifting Obama into a Bush lookalike. I'm sick of Washington politics, and now Senator Obama is moving in that direction. The race card is now in the campaign, by Senator Obama. It's a shame, by the man who said he is a different politician.

    July 31, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. Joyce Becker

    I am sorry to see John McCain stoop so low with his ads and then defends them, he sounds like he must be desperate to win this campaign and he is afraid to do it on his merits alone.

    July 31, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  12. Obama 08 - rocking it baby

    America is wiser now ... these Rove type ads will bite McCain in the end... fool us one time ,shame on you; fool us two times; shame on us.... there is no shame in this political game and the Democrats are united and will vote for change and not fall for the same! <== Hey this would look good on a T-shirt :0)... Obama 08.... We are not wavering nor scared...

    July 31, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  13. Joe

    Obama played the race card on McCain.(Dumb, it worked on Hillary but McCain doesn't need the Black vote)
    McCain calls him on it.
    Now Obama cries "McCain's pulling a Rove on me"
    Man Up Obama you're running for president.

    July 31, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. Enlightened voter

    Rove's name is satanic to the left. They are so scared of him it is unbelievable. He is not even involved in the commercial and they are still trying to crucify him or involve him in some way. If he was so evil and could 'steal' an election, why wouldn't he just steal this from Obama. Dems are SOooo quick to demonize anyone outside their little circle. CNN must really have some 'interesting' people moderating these comments as well. It is so slanted it is a joke.

    July 31, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  15. TVickers

    Dear CNN,
    John McCain may have been a man of integrity throughout his life, but it would be hard to say that anymore....Now, he seems to get a kick out of poking fun at his opponent. To me a man of integrity is one who respects every man, speaks the truth, and finds room in his heart for those who don't agree with him.
    Now he has turned to mocking the electorate (Celeb ad) for supporting Obama , and finding him inspirational and forward thinking. To any decent American, Mr. McCain has become condescending, arrogant, mean and very much not "Presidential". Let's move on to the issues, Mr. McCain. We deserve to know what you stand for and why,..that's what's important to us.

    July 31, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. Carl Justus

    McCain will do anything that he can to become president. You have not seen anything yet, it will get worse. If you think that Carl Rove was bad, McCain will make him look like a kindergarten boy before this campaign is over.
    McCain has taken the play book from Bush and will lie, cheat, swear, and play the race card to the extreme before this campaign is over.
    Willie Horton will be child's play and the swift boat ads will look like they were put on by children when you compare them with what is to come.
    McCain is a power hungry Bush shadow and if elected will continue the anti-Christ policies of the Bush administration.

    July 31, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  17. Phil, FL

    Ha ha ha – the republicans are working behind the scenes to bait and stab again.

    Hope you people that voted for our worst president ever have grown a brain in the last 8 years. McCain was beaten in 2000 by the worst president ever for a reason – he's worse than Bush. Grow up.

    July 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  18. Wisconsin


    You have to be a low life to be a republican these days.

    Look at the attacks ad's with no talk about the issues that the looser McCain runs.

    July 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  19. mello doug New Mexico

    In the past I have admired McCain but that has ended. He is turning out to be just like all of the other republicans. The republicans I have come to learn our corrupt with out moral principles and lacking humanistic judgment and ideals. They support the top 1% of the population that controls 95% of the wealth. In other words they enslave people with their economics. McCain focuses on issues like Obama's fame and media attraction like an old jealous suitor. He criticism of Obama's trip to Iraq verges on insanity as he was the one to suggest it. Of course he wanted to be seen as the great white mentor. Blaming Obama for the price of gas was also dishonest if not an outright lie. McCain does not even appear to know the history of Iraq and he as the nerve to criticize Obama. The republicans during this past 7 1/2 years have just about ruined the country as well as our educational system. They have taken our individual freedoms and thrown them out the window. McCain and the rest just lie and lie and lie. They need to stay in office to serve big business and the wealthy. When are people going to wake up?

    July 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. American en canada

    Let them be these republicans are just desperate and DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT they don't have a platform all the they know is ATTACK, ATTACK, and ATTACK, WARS, WARS, WARS, and WARS,
    DECEIVE, DECEIVE and DECEIVE and most important LIES, LIES, LIES and LIES to the american people and the world.

    Can you get it I don't think the american people are that naive or innocent The republicans are going to be put away for a long time.


    July 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  21. John

    What a chicken. Once again, the Obama campaign deflecting the issue rather than addressing it.

    He is an empty suite, simple as that.

    July 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  22. Zuq

    McSame is playing the Old Fart cart. What a clown. Still to the issues John "use a cane" McSame!

    July 31, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  23. Zuq

    McSame is playing the Old Fart cart. What a clown. Stick to the issues John "use a cane" McSame!

    July 31, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  24. Heng Ly

    Senator John McCain was a soldier. Ke knows how to fight to win the war and the election.

    Barak Obama belongs to Hollywood.

    July 31, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  25. Sheople yes, people no so much.

    Turnabout is Fair Play July 31st, 2008 9:24 am ET

    I will say it again. If these PUMA idiots and those who just don't want to see a black man in the Whitehouse give this election to the Republicans AGAIN, you will deserve the pain and suffering that will continue that you are going through right now and we "18 million" Obama supporters will do to Hillary in 2012 what you are trying to do to Obama this time around. All those fools who keep posting "McCain '08, Hillary 2012″? You better think about that again, that's not how your dream will work out. If yall wreck this for Obama, Hillary's chance in 2012 will NOT happen. We guarantee it
    I AM REALLY SCARED NOW. It is these constant silly , vindictive threats that just solidify people's convictions- against OBAMA.

    Twist my arm and I will capitulate and vote for Obama.

    You Obama sheep are too dumb to realize that it was these threats, forceful strong-arm tactics that caused MILLIONS of life long democrats DEFECT from EVER supporting Obama.

    July 31, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
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