July 31st, 2008
05:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama criticizes 'Celeb' ad, McCain 'proud' of it

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/31/art.obamaad.ap.jpg caption="Obama and McCain are sparring over the Paris-Britney ad."] (CNN) - The attacks and counter attacks in the presidential campaign are getting more personal.

Barack Obama today dismissed as "game playing" the McCain campaign's new attack ad comparing Obama's celebrity to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. At a town hall rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Obama taunted McCain, "I do have to ask my opponent: Is that the best you can come up with?"

When the subject came up at a McCain town hall rally in Racine, Wisconsin, McCain told a questioner, "We're proud of that commercial," and added, "campaigns are tough."

WATCH: Viewers react to McCain's "Celeb" ad

But Obama told the Iowa crowd: "Given the seriousness of the issues; given the fact that the decisions we make right now are going to help determine the future not just of the next generation but perhaps generations after that; given the magnitude of our challenges when it comes to energy and health care and jobs and our foreign policy; you'd think we'd been having a serious debate. But so far all we've been hearing about is Paris Hilton and Britney Spears."

For more on the the latest political news, tune into Campbell Brown: Election Center tonight at 8 pm ET.

To the crowd's delight, Obama then asked, "Is that really what this election's about? Is that what is worthy of the American people?" Obama continued, "Even the media has pointed out that Senator John McCain, who started off talking about running an honorable campaign, has fallen back into the predictable political attacks, the demonstrably false statements. Obama told the crowd, "I'm not interested into getting into a tit-for-tat. These negative ads, these negative attacks, spending all this time talking about me instead of talking about what he's going to do, that's not going to lower your gas prices... It's politics as a game. But the time for game-playing is over."

A young African-American woman in the crowd at McCain's town hall meeting in Racine, Wisconsin pointed out that earlier in the campaign, he said he didn't want to engage in mudslinging. Referring specifically to the Britney-Paris-Obama ad, she asked McCain if he had "flip-flopped."

McCain pointed out that he regularly speaks about how he admires Obama's accomplishments. But he added, "Let me say there are differences and we are drawing those differences... what we are talking about here is substance and not style." McCain told the woman, "Campaigns are tough but I'm proud of the campaign we have run, I'm proud of the issues we are trying to address with the American people.... All I can say is that we're proud of that commercial."

soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    Obama should go after him.Period!

    July 31, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. Obama Supporter from FL

    It is pretty sad that that is all the McCain camp can come up with. Obama wants to talk about energy issues, McCain just panders about the "gas tax holiday" that never happened... McCain tells Obama to go to Iraq, Obama goes, then McCain says that Obama didn't spend enough time seeing troops and makes and ad about how Obama is so popular. McCain is kinda starting to sound, well, just whiny! Wah wah, Obama is more popular than me, wah wah.

    July 31, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. ex-Republican for Obama

    McCain is running a dishonorable campaign and is therefore not an honorable man. He isn't worthy of the presidency.

    July 31, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Marine Vet

    I honestly thing the republican party is morally bankrupt. They clearly have nothing to offer and are going as negative as they can and of course because no one actually pays attention to whats going on the negative campaigning will work.

    there is obviously a lot in common with a man who worked his way to harvard law school from modest means and a millionairess dimwit most famous for a scandelous video – pathetic McCain really pathetic!

    July 31, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  5. Marine Vet

    I honestly think the republican party is morally bankrupt. They clearly have nothing to offer and are going as negative as they can and of course because no one actually pays attention to whats going on the negative campaigning will work.

    there is obviously a lot in common with a man who worked his way to harvard law school from modest means and a millionairess dimwit most famous for a scandelous video – pathetic McCain really pathetic!

    July 31, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Amie from Texas

    Now Undecided Registered Republican
    Current mood: calm
    Category: Blogging

    [I wrote this today to Senator McCain's Camp]

    Mr. McCain:

    I've been a registered Republican for 20 years and a small minority business owner for 14 of those years. For the first time, I am an undecided voter and heavily swaying to vote Democrat in this election. Mr. McCain- your Celebrity smear campaign was more than just tacky, it lacked integrity.

    In my opinion, this campaign was demeaning to all women in general, not just Paris/Britney that have earned income and achieved more than most men and women will do in their lifetime. Mr. McCain, you must keep your eye on one of the major issues of the election: The economy.

    With all due respect, you may not know these girls personally, as I don't know you personally either. The American people only know you and Paris/Britney through the eyes of the media and yours/their accomplishments. However, I strongly encourage you not to spend money or focus on a negative smear campaign such as this. For me, I interpreted your Barack Celebrity ad as not knowing or caring about the issues of female voters and you paid to tell the entire world about this too. Today, I will donate to Mr. Obama's campaign, the first time ever to donate to a Democratic party.

    Sure, am I being somewhat sensitive- absolutely, given the state of the economy. Mr. McCain – you will continue to struggle with keeping/winning over undecided registered/ unregistered Republican voters and/or undecided female Hilary Clinton supporters by not recognizing, respecting or valuing what women bring to the economy.

    Paris Hilton increased her earned income more than 350% within 3 years, from 2003 to 2006. [$2M in 2003 and $6.5M in 2006] Britney Spears has earned over $370 Million, grossed over $350 million from tour ticket sales and $185 Million from her merchandise sales from her tours. All your ad said to me was that, Barack Obama as President and his "celebrity status" will generate revenue and earned income increases in the triple digits for the American people and that your political clout and status can't accomplish this, so vote for Barack. You don't think Swarzenegger's "celebrity" status helped him win as California's Governor and/or help generate revenue for the state because of his celebrity clout/status? In my opinion, this Celebrity campaign ad was a huge error in your judgment.

    I am a registered republican, but I am very much so "on the fence", but it's ads like this that clearly sway my vote the other way. The Bush Administration has managed to establish no relationship or clear initiatives for the bottom half of the economy comprised mostly of women, at least from what I've seen. The deficit is at a record high at $485 Billion dollars, so if Barack's "Celebrity status" reduces the deficit, generates revenue by increasing travel and tourism to the U.S. and improves how much we earn in triple digits, I certainly want him as President over McCain, no doubt about it.

    July 31, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. tbone

    Truth hurts, ha Obama? And don't act like your camp hasn't done its share of game playing. We, the people, won't forget Reverend Wright, Rezko and the fact that you lied about your family history. We won't forget that you handed the press your prayer that was supposed to go into the Wailing Wall, either. You're a phony and it seems that only intelligent people see that. The rest are mesmerized by your celebrity and your smoke & mirrors. My only hope is that there are more smart people in this country than there are impressionable ones or we're all in big trouble.

    July 31, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. former Republican

    The last time I remember reading headlines about Britney & Paris was because they were flashing without their panties.

    Is this where this election is headed?

    July 31, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Ben - Portland, Or

    I think the McCain camp is showing its desperation pretty early. It's also a good bet that it's going to get more and more ugly. I thought this election would showcase two respectable candidates raising the bar and actually moving towards a new direction in American politics. I thought we'd get to a place where positive messages about a candidate's position and intent were the focus, and the old threadbare, hollow negative attacks faded into memory.

    McCain is a sorrowful disappointment; a bitter, jaded, desperate man since his 2000 loss to Bush. I was born and raised Methodist. I am a Christian, and I’m sick and tired of the republican’s manipulation and deceit. I’m also disappointed in the Christian “right”. You’re blindly voting on 2 issues; abortion and gay marriage, meanwhile, the republicans are operating the most sleazy, deceitful, foul administration in our entire history.

    All you "values" voters out there- think about these ads; think about the actions of the Bush administration. Think about the lies (Scooter Libby, Karl Rove). Think about the torture camps (Cheney, Rumsfeld). Think about who’s advising McCain (all former Bush advisors).

    Now, think about your Christian upbringing and what is really right. Do real Christians and real moral Americans point fingers and slander others? Or do we operate under the True Direction of respect and love? Come on, evangelicals, hold our candidates to our values, or look more closely at your other options and ask yourself who really operates in accordance with His Ideals. Democrat does not equate to Godless, no more than these vile republicans equate to Christianity.

    July 31, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. deb in az

    the only candidate pandering here is bho.....he plays the race card everytime and his lack of judgement just confirms that he really has nothing to say.......and why is it that he cant seem to attend debates with john mccain.......he is just a puppet of the democratic party..

    July 31, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Bendo

    Obama Campaign: Fight Back, Attack, highight the flip flops since 2000, dont make Kerrys mistake.....go on the offensive, a good defense is a good offense! ATTACK BACK!!!!

    July 31, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. Boise Idaho

    Folks, it's pretty darn simple to me. McCain plays for the team that has been losing for 7.5 years. Time to get a new starter in there.

    July 31, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. JP Bless

    Foget Obama and McCain for now... the media especially the CNN is the biggest instigator of these childish catfights between Obama and McCain. The media pays more attention to "intangibles" of the campaign and fail to focus both canditates and the public on major issues that affect Americans. In any case, the journalists are paid so well, so much that they are insulated from the things average Americans have to grapple with, things (healthcare, low wages, credit crunch etc) . Please (the media) focus on major issues and the candidates will adjust.

    July 31, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. not surprised

    is it really that shocking that the guy who cheated on his disabled wife would air such garbage political nonsense? These are not MY AMERICAN VALUES!

    Obama 08!

    July 31, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. TJ Johnson

    What the devil is there to talk about Obama? Nobody knows anything about that empty suit. Sorry, young rockstar worshippers, but "Change" and "Hope" doesn't cut it; don't be foolish! We can only talk about Obama on what we see day to day because he has done nothing in the past that anyone can use for good.

    July 31, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Beverly, NYC

    McCain is just a grumpy old man who is clearly jealous. He is like an unpopular kid who longs to sit at the jock table. While his attack ads will appeal to obvious racist and those bitter PUMA's of any color ,the rest of us know that mockery is the last stand of a desperate campaign. Isn't it a little early for this John. Is this what you want your legacy to be?

    July 31, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. Danny

    SEE WHO IS TALKING? This is not the John Kerry election. This is Obama's

    July 31, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. Will from NYC

    Lets make it clear:
    One attack ad: two blondes known for showing there privates and Obama... the subtext is rascist...period end of discussion

    another attack ad: has the word "Foreign" as part of 3 word phrase next to picture of Obama. the subtext is zenphobic ..period end of discussio.

    GOP is back to playing Karl Rove negative campaigning with racially, ethnically, religous subtexts...


    July 31, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |

    Texan for Progression How does that old saying go, twice a child once an adult..... Oh YEA!!! Good 1

    July 31, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. joe smith

    there IS a judge in America who's not affrain of the big bad wolf.. judge Bates should get a raise for defending the Constitution, and the American people by opening the door for White House liars and showing them a supoena means business, no matter who you are, or who you know, or who you are trying to protect..

    July 31, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  21. Biffington, Biff





    July 31, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. eddie

    Senile older folk have the tendency to revert to childlike characteristics. Next, McCain will be inserting his thumbs into his ears, wiggling his fingers vigorously, sticking out his tongue, while chanting; Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!

    July 31, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Biffington, Biff

    attack attack… then attack!

    Straight talk in action: a Republican strategist tells BusinessWeek that John McCain was planning an attack ad against Barack Obama whether or not the Democrat visited wounded troops in Germany:

    What the McCain campaign doesn't want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was…wait for it…using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that's political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents–a lie.
    Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that McCain's ad accusing Obama of not caring about the troops was not supported by facts.

    July 31, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Joe Unger

    The Obama supporters sure are into name calling.

    July 31, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Will from NYC

    Psss, what are McCain's take on the real issues... McCain is both empty suited and empty headed.....

    July 31, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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