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. JB from Vancouver

    I didn't think McCain would get so desperate so soon.

    July 31, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  2. Rick FL

    So let me get this straight. Is McCain proud of disrespecting the Hiltons' daughter after they each donated the full amount allowed to his campaign? It's a shame that McCain did not hold to his promise in the beginning for a respectful campaign.

    Obama is right–Americans derserve better.

    July 31, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. Do it yourself

    Spears and Hilton have more substance than this empty suit...

    Debate topics... agree to a debate moron... but you won't because you know your a joke without a teleprompter...

    PS: McCain is gaining.... when this should be a landslide...

    Should have went with Hillary... but no... go with the empty suit... Rockstar... fool.

    July 31, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. SS

    McCain don't HATE....CONGRATULATE!

    If Obama is a celebrity, then Thompson and Reagan were the ultimate starlets and hollywood royalt,y because they really are known as celebs...

    Once again the GOP is REACHIN' for headline.

    July 31, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Bob from Kentucky

    "...I'm proud of the campaign we have run ... we're proud of that commercial."

    Is it any surprise that the only people willing to vote for this guy are the same ones that now pretend that they didn't vote for the last failure?

    July 31, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. What?

    You are proud of that commercial? Are you kidding John?

    July 31, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. norml

    keep calling 'em on it BO.we are behind you!

    July 31, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  8. HAL

    I actually use to like McCain too, you know, but with these latest ... not so much anymore! Sad though hes a stand up guy!

    July 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  9. Marc PDX

    Of course Barack is a celebrity. He's good looking, has a great smile, he's in good shape, shoots a mean 3 pointer, is articulate, draws Eurpopean crowds in the hundreds of thousands, drew the largest primary election crowd in American history in Portland, Oregon, and requires a stadium for his DNC acceptance speech – for the first time in history. I'd say he is a HUGE celebrity. He may not have any more than 3 years experience at the national level but he has skyrocketed (or should I say skybaracketed) to the highest echelons of celebrity a political candidate has ever seen – across the globe. I'd say he is celebrity #1 in the world at this point. Who could draw a bigger crowd anywhere on earth than Barack Obama? Good thing none of this has gone to his head! LOL!

    July 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. Demagogue


    It wasn't a problem when the press presented Obama as "a movement " and played up his celebrity charisma and his having rock star appeal...

    But when McCain satires it, then it is going negative?

    July 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  11. Phil Newton Murphy, Oregon

    McCain is "Proud of that ad."

    Good for him.

    The truly pathetic just became the patently loathsome.

    July 31, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Mike

    I love McCain's answer to the mudslingin question at the end of the article. Clearly he is addressing the issues here Obama is popular, and that's a very serious issue.

    July 31, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. Joe Unger

    Actually the McCain ad is spot on. The term "Obamamania" is being tossed around a lot now.
    The Obama frenzy is typical of how our society is now. People hop on the bandwagon for the latest cool gizmo, tv show, politician. Watch some of the Obama rallies where he fistbumps or slaps his shoulders like Jay-Z or shoots baskets for tv. Obama is cunning enough to see how easily people can be swayed and are dazzled by celebrity.
    People need to wake up and scratch the surface of Obama and not give him a free ride because he's "cool" and represents "change."
    He's against gay marriage, he's for everyone being able to own a gun, he's raking in the dough more than any other policitian every has. He wants to send more troops to Afghanistan (quagmire II?) None of that represents change.

    July 31, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. MN Cowtown student for Obama

    THANK you.

    July 31, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. Ex-Republican for Obama

    McCain is a bitter old man. How he is dealing with this campaign is how he will deal with foreign policy and war in Iraq, oil prices, inflation, foreclosures, congress and the american citizens. He won't address it, he won't solve it, he will simply call people names, shun our allies and tell them he's proud of doing it.

    I'm terrofied of this hostile old coot being in the white house. He has no morals, no character, no common sense, no plan, no brain and no charisma. He has absolutely no reason for even RUNNING for President.

    Obama '08

    July 31, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Phantom of the Oprah

    The Media has been playing up Obama's rock star appeal since day one. Comparing him to MLK and JFK, fueling what the press called a "movement".

    They saw it as a positive thing- so inspiring... so many people voting for the first time ever... such crowds at his events...

    The media made Obama bigger than life to advance him... now when McCain says as much, it is being negative.

    July 31, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. BigBear

    Gee, I think the comparison is right on. Paris, Britney and Barack are all beautiful people with no accomplishments to speak of in their entire lives. If you disagree, all you have to do is come up with one thing that the beautiful black man has done for America, or even, one sacrifice that he has made for the people. Talk is cheap, but you will pay dearly for believing that he will accomplish what his talk says he will.

    July 31, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. Not fooled by negative ads

    Nice comeback Obama. That'll really get the geezers blood pressure up.

    It's almost a shame to see what a joke of a candidate mccain has become.

    July 31, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  19. Kathy

    McCain looks more and more like a pathetic old man. Jealous of the younger, more intellegant Obama. If his voice didn't put everyone to sleep and he actually had something positive to say , maybe the public would listen to him.

    July 31, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. BR

    Yeah, let's put more air in our tires to save gas money. Let's ignore the millions of barrels of oil right off our coast. Ingenius!! change we can believe in. Hey libs....get a clue

    July 31, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  21. Pat in Cali

    McCain is just jealous because the only famous people anyone would compare him to are old like Wilford Brimley or decrepit like Dr. Evil.

    July 31, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. Amir

    McCain has "old timers' disease". I don't believe he will be taken seriously by the public once he's had one debate or two with Obama. He needs to sign his will, pack his medicine suitcase and take the Access-A-Ride to the old folks home.

    This guy made dozens of sorties as a fighter pilot, dropping bombs on innocent civilians. He now wants us to elect him for his genocidal activities as a serviceman. Game Over, McCain!

    July 31, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. Brennan - Seattle, WA

    At first I was mad about this commercial, but now I am starting to think it is a huge plus for Obama.

    His comments yesterday when he was getting on his bus were great. He basically said, "Why isn't John McCain talking about his proposals rather than talking about me all the time."

    All John McCain talks about is Barack Obama because he knows that most of his positions are hated by the American people. If this continues......it bodes well for Barack.

    July 31, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. Marc PDX

    Barack said he'd like some serious debate in this article! QUICK, sign him up before he goes off hiding somewhere far away again!


    July 31, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. How?

    How could John McCain be "proud of the campaign" he's run, with an ad like this?

    July 31, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
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