August 1st, 2008
03:59 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: McCain team looking to politically 'exploit' race comment

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama said Friday the McCain team was looking to “exploit” his original comment."] (CNN) - Barack Obama fired back at John McCain’s campaign Friday over accusations that the presumptive Democratic nominee had played the race card, angrily denying the charge and calling the claim part of a “typical pattern from the McCain campaign.”

At a Wednesday campaign appearance in Missouri, Obama said that “nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky.”

He has made similar comments throughout the campaign season.

In interviews Friday afternoon, Obama did not elaborate on what scare tactics from McCain he had been referring to in his original remarks earlier this week, and said his opponent’s team had “amplified” his Wednesday statement in a way he found “troublesome.”

The Illinois senator said he had delivered the remark the McCain team has pointed to in front of a small-town Missouri audience he described as “98 percent” white, rural and conservative. “And what I said was what I think everybody knows, which is that I don't look like I came out of central casting when it comes to presidential candidates,” he said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times and Bay 9 News.

“There was nobody there who thought at all that I was trying to inject race in this,” added Obama. “What this has become I think is a typical pattern from the McCain campaign, whether it's Paris Hilton or Britney or this phony allegation that I wouldn't visit troops. They seem to be focused on a negative campaign. What I think our campaign wants to do is focus on the issues that matter to American families."

Asked in an NPR interview Friday for specific instances in which McCain or the Republican Party had used scare tactics, Obama said that "in no ways do I think that the McCain campaign has targeted race issues."

But he added that "I will say that the way that they’ve amplified this, you know, has been troublesome. And the eagerness with which they’ve done it indicates they think they can exploit this politically. But, in fact, what I have said, and there’s no doubt about this, they’ve said it themselves, is that they want to make me appear risky to the American people.”

He also accused the McCain campaign of “just a sustained caricature of me and character attacks against me.”

On Thursday, McCain told CNN’s John King that his team’s criticism of Obama was a legitimate one, and that the Illinois senator had improperly injected race into the campaign.

Watch McCain: Obama's playing the race card

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (130 Responses)
  1. therealist

    Obama's looking to exploit his race..

    August 1, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  2. Mauri

    Aw, come on! This race thing is getting to be about the silliest thing I've ever experienced. We know what Obama's race is, we know all about where he came from. We also know that we've had and still have prominent people in the United States government and we don't hear all this race rattling. Colin Powell, Condy Rice, Congressmn Rangel and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee - and on and on. We've "lived" happily with these people for years - and I have yet to hear from any of them one reference to their race. So knock it off, Obama. If you don't bring it up, nobody else will. There must be more important subjects for you to obsess about. How about talking about this economy, price of gas and groceries, education and just everything in general. It's sad out here, and we turn on the TV and what do we get - more whining about someone offending Obama about his race. Get over it, get a life - or drop out!

    August 1, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  3. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Look under the bus. Who did Obama pitch under the bus now? O? I see he threw the Oil Drilling prohibition under the bus. I feel sorry for his minister and his grannie. I also pity Hillary.

    Obama is risky and inexperienced. First he says he will then he won't . He doesn't look like the presidents on US Money.

    He changes his mind and position on many things. One thing he won't change is his position on taxing us. He will tax and spend our hard earned money. He will create a new society of Welfare Queens. He will also take our guns away.

    And I'm afraid he will offer reparations. Yes this candidate could be dangerous to our way of life as we know it.

    August 1, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  4. Dick in Sioux Falls

    What disturbs me more than anything in this campaign is the Clinton supporters who describe Obama's treatment of Hillary as "belittling." The only remark he ever made that could be construed as such is his comment about Hillary making like Annie Oakley in her bald-faced attempt to appeal to Rifle Lobby supporters. Other than that, Barack Obama went out of his way to treat Hillary like you would expect a gentleman to treat a lady.

    Hillary ridiculed Obama in dozens of ways, like "Just have positive thoughts, the heavens will open, and the wonderful light will come down."

    Hillary killed her own chances by thinking the contest would be over (as she made public before the date) by Super Tuesday, and her campaign had no plans for what was to come after.

    Too many of her supporters refuse to acknowledge the superior job this political neophyte did in out-organizing, out-planning for the caucuses and primaries in states her campaign neglected for unknown reasons.

    Many of them seem unable to get over the fact that their candidate got out-campaigned. He didn't win just because of sexism – surely they saw the racism siezed on by conservative and liberal press alike in keeping the Jeremiah Wright non-issue alive for weeks.

    Now too many of them seem to threaten to stay home, which would in effect accomplish the following:

    1. Keep the Tax Cut for America's wealthiest alive forever, thus extending our huge deficits for at least 4 more years..
    2. Agree to have the Supreme Court even further packed with conservative Justices, bringing the end of Roe v Wade,
    3. Say goodbye to any concept of Universal Health Care.\
    4. Invite the Military Industrial Complex to extend our Adventure Wars
    into Iran and possibly other nation's of interest to Big Oil.
    5. Lose our great opportunity to install a Congress which would be Filibuster Proof, so the Congress which has been stalled in neutral because of the Republican Minority blocking tactics, backed up by Bush's vetoes; could finally reclaim our precious America.
    6. Strike a blow for Middle and Lower Income America, which have both been sacrificed on the Altar of making the Rich Richer.

    I could go on, but you get the idea!

    August 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  5. Tina

    WAKE UP AMERICA! These are the same people who accused John Kerry of "looking too French" during the 2004 election. The smear campaign against Kerry is what got us 4 more years of Bush back in 2004. This is the same playbook. John Mccain himself has never said anything racial or overtly derrogtory against him but fox news, rush limbaugh and the rest of the republican attack machine has done this relentlessly and this is Mccain's greatest advantage. Do you think Mccain would be this close in the polls if it weren't for the "obama is muslim" e-mail campaigns etc...? what do you think Mccain supporters are REALLY saying when they go out of thier way to say Barrack HUSSEIN Obama?? nobody ever goes out of thier way to say John SIDNEY Mccain (Sidney is his middle name). using his middle name in that way is a subtle way the republicans inject race... to make him appear to be more of an outsider. This kind of gutter politics is how the republicans convince people to vote against thier own best interest election after election.... Will you fall for it again this time??

    August 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
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