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. Ralph

    Whatever short term gains McCain gets from negative attacks will be offset by long term backlashes.

    August 1, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. biffington, biff

    The Republicans goal in life seems to be to demonize, distract, and create hatred. And they are exceedingly good at it. Because they have succeeded in making people literally hate Obama, and they have succeeded in making me hate THEM.

    August 1, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  3. Hans-Erik Iken

    I am so sick of McCain and his campaign. The latest smer ad (The One) is typical of the lack of substance there.

    And THEY have the nerve to call Obama an empty suit, incapable of un derstanding what needs to be done to help the USA voters out of the deep hole they are in?

    McCain and his campaign are sleezeballs who have no original though to share amongst them, no plan and no policies to end the mess the nation is in.

    Anybody still voting for McCain should have a psychological evaluation, they are a danger to themselves and the people around them.

    August 1, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  4. Ralph

    How sad that McCain does not think his attacks are not negative. McCain is sacraficing his image as a maverick and he does not know it.. the negative attacks may fire up the gop base, but it will be at the cost of losing moderate supporters.

    August 1, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  5. Independant Thinker

    Obama is blaming McCain when Obama himself has been playing the RACE card time and time again.

    That's a joke !!!!!!

    Obama played the RACE card at least 3 or 4 times against Hillary, Obama played it again in Germany, Obama played it again in last week.

    Obama is a joke and a liar !!!

    August 1, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. Ann

    Obama has no shame. When somebody says anything... they are exploiting race, or they are racists.

    August 1, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. P, CA

    I love it that people are talking about Obama's following as a "cult". Here's a little hint: YOU HAVE TO HAVE A FOLLOWING TO BE A LEADER/PRESIDENT!

    As for being a "cult," I fail to see it. I'm not drinking kool-aid, I understand the implications, but I just flat out don't see it. If I want to stand behind my candidate and feel like his positions are the right ones to have, it doesn't mean I'm following him off a cliff. I'm using my reasoned judgment. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Oh, one last thing: I'd rather have my thirst for change band me together with like-minded individuals than my thirst for hate, which is EXACTLY what's happening on the other side of the fence.

    PUMAs, NotFallingInLine, McCain's commercials, whoever... you're all haters, plain and simple. At least by supporting Obama, I'm a part of something that means more than a lynch mob. STFU and learn how support an idea instead of demolishing one.

    August 1, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  8. KG

    Obama, intelligent peope are seeing through your little race card game. You throw the race card out there and then whine when you get called on it. It's so transparent, it's laughable. You did it to the Clintons, and now your trying to do it to McCain.

    You're half black, good for you. You don't look like the other Presidents on our money, good for you. But, the difference between you and the Presidents on our money is that they were great men. Men of action. You, my friend, are nothing but empty talk.

    August 1, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  9. Lisa

    The John McCain campaign is using anything and everything they can to try and bring Obama down. It is so pathetic. Race, Religion, what else do they have in store for him. Shame on you JM you said you would not run a dirty campaign and this is even worse than that. You are a war hero acting like a juvenile, maybe it is true when you get really old you revert back to your childhood. I feel sorry for McCain, he is better than this, so why all this ugly stuff!!!!!!?????????

    August 1, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  10. ML

    Obama's campaign was screaming racism from the very beginning.
    These politics are weird, twisted, crazy, not normal. People need normal life.

    August 1, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. RyanT

    CNN you are so quick to deem this a Racist comment in your title. you put exploit in quotations, not race. guess we all know who's side your on.

    Responding to Obamas comments as racist says more about the listeners interpretations than about what Obama says. Guess we all know what CNN thinks.

    August 1, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. I'm Disgusted ... Maybe God will Forgive Him

    This is shows the disrepect that McCain has for those Democrats and Republicans of deep religious faith.

    We've always known that McCain does not truly know the Lord and therefore has been uncomfortable whenever the subject of his faith comes up.

    What we didn't know is that he would be the leader of a flippant group of jesters that think it is in anyway appropriate to parody biblical symbolism for politics. Sorry, John, we don't appreciate your humor and if you TRULY were a devout Christian, you'd have shown some semblance of good judgement.

    August 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. Ron, NYC

    Of course the republicans will exploit race to win the election. Remember what they did to Ford Jr. in TN. The ad with a black man and a white blonde girl. That sure did play into race and got a republican elected. Now they are using two blondes vs. one Obama. Playing to the basest racist instincts that still exist in this country.

    August 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. tt

    Obam talks about McCain, McCain talks about Obama. Each of them should skip the opposition as much as possible, and talk about issues more.

    August 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  15. Kongtooth

    Oh... The Dalai Bama speaks...

    The entire quote from Obama Wednesday is playing the race card... and he's mad because people noticed?

    This (and many other stupid things this man has said) is the reason he's slipping in the polls. He's an empty suit with a teleprompter...

    The democrates should be landsliding this election... and it's so close now it's anybodys game... what a joke... great choice DNC... nobody to blame buy yourselves... If McCain wins this election I'll be laughing through my tears!

    August 1, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  16. KenB, MI

    This country is troubled...This country needs help...this country needs healing and this country needs to believe it can change.

    I know that there are two sides to every story...the story aired out on cnn questioning Obama's faith showed the divisive nature of the American people...prejudice and one simple response, "...Obama just doesn't sound like an anglo-saxon name." I think its safe to add ignorance to the problems we have in this country when it comes to dealing with each other...we can stop trying to fool each other because as soon as most of us open our mouths we know its a slippery slope when your in full racist mode. how can you purchase a car at a fixed interest rate, pay it off, acquire a second loan on a vehicle and that same bank charge 5% more. Socially, Economically and Politically we have problems...We need change and then some...

    August 1, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  17. Leslie

    Don't worry, with an ad like the "Messiah" ad, I know he won't win. What a piece of work McCain has turn into. He would have done better running as someone else's VP. He's too old, too one sided, and too intolerant.

    He won't win.


    August 1, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. Just Curious

    Both Obamas have been playing the race card the whole time going back to the primaries but CNN and the rest of the media have ignored it or condoned it. If you doubt it you can go to youtube and see Michelle say early in the race when blacks were voting around 60% for Obama that she knew it would go much higher, she felt they were entitled to the black vote

    August 1, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  19. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    If this latest nonsense about Brittany, Paris, and the parting of the Red Sea doesn't work, you'll start seeing the real scare tactics again. Watch for elevated terror alerts any day now, followed by the ads that basically say "if you vote for the Democrat, you'll die". I don't think it will be effective this time, but it won't stop them from trying it.

    August 1, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  20. Bayou Joe

    The only ones using the Race issue are the Obama supporters and Obama himself. I have seen many blogs, insinuating that if you are not for Obama you must be a Racist. Many Texans experienced the
    hatred and intimidation when they came to support Hillary at the Caucuses. The media hoopla surrounding Obama and the failure of the mainstream media to challenge Obama on issues during the debates also was handled as if they are afraid of the Afro-American
    Many people that I know have expressed the idea that if Obama does not get the nomination, there will be riots in the streets of our major
    cities. So tell me who is using the Race issue to divide America.

    August 1, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  21. G. Penley

    At least Obama recognizes the problem. He is a scary guy, and the American public has reason to be afraid of him.

    August 1, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  22. The Shepherd

    Sounds like a rough week for Obama. We haven't even had the convention yet.

    August 1, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  23. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    It's all McCain has left to do, TO continually search for, and then take, the lowest road possible. Evidence of this is that blasphemous ad that was released today about "The One". Comments are closed, and yet there are more of them, every time I go back to that ticker item, so I had to blog on that somewhere. If the McCain camp was thinking that the ad released today would take the heat off of him for the whole "race comment" thing (that McCain in fact started, by making a big deal of Obama's comments in Missouri that NO ONE ELSE was talking about the next day) the only result is even LESS respect for the tactics of such a pathetic and appaling low-life.
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08 & '12 YES WE CAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 1, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. nelda

    McCain has become insane. We should call him now, McInsane. Doesn't he have any morals nor does he understand the stupidity of his campaign. He says "I'm proud of the ads". He must be insane!

    August 1, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  25. Ken

    I'm confused, because if this statement is not in reference to Barack's, then what does it mean?

    "You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky.”

    How many ways are there to interpret this?

    The fact is, this is the same "bait and switch" tactic that Obama camp used against Hillary. Neither McCain nor Hillary ever said "You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He's risky.” Bill Clinton said Obama was risky because he was inexperienced. That has nothing to do with the color of his skin. Obama and his campaign have been injecting race into this election. The truth is, Obama does not need to do this. He successfully received about 90% of the black vote in the primary. He'll do at least that in the general. If he's seeking Latino and women votes, he might seriously want to consider Hillary as his running mate...

    August 1, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
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