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. Obama supporter

    CNN and the rest of the media have allowed McCain to make this election a referendum about Obama and are letting him "define" him in a smearer, inaccurate and childish way.

    They rerun ads for free which they don't analyze or fact check . They ignore gaffes and constsnt confusion on the part of McCain.

    Sadly on CNN's best poliitical team on tv they even admitted to it. What a joke this election and the American media has come.

    August 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |

    Obama's whining already? As Carville said repeatedly on CNN during the primaries, Obama and his team have no clue what they're in for.

    Besides, the Republicans won't have to swiftboat this Paris Hilton of Politics. All they – and we true Democrats who know just how badly we, our interests and our principles have been served by the failed party leadership – have to do is regularly remind the American people of the facts about this unprincipled, inexperienced and totally unqualified selectee.

    The weasel should quit playing victim and fight his political battles as though he had some record of accomplishments on which to run his campaign.

    Oh, right... he doesn't have one. Too bad.

    Knoxville NFIL

    August 1, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Texas Trail Dog!

    To TEXAS TRAIL DOG WON'T HUNT – You also got to be one of them that want to play the race card and be so knave. Boy, I sure will hunt and I got me a nocturnal animal up a tree right now. To whom will listen I will tell them all about this animal that intends to do this country wrong. Do you want to listen awhile, while I bay for the master to come to see the animal that I got who is ANTI-CHRISTIAN, AND A CROOK, TERRORIST SUPPORTER, LIAR, DECEIVER BY SAYING HE WAS NOT FOR THE IRAQ WAR WHEN HE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A YEA OR NAY VOTE. ThIs animal does not have a working plan for the economy or how to withdraw from Iraq. Withdrawing would be the biggest folly America ever made it it's history anyway. We need to set up permanent bases there. McCAIN IS SO RIGHT THERE. WE WILL NEED TO STAY FOR EVER LONG IT TAKES TO CONTROL THESE MUSLIMS. I'M NOT KNOCKING ALL MUSLIMS NOW JUST THE ONES WHO HATE AMERICANS LIKE THE WAY YOU AFRICAN AMERICANS HATE WHITES. HATRED IN AMERICA IS RAMPANT JUST NO ONE WANTS TO ADMIT IT. Which brings to mind another question TO OBAMA. He says he doesn't belong to Muslims but yet he chose a religion that is similar in one way. HIS CHURCH LIKE THE MUSLIMS' RELIGION DO NOT BELIEVE THAT ANYONE ELSE BUT THEIR RELIGION WILL GET YOU TO HEAVEN. ASK HIM IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE ME.

    August 1, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. James

    Obama is right. He made a joke to a virtually all white crowd about the tactics that some on the right are indeed promoting. If anything, McCain and his campaign should be as demanding and verbal in their efforts to silence those who express those views on the right and those who continue to enforce the thought that he is a Muslim, etc.

    But McCain won't do that because letting those beliefs benefit him despite his claim to want an above board campaign. He is a fraud. He allowed Bush and Rove to accuse him of having an illegitamate black love child and circulate rumors about his wife's drug use. But now in his quest for the presidency he would lay down with those who disparaged his wife and family.

    That's family values, dignity, and good character for you.

    McCain's a fraud and only those who want to believe him and not fact check the things he says will believe him.

    August 1, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. Johnathan Cohen

    Finally, from the race card, John McCain is now invoking the religious card into the campaign. In his newest web video, McCain ridicules Sen. Obama as the the coming Messiah, who will save the world. In so doing , McCain offends people of faith in America and around the World. McCain who is a self-described superstitious coin-carrier once more has chosen to offend people of the Jewish and Christian faith. How low can McCain go again? He McCain senile?

    August 1, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |



    August 1, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Janel, St. Paul, MN

    Senator Obama, do us a favor and turn the other cheek.

    Any sensible American knows that McCain's attacks are desperate, juvenile and without any substance.

    Just keep on what you are doing . . .and continue to give us hope for our future.

    August 1, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  8. Shannon

    Does Obama think everyone is stupid, he played the race card to smear HIllary Clinton, and now he is whining when someone calls him on it.
    How dare he say that he is being picked on because he is black. He is running for President of the United States, how many people attain that, and he has the gall to whine about race. I guess when he was smearing the Clintons with his fake racism attacks it was ok, but now that someone calls him on it, more whining. This man is such a phony. The messiah commercial is perfect, that's how he sees himself, rock star in waiting, without the talent of course.

    August 1, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. Wilson

    How did the race card get the name "race card" when there is only one race that ever uses the race card?

    August 1, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  10. Cynthia - Arkansas

    I am absolutely sick of the Republican smear machine. They and the media pick every word apart to try and find SOMETHING, ANYTHING they can use against Obama. John McShame couldn't lead this country if his life depended on it. He is a sad excuse for a candidate. If the people in the country who call themselves Republicans can be proud of their candidate, I feel sorry for them. Obama has run an excellent campaign. He's smart and has a very good sense of humor. The McSame campaign is nothing but dirty politics 101. If the American people are dumb enough to fall for this stuff again. GOD SAVE US ALL!

    August 1, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. erik e

    why is no one in this campaign bringing up john mcains sense of entitlement to the presidency. it seems that because he was a pow, and a long term senator( which was most likely given to him on the strenth of his imprisonment) and the fact that he has ran and lost before it is somehow now his turn. the fact is this man has no defintive position on policies, his campain feeds him talking points and runs him on stage while they all cross their fingers and hope he does not say something silly. it is a sad statement that the country can not see this fraud for what it really is. if he does get to the white house it wont be long before he invades another country, his life long dream. he flip flops so much he doesnt even remember his position on most issues, thats not the president we need.lets get this entitlement issue out in the open and hopefully open some eyes out there.

    August 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA





    August 1, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. rl

    It's in the wind... The pictures that were promised to surface with McCain and the affair he had is about to surface. McCain should say his prayers because he is about to eat his words! Watch out McCain – it's your time!!

    August 1, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Val from MA

    Here we go again with Obama's double-talk and frankly I am sick and tired of it. Does he really think that American people are that stupid? It is very obvious that he was playing a race card, so why deny it?

    And now when pressed by the interviewer on 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." So my question is: WHAT IS HIS PROBLEM?

    Obama is going down.

    August 1, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  15. Timothy

    I just can'nt believe that the American people is going to fall for the Republicans traps. I know that the American people have better sense than to trust anything coming from the Republican's camp. The Republicans's slime machine is at work. Look at the mess this Economy is in because of Bush in office If the American people want another Bush term Vote Mccain and be sorry like some of us or now sorry because Bush was voted in office. Want change for the American people and to change the way things are done in washington and for the American people voices to be heard and something done Vote Obama.

    August 1, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. Democracy itself over loyalty to democratic party

    Good for them. As a life long Democrat I will do whatever is necessary to oppose the installed nominee of the party- EVEN vote Republican for one election.

    Maybe that is what it takes to prevent the next Obama from using dirty tactics and swiftboating another democrat- and for the DNC to not play along and allow sexism and sabotage out of fear of the racist label.

    I am getting sick and tired of all the sleazy Obama tactics. and his self-impressed full of himself attitude. What has he achieved to be so cocky, boastful and superior? Nothing. He just campaigns well and delivers words well.

    Just to advance self he was willing to divide the party and inflame racial hatred. He was willing to trash Bill Clinton's presidency and he disrespected, mocked and demeaned HRC in ugly ways. Obama and his cult of haters then labeled fellow democrats racists for daring to vote for another candidate, and he has pulled the race card as needed to shield himself from any criticism and as a sword to gut all opponents.

    I despise the tactics Obama used to gut HRC and I hope the buck stops here.

    I will vote against Obama just to protect our democratic system where every vote and every voter counts. No more strong-arming, threats and forcing a candidate on the party faithful. No more counting on lifelongs to pull the lever for the nominee of the party- regardless of how he got there.

    I will vote democratic again when The DNC apologize for their corrupt primary and apologize for allowing their best candidate to get trashed and bashed and disrespected. Apologiizes for installing the Obama to appease young and AA voters- even though he is making a premature grab for power without any track record or qualifications for the office.

    August 1, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. BlackMan4Mac

    As a black man, I see the race-card always being used from O-bambi. I will never use the race-card for my own gain. If you don't want to work with me because I am black, no problem, that is just the way you are and it is on you, but I will never try to pull out a race-card, that is so low.

    August 1, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. Pure and Simple

    Obama played the race card. Pure and Simple.

    August 1, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. California Voter

    Excuse's the Obama team that is playing the race card! They did it with the Clintons - of all people– and now they are doing it with McCain. It was Obama that brought up the issue when he said that he didn't look like the other people on the dollar bills. Tell me what is that supposed to mean? Who and if you are against me that means you are racist. Give me a break.

    August 1, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. joyce

    Forget the race issue. Doesn't make any difference what his color is as long as he has the interest of the people and the country at heart. He may not have the experience which may be a good thing, He can't make any more mistakes than past presidents both republican and democrat. I doubt that he will make the same ones they have.

    August 1, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  21. aaa

    thats right mccains camp is nasty

    August 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  22. Nancy

    i have just watch the McStupid ad...
    With all that How dare u touch the book of Moses...
    Ask Jews and Christians...
    You dont touch The bible lk that...
    U idiot!

    August 1, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. Phantom of the Oprah

    Hillary could not speak out against Obama- she had to take it, but could not give it.

    McCain can now do what so many Hillary Clinton supporters hoped the Media and the DNC would do- show Obama for the conceited, cocky, boastful, pandering, lying hypocrit that he is.

    Fear of the racist label has kept people silent till now. But the displeasure of democrats at watching Hillary be trashed, is now working in McCain's favor. The media can not afford to further glorify, adore, adulate, praise and advance Obama- their bias may already have cost Obama the GE. They have to tone down their awe... it only solidified the HRC supporters behind HER- not behind Obama.

    You can NOT force people to vote your way by insulting and debasing them and calling them filthy, vulgar names.

    Have you all learned that yet?

    August 1, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Bill

    Gee, I hope Obama doesn't start to cry.

    August 1, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. James

    This is turning into the dumbest election ever. The press has an obligation to make this about the issues instead of some mudslinging soap opera/ beauty contest. The fourth estate is dead.

    August 1, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
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