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. Greg

    People directly or indirectly making the Clintons out to be racists. The Clintons get called n-lovers because they respect Black people. Obama would have blasted Wright and Ludicris if he had integrity. If Obama acts like human rather than a politician then he will get my vote. The media, comics, and Obama himself have created the caricature of, "The One,' and I don't see how the ad poking fun of the circus can be called very negagative in comparison to what you normally see in politics.

    August 1, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  2. Messiah complex

    No need to exploit it.

    Millions of democrats have seen it being played to gut Hillary and it did not matter to Obama that it would destroy the party and possibly cost democrats a victory in NOV.

    His one and only concern was to fast track himself to the white house. He was so arrogant as to think he could win back the voters that he and his campaign trashed and insulted.

    That takes some nerve.

    We are not coming back- cocky, smug, arrogant, mocking, jeering- that just doesn't convince us of your superiority.

    Go trot the world to adulation- just like Hitler- but don't expect lefe long democrats to fall for the demogogue and vote for you out of obligation.

    We can't stand McCain- but Obama is worse still.

    August 1, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  3. PL

    This is one of the few objective and fair reporting with context so readers can judge on content rather than agenda.
    You reported on what was actually said.
    Was the explanation logical?

    August 1, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  4. Aunt

    So McCain Wants To Get His Funny ON!

    The Three Stooges;

    Features Sen. "MoeCain", Larry and Curly Watch Then play politics.

    August 1, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  5. laurence

    mccomb over is a bald-faced liar and cnn knows oh so well that this a proven. so why don't you grow a pair cnn and tell it like it is. mccain has cracked up. age and the pronspect of losing has done him in. it only goes from bad to worse and in the mean time we're made to look the laughing stock of the entire world. thank God obama garnered real respect and admiration on the world scene recently. now if only this nation would recognize that we have a once in generation candidate in obama. mccain is on the verge of losing it and it won't be pretty when it happens. my bet is that it will be somewhere around the time just after the conventions. probably during an actual live debate in front of the whole country and a good portion of the world at large.

    August 1, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  6. tim, mississippi

    CNN, people don't read your dribble.

    sensor us with your "professional standard," and

    you'll see 95% of bloggers never coming back, even to insult your pathetic so-called journalism, LOL!

    August 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  7. Edith Arkansas

    McCain winky blinky eyes continues to make false accussations against Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. He accused Obama of only offering to people to put gas in their tires to save gas as thou that is the only plan Obama has on energy. We all know that this is another attempt on McCain's part to throw out false negatives factually distorting Obama's intentions to bring him down Iam counting on the voters to see through it all and object to McCain's negativity by joining me indonating to Obama's campaign every time McCain put out a fals negative against Obama. Even if its only a dollar Its shamful. OBAMA Jan. 20,2009.

    August 1, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  8. death blow

    I do not like McCain.

    Obama is even worse.

    My conscience is clear- I voted for the very best choice- HRC.

    Even under attack- I voted on issues, experience, character, platform.

    No race games, no hate games, no gender games.

    The Obama supporters played all the dirty, hateful, nasty games and I hope their man loses.

    August 1, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. selected not elected

    Obama's army of haters doing his dirty work at his bidding- while Obama pretended to not see it and to rise above it- you will get the lesson of your life in NOV.

    You will be responsible for the democrats losing in this unlosable election year.

    Good work. Next time think before following your fuhrer's commands. Think of the consequences when you use sexism to degrade the female, and use charges of racism to advance the male. Think before you use hatred to gain votes. That was a sick strategy from the start and you all will have to swallow the bitter pill.

    NEVER Obama.

    August 1, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. Ridgeway

    Well, a white guy with the same experience wouldn't get the same press. This Country infatuated with black right now. Dress, music, language, etc. Just the way it is.
    I can't remember the last medical or scientific break through to come out of Somalia. Just pirates and warlords.

    August 1, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. linda iowa

    This is just another example of how Obama twists race to his on advantage. He did the same thing to the Clinton's to alienate AA's against them his camp diliberately misconstrued what was said and put it out there to gain it's own life. I have been a lifelong dem but will not vote for the unifer. He has done more to divide the dem party. His followers are more like cult members hating anyone who does not agree that he is the chosen. I might have considered voting for him is not for the disrespect and mean attitudes toward Hillary and her supporters. I will not vote someone who inspires such hate. I hope the dem party bosses are happy with their choice. I will not vote for McCain so I guess I will stay home or write in Hillary.

    August 1, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. demwit

    Obama was talking about his ears, not his race..

    August 1, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. Mad

    Its true- and all of Obama's crazy supporters will rally saying "he doesn't" or so but its true.
    People, you shouldn't vote for him just because of the color thing- there was even an article about black Republicans voting for him even though they don't believe in his issues...
    Change America for the better
    Vote according to issues!

    August 1, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  14. Chris11

    Well, when you throw a dog a bone, they usually take it!

    August 1, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  15. Obama stole the nomination

    The beautiful half-black man has an ugly deceitful soul. He talked unity and gutted the party by stirring up racial tensions.

    He trashed his opponent and was mocking and jeering- while proclaiming himself an agent of the future and a proponent of change.

    He played dirty while preaching nice. He sold hope while he exploited hype.

    We all know Obama is dirt that Hillary should have scraped off her shoes. She was too nice to trash him. I hope McCain is not so nice. Most Americans are sick and tired of the arrogant elitist pretending to be a gift to the world.

    August 1, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. bulldog

    McCain is a scam artist. We definitely don't need another negative, grumpy, war loving, scam artist in the White House.

    August 1, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  17. Racist Fools for Obama

    And Millions of Americans tired of the dirty race-baiting Obama wish McCain success.

    Hillary did not see it coming and was trashed out of the race.

    McCain knew to expect it- and Obama was predictable and pulled the race card alleging fear tactics and racism without any reason to do so.

    Hope it backfires on Obama. It got rid of Hillary- but now all her supporters are in McCains corner.

    Way to go Obama, DNC, black congressional caucus and haters for Obama. REAP what you all have sown.

    August 1, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. Sigh.

    If that's not playing the race card I don't know what is. I'm voting for him anyway, and he's obviously the better choice but let's get real here.

    August 1, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  19. dee

    Obama will win big

    he is right on all issues

    McCain will be a nightmare for women rights

    obama 08

    August 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  20. irene


    August 1, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  21. sue calgary

    As an observer from Canada, I have been watching the way the spurious attacks from Mccain are unfolding with disbelief and shock! This is a man who would like to be the next President of the United States...He appairs frail and confused at the best of times. And whatever happened to the issues? Why does he feel he needs to spit out these ads to try to manipulate the thinking of the American people. Most will see this for what it is, SHAMEFUL PROPAGANDA! but there are others who will hide behind it as an excuse not to get behind the oen person who can make a difference because he belongs to the "wrong race". The world is a global village all races and creeds, colours and cultures represented in all countries all over the world. When will America be ready for a President who is not Caucasian? Seize the moment, don't be afraid of change the time is NOW! Put fear mongerers to shame! VOTE FOR A NEW APPROACH AND FRESH IDEAS. Give Obama a chance......................

    August 1, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  22. Liz

    I think Mccain and his camp started the whole race issue. He is running a smear campaign with 2 white women and then a Black man, (Obama), Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, He is trying to discredit Obama and open up a whole new dirty type of thought in his ads. It goes back to his irrational, flying off the handle mentality. Maybe he is the Racist one.... What has he, his Father or Grandfather ever done for Blacks in the military? Did they stand up for the unfair, RACIST treatment of Blacks back then, when they were being and still treated unfair in the Military....Since they were such decorated heroes.......Maybe they should have spoken out for the injustice to Blacks, then....Mr. Mccain is confused, very confused and the American people need to realize he is CONFUSED with OLD IDEAS AND same OLD FAILED POLICIES.

    August 1, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  23. St. Louis-Independent Voter

    The McCain camp is oozing desperation. Such a shame that they have to resort what we all have come to loathe–cut-throat style politics. It will only serve to backfire on McCain, but he's too blinded by jealousy to figure that out.

    August 1, 2008 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  24. THE KID

    Just read on politico that Obama recieved donations from 100,000
    people yesterday , totaling 200,000 for the week. Keep going dirty
    McCain , we love you and there is nothing you can do about it. I
    am the kid and I approve of this message. Peace out

    August 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  25. Jason, Los Angeles

    I'm behind you, Obama. I used to respect John McCain, and while I was never going to vote for him, I had said to many people that if McCain were to win, at least I respect the man.

    No more. I question everything about McCain. I no longer care that he's a war hero because he has exploited his past shamefully, particularly this malarkey about Obama's not visiting the troops in Germany (which the Pentagon told him not to do).

    I no longer care that he's a "maverick," since, in reality, he is a major conformist to the Republican machine.

    I'm just going to put this out there: John McCain is a bad American and a bad person. I hope he loses hard and cries on national TV. He deserves as much.

    August 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
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