August 2nd, 2008
03:30 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama: McCain camp cynical, not racist

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Sen. Barack Obama speaks in Florida on Saturday."]
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama denied Saturday that he is playing the race card against Sen. John McCain following several speeches in Missouri last week in which he said McCain is portraying him as scary and risky because he doesn’t “look like all the presidents on the dollar bills.”

“In no way do I think that John McCain’s campaign was being racist, I think they’re cynical” Obama told CNN during a Saturday morning press conference. “I think they want to distract people from talking about the real issues.”

“Their team is good at creating distractions and engaging in negative attacks and planting doubts about people,” Obama said, noting McCain’s recent comparison of his celebrity to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and the repeated accusation that the Illinois senator skipped a visit with wounded troops because he couldn’t take the press.

Obama was asked how he could deny playing the race card when at a Jacksonville fundraiser in late June he told donors that during the campaign Republicans would say, “He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?"

“I don’t come out of Central Casting when it comes to presidential races,” Obama explained. “I’m young, I’m new to the national scene, my name is Barack Obama, I am African-American, I was born in Hawaii, I spent time in Indonesia. I do not have the typical biography of a presidential candidate.”

“What that means is that I’m sort of unfamiliar and people are still trying to get a fix on who I am,” Obama continued. “So what I think has been an approach [by] the McCain campaign is to say ‘he’s risky.’”

The McCain camp responded to Obama’s comments with an e-mail to reporters saying they’re moving on from the issue, adding, “The only ‘cynical’ candidate in this election is Barack Obama, who has opposed every element of John McCain’s comprehensive energy plan that includes additional oil drilling, affordable nuclear energy and gas tax relief for hardworking families.”

As for whether he thinks the McCain campaign’s attempts to label him as presumptuous or arrogant will stick, Obama rejected the idea that the perception exists, again accusing his opponents of feeding the storyline to the media.

"If I was presumptuous or taking this for granted, I wouldn't be working this hard this week. I'm beat," Obama laughed.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. SaveTheDramaFoObamasMama

    Obama is a racist fool.

    August 2, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  2. Wendy

    Obama stated it perfectly.

    August 2, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Phil, FL

    All McCain ever does is attack attack attack. But with Rove's protege as his advisor, what else is to be expected?

    I hope the same people that were lured to vote republican the last two times will wise up this time.

    I'm old enough to remember when people in this country had hope and were willing to work for a better future. Now most people are just afraid and have given up hope for even having a future. It's a shame.

    Shame on the people that voted for the worst president in our history – TWICE.

    August 2, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Celeb Challange

    There are many reasons to be popular–

    You may think Paris is stupid but she is successful CEO.

    Britney well she need more like Bush.

    August 2, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. Doris,Memphis,TN

    That's right Barack stay above the low road express. Fight on the issues and don't attack his character. McCain is displaying his
    character everyday. Americans with integrity don't like what they

    August 2, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    McBush and his advisors try over and over and over again to bring up the race question. When has anyone heard Obama mention it?

    Typical smear and innuendo GOP campaign tactics since they have no issues to stand on other than Bush's hideous 8-year legacy of illegal wars, faux terrorism, fear mongering, and the destruction of the US economy (except for oil coorporations).

    Race is the only "issue" McBush has..... pathetic

    August 2, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  7. Dale

    John McCain is the meanest politician alive–that's not a compliment. The man is mean spirited-do we really want to follow pure evil (Cheney–Bush is just stupid) with plain meaness? I'm voting for Obama.

    August 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  8. Foreign Observer

    I think that's exactly right - they aren't racist, but they are banking on other people's racism. In other words, it's enough for them to shout "race! race!" to meet their goal of motivating the racist vote (as racists are notoriously stupid, they have a notoriously short attention span, hence prepare for more of the same).

    August 2, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Kevin

    Obama should make up his mind. If John McCain is part of a Bush admistration which includes Condi Rice and previously Colin Powell he should stop implying that McCain's campaign is racist. If he is saying that McCain has nothing to do with the Bush years he should drop the McBush crap.

    August 2, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Raymond Duke

    I love Obama . Plays that race card about being a poor old treated black person and then trys to pull back after he has all the blacks stirred up and all the liberals feeling white guilt. He hopes other whites will feel the pain of the white guilt. Cnn you are doing your best to help in that by playing that stupid "BLACK IN AMERICA" over and over and over.If the democrats with Bill Clinton had not stopped it we would had that oil by now and might not be paying 4.00 a gallon. I don't care how much profits the oil companies make as long as we get gas under 2.00 a gallon. They are a business after all. If the democrats get their way following Obama's plan to take part of the oil companys profits what will happen is like the tobbacco companys . They will just set up over seas and put thousands of people out of work with good paying jobs.

    August 2, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  11. MikeH

    A very well written article, not something Alexander Mooney would write.

    Good job CNN. Let the chips fall where they may. Obama states a concise set of plans and goals, the modifications are realistic in that things change, people compromise.

    It's real life people start thinking and stop with the knee-jerk reactions. What do we want our coutry to be?

    August 2, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  12. Franky

    You know, I'm not gonna lie but I believe the GOP has a better chance winning this race talking crap than actually doing crap. If I'm not mistaken, I remember I heard Jeff said a while ago on CNN that he believed the Reps have a chance winning in Nov. like that. And to be honest, I agree with him. Is just like how Hillary couldv'e won. For crying out loud, the GOP has a better chance winning this race talking crap than actually doing crap...and is sad, but is the truth.

    August 2, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  13. ohhh lawd

    John Mccain's father would be ashamed of him...John McCain has sunken so far below the realms of the man he once may have been just years ago...for those of you who insist on falling hook line and stinker for Mccain, you know who you are...those of you who post comments here based on the talking heads talking points you hear of FOX, let me ask you this, if Obama had an army of LOBBYIST including Wayne Burgeson-BP, Frank Donatelli-EXXON, Rabecca Anderson-Sunco, Charlie Black-Occidental Petro., Nancy Pfotenhauer-Koch Ind., and Randy Scheunemann-Amco (all working on McCain's campaign) to name a few. if Obama's top economc advisor was Phil Gramm, the man who said that we are a Nation of whiners and wrote the ENNRON loophole (deregulating speculators- so they delegate your gas prices) if Obama's possition changed on off shore drilling only after he took MILLIONS from Oil Companies, if Obama wanted to stay in an illegal was for 100 years, if it was Obama throwing inflammatory sacrilegious adds against Mccain, what would you think of him? everybody knows my friends who is really running the Mccain campaign...and as his spokes person has said..."McCain does not speak for the McCain campaign". if Obama made the Mccain gaffes,told the Mccian lies and threw the McCain smears he would have been lynched

    August 2, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. William, from Cali!

    I agree with Sen. Obama 100%, about these Republicans on this one. Their campaign is going "nowhere fast", but in a Karl Rove style basket; and it really has no "substance", to it................that I can see! And I voted for G.W.!

    August 2, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. Sherry, Atlanta


    August 2, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  16. Dems are stuck in the fix they rigged

    Race baiter with more labels for OTHER people than any candidate ever to steal the nomination.

    Obama does not like labels- but boy he loves to unfairly attach them to others.

    Bill a racist... Hill a racist... lifelong democrats ignorant, racist, moronic inbreds?

    So lovely this hype of hope and this uniter and this man of many changes.

    August 2, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  17. Deborah Vallance

    Hi. I just found this and am still wondering why this was not televised live on CNN as it was on MSNBC. Seems biased against Obama to me.

    August 2, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    He is not only cynical he is disillusioned.In my recent comment I counselled that this senile be propped by a standby team of cardiologists and psychiatrists in case he loses in Nov.

    August 2, 2008 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  19. Cynthia

    The McCain camp doesn't seem to have anything but negativity to come out of it of late. They need to get back to the issues and let the American people know what they plan to do. It is a huge turnoff to most people when you go negative and the negative does not make sense. Sure your numbers might rise in the short term but what about long term. There are a lot of smart people out there who check the facts before they believe them. I guess Senator McCain just wants the voters who don't take the time to check things out. When your future is at stake I would advise everyone to check the facts and make an informed decision.

    August 2, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  20. bakersfield

    is this low road?

    August 2, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |

    Mccain and the republicans are so desperate all they have is
    dirty, swiftboating tactics.
    They have created so many diasters for our country they have
    totry to draw attention away from their blunders.
    This is such an important election. The future of our
    country is at stake.
    How anyone can truthfully believe that our country is in
    better shape after these 7 1/2 is beyond me.
    Mccain, supporting Bush's policies 95% will lead our
    country further towards the path of destruction.

    August 2, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. J.C.

    A debate between the two major nominees is badly needed. There are too much noises from their surrogates that distract us from the real issues.

    McCain came out and supported Obama for being patriotic during the primary. That is the end of the subject.

    Saying of himself not looking good on our dollar bills is saying he is black so he won't get elected because of his skin color. That is an obvious race card. But Obama is cool about clearing McCain's name as a racist.

    They are both cool.
    Can we move on to real issues that matter?
    A debate any time soon?

    August 2, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  23. Tammy - KCMO

    On this I totally agree with Obama.
    The Republicans continue to attack Obama's character instead of discussing the issues and what McCain's platform is about. My guess – their plan is exactly the same as Bush's plan, to continue on a downward spiral and they don't want the general public to compare what they don't have to offer to us against the Democratic policies of Obama.

    August 2, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Clinton/McCain

    I watched Obama's press conference and he reinfornced exactly why I will not support this man. He blamed McCain for all of the distractions. Hmm. Going on a world tour simply for the glamour of the media coverage rather than giving specifics on his policies and then calling Republicans and McCain racist ARE distractions. I couldn't believe he denied using the race card.

    August 2, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. Republican trash

    Someone finally willing to talk about the issues, and help provide answers! Thank you Mr. Obama for staying above the fray!

    August 2, 2008 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
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