August 2nd, 2008
03:30 PM ET
13 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. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    Definition of Cynical 1: given to distrusting evidences of virtue and distinterested motives. inclined to moral skepticism, pessimistic

    Cynicism: The state or quality being cynical, contempt for the virtues or generous sentiments of others.

    Obama is being kind to the mccain and the mccain camp. This really shows the strength of this man.

    But mccain and his camp will take it as a sign of weakness and this will ultimately destroy mccain's camp and the republican party.

    August 2, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. aware

    The obfuscating Obama is at it again!

    But, we all know he has played the race card from the beginning of the primaries and even before. Who does he think he is kidding? 🙁

    This guy plays victim just like he was taught to but we are on to this loser!

    Senator John McCain 08, the only wise choice and Senator Hillary Clinton 2012, the best ever! 🙂

    August 2, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  3. bud in NC

    McCain. Racist or not- we can not really know. But we do know he is out of touch with the average American. I get upset every time he says "My friends". If I were his friend, he would have me over for a back yard cook-out. He only has his rich powerful "friends" over to plot how they can getr richer..

    August 2, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  4. Bill From Fl

    There he goes..Flip Flopping Again

    August 2, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. Voter

    Of course McCain's campaign is not racist. There is only ONE racist running for President.

    It' s not cynical, either. It's realistic. And Obama can't think of anything to say about that, so he labels it "cynical."

    Just because somebody's got your number, Barack, doesn't mean he's cynical.

    You are the cynic, Barack, thinking Americans are so dumb they'll buy empty promises and self serving criticisms and racists subtlety.

    "I don't look like the other presidents on the dollar bills." Please.

    August 2, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |

    Ah, the war of words continues...

    The Obama for America campaign is calling the McCain camp "cynical" now?

    That's rich.

    All the while, Obama speaks out of both sides of his mouth, attacking first Clinton and now McCain while playing the victim.

    With no record for us to know what Obama really stands for, he promises one thing on Monday and the exact opposite by Thursday.

    But he wants to call the McCain camp "cynical" and expects us to buy it?

    Give me a break.

    Knoxville NFIL

    August 2, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. David Goldman for OBAMA






    August 2, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. REG in AZ

    John McCains campaign is aggressively seeking distracting issues of little meaning and with a lot of emotion because he needs to avoid the issues. Like with off-shore drilling and tax cuts for the wealthy McCain demonstrates that he is just a continuation of the last eight years with Bush-Cheney and people know what that is – focused on benefit for Special Interests and a select few with only apathy, the costs and subterfuge to cover it over for the average American. For anyone, like myself, who is insulted by the constant barrage of deceptive rhetoric, angry over the neglected responsibilities to the people and alienated by the constant concentration on placating big money and the wealthy, they know they have no choice but to vote for the change we desperately need. Is there a guarantee with Barack Obama? No, but he is the only chance for change as McCain just strongly promises more of the same.

    August 2, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA



    August 2, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Dixon, Des Moines Iowa

    I was hoping this would be said. McCain has spent his time misleading statements about his record to claim experience. For all these years he has had a job we all dream about, serving the people. We pay our representatives way to much for the number of hours they put in. In the end I believe McCains experience doesn't help him understand what the average American has to do to make it.

    August 2, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Timothy

    Obama is right The Mccain camp is very cynical good at mockery not focusing on the big issues. Focusing too much on Obama. Mccain camp need to talk about what Mccain is going to do for the American people not talk about Obama. Mccain what are you going to do for the American People? what is your plan to move this country forward?

    August 2, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. JB

    So, Obama said something to the effect of:

    They are going to try and scare you, and tell you I don't look like they have (they being past Presidents).

    Ok, how do you not look like "they" do. You are tall. We have had tall Presidents. You have "big ears" (that is a quote from Obama). Lincoln had big ears, so that can't be it. What are we left with? The color of your skin. Since often times race determines skin color. . . . Yes, Senator Obama you were playing the race card.

    Your response should, "yes, in a round about way, I unintentionally played the race card. I am sorry, and I will avoid doing so in the future".

    That will end it.

    August 2, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |




    August 2, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  14. judy, Wisconsin

    Perfect response and my exact thoughts. The Repubs are terrible at running the government, trying to cut all regulations out, letting companies control everything. They are masters at "Roving" the Dems with slimy ads. The last 8 yrs with a C- student at the helm have been a disaster. Do your homework people!!!

    August 2, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  15. Ron democrat turned independent

    does sen. obama not listed to what McCain is saying in his town hall meetings? sure he mentions that sen. obama is against some of his proposals for this country, that's the object of the political campaign to highlight the differences between yourself and your adversary, but while he is saying that he outlines what he wants to do and how he will do it in a credible way that we can understand and that makes sense. sen. obama like he did in the primary is forever crying foul, everybody's picking on me, woe is me. it's starting to wear thin as the polls indicate. i don't know if he is just tired or what but lately he often seems disoriented and you often see him lose his train of thought. he starts he and hawing then goes back to where he started instead of finishing his statement. maybe he should take a few days off.

    August 2, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. Chipster

    Frankly, the McCain campaign seems to be so envious of Sen. Obama that the wheels are coming off the Straight Talk Express.

    This latest commercial, mixing snide comments with religious overtones, is repulsive. If there is anyone who doesn't find it offensive, I don't know who that would be. Sen. McCain supports the Bush policies and that's all I need to know to make my decision. Sen. Obama is worth the risk because the U.S. cannot afford 4 more years of corporate thieves, incompetent agencies, undermining national security, and shredding what's left of our Constitution.

    August 2, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. proudtobedemocrat

    Mcshame 30 years in washington you have nothing to show for it. So old man it is better if you give up and go home. You are too orogrant, too ugly, too old, too cynical, to negative, a lier and too not smart to be a president.

    August 2, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  18. Marc PDX

    Obama and his campaign should come under some scrutiny regarding racism themselves. They are the main thowers of R-bombs in this election cycle. They attacked Hillary and her supporters over and over again as being racist. And Hillary's campaign, never having experienced such accusations before (after all they had done for black America) were at a loss about how to respond... so they didn't. They didn't know what to do. But by now McCain and his supporters have seen this trick from the Obama camp, knew it was coming and are prepared to take it on. McCain's camp, despite what Obama said this week, have not been racially charging this campaign. They have been charging Obama with flip flopping and being inexperienced. BUT Obama's campaign has no good response to those charges so they tried to play the race card. Obama himself said "Bush and McCain will try to scare you... I don't look like those guys on the dollars bills". Well, that's race baiting and it came from Barack Obama himself. And that was a nearly identicle statement he made against Hillary in the primary. It seems that playing the race card and race baiting his opponent is a contrived part of the Obama campaign playbook. And THAT is RACIST!

    Senator Obama, if you throw R-Bombs some of them might just blow up in your own face. Just ask the New Yorker magazine!

    August 2, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Bendo

    Get these ideas into ad and say these things at every stop, Obama's camp is not in panic mode, however, you cant be playing defense, go on the offensive, Roves deciples are running his campaing now, let others do the ads on his flip flops, Keating 5, focus on telling the American people how you will govern, how you will reach across the isle to get things done. Government is the art of compromise to waht is best for the country, not just to make a political point. If you do these things, the American people will take a chance on you, if you dont, you will come up short and another 4 yrs of Republican rule and tilt the Supreme Court further right.....that will be very sad.

    August 2, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. jt

    Obama is the cynical one.

    Obama is the one that said the republican will try to scare people by saying I do not look like others on the dollar bill.

    Obama, that is cynical.

    August 2, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Your problem Mr obama is definitly not cynical, it's clinical!

    August 2, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  22. LeMonton

    Thanks McCain for "Celeb" and "The One". That's just what I needed to sleep better at night knowing you are taking care of things.

    I also appreciate your great idea of a $30 summer tax break that would have helped me a lot and for the offshore drilling thing that has great potential producing some oil in... maybe...10 years. In the meantime there is no short term solutions, no investment in renewable sources of energy and the planet keeps dying.

    Thanks again McCain, your hard work and your 19th, 20th century ideas and solutions. It is really inspiring.

    August 2, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. Griff

    Your problem Mr Obama is definitly not Cynical. It's Clinical...

    August 2, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  24. Tejano

    If we have serious issues why are you not addressing those issues with specifics. Why won't you debate McCain without a teleprompter.

    McCain has a slim Record? At least he has a record and one that he can be proud of. Servcie and Sacrifice for his Country says it all to me
    What have you done. except run for office.

    August 2, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  25. Matt, Manchester, CT

    Ah yes, Mr. Junior Senator, your party is fantastic at governing Congress, as we can see.

    August 2, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
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