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. interesting

    I think Obama is talking about himself.

    August 2, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. phony baloney Obama

    Stop labeling others while also decrying labels.

    August 2, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Renee

    Mccain camp is unfair to Obama because you should give credit to whom credit is due Obama has done very well has inspiried a lot of young people as well as, new voters into the Political process and more than a million new voters has come out to vote and for Mccain to mock that by is negative ad is just wrong. Iam disappointed in John Mccain to allow this kind of behavior. My young kids are inspired by Obama and that is a good thing.

    August 2, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Marc PDX

    Funny – Barack is saying the issue is closed (re: his playing the race card yesterday). He played an R-Bomb yesterday but it blew up in his own face. Now he doesn't want to talk about it any more. He and his campaigned R-Bombed Hillary and her supporters but it looks like that ploy has about run its course. Senator, we've seen enough of the race card. You'll only hurt yourself if keep trying to use it now. It's not true that everyone who politically opposes you is a racist. STOP IT!

    August 2, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  5. phony baloney Obama

    YOU are the racist...

    always using your race to your advantage: If criticized you cry racism, otherwise you benefit from the mixed race aspect, or to win votes you say that you do not LOOK like any other president on the dollar Bill.

    NEITHER did Hillary... neither do millions of Americans...
    IF not RACE... what WAS your race-baiting point?

    August 2, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  6. Peter

    so true

    August 2, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Monti, MI

    The "dollar bill" comment showed again that the McCain campain is done. Whatever topic they try to discuss, the reality is, McCain has no program and would continue everything like it has been for the last eight years. And most people will need to admit, that the last eight years haven't been very good for America.

    August 2, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. nate

    Of course McCain is not a racist. He has an adopted Indian daughter for Godssakes. Hes just saying and doing whatever it takes to win. This is all a game. Unfortunately most of you voters are not bright enough to figure that out.

    August 2, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  9. Chuck

    He can't even offer a true apology for calling someone racist and being wrong? He has to be so back-handed? That's even more offensive.

    August 2, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Funky stuff

    Racist or cynical? That's the least of our worries. What about war hungry?

    August 2, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. wilfred

    B.O. the ultimate racist , No.
    But he must have went to the Bill Clinton school for politics.
    He will play the polls and try to BS into getting elected.
    Per Ludacris paint the white house black.
    NO B.O. will make it striped like a Zebra. Can the democrats ever
    get somebody that is worth a crap to run for president.

    August 2, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. Lori

    Face, it slick–you WERE making a racially incendiary remark. Now you just get to deny it, and hurl it back at McCain as if you are the innocent one.

    And "REAL ISSUES"? This guy has his nerve.

    Obama blathers on about CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE, and, oh, yeah–CHANGE. Then he has the nerve to accuse others of not sticking to the issues?

    You have GOT to be kidding me.

    Listen, and I mean really listen, to the content of BO's blathering. Yes, he sounds slick, but as they say, there's no THERE there.

    August 2, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Omama to the rescue

    John McBush
    He was saying the same thing as now when they elected Andrew Jackson and
    reminds me of something I saw on the Antique road Show .
    Johns first job was waiting tables at the Last Supper and his
    Social Secrrity # is 42.
    His first Depends were actually cloth and when he started using cologne they called it the "New Spice" .
    If he orders a 3 minute egg they ask for the money up front.

    August 2, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Larry Buchas

    Barack is being too kind.

    He's talking about the same person voting against the Martin Luther King Holiday.

    But if you want to put it in degrees, then McCain is about a 3.5 out of 10. Some of the employees on Fox News rate between 8-10. But Limbaugh rates a 9.8 That other nut, Savage rates about 16.9

    August 2, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. Phantom of the Oprah

    Obama first stirs up the pot of racial tensions... then spins his way out of taking responsibility for the lies he spews and the web of hatred he spun.

    Meanwhile his flock acts out on the inflammed emotions Obama created. They insult and demean – in his name- anyone who dares to prefer the more qualified candidates over the self-proclaimed Messiah. They thug and threaten just to subvert any exercise of freedom to vote or freedom to speak.

    Obama then rides in like the Messiah to raise his almighty hand and clarify and refine and soothe the ignorant white folk.

    I am starting to enjoy this game.

    August 2, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. helena

    This is what I don't understand. "Crooks and Liars" produced a McCain Campaign web site view today that carried a video of photographs portraying Obama's face on the Statue of liberty, statue of Lincoln, sculptered wall of previous presidents AND ON A DOLLAR BILL. So, why hasn't any of the major cable news shows said anything about this? And they are now accusing him of being racist????

    August 2, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  17. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Lets move on...enough about the race card. No one is going to win this argument about who played it. Ideally, lets move on from all the negative attack ads. Lets focus on the issues.

    August 2, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  18. anonymous

    what a cheap shot–we all know exactly what Obama meant.
    He is not white so hey let's all vote for him! Don't worry about the
    issues–he's not white.
    I don't care if he's purple with orange stripes.

    August 2, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  19. Peter in Victoria BC

    Obama has stated that he could compromise to be able to get things done. Dems and Repubs have been going against each other and each other's ideas because they were different, and in the end NOTHING gets done because there has been no compromise. Barack Obama is opening himself and his possible administration up to compromise to ensure that "things get done".


    August 2, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  20. CAW in MD

    Is McCain a racist? No, as far as I know... 🙂

    Is McCain a cynic? Yup. Apparently he can't beat Obama on the issues - if he could, then he wouldn't need to resort to all the garbage he's been putting out (and for all you PUMAs out there - not bad for an empty suit, eh?)

    August 2, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  21. mountain man

    OMG I can't stand how many often Obama changes his positions! First he calls McCain a racists then he backtracks, now he's backtracking on offshore drilling. Why should we believe anything that comes out of Obama's mouth he's just going to take it back in a day or two?

    August 2, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Uou Your Turn!!!

    McCain is a DIRTY Old Man ...... he is no longer the Maverick ......he has decided to take the back road to low down dirty Politc ... it's all about Attack and WIn.... only thing is if you miss an opportunity to turn Right It will be to late,race will be over .....OH Well I'm still Rich !!!

    August 2, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. NOBAMA

    Stop playing the race card Barack Obama.

    You're in the big leagues now – act like it.

    August 2, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    No, it's Obama who is the racist. 20 years of Rev. Wright's brainwashing.

    August 2, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  25. EBC

    Thank YOU Sen. Obama.

    Sen. McCain has just proven to the world just how desperate he's become in this presidential race. I mean, WHAT has John McCain been doing the last couple of weeks? He's done NOTHING but complained about Sen. Obama over and over again. He's come out with Ads after Ads that are juvenile beyond belief and STILL does nothing but talk about Sen. Obama. Is THAT all he's got? Is that ALL Sen. McCain has to talk about?

    Jesus, John McCain and his Bush surrogates have become nothing but a JOKE. To think the Americans are really that STUPID to think that an Ad featuring Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears is REALLY what we want to hear and see from an OLD MAN!!! If he truly believes that using a "religious" format to attack Sen. Obama is going to HELP make his case, he's truly more stupid than I thought. The man is clueless. Let him continue to attack Sen. Obama, if that's ALL he's got. But I don't want him crying the blues when Sen. Obama turns around wipes him up with the floor!!! Sen. McCain better be careful what he asks for, he's about to find out just WHO has the better strategy and campaign staff.

    August 2, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
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