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. Worked against Hill

    Then why DID you make that comment?

    There is NO OTHER way to interpret it... you were saying all your opponents are racist just because they are white.

    August 2, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  2. Shane O'Sheeran

    I have an actual pertinent question about the campaign in reality for you.

    What if instead of a horse race driven agenda the media in general is actually driving, you and all your cohort "Journalists & Reporters adhered to the following, don't you think it would be a positive and healthy thing for the country?

    The world's leading expert on journalistic ethics states: "The first responsibility of every political journalist or reporter in covering a Presidential race is to separate facts from rhetoric and falsehoods, explain them both in complete detail, why it matters, and to inform the public which is the correct information and which is incorrect, so they absolutely know the difference. This is the only way the public can or will receive all the needed information to make a fully informed judgment on the actual merits.

    Adversarial partisan discussion and media opinion are by definition enablers of dis-information. If a factually correct answer exists (In fact the truth vs. lies), then applying these two exercises would absolutely violate the basic ethical tenet of the Profession. When dealing with facts and confirmed information vs. the other, only one side can be, and is therefore, correct. Without exception with facts and confirmed information involved there is no such thing as two sides, or fair, or balanced, only what is correct, meaning right!"

    Why don't you discuss this issue, and help wake up, educate, or shake out of their stupor the public, and cover this vital national interest topic about what is real news and what is not, and how the media should be covering this presidential campaign with objective fact and not infotainment segments along an agenda,

    As a matter of factual reality almost everything coming out of the McCain campaign is rhetoric, innuendo, deception and false statements, trying to paint Obama as something he is not, and almost everything coming from the Obama campaign is factually correct, valid and either substantive, or response to false attacks by the McCain campaign, why is that not reported accurately every day as averse to furthering the McCain storyline of a referendum on Obama, which is a straw man distraction from what the media should be reporting, WHY?

    By the way do you agree or not with the definition of political journalists & reporters ethical responsibilities as precisely stated above?

    August 2, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. Eric ( Minnesota)

    Once again, Obama talking about issues, and making contrasts to his opponent. And what does McCain do, ATTACK and DISTRACT.

    August 2, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. Independent from Minnesota

    It's intelligent from Obama to be flexible in order to prevent gridlock... we are all sick of Bush's and McSame's stubbornness and stupidity... just look where are we now after 8 years

    August 2, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Robert

    John McCain's campaign is doing a great job of doing what it needs to do to win in Novermber. Obama's big advantage in this election is and has been since the beginning of his campaign has been the ability to bring new voters into the mix. Weither it's young voters, or people who have never voted because they didnt think it matttered.

    Obama has the ability inspire and get people excited about voting and the future of the country. What McCain is doing to trying to get those new voters "turned off" to the process. McCain can not win this election with a large first time voter turn out. Much like how Clinton lost to Obama.

    Now if you take those first time voters out of the equation you are left with the exact same electoral map (like Hillary has said all along, which he runs better in) as we did in 2004. Mix that in with a small (but obvious) racial divide and McCain can win that election.

    August 2, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. selected not elected

    Funny... but YOU said it and NOW you try to skate out of it by refining what you meant.

    You ALWAYS bring up your race...first.... then you claim Bill did or Hill did or now- McCain did or actually you warn that McCain WILL.

    So sneaky. So foul.

    Hillary was too much a team player and never attacks a fellow democrat so she let you gut and trash her. She did not fight back. She took it so as to not "damage" the DNC and Media darling. What a mistake. Now we must pick you or McCain.

    McCain has no loyalty to the democratic party.

    Millions of Lifelongs

    August 2, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Monte

    Of course Obama will deny that he didn't bring race into this. He did the same thing to Hillary and the media let him get by with it. Not this time, Senator McCain was ready to fire back and the media had to report it. Obama has played the race card through out the primary and now trying it in the general. True, he said almost the same words during the primary, the media ignored it and Hillary couldn't say anything because she had already been labled a racist by the Obama nuts.

    August 2, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. Sue

    The republicans are EXPERTS at running NEGATIVE campaigns and McCain has shown he is no much for the maverick.
    Obama has it right once again.
    Lets hope the people are smarter this year than they were in 2004.

    August 2, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  9. victorhill

    MoeCain and his other two Stooges, need to take there circus act some where else!
    Sen. Bozo The Clown MoeCain
    Since Obama doesn't want to say it, I will.
    What A Bunch Of Clowns.
    Where Just Getting OurFunny On America!

    August 2, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. kyle


    Apparently Bounds thinks that the voters are stupid enough not to notice that it was the McCain campaign that first accused Obama of bringing up race. The frightening and disappointing thing is, some voters actually won't notice. Some will actually believe McCain's nonsense, that Obama is using race to appeal to voters. Some will vote for McCain's misguided, bush-clone policies, just because Obama is black, and McCain has emphasized it.

    But this is a critical time in the nation. We are all feeling the pressure, if not the pain, of very real money problems...or as the McCain people cynically call it, a "mental recession". Obama was right, and not racist, in pointing out that he is unconventional. He's also right that he has the best plans for solving our problems, and that McCain is nothing but a cynical blowhard.

    I'm predicting that most voters are smart enough to ignore McCain's hot air and vote for Obama's solid plans.

    August 2, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. Rave

    Sir, You dont need to be Gentle or Decent with this guy McPain.. go after him hard. The guy has no connection between his brain and mouth and will say anything.
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    August 2, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Propaganda IS Obama

    Typical Obama ploy...

    Create a controversy... then pretend you had nothing to do with it... meanwhile Mission has been accomplished: race card successfully played to your advantage, once again.

    August 2, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Vasquez

    Once again Obama had to take time away from addressing important issues to address McCain's juilted wife routine of inventing unrealistic drama. I was one who use to admire McCain, and I'm a republican; however, this juilted wife routine he has grown into after Obama's international travel is just exhuasting.

    I am ready to move forward from the old politics, I am pleased to hear that Obama is willing to work with all, including compromising on off shore drilling in order to come to a solution that will hopefully end well for us Americans. At least Obama is proving to be a leader who will work with all to help ensure America's growth.

    What is McCain going to do, keep crying about Obama instead of speaking about his platform to help us Americans?

    August 2, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. randy

    Well to all effort to. Bring obama down will never work. In god we trust.

    August 2, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. SKT

    Conservatices always use claim that their opponents are pulling the "race card" when they (conservatives themselves) deliberately evoke negative racial stereotypes and get caught and called on it. I hope people aren't fooled any longer.

    McCain needs to back off the whole issue of race before someone remembers his abyssmal track record on the subject. Not that long ago, McCain repeatedly used a racist, anti-Asian slur, and then refused to apologize for it. He'd better hope no one drags out that whole debacle and decides to put it on YouTube. Wait, looks like someone already has.

    August 2, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Concerned Canadian

    "None of you thought I was making a racially incendiary remark, or playing the race card," he said. "It wasn't until John McCain's team started pushing it that it ended up being on the front page of The New York Times two days in a row."


    It is the media not doing it's job that is creating these overblown sensationalist episodes in this campaign. Night after night you hear the pundits analyzing political events of the day, giving credence to inflammatory remarks, never outright denouncing or doing their own investigating. They get behind whatever the campaigns say and allow their own prejudices or preferences sway their rational thought. OR, they are being outright despicably mean and vitriolic like Lou Dobbs or Rush Limbaugh. Thee guys just don't even try to hide their hatred for Barack Obama. Lou Dobbs is a disgrace to CNN. He consistently steers his commentary by using inflammatory statements that are blatant baiting techniques.

    August 2, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. Willy

    Obama is trying to cry his way to the W.H. The media will remind you all that "he's black "and we owe it to him unqualified or not. I am tired of this kit gloves approach to this BLACK MAN. The meida has got to quit sucking up to this dude. He's thin and has no clue but he's BLACK and that don't make him qualified for POTUS alone..

    August 2, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Andrew

    Of course, Obama says it's not racist. He has to. But those of us who aren't so closely involved, especially whites like me, aren't forced to beat around the bush. In my opinion, McCain's statements are absolutely racist.

    August 2, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Hitler youth for Obama

    Instill the thought of racism in the minds of the sheep.

    Then once they take up the bleeting call of Racism... you can back away from the fire you started...

    You look like the nice guy who rises above the fray... while in reality you created the chaos, started and fueled the fire, inspired your sheople into a hateful frenzy, divide the democrats and the country.

    Are YOU what we need now?

    A distractor who plays the race card? Someone who race-baits even though it damages the party and the country?

    THAT makes you a self-serving, full of yourself, fast tracking your way to fame and power and glory, out for personal gain, demogogue.

    August 2, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Paul

    Let's face it, McCain is also racist. He voted against the MLK holiday. You think he's really changed? Same old politics from the old man.

    August 2, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. randy

    He looks very presidential i cant wait till the debate.

    August 2, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Bill

    McCain is NO RACIST!!! Remember how his opponents reminded us about his black child in the 2000 primary season, he adopted a child from Bangladesh. Wow! Isn't this kinda reminiscent of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Would this make him a Hollywood elitist? I think so! In the 2000 primary season his opponents actually insinuated his adopted child was from an affair with a prostitute. Republicans will stop at nothing to win, now McCain is stooping as low. How sad.

    August 2, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. sad for party unity

    How wonderful... a man who is not a leader... demanding that we follow him as if he were our leader... right into chaos and anarchy.

    August 2, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. sad for party unity

    Why play the race card then... if you really mean what you now try to convince us of?

    August 2, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Marc

    The McCain camp has been posting very negative ads on Obama instead of talking about the issues. John McCain is very cynical. When Bush did it to McCain, McCain said that we should stick to the issues and not these negative attacks. Even when Bush talked about The Keating 5. Now McCain is doing what he said Bush should not be doing. I guess McCain has nothing else to use but negative ads.

    Obama 08

    August 2, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
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