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. shame on the DNC

    He lies so sweetly.

    Just like his smile.

    Killing you softly with his sing-song....

    Who wouldn't vote for him?

    August 2, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Sheople yes, people no so much.

    It is amazing how this election devolved into a show of how democracy can be easily subverted and the least qualified be exalted by the blind followers and forced on a nation. Why? Because the Nation is in a bad way and wanting change and stupidly grasping at the straw man touting a message of hope and change.

    Never mind that his actions belie his own mesage- and are hateful and divisive and dirty and reckless.

    Power is all Obama wants... and the glory of riding this manic wave into the history books.

    Hitler used the same strategy.

    August 2, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  3. Independent in New Mexico

    While I, as a voter, am trying to glean information as to the canidates' stand on various issues that I am concerned about I am being deluged with political ads from the GOP that insult my intelligence by infering that Senator Obama is the cause of all my problems, and demeaning him as a person. If Senator McCain's only reason that I should vote for him is that he is not Senator Obama, then that is a very poor platform to be running for office on.....

    August 2, 2008 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  4. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    cynical...perfect word that describes McCain or should I say >desperate McCain>

    Diane Dagenais Turbide
    Quebec, Canada

    August 2, 2008 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. Generation X

    The Republican Party is nothing more than white old fat cats that are racist. But the world is noticing how America treats it own people. What is funny, the real people are not going to take it anymore. Republican Party, you have been put on notice. The real revolution will not be televised.

    August 2, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. sarah

    nice try bambi but you've already thrown that card and found out it wont play with mccain. welcome to we dont care ville

    August 2, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  7. Robert

    Go away Obama! You have never lead anything, and you would be a terrible prez. I will not vote for you, since you have no credibility. And I think McCain is right, that Obama is subtily trying to play the race card, and trying to look like a victim.

    August 2, 2008 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  8. Mad

    Wow its obvious that the people who think this is bad are first time voters/amazed at Obama's motivational talk

    Republicans have always played the evil play book and the Dems aren't exactly the greatest either...

    August 2, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  9. Peter E

    Make no mistake: Obama WAS playing the race card. Back in June the entire quote he tries to distance himself from now was: “They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. ‘He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?’" Since then he just left off that last, racist part, but he still keeps reminding people of this quote.
    I'm not defending McCain. I do agree he's been playing an entirely negative campaign. But to blidndly decalre that Obama has been in any way better is either plain silly, or the biggest hypocrisy of the election season!

    August 2, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  10. Jennifer - American in Canada

    In the past when Sen Obama said that Sen Mccain was "losing his bearings" that was construed as bringing up the "Age" issue.

    Sen Obama expressed that he was different from past Presidents (which by the way is true) and now he accused of playing the "race card".

    McCain challenged Obama to go abroad and visit Iraq this was so positive that McCain compared Obama to Britney and Paris in that Celeb Ad.

    Obama is responsible for the Gas problems........according to McCain

    The drama Obama "Is the One".

    With all the false accusations, finger pointing and "funny ads" it is important to ask one question......"Does Sen McCain have anything to say which would address the real issues of the American people".

    I am now convinced that Sen Obama "Is the One".

    August 2, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. bk

    Did you notice how Obama didn't answer the question and turned it around to McCain and the media lets him get by with it. Obama has played the race card all along to his advantage . No one else is allowed to say anything or they are labeled a racist. Get off it media just because he is black you can't treat him any different than any other candidate.

    August 2, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. rhoward

    This week was not the first time Senator Obama has made these remarks. Anyone who has really been listening to him knows this. Why are these remarks now being called racist? Could this be actually nothing more than an pathetic attempt to distract people from real issues such as the economy, job losses, energy independence, home foreclosures, etc.?

    Senator Obama's remarks are a sad, cynical and true commentary about people's perceptions of appearance. We all, regardless of our race and ethinicity, have prejudices and biases based on appearances whether or not we are honest enough to admit it to ourselves.

    It is not wrong to reject any candidate if you don't agree with his viewpoint or feel that he lacks character. What is wrong is for you to reject a person based solely on physical looks.

    August 2, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. Auntie Coosa, Blairsville, Georgia, USofA

    Barry O said: "What I'm interested in, ultimately, is going to be governing," he said. "What that means is we're going to have to try to get things done."

    Well, just what are Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid interested in? They're the Democrat Leadership and they have not done one thing that the Voting Public has asked them to do. They have added PORK to every bill that gets out of Committee. And they have, dual-handedly, made this Congress the biggest "do nothing" Congress in a hundred years.

    Why should the USofA want to have a Democrat in the White House when the Democrat majority in Congress can't get anything accomplished? If Barry Obama wants to be a leader, he should sit the Democrats down and talk to them about HIS agenda and tell them to start working on it now. But instead, as soon as it appears that Congress might do something positive for US Citizens, Pelosi and Reid make sure Congress adjourns and the lights get turned off.

    Barry Obama has played the "race card" every time he's opened his mouth. Pelosi and Reid have played the "power card" at every opportunity. US Taxpayers lose every time Obama, Pelosi or Reid prove how "powerful" they are.

    Vote for McCain in 2008. Show Pelosi and Reid that you're tired of their holding Congress hostage to their do-nothing agenda!

    Vote for McCain in 2008. Show Obama that you are aware of his lack of leadership qualities, integrity and honesty.

    August 2, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Huckleberry

    I can't believe Obama is going to lose to McCain. The DNC needs to drop him at the convention and pick Clinton. People are starting to see how risky Obama is. The DNC screwed this one up. Get ready for McCain people. He's going to win.

    August 2, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. norml

    the mccain camp isnt necessarily racist,but,many of their supporters are,and mccain doesn't seem to mind being supported by these 'hooded' jerks.

    August 2, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  16. Enough ALready!!!!!

    Hopefully we will not hear the Race Card all next !!!

    August 2, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Fabian Blache III, Baton Rouge, LA

    "They're very good at negative campaigning, they're not so good at governing."

    Oh that is a gem! Nuff' said!

    August 2, 2008 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Peter E

    I can post all I want showing how short-term people's memory is, and how one-sided CNN's coverage is. It's just not going to get posted. For example, if I pointed out that back in June Obama's original quote WAS racial: “They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. ‘He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?’" CNN would quickly delete it out of embarrasment. That, and I don't fill my posts with enough personal insults about McCain. They hate that.

    August 2, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. Chris from NY

    That's a substantive talk. Yet I just don't know why I have this urge to see Obama hit McCain hard on something. I guess the guy doesn't like ugly. But there are times you need to hit someone where it hurts. I hope Obama finds such spot one day.

    I will never let anyone insult my Mother and get away with it. McCain didn't know that that's what he did when he accused Obama o playing the race card. He mocked Obama's mother by saying that Obama chose a father he never even knew that much over the Mother who suffered to give the best any mother could have hoped for a son. But one thing McCain failed to understand is that Obama never chose his skin color. It was given to him by God.

    August 2, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  20. Jim

    Bill Clinton is no racist and neither is John Mccain. Give me a break the only one racist is Obama remember typical white people. Oh ya and granda was one to so she had to go. He sat in a church listening to hate against white people for years and it all reflected his views as well.

    August 2, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. ChrisD

    Obama's the racist and everyone knows it.

    August 2, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. yns

    In this case, the McCain camp was stating the obvious!

    August 2, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Kathy

    Thank you Barack Obama for pointing this out about McCain, its all true.

    August 2, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. Scott L

    Then debate McCain! What a chicken...

    August 2, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. ED ORL

    I never thought that John Mccain could be a racist but his true colors are showing. I guess if you ditch a sick wife and cheat on another you will do or say anything to get your way .Unfortunately He is a spoiled Navy brat albeit [ an Old man ]whose memory has left him and he has the wrong type of people advising him. He has become a disgrace to the Navy which gave him the opportunity to be someone. I wonder what his Ex -Men think of him now ,In particular afro americans after his latest and worst dispising of a group of people That once made him a success. I hope he should ever get enough votes to become a racist President.

    August 2, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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