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. xddy4u

    Obama is doing the right thing. Only three face-off debates. We are about "debated" out.

    August 2, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. xddy4u

    McCain is trying to keep Obama off balanced with his attacks. But this time, it's only showing how solid Obama is, and how shallow McCain is.

    August 2, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Cynthia Perry

    I do not hear John McCain talking about what is troubling America, the economy. He is stricking Obama's character. As a wife, I don't like the fact that he left his wife for a younger woman. That speaks volumn of his own character and his present wife. After all she knew that he was married.

    John McCain is a fake and I hope that the America people will see through his rhetoric. If a person can spend millions of dollars in a day as did McCain's wiffe,(condos for each of her grown children, clothes and jewlery) don.t think that they are willing to give up that life stye to help the least of us., Obama is trying his best to reach the ordinary man and woman as did Robin Hood in his day and time.

    August 2, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. GoHillary

    That's right BO – you are the racist one!

    Are you seriously trying to convince us that your comments had nothing to do with race?

    You have been caught out in another of your lies.

    Shame on you!!

    August 2, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  5. Allan

    God, thanks for Obama. His vision , his judgment just so smart. To finally to find sollution for gas - tire,tune up .Wow,what a man. It is dream to have president like that. Maybe i trade this man for full gas tank to may car.

    August 2, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Sonia benneth

    I think Obama is whom d cap fits,so let him wear it.I think he is gud.I cast my vote for him.

    August 2, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. obama 08

    McCain is too old to be a president

    August 2, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. Shelly Rosen

    I used to respect McCain, but now he has become a typical right wing fear mongerer slinging mud.

    August 2, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. Michael

    Maybe we can award the office of the Presidency soley based on I.Q.
    points. After witnessing the week of mudslinging, name calling and down right foolish campaigning by Senator Mc Cain, I want to just give
    em both a test and see who is smartest.
    At this point is surely looks like Senator Obama has his head in
    the right place to be the best candidate we have seen in a long while.

    Obama 08

    Please just quit Senator McCain, let Ron Paul run in your place

    August 2, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. Obama supporter: Bipartisan Intelligence in Gov't

    And McCain is constantly pulling out the age card (remember his outrage at "he has lost his bearings) and the POW card (when he attacked Wesley Clark's comments that being shot down is not a criteria for president).

    Let's have the media scrutinize McCains claims as closely as they do Obama!!

    August 2, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. Big D

    Did anyone else notice the eagerness with which the McCain camp started yelling about 'the race card'. What Obama said was rather benign, was in a long list of other potential charges, and could be interpreted more than one way. But the McCain camp decided that it was 'playing the race card' and went screaming to the media (who of course gave the stage to McCain and echoed him over and over). But was it really a 'playing of the race card'? Why doesn't anyone give Obama the benefit of the doubt that it wasn't? And why doesn't anyone ask McCain why they're so eager to go with this claim? It seems like they were lying in wait for Obama to say something close enough, and then they pounced in on it and amplified it. Once again – McCain where is your integrity?

    August 2, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. John G

    Is cynical a code word for racist? I'm only asking because Obama "changes his language" so frequently I get confused...

    Perhaps I should just get my gun or pray or something...

    August 2, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. Arlando Cantley

    Well, McCain voted against the Martin Luther King Jr holiday and opposes affirmative action so maybe he is racist after all.

    August 2, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  14. bulldog

    Cynical is being too nice. Dirty slimebag would be much more fitting. No wonder McCain thinks his latest ads are "humorous". Just like he thinks his jokes about killing Iranians and the gorilla raping a woman are humorous. He is a dirty old man with a twisted mind.

    August 2, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Linda in Ruther Glen, Va

    My opinion is Obama has played the race card many times in this campaigne, along with his life long friends.

    August 2, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  16. Phantom of the Oprah

    So much for the simplistic strategy: divide and conquer.

    Eliminate the only qualified candidate- Hillary Clinton- and the rest is easy.

    With the best candidate out of the picture, even the one-eyed man can be king- this year, in this climate, with the Nation is the sorry state that it is in.

    Obama can sleep walk his way to the presidency.
    Yeah right.

    In this all important year- swiftboat your best to install your worst- and then force all democrats to vote for the one they do not trust or believe in.

    Great strategy. Way to go DNC. At least African Americans are happy. That's what counts after all.

    August 2, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. Adriana

    Good one Obama!! McSame is racist,everyone knows that.

    August 2, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. bulldog

    Obama has always said he as well as Congressmen from the other side of the aisle that he is able to work across party lines. Saying offshore drilling would be ok if it is included in an overall comprehensive energy plan to help hard working Americans is "working across party lines". From many comments coming from the McCain supporters and Republicans they are just proving that it doesn't matter what Obama says, they will attack, attack, attack. If he stands hard and firm they attack and if he tries to compromise they attack. That is the exact type of attitude that is wrong with Washington. Rather than try to work together and compromise on some issues they choose just attack each other while nothing gets done. At least Obama's approach can get something done that will help the Americans who are suffering.

    August 2, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Pel

    Senator obama was being nice in his response concerning the racial matter. However, if the republicans go to negative, the gloves will be off. All thing about the life of Senator McCain would be on the table.

    August 2, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Proud American

    A vote for Obama is a vote for common sense.
    Obama '08

    August 2, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Media darling

    Amen to Bayou Joe for this:

    The only ones using the Race issue are the Obama supporters and Obama himself. I have seen many blogs, insinuating that if you are not for Obama you must be a Racist. Many Texans experienced the
    hatred and intimidation when they came to support Hillary at the Caucuses. The media hoopla surrounding Obama and the failure of the mainstream media to challenge Obama on issues during the debates also was handled as if they are afraid of the Afro-American
    Many people that I know have expressed the idea that if Obama does not get the nomination, there will be riots in the streets of our major
    cities. So tell me who is using the Race issue to divide America.

    August 2, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. John

    Lame ad hominem attack. John McCain is right. Obama has had no history of legislative accomplishment. He is stupid and opposes off shore drilling (oops another issue he just flipped on). He doesn't mind high gas prices, just the speed that they have risen.

    August 2, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. Allan

    Tune up ,tire and run to Chicago after 11.04.2008. You obama play race card and if i will vote against you, you will consider me racist. Where is Collin Powel,Rice ? shame on you Obama. Your tricks not good for American people.

    August 2, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. WOW - Cedar Hill, TX

    Obama keep doing what you are doing. McCain is to old to do anything. I am proud of you and nothing or no one can change that.

    Keep your head up and you will come out on top.

    Obama 08/12

    August 2, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. kim abdi > somalia

    Obama, you are the man

    August 2, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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