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. Puma-SF

    Is this guy serious? Every time he opens his mouth he proves how out of touch he really is.

    During the entire primary season he ran an extremely negative campaign and then tried to blame it on Senator Clinton. Now, he's doing it to McCain and they're fighting back in a way that Hillary couldn't for fear of being villified even more. Well, Barky, the Republicans don't care and believe me, you haven't seen anything yet.

    Super delegates it is up to you to save us from another four years of Republicans. You have to see what is happening here and if you can afford it why don't you give back the money Obama paid you for your vote.

    August 2, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  2. justobserve

    " “I’m young,..., I am African-American, .... I do not have the typical biography of a presidential candidate.”
    Come on, Obama! Why don't you just say it as it is? You said it to neutralize McCain's subtext in his attacks of you. So, what is the "typical biography" if not you are the first non-white?

    August 2, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. Gohi

    McCain's camp is trying to get the beauty from the ugly. Yes they are playing the race card, that's their real intention. But it will not work, because America is no more "John" but "Obama" as well. Keep fighting, we get your back. America wants to move forward with all her children on board.

    August 2, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. Sally from Atlanta

    The republican candidate-campaign-24/7's have a way of turning an interesting competitive race into trash talk, lies, inuendos, and gutter garbage. Then, when the democrat candidates defend themselves - as they must, lest some republican fools use it to justify their illogical vote - "IT'S ALL THE DEMOCRAT'S FAULT!"

    I know, "You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time." Let's hope we have finally reached a point where you can't fool intelligent, homest people any more!

    August 2, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Common Sense

    Cynical?? How about desperate! When Obama made his comment, " I don't look like those Presidents on the dollar bills." He meant, "I don't look old, wrinkled, and with one foot in the grave." How about we start playing the "Age Card" I don't know if I want 71 year old, Cold-War thinking, divorced, remarried (to a sugar-momma), melanoma cancer survior (admirable, but makes you wonder) and whose only possible exercise is a brisk walk to the bathroom before the bladder pops in his Depends. Do You??

    August 2, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. get real

    no doubt about it. McRacist is getting McNasty. where's the respectful campaign?

    August 2, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. Dan , TX

    Why does McCain raise taxes compared to Obama for people making less than $230,000 a year. Almost ALL of McCain's tax cuts are for people who make more than $600,000 a year. Obama cuts taxes more than McCain. THAT IS A FACT, look it up!

    AND Obama's tax plan, including health care, gives a smaller budget deficit than McCain's plan.

    Obama cuts your taxes more than McCain. Obama CUTS taxes more than McCain. Don't buy the republican BS. They are lying to you. They think you are stupid. They are counting on people voting to have more taxes on themselves so they can give their money to pay for tax cuts for people making more than $600,000 a year.

    McCain will tax rich people with incomes over $1 million LESS THAN BUSH!

    August 2, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |

    So McShame tried to show he has a sense of humor with his ads? That's all it was??? REALLY?????

    We'll see won't we?
    What goes around comes around McShame.

    Lets see if YOU laugh when you are compared to Father Time OR are using a walker....OR when Heston calls for your company from the great beyond.

    August 2, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. Audrey

    It is my opinion that the McCain campgain is both smart and pathetic. They have no substance on how to win an ethical campaign otherwise why do they need to throw out these devisive and liablious comments again Barack. Barack however, is right McCain is not being racist but rather demeaning. They do not respect Barack"s education and experience. Hence the hidden images and what they actually represents in the Ads. The McCain campgain knows they have a strong chance of losing. Barack stated the facts, he is not from "Central Casting" – the usual candidate. He is doing what the McCain campaign are jealous of, a successfully run campaign that is motivating the people. Barack is working so hard, but he is not stupid, he knows he has to work harder than John to get people to see him (a Black Man) as a potential President of the U.S.A.

    Obama needs to get his own stinging Ad out there against McCain. There is so much he can say againist McCain – while still pointing out his own stance on the issues.

    August 2, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. Xavier

    John McCain is the same guy who voted against a holyday for Martin Luthor King. If that isnt racist, I dont know what is.

    August 2, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  11. Audrey

    Didn't Obama say something similar in Berlin? I remember hearing him say something along the lines of "I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city."

    August 2, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. Sally

    Why is CNN and the press so worked up about all of this – have they forgotten that we have real issues in this country? I think the press is somehow reacting to the McCain campaign's reproach of giving Obama too much attention when he did his trip last week and to overcompensate, we are now hearing all about Obama being presumptuous, "uppity", and, oh yes, he is playing the race card – but it is ok for McCain to play the age card on himself ! Please, just get back to the issues and quit giving so much time to this kind of stuff.

    August 2, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. Mike in Houston

    True. The Obama camp has been always the one to play the race card. That's how they beat Hillary.

    August 2, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  14. Belle

    Did John McCain's ad not compare Senator Obama to two not very bright white female celebs? If that's not racist, then what is?

    August 2, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. curtis in WI

    I don't agree about the McCain campaign not showing it's racism. It's much subtler than we are used to from Republicans and I thought they'd let the 527's and/or party make the racist remarks so they could pretend to not support them, but still - , what a gracious, generous man Mr Obama is!!. And man enough to be gracious and generous to those who don't always deserve it.

    August 2, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Tyre

    I don't believe he mention McCain in his remarks. He said, "they." Whatever, this should not have dominated the press coverage with over 50,000 people losing their jobs. Let's get real.

    August 2, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. dennis from chicago

    barrack o bama plays THE REVERSE RACE CARD just like what he did to clinton.....if you won't talk about it then i will.... state the obvious then go from there..... HEY I'm BLACK SO WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THAT/// barack o bama wants race to be an he stirs the pot and tries to make it an issue.......all he does is SIDE -TRACK THE REAL ISSUES THAT CONCERNS AM,ERICA because in reality HE'S TO OOO THIN/

    August 2, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  18. Independant Thinker

    Obama has been playing the RACE card for some time now.

    Obama played the RACE card 3 or 4 times against Hillary.

    Obama played the RACE card while he was in Germany.

    Obama played the RACE card against McCain at lest 2 or 3 times since defeating Hillary.

    Obama is going to CONTINUE to play the RACE card.

    But nobody had better play it against him or the MEDIA will rise up in arms to protect THEIR chosen one!

    August 2, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  19. Alison, FL

    I think you are being too nice because if someone says you are pulling the race card, they know why they are saying it. They are trying to energize the racists against you, does that mean they are not racist? I don't know, why else would they do that? McPhony fains authenticity, pretending to be outraged! Where was his outrage when you mentioned this a month ago? He is a phony! He doesn't realize that the racists are already against you so there is really nothing he can do to make it worse. All he did was motivate people to donate! Can't wait to see O's July numbers!!!

    August 2, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  20. Morris Graham

    All senator Obama has to do is continue to campaign on the issues, McSame will campaign him self out of the run for the white house one silly, expensive, negative add at a time.

    August 2, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  21. John McLaughlin

    Very difficult to navigate you comments areas. Why?

    August 2, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  22. Oh Yea!!

    McCain is which ever way the wind blows!!

    August 2, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  23. Jon

    7/29 was the 41 anniversary of the tragedy aboard the USS Forrestal. a day where 134 crewmen where killed and another 161 wounded. some reports indicate that John Mccain wet started his Sky Hawk, which led to a series of explosions. the brave men of the USS Forrestal fought for some 20 hrs to contain the blaze. John Mccain was immediately transferred to another ship the USS Oriskany (the only Forrestal crewman to be immediately transferred). A few month later John McCain would get shot down and captured by the Vietcong, he had by his own admission while being a POW gave up Military information to the enemy, garnishing McCain with the nickname…SONGBIRD. in 1973 returning home McCain would soon start having an affair with Cindy Lou, his now second wife. his then current wife Carol, who was a model at one point and the mother of his first children was in a car accident which left her dis figured. Mccain left her to marry Cindy 1 month after the divorce was final…thin ink had not dried. using Cindy's vast fortune McCain got into politics. he had risen from scandals including Keating 5 to reports of an affair with a lobbyist. Now John Mccain wants us to vote for him….i think NOT. i could not in good conscience vote for a man who graduated 894 out of 899, has 59 lobbyist working on his campaign ,1)Wayne Berman- chevron 2)Frank Donatelli-EXXON 3) Eric Burgeson-BP 4)Rabecca Anderson- Sunco 5) CHARLIE BLACK-OCCIDENTAL PETROLIUM 6)Nancy Pfotenhauer-KOCH (who is looking tattered defending McCain) 7) Randy Scheunemann-BP Amco….to name a few. who will do or say ANYTHING to get a vote, offers NO solution only attacks, has that kind of temper, finds the only answer to a problem is WAR. i know you don't have the guts to post this CNN, but the American people need to know the truth about this man.
    the media is still covering the 2000 Mccain, who has been LONG GONE. start doing your job CNN- so America does not make its biggest gaffe in 8 years

    August 2, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  24. WestCoastMessenger

    It looks like to me that Obama is a) attempting to deflect that damage caused by playing the race card, and b) attempting to set up a coded mechanism to highlight McCain's age, by using the word cynic, as in crusty old cynic. Perhaps McCain is skeptical of Obama's policies, or even cynical about those policies. For example, Obama was opposed to temporary relief in the gas tax, to be paid for by windfall profits, but instead wants to send everyone a fuel check, to be paid for by windfall profits. I'm cynical that Obama has proposed anything that's really different, as I'm sure McCain is. Hillary Clinton is most likely rolling her eyes in disgust over Obama right now.

    August 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  25. John

    The matter is not whether McCain camp is racist, rather if playing race becoming one.

    August 2, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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