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. dee

    McCain ad linking Obama with Apears and Hilton is race baiting. This is an example of McCain's experience. LOL Linking the black man with the white women. All political commercials have hidden point.

    This was just a cheap shot. Obama was right calling it what it was.... race baiting.

    Give me Change

    Obama 08

    August 2, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  2. Neil

    Obama is far too forgiving in saying that he doesn’t believe the McCain campaign to be racist. As a white male who grew up in Deep South Georgia during the 1940s and 1950s it’s clear to me that McCain’s television ad showing two young, blond white women together with Obama is a racist attack. The intent of this type of ad, as I’ve seen it played out over the years, is set the blood of every true white man boiling and to put fear of the black man into every white woman. The people who put this ad together clearly know the “code” and carefully chose these two celebrities to maximize this effect. What’s so disappointing to me, as a former admirer of John McCain, is that he approved this ad and in a later interview tells us he’s proud of it!

    August 2, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  3. dee

    Motives of McCain will give him what he least expects,
    a big Loss

    Dems 08

    Will win big

    August 2, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  4. Michele, Oregon

    He's right about the McCain camp being cynical. Their supposed "humor" in the latest mockery ads tells me that they are cynical of the American people as well – at least those supporting or considering supporting Obama. As an Obama supporter I take offense at their "Celebrity" and "Moses" ads because in effect the McCain camp is telling us that we are all deluded, and we are all blind followers of who we think is akin to the second coming of Christ.

    The bottom line is that without meaning to, the McCain camp acknowledges the appeal and leadership of Obama. Their only resort is to mockery of him and us. I find it very telling.

    Ghandi (I believe) said it right: "First they ignore you, then they mock you, then you win........."

    August 2, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  5. KE

    Why Obama decided to go with name Barack H. Obama instead of Barry if he thinks Barack H. Obama is funny? He must chose that name for a reason. Where is his real birth certificate? He has too many secrets and that’s what we feel risky about him. And all his supporters are risky too because they seem to cover up for him too.

    August 2, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  6. me

    yes they are! Race didn't cross my mind when Obama made his comment – I thought how true, he does not have grey hair and is not didnt' occur to me that he was referring to 'race' – how sad that its the first thing the McCain campaign thought of – Racist republicans!

    August 2, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Anyone who wants to turn Senator Obama's comments about him not looking like the other presidents on the dollar bills into "playing the race card", is as usual, just looking for a reason in their minds to justify why they hate him for no reason, but cannot admit to themselves that they are racists. I'm so sick and tired of the play with the words "race card", which is what White folks use to distract others when they know absolutely well that race had not been interjected into the situation. It's a shame that John McCain tried this ploy to anger the white racist so that they would think that Senator Obama was using race as a way to get them to vote for him!!! I mean, it's ridiculous for such an old fool like McCain to try to play on people's intelligence like that. I'll tell you what "race card" is code for, for White racists – it's code for "we have to band together AGAINST the Blacks or African-American, LEAST THEY BECOME SUPERIOR TO THE WHITE RACE. Anyone with any minimal amount of intelligence knows that Senator Obama wasn't using any "race card". The media that was present at the event wouldn't have let him get away with it, nor would the audience in attendance. Someone there would have CALLED THE MEDIA THAT DAY, not days later as John McCain had his campaign do, and make-up that wild accusation!

    And, I'm WHITE! But, I see through John McCain, and the rest of the republican tactics.

    August 2, 2008 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  8. mel

    Let's keep race out of this general election okay.This
    country is change if the old allow it to. So stand with change
    and go with issues and economy solving. It's time to let go
    of the past,we can't re-live it because most of us are gone.

    August 2, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  9. Connie

    Now I understand why McCain was nick named McNasty in school , he is just a mean old man. OBAMA 08
    Connie from Indiana

    August 2, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Dan, MA

    "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"

    Thank God for that. Offshore drilling and a gas tax-free day would only help line the pockets of McCain's oil buddies. Nuclear energy is less affordable than wind, solar, and hydrogen power - and far less safe to boot. McCain only wants the rich to get richer and the poor to be shipped overseas to die.

    August 2, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I must be confused.

    I thought one if the most important abilities of the President was to be the spokesperson of the government. After all, it is Congress that writes the laws. The court system determines whether the new laws conform to prior legal policy, especially the Constitution. The President is the head of the executive branch that carries out the laws but he does not do it himself.

    So what does the President do on a daily basis? He develops a program by determining the goals and policies of his administration and getting members Congress to vote for laws that will follow his lead He talks the public into electing Congress persons who agree with his / her policies. This is what the Republicans did when they elected an actor, Ronald Reagan, because he was a good speaker.

    On the international front, A President's ability to get the world to listen to him / her is just the same thing on a broader sca;e.

    So the first trait that you need in a President is a good salesperson. Particularly now when America, as a "brand name", has lost a lot of its market share. Obama's ability to get the public in Germany and other countries as well as the leaders of countries to treat him as already the president would get him hired to be the CEO of almost any corporation in the world. America, don't forget that. That is why the President is the LEADER...TO LEAD.

    August 2, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  12. Edu Minnesota

    I seriously dislike these attacks. They should focus on issues. I am a republican trying to find a genuine reason not to vote for Obama; but I have not found one yet.

    August 2, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. Andre' for Obama

    It is really hard for me to believe that the person that has a weekly radio announcement just like the president is calling the other guy presumptuous. It is just are for me to believe.........I think arrogant is someone that believes no one should judge is record. Especially when he puts military record in your face but his votes while in the Senate were ones that did not support the troops he claims to know best. It is amazing Mr. Mcain.

    August 2, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  14. zorba

    The more McCain slings mud, the cleaner Obama looks. Cynical is exactly right. Why would McCain bring those Rovian thugs onto his campaign staff if he weren"t just that?

    August 2, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  15. Vig

    Obama should know – he belonged to a racist church for over 20 years. Obama cynical – no – just flakey – flip-flopping which ever way the wind blows. Dump Obama.

    August 2, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  16. Femi, CO

    Everybody is dodging away from the reality. Tell me race is not a factor in this election if and only if you want to be unsincere. With the current nature of Economy, with the effect of Iraq war and the hatred to the war at home, with everything falling apart; and USA is nearing a third world country. Who will believe the contest will be so close if race factor is not operating? Now I can understand why Hillary Clinton kept on hammering it to the Democrats that she will be a stronger candidate against McCain.Now I know it is not because she is better than Obama, it is because her color is considered less risky than Obama's.

    August 2, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  17. vince

    Obama is officially pathetic. He has done a complete 180 on everything he has claimed to stand for. FISA, NAFTA, Gun Control, Public Financing, Offshore drilling, and more. He is flip flopping on the war. I know McCain is a horrible choice but how can anyone continue to support Obama? Do you believe in the issues or the man? He is an insufferable liar. How can you believe a word this man says? Are you people who support him, not questioning any of this? That is why McCain has run the ad " THE ONE ". Your support defies any logic. It borders on cultism. He has thrown all the issues important to democrats out the window. Yet you people still follow blindly? WOW. JUST WOW. Very scary. This is from a 26 year dem. Never voted for a single Rep. Ever. I also have voted for more AA candidates than most of you have ever seen on your ballots. I live in Chicago. So it's not racism. I guess it's just the ability to spot a chronic liar.

    August 2, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    obama says it's all about him. C'est moi, moi et moi

    Sort of makes one sick of him

    How 'bout him taking our flag off his aircraft and putting "his expectancy" seal of approval on it instead

    What an ego. But the truth is he is risky, inexperienced as the green corn in the field. Looks good but not ready for prime time.

    Immer is ich, ich und ich what a bunch of crap.

    August 2, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  19. Tim

    Everytime McCain releases a statement, it sounds so political. Beating a dead horse, trying to further their own agenda. Why can't they just be real people about stuff sometimes? Why can't they release something that says "Thanks Obama, we arent racists. And also, we don't believe we're cynical." Why does everything have to be an attack? It just sounds more and more like McCain is clawing at every opportunity to try and make Obama look bad. I remember someone else who tried that once, and it didn't work out too well for her.

    August 2, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  20. Waiting for the debate

    I can hardly wait until they begin to debate the "real issues" on a national platform. These candidate have very differant plans for the direction of this country. Rebublicans have have guided this country down the toilet . If the last eight years have been a display of their divine leadership than they have failed horribly. It is time for a change....

    OBAMA 08

    August 2, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. Denise Groves

    obama did not say anything he has not said before. self-depreciating humor. what i want to know is why did the mcgrumpy camp decide to respond this time.?

    they made a mt. out of a mole heel.

    August 2, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. Puzzled

    Does anyone know what this means? As the polls narrow, we can expect Obama to play the victim. The One is panicking.

    August 2, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  23. Danel

    Did you see David Letterman's interview with McCain prior to the invation of Iraq in 2003? At that time anthrax was terrorizing the senate. Mccain claimed that he knew where anthrax came from: Saddam . The drumbeat was raging on at that time to invade. Seemed like it's an inside job to me.

    August 2, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  24. A Bitter mid westerner who loves guns and God

    his is just in from Obama's campaign. I think I mentioned last week that Congress issued an apology for slavery. What a bunch of crap, since none of them or us ever participated in that unseemly enterprise.

    Seems that I said Obama was interested in reparations., And some, god bless them, poo pahed my thinking.

    Well today "His Epectantcy" said this in another of his forgettable speeches.

    "I have said in the past — and I'll repeat again — that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed," the Illinois Democrat said recently.

    Some two dozen members of Congress are co-sponsors of legislation to create a commission that would study reparations — that is, payments and programs to make up for the damage done by

    So you see, if the "obamessiah" gets into office, watch the cash drift toward reparation. Enough is enough.

    August 2, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  25. D. Cheeks (age 86)

    This has gotten to be a high school type label calling let me see what we can pick out to make fun about. What happened to the more intelligent campaign If you really have something worthy to say yourself you do not need to check with a fine comb to see what can be said about what the other person has presented. Keep it to the issues

    August 2, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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