August 21st, 2008
09:50 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama camp links McCain to Abramoff scandal

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama's campaign is out with a tough new campaign ad featuring Jack Abramoff."](CNN) - Barack Obama's campaign is linking John McCain to the infamous Jack Abramoff scandal that ended several Republicans' political careers three years ago in a new campaign ad hitting Georgia airwaves Wednesday.

The 30-second spot is the Obama campaign’s second negative ad in the past 24 hours. It attacks the Arizona senator for his association with former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, one of the Republicans implicated in the scandal.

The ad also seems to suggest McCain didn't call Reed to testify before a Senate panel he chaired in return for political favors.

“When the Senate investigated, the senator in charge never even called Reed to testify….And that senator? John McCain. And who’s now raising money for McCain’s campaign? Ralph Reed," the ad's narrator says. "For 26 years in Washington, John McCain’s played the same old games. We just can’t afford more of the same.”

The TV spot sparked a sharp rebuke from McCain campaign spokesman Brian Rogers, who called it "ridiculous," and noted Obama's connection to Bill Ayers, the current University of Chicago professor and one-time leader of the militant group "Weather Undeground."

“If Barack Obama wants to have a discussion about truly questionable associations, let’s start with his relationship with the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, at whose home Obama’s political career was reportedly launched," Rogers said. "Mr. Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground, a terrorist group responsible for countless bombings against targets including the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon and numerous police stations, courthouses and banks."

Reed, who lost a bid in 2006 for lieutenant governor of Georgia, had promoted a McCain fundraiser last week in the Atlanta area that netted the presumptive Republican nominee $1.75 million in campaign cash. Though Reed did not attend the event (after intense Democratic criticisms), he circulated "special invitations" to several Republicans in the Atlanta area seeking donations.

That prompted several watchdog groups to call on McCain to cancel the event - although his campaign noted the fundraiser was sponsored by the Republican National Committee, not Reed.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (594 Responses)
  1. John

    Hey Jeff O...if you look closer (checking facts) you'll notice that the mention of the University of Chicago isn't quoted from the McCain camp.

    August 21, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. Terry

    How about more scandal?
    Didn't Mr Morals have an affair when his FIRST wife was battling her own health issues???
    He wants to act "Holier than thou" while he tries to win the Evangelical vote, and there has been no mention about this in the media. But of course the media was all over John Edwards, who isn't even running anymore!
    Let's hear what his story is on that one before the election, Ok??

    August 21, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  3. Eric

    Wow more mud slinging and I was worried we were going to actually talk about the real issues.

    August 21, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. Nobama in VA

    Nobama supporters shouldn't complain when McCain/Repubs come out with their ads about Nobama's connections to Ayers, Wright, WU, infanticde. The more people find out about him the more people reject him. He's a phony and not a good one at that.

    August 21, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The difference between Reed and Ayers is that Reed was a part of the on going scandal. When the scandal was being investigated, who was in charge? If it was McCain, as most people believe, where was his maverick attituted and actions then? Why didn't he nail everyone who was wrong to the wall for wasting taxpayer time and money for illegal and immoral activity?

    With regards to Ayers' illegal activities, it had ended well before Obama could vote from my understanding. What has Ayers done in the past 10 years that has been illegal and/or violent? Has he been a part of any corruption scandal? Should he condem what he did - yes. Has he done it since? Not to the best of CNN and other groups reporting.

    August 21, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. Tim

    Obama was not a professor at the University of Chicago, he was a lecturer. The Obama camp may want to check it's facts before making any statements.

    August 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. Common Sense!

    It is about time that the Obama team struke back at the negative ads run by the McBush group.

    Maybe it is time to question whether McCain is truly a HERO? I'll call him that when and if EVERY POW from Viet Nam is defined as such. So far, it looks like only GOP Senators whose father was an Admiral are so defined?

    August 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. Bob the Builder

    Hey CNN, why is there no article on McCain's plans to re-institute the draft.?

    August 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. uv

    Cheap shot from Obama campaign.

    August 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. Clinton/McCain

    "The question now is, will Barack Obama immediately call on the
    University of Illinois to release all of the records they are
    currently withholding to shed further light on Senator Obama's
    relationship with this unrepentant terrorist?" —McCain spokesman Brian

    August 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  11. Dem Florida

    How about the Keaton 5, McCain never truly answered all the questions

    August 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  12. Anne

    It's about time...

    McCain's forces have had a clear playing field. Let's see how they do when there's another team on the field.

    BTW...anyone else see McCain's response to the woman who said You would have to reinstate the draft to ... McC said "I agree with everything you've said".

    Made me twitch.

    August 21, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  13. Mike from Florida

    I would go nuclear on McCain. Just keep running loops of him saying we should have 100 year war in Iraq, Bomb Bomb Bomb Iran and that he knows nothing about the economy. He will melt like wax under the heat.

    August 21, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. Sherri

    ABOUT DARN TIME! McCain has more dirty laundry then the internet has users! The Obama campaign now realize that they must get down and down with the McCain Rove GOP. thats all they understand. Have we not learned anything for the 2004 Kerry fiasco?. Every misstatement that McCain makes (and there are a ton of this) the Obama campaign, the Dems, the 521's,, ALL of them need to jump on them and get it out there to the American people. His latest comment about reinstating the draft is another example that this guy is too dangerous to be president. Lets see him senior moment his way out of this latest misstatement.

    August 21, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  15. Mike in Columbus

    Good... remove the gloves.

    Its been sad to see McCain, a man I had a lot of respect, for lower himself the way he has. But that's what it takes to be elected as a republican apparently. Honesty certainly doesn't do it. He learned that 4 years ago. Sad and disgusting! All aboard the BS express!

    August 21, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  16. Rudy NYC

    I can hope this election campaign does not go into the gutter as it did in 2004. But, it seems my hopes are going to be futile.

    Camp McCain is "a little testy" about this ad. It seems to have hit a nerve. As for Mr. Ayers, I don't see the point. Sen. Obama sat on a board with an individual literally decades after he allegedly committed crimes. I guess there really is no such thing as redemption and paying a debt to society. No wonder Michelle Obama called America mean.

    August 21, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  17. Andy

    University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago. Ok, guess I can't vote for McCain now if his spokesman makes that unforgiveable mistake!!! Who gives a crap Jeff.

    August 21, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  18. objective perspective

    every time mccain bring up judgement, i ask myself, "where was his judgement when his state did not even acknowledge MLK's birthday as a national holiday?" mccain could have easily reversed such a ruling. why would you not honor something so universely accepted? all over the world Dr. King is regarded as an expectional humanitarian...but not in Arizona?

    that will never make sense to me

    August 21, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  19. JB, Boston

    Rezko, Wright and Ayers. Obama better not start a fight he can't finish.

    August 21, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. PG

    What comes to mind when one mentions Panamanian McCain?


    This fraud is dangerous, very dangerous for America!

    August 21, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Sandra Scandiber

    CNN thank you for beginning to follow up on more of the less flattering aspects of the McCain's personal life. The American public needs to know the facts before we are saddled with more of Bush Type corruption

    August 21, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. tim


    Where's the proof in that? Obama ties with Palestine? You kidding me?

    I swear.... can McPain run a truthful campaign? Can anyone? Im tired of the lies and rumors from him and his cronies. This is why people hate politics and Washington!

    Now Obama has to defend and go a bit negative because of these lies and rumors about him.

    McCain is a weak and terrible leader.... he's even considering the draft! CNN.... report on this! Wasn't it yesterday when he dropped that again... to bring back the draft and to fight more wars. How many more wars do we need, McCain? Lets finish the ones we have now and take a rest. I think we have more pressing needs here at home!

    August 21, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Where there's smoke there's fire.

    August 21, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  24. name rank serial#

    We haven't seen anything yet there is alot to be said about McCain the old songbird. Keep it coming Obama.


    August 21, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  25. Susan, Boston

    Well, I guess that means something else is making a comeback, and Michelle, it won't be hope. More like Rezko, Ayers, Wright, etc....
    It's not like we didn't see this coming – anybody who thought Obama put these issues to bed in March is very naive. It's not a coincidence that Obama started his losing streak in March with the appearance of Wright, and he hasn't been able to recover since. First he couldn't close the deal in the primaries, and now he can't break away from McCain. Superdelegates, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain – go ahead and nominate another arrogant, aloof loser. We democrats are used to it by now.

    August 21, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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