August 21st, 2008
09:50 AM ET
15 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)


    August 21, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  2. Kirk

    well it look's like it's time to empty hussin obama's secrets out on the public. what a piece of scum. This liberal dirtbag is without a doubt the worse choice this country has for a leader that i have seen in 60 years (even including Jimmy carter). I cannot believe that the liberal media thinks this guy is a god.

    August 21, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  3. Jozee

    John McCain has pulled every dirty page out of Karl Rove's infamous playbook and this once honorable man is about as greasy and underhanded as they come. He is totally unrecognizable to the John McCain of 2000.

    If it takes dirty politics and say and do anything to win an election, then John, you will come out on top. The Maverick has now morphed into a Muckracker, to the detriment of our country he claims to love so much.

    Why don't you say more about the draft that you are in favor of, huh, John?

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08/12

    August 21, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  4. Michael

    What was the guys name, Rezko? Obama was personally invovled in some yet unexplained transaction with the guy, who I thought was experiencing some legal problems.

    Just another one of those questionable relationships that Obama shares with people of questionable character that the main stream media doesn't bother to question.

    August 21, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  5. PeeWee

    McCain and Reed are dirty from stepping in Abramoff's mess. Obama is willing to listen and talk to anybody. Vote for the guy whose middle name don't rhyme with 'kidney.'

    August 21, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  6. Done with Dems

    the fundraiser was sponsored by the Republican National Committee, not Reed.

    Obama's camp grabbing at straws. A ridicualous low blow. Did Reed get convicted??

    Someone please remove this destructive presumptive nominee and send his hateful followers home.

    August 21, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  7. Casey - Frederick,MD

    FINALLY - some "truth" is coming out about McCain's "experience"! How about the real scandal, the Keating-5. It will show voters that McCain is one of those problem politicians and show what is wrong with Congress. WIth all of McCain's "experience" why doesn't he show more accomplishments for his time in Washington? McCain is making all sorts of promises; my question: Why didn't he already enact those changes with all of his "experience"?!?


    All the comments lambasting "lack of experience" is really from those in Washington who want to keep the status quo.

    Journalists: Why are you letting candidates do your background work on other candidates? Why aren't YOU checking into these candidates' past and asking questions?!? Stop rehashing the "Obama is about to make his VP choice" stories, and start some REAL journalism!!

    August 21, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  8. Nando

    The Truth Hurts and there is much more to come VIA CINDY MCCAIN AND THE MOB !

    August 21, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  9. People make no sense

    McWar needs to explain how he was dumb enough to get caught early in his military career, and spent a long war not fighting but being held captive. Wow what a hero. No guns blazing – shoot your way out of anything – defend America. Just tortured spilling your guts against America. Through diplomatic means, and his father power he was allowed to live. It's laughable that people consider him a hero and strong on war. He spent his time in captivity during war. Is that what he plans to teach us? He was flying a plane he was too dumb to know how to fly and got shot down. Maybe if he wasn't a C student he would have been able to learn the technics to manuever out of position and not get shot down. My grandfather flew endless hours fighting in the same war and he came back a *Real American Hero*.

    August 21, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  10. People make no sense

    McWar spent his military years being beaten, tortured and spilling his guts about America. They pampered him compared to the other soldiers because of who his father was. He has no credibility on war. What is he going to teach everybody how to get captured? What a loser he is? Look Semper fi when they beat you turn to the side like this and it hurts less. That's his idea of winning a war. What a loser! And so many dumb people worship this guy. Usually when you are good at something you excel in that area. How is being a prisoner excelling? If that is the case our prisons have a lot of experts. I'd elect one of them before electing McBush II.

    August 21, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  11. Minnesota against John McWar

    McCain National Security Policy: Start wars with Iran, Syria, Korea, China and maybe Russia...and hope for the best.

    McCain Economic Policy: Give tax break to the richest and hope they will invest back in US.

    McCain Energy Policy: Let the 2 oilmen in the white house drill everywhere and hope for camaign contributions from them.

    McCain Health Care Plan: Let the market decide what is best for the patient.

    McCain on Family Values: Cheat on your sick wife and marry the younger, prettier millionaire girl.

    The Real Maverick: John McCain – voting 95% with Bush and 5% with you.

    August 21, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  12. Chad, Wisco

    McCain not calling someone to testify before a council he chairs. I'll admit thats not good. But Obama never even had a meeting of the council he chaired, and thats about Euro relations. Obama just keeps opening doors. The one election that the dems couldnt lose is starting to look like they will.

    August 21, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  13. Ian

    What I gathered from this, is that it's ok for McCain to be involved in scandal because Obama is involved in scandal. Good work on voting for these two children everyone.

    Ron Paul '08

    August 21, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  14. Ellen in Ohio

    I guess Obama supporters can't tout that their candidate isn't being negative anymore! Like it or not, this is politics.

    August 21, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  15. Canadian Bacon

    Hey, B.O. is that all you got? a connection to a guy who was implicated in a scandal? I guess in a liberals eyes you are guilty if someone implicates you. It's the seriousness of the charge that counts. but that's only for republicans.
    You hung around with and were helped by a known terrorist! You're right. that is change. I haven't heard of any other politicians that were dumb enough to do that. But I could be wrong. there are a lot of dummies in politics.

    August 21, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  16. K. Somers

    With all the negative ads McCain has used to chip away at Obama's lead in the polls, I don't understand why it has taken so long for the Obama camp to start their own.

    McCain has to deceive and stretch facts for his negative ads, Obama could simply use FACTUAL information to smear McCain. While McCain is throwing everything they can think of at Obama just hoping something will stick, Obama should be pointing out McCains involvement in many scandals throughout 26 years in politics.

    McCain is a bold face liar who specializes in pandering to whoever he is talking to at that moment. People need to recognize this.

    August 21, 2008 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. Alice Newman Center Harbor NH

    I'm sorry to see that its come to this: But as soon as McCain choose a close pal of Cheney and Rove-clones to run his campaign, McCain forgot his promise to run a clean campaign on the issues ...

    So what we got were ads about being a "celebrity" and "The One "... If Obama ignores the ads and takes the high road, the GOP will paint him as weak: if Obama fights back, the GOP paints him as nasty.

    McCain decided or allowed himself to be convinced that the only way he could win was by using the old Rove playbook – the same one used against him in 2000 ... and let the negative games begin ...

    Pssst .... did you know Obama fathered a black baby??? Whoops – that was used in SC against McCain in 2000 –

    August 21, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  18. Marcus Allen

    This add was happening and CNN was asking just yesterday if Obama should think about going negative? Oh yea, I forgot, CNN says only McCain "attacks" so this must be called an informative add...

    August 21, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  19. Lynne

    This is rich. Now John McCain's camp is squealing "Ridiculous!" after getting a taste of their own brand of attacks from Obama, who has tried to keep the discourse above par throughout the campaign. Let Sean Hannity and his self-righteous, close-minded blowhard friends try and double-talk, twist, and spin their way out of this. Looks like more to come and I'm happy to see Obama FINALLY on the offense.

    And as far as the Weather Underground, that's something the Repubs have been harping on for the last several months. Keep grasping, boys!

    August 21, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  20. Used to be a repuglican

    Bout time Obama!!! Jeez! I mean I understand your a decent, honest guy but these repugs play dirty and you've got to hit back sometimes hard. And to the gentleman who wants to vote for Obama but doesn't know what he stands for go to his website where he has hundreds of pages of documents on his policies that have been there over a year. Don't listen to these bloggers, most of them are repuglicans doing their usual dirty tricks. They are pretty desperate and understandably so. I used to be a repuglican for 30 yrs but NEVER AGAIN! You couldn't pay me to vote for mccain. He does not want peace, he is only patriotic when it comes to sacrificing other people's lives.

    August 21, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  21. Nathan

    obama's been going negative for a long time. he's a hypocrite, and a politician of the worst kind

    August 21, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  22. Peggy

    Finally! Obama strikes back!

    August 21, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  23. Benjamin Mazyck

    Let's keep it clean guys, and talk about the issues that deal with impoving everyday American lives, instead of all this GOTTA political diversionary issues.

    August 21, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  24. Annie

    I hope CNN will now no longer report that the Obama campaign is running a "clean and negative free" one after this one. Charging someone for ties to some questionnable actions isn't so great when you have the same kind of ties to others yourself.

    August 21, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  25. Bobby, Triangle, VA

    Dig deeper democrats, show McCain for who is really is....a crook, a liar and a deceiver!!!!!!

    August 21, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
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