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)
  1. Jenn

    I thought Obama was about change not the same old politics?
    He should be careful in how is attack McCain, he is already losing ground to him and this kind of ad does nothing to make me want to vote for the agent of change if he's going to campain the same old way.

    August 21, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  2. sue

    if mccain graduated fifth from the bottom, that tells a lot about his intellect, or lack of. after watching "mccain revealed" last night, i came to the conclusion that mccain is obssessed about wars and i think he's itching for wars right now. talking about kicking russia out of G8, and bomb, bomb, bomb iran is a no brainer as to what kind of president he would be if elected.

    do you think he really cares about the economy and social security of the country? not, if you have 10 homes and a rich wife.

    August 21, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. Joe Issano

    First the Savings and Loan issue(keating), then that other issue and now this...there seems to be an issue with this guy. Add his temper and age, as President, McCain would be a disaster. We are all tired of hearing him say "my friends"......this guy is a joke.

    August 21, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. Adam from Ohio

    Finally! Time for some Keating Five ads as well. I'm sick of McSame being treated like some sort of mythically great man. He's a cranky old crook.

    August 21, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. dave from pa


    August 21, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  6. Ralph

    It's funny the media has been so silent regarding McCain's tenure and his shady affiliation with Abramoff and the land scam out west. It appears that the game is, let Obama do the digging and will step in. So much for credibility of our media or are they attempting to stack the deck.

    August 21, 2008 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  7. Patriot Patrick of Houston

    After watching the CNN specials Obama and McCain unveiled, I have come to the conclusion that McCain is not fit to lead our country. Even though CNN tried it's very best to sugar coat the fact that McCain basically was a military brat who would rather drink and cat around the bars and women; that documentary only made more clear the stark difference between Senator Obama and McCain.

    It is obvious that Obama was born to lead. Born to serve our country. He had to work hard, apply himself. He's tried to do all the right things in his life. At a time when he could have opted for wealth and glamor, he chose public service. His works speak volumes about his character, integrity and his spirit. McCain on the other hand only drank and cheated on his wife until he found a rich benefactor to marry.

    August 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  8. Philly

    Obama opened up a can of worms he probably shouldnt have..Wait till the Ayers and Rezko ads start...This is getting good..

    August 21, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  9. BJGT

    Good for the Obama campaign – the media has not focused enough on what a lying scoundrel McCain is.

    August 21, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  10. RYK

    ...and not only Ayers, but let's also include the Rev Wright...Obama is so far out of touch with everything our Country stands for...electing him would be a disaster

    August 21, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  11. White person in Virginia

    It's about time the Dems started dishing back the same old kind of negative ads as the Repugs. Apparently americans like these ads, as they have won the Repugs several elections! Go Team Obama!

    August 21, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  12. John Starnes

    John McCain needs to give the American voters some "straight talk" about this and his role in the Keating 5 scandal.

    August 21, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  13. charles r breitbach

    getting beat up in jail does not make one a leader
    in my town you get could get beat up in jail for being
    suspected of stealing a bicycle

    August 21, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  14. larry

    Obama & supporters keep yelling about McCain going negative. Calling Obama a celeberity and questioning his ability to lead may be technically negative in the sense it is a critique as opposed to a positive comment about what McCain would do, but it is part of civil debate. Obama's ads and comments are downright nasty, clearly misleading, and look and feel like the old style political negative attack ads. Obama attacks McCain as being in the oil industry's pocket for taking $2 million in contribution while he Obama took $1.3 million. I see no "change" in the way Obama is running his campaign. Obama, like many prior politicians, is a raving hypotcrit – and he is increasingly sounding like an angry man.

    August 21, 2008 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  15. Caryn

    Oh, I get it. It's okay for the McCain camp and the RNC to go after Obama with lies and innuendo; but Obama and the Dems can't say anything about McCain! McCain started this whole negative thing (after saying time and time again that he wouldn't) and now that Obama is pushing back it's "ridiculous". Give me a break!

    McCain has had it way too easy for too long. The media is afraid to go after him and show his true record. They have had no problem dissecting every word, every vote, every movement of Obama's. Start "vetting" McCain.

    August 21, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  16. Brian, Cincinnati Ohio

    Sounds like Rogers listens to Hannity to get his ridiculous and deceitful responses.

    When Ayers did that stuff in the SIXTIES Obama was 8. McCain on the other hand, was right in the mix of the entire Abramoff/Reed scandal, and part of an even bigger scandal ... the Keating Five.

    August 21, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  17. baker

    wow, all these smear campagnes. Obama people, I thought he was above this? Hes just like every other politician and you all will someday realize that.

    NOBAMA 08

    August 21, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  18. JFK

    Maybe McCain should do a Rezko and Rev Wright ad then since Obama wants to make it personal. Shame on you Obama! You claimed to be different. Same ol' politics...

    August 21, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  19. Cathy

    I love the suggestion to make Obama the president of America and McCain the president of Iraq. He can run the country of the illegal war that we started.

    I also think Barack needs help to stop the stuttering.

    Obama 08

    August 21, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  20. John McCane

    I am tired of the negative ads in this campaign. Please hit on the real issues at stake for the American public.

    By the way, most politicians have skeletons in their closet. Has everyone forgot about Senator McCain's ties to savings and loan scum, Charles Keating? That is a relationship that has never truly been explored. Senator Obama is not immune to equally questionable relationships though.

    August 21, 2008 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  21. Bruce

    ABOUT TIME!!!!

    August 21, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  22. Natalia

    McCain is going down. Hua, hua, hua.

    August 21, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  23. RYK

    Obama continues to backpedal, flipflop on everything from drilling for oil to selecting a VP...he has said that he is the candidate of change and that he wants to do things differently and now it looks like he'll bring on Biden for his experience...just shows you that Obama will do anything to win...can't trust this guy!!!

    August 21, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  24. McCant

    The Obama camp should also be pointing out John McCain's five mansions, his Marie Antonette trophy wife, and how McCain transferred about 8000 jobs from Ohio. John McCain, the job-killer.

    And you know what's funny? The Republicants say Barry has no real plan but if you look at the substance of McCain's plans, they don't have anything to stand on, that is, whichever way he stands this week.

    Vote John McCain if you don't like jobs.

    August 21, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  25. texas

    Second negative ad in 24 hours? Now that's change I can believe in.

    I guess avoiding a negative campaign was just empty words.

    Can we not imagine that Obama is just a part of this bent two party system and not very far from the "same old, same old" he wants to separate himself from?

    August 21, 2008 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
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