September 10th, 2008
08:34 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama slams GOP on community organizer comments

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama hit the GOP over last week’s community organizer cracks."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – Barack Obama criticized his Republican presidential opponent, Senator John McCain, for not standing firm in his support for immigration reform in the face of opposition from his own party.

“I know Senator McCain used to buck his party by fighting for comprehensive reform – and I admired him for it. But when he was running for his party’s nomination, he abandoned his stance, and said he wouldn’t even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote,” Obama told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gathered in Washington.

“When it came time to write his party’s platform, comprehensive reform never made it in. So you’ve got to ask yourself: if Senator McCain won’t stand up to opponents of reform at his own convention, how can you trust him to stand up for change in Washington?”

McCain’s support for comprehensive immigration reform nearly killed his candidacy in 2007 and he later came out in favor of greater emphasis on securing the nation’s borders in any future legislation. Now, however, he references his fight for reform as a mark of his maverick credentials.

Obama also defended his role as a community organizer, something that was mocked by several speakers at the Republican Party convention, including vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

“I was pretty surprised when I heard our opponents making fun of that work last week at their convention – mocking what so many Americans do every day in church groups and unions and the PTA to serve struggling communities. Frankly, I don’t think it’s particularly funny that people are losing their jobs and their homes,” he said.

Earlier: Democratic congressman points to Jesus in response to GOP comments

The Democratic presidential nominee also told the group he considers Latino voters crucial in this election. “I’m not taking a single Hispanic vote for granted in this campaign. I need you. I need you to win.”

In that vein, Obama heads to Colorado Monday and will be campaigning out West.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (389 Responses)
  1. Sherri

    Women would not have the right to vote without the great community organizer Susan B. Anthony. The American Red Cross would not have been formed without the great community organizer Clara Barton. Without the great community organizer Benjamin Franklin public libraries and volunteer fire departments would not have been formed. Ghandi the great community organizer, organized the people of India to rebel against British rule through non-violent protest. Shame on you, Sarah Palin, for not understanding the contribution of community organizers to the betterment of our world.

    September 11, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  2. Careen

    My image of McCain used to be pretty much what he is trying to sell to me now. But it just isn't so anymore. It's a sad thing, because this extremist, religious right has hijacked the Republican party. My brother-in-law has been a Republican all his life and a very smart one. I don't always agree with him, but I always respect the thought and intelligence that goes into his positions.

    I don't know who he voted for in 2000, but in '04 he voted Kerry, perhaps the first Democrat he ever voted for for President. He is voting for Obama. He has teenage sons whom he doesn't want to see in Iraq (he was in Vietnam) and he is intelligent enough to see through the nonsense the Reps are spouting.

    The thing is, I might have considered voting for the McCain that they are trying to sell me, but he never would have made it to the top of the ticket of such an extremist party. I do feel for him in that. He thinks he has something to offer, but he has to lose himself to be allowed to offer it.

    Some compromise is inevitable, no matter who wins. Obama gets that, and I won't agree with everything he does in order to facilitate change and movement in Washington. But McCain sold his soul to the right wing fanatics, and I cannot trust him as my President. If I had any hope that he would veer back to the center upon entering office, it was dashed when he chose Ms. My Values Are Better Than Yours for his running mate, and embraced her insane stances on everything that should have no place in government. In fact...

    Why is it that the Reps scream 'smaller government' out of one side of their mouths, but then demand legislation on everything from my womb to who can marry? Why does THAT have a place in national government but keeping Social Security safe for the next generation doesn't?

    September 11, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  3. Nevada dude

    Dangerous ground here. better just to say "dont mess with me" than invoke Jesus.

    Hit 'em Harder, Barack!!!!

    September 11, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  4. Kate Fergus

    The GOP only help their own people. Helping those in need in the country is foreign to them. The GOP are nothing but hot air, smoke and mirrors. Working to help people in need within a community is not only a Christian thing to do, it is also patriotic.

    I hope the public starts listening to how the candidates plan to tackle the real issues the country faces. Enough of the Republican smear tactics. The GOP is sticking to the smoke and mirrors because they have no real solutions. I can't believe that the country is rocking with outrage against the Republicans and George Bush – McCain and Palin included.

    September 11, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  5. Keith in CA

    Senator Obama could have made a fortune with his Harvard law degree, but intead chose to serve his community. And this is the guy the Republicans call an "elitist"?

    Governor Palin spoke of her responsibilities as mayor being greater than Obama's as a community organizer. I'm sure Obama dealt with more people and more diverse issues in Chicago than Palin ever did in a town with a population fewer than the attendance at a minor league ball park. Jon Stewart said it best: Palin is better qualified to host a "Northern Exposure" reunion show than being Vice President.

    September 11, 2008 01:44 am at 1:44 am |
  6. Dori in AZ

    Community organization is the cornerstone of every good program that exists to help our fellow citizens of this planet. Whether those citizens are the human caretakers of the planet, or the animals and plants that inhabit it . . . or the planet itself!

    We believe in something greater than ourselves. Something that transcends our personal lives and egos. We care enough to put our blood, sweat, tears, efforts, money, time, and voices to making a difference so that we and others will ALL be better off.

    We believe that we can make a difference, even if it is with only one person, one animal, one issue at a time.

    September 11, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  7. bored with lame rhetoric

    7 of the first 8 people to comment on this article have grammar errors in their comments. All of them support Obama. I'm not listening to what stupid people have to say. Sorry.

    September 11, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  8. Allan

    When Barack was a community organizer, his position was funded by the Catholic Charities. So Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani and other Republicans are mocking the Catholic Church and its ministry to the poor and downtrodden when they mock Obama.

    I call for the Pope to denounce Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani (although I think the Pope gave up on Rudy when he started showing up in dresses and makeup).

    September 11, 2008 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  9. Anonymous

    I am a person who listens to both sides of the story before making a final decision on an important matter. After witnessing the most lowdown, lying, cheating, devious, deliberate act of deception on the american people from the George W. Bush and company administration and "How to steel an election campaign" you would think that people would recognize a Devil that would try to find a skirt to pimp, and get all heads both male/female to give this Palin person a nod of approval eventhough we still don't know who the hell she is, are we expected to just up and vote for McCain/Palin simply to make history and still suffer the same fate as we did over the past eight years. Lately this talk about "pitbulls, pigs, and lipstick" is a big deal among white voters and it seems to generate a lot excitement within the Republican click, that is untill a black man mentions an old remark that even Palins running mate and others out of that party said, but all of a sudden it's a sexest remark and the media wants to eat that crap up and paint her as the innocent and injured victim but at the same time she can try to belittle someone who has a record of teaching, and consuling unemployed workers, promoting education, speaking in public arena's to try and give people some kind of hope and knowing that Barack Obama has been preparing himself for the white house all of his life...Well surprise america that day is upon us and sixty (60%) percent of us can't except the fact that a black man will be the president of the U.S. and bring this country out of the recession that it has been in for far to long and make changes that will put the people first. I pray to God that we don't miss this opportunity to give ourselves a chance to make this "CHANGE".

    September 11, 2008 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  10. Rose

    I Respect John McCain, I Vote Barack Obama.

    September 11, 2008 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  11. Service

    It was not funny seeing the leaders of the republican party making fun of a college student giving his time and efforts to the communities in Chicago who had fallen on hard times. Obama, a man who could go anywhere do anything travel back to Hawaii during his summers, decided to help others. This country has it's priorities all wrong when they find fault to people who reach out to others in need of help. I suppose the Americorp members who are still helping Katrina victims will be laughed and mocked also with nothing said about it. If Obama would have behaved that way this country would have been outraged, but it was okay for the do no wrong republican party to insult millions of young people who choose to serve our fellow citizens by performing community service. I guess the only honorable young people these days are the ones who suit up to fight a dumb war in Iraq where its citizens are shouting get the heck out of our country.

    September 11, 2008 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  12. Theresa

    McCain-Palin should be ashamed of themselves for trying to belittle the work of Obama. Palin would not survive one day in Southside Chicago much less work for people who actually need help!

    September 11, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  13. Nervous

    Finally the Obama camp is taking some good stabs back at the Palin comments. I'm sick of her repeating the same tired speech every where they show up. Of course Obama and Biden are out there pushing issues and letting thier opinions be known, but the Republicans keep throwing out the same red meat rhetoric but the American people keep eating it up as if its something new. I hope that red meat is going to be enough to get food on your table and gas in your car to where you can still afford to pay your mortgage and health care. You can drill all you want to and it will not be enough to cover our usage. And even if you drill that oil is going to be sold on the open market and if we are not the highest bidder then that oil isn't even being used for Americans. Let give the oil companies more ways to make more money at our expense. Keep it up evangelical Americans, I'm sure your churches will be happy and you will be considered saviors by not voting Democrat

    September 11, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  14. Billy Ray Valentine-Capricorn

    I find it disturbing the GOP would try to downplay the humility and selfishness involved in being a community organizer. I really find there whole campaign disturbing so I guess there comments don't surprise me.


    September 11, 2008 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
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