September 12th, 2008
08:59 AM ET
13 years ago

McCain, Obama exchange fire in tough new ads, memo

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="McCain, Obama campaigns released a string of ads Friday."]
(CNN) - The temperature in an already-heated race rose a few degrees Friday in a flurry of overnight ads and memos from the McCain and Obama campaigns accusing each other of unfair attacks, desperation, lies, and gutter politics.

The McCain team called the Obama campaign’s charges "disrespectful." The Obama campaign again said McCain is “out of touch,” and seemed to imply the number of years McCain has been in Washington might be partly to blame, in what could be interpreted as an indirect reference to the Arizona senator’s age - as the Democrat’s campaign manager vowed to respond to attacks with “speed and ferocity.”

Watch: New McCain ad calls Obama 'disrespectful.'

Two days after releasing an ad that portrayed Democrats as a pack of wolves hunting down Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin, the McCain team launched a 30-second spot aimed at what they called “the Obama campaign's desperate efforts to attack and smear Governor Sarah Palin.”

Watch: New Obama ad paints McCain as out-of-touch

“He was the world's biggest celebrity, but his star's fading,” says the announcer. “So they lashed out at Sarah Palin. Dismissed her as ‘good looking.’ That backfired, so they said she was doing, ‘what she was told.’ Then desperately called Sarah Palin a liar.

“How disrespectful. And how Governor Sarah Palin proves them wrong, every day.”

But the ad’s implication that Obama, who is shown as the “good looking” quote is relayed, is incorrect. Obama's running mate Sen. Joe Biden offered the remark not as an attack, but as a compliment, joking to a campaign crowd that the "obvious" difference between Palin and himself is that "she's good looking" – a toned-down version of the message sported on buttons worn by Republican delegates at their convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, which described the Alaska governor as “hot.”

And as points out, the quote "they said she was doing 'what she was told' appears to have been distorted from its original context. The Obama adviser quoted was not saying Palin was “meekly following orders,” Factcheck says - he was actually softening the accusation that she had lied about Obama’s legislative record by adding that the errors were not necessarily deliberate on her part: "Maybe that's what she was told" about his voting history.

The Obama team released two new ads of its own overnight, along with a tough new memo from campaign manager Devid Plouffe that accused McCain and his campaign of turning to “smears, lies, and cynical attempts to distract from the issues.”

The first ad refers to the number of years McCain has been in Washington to paint him as out of touch: “1982. John McCain goes to Washington,” says the announcer. “Things have changed in the last 26 years. But McCain hasn’t.

“He admits he still doesn’t know how to use a computer, can’t send an e-mail. Still doesn’t understand the economy. And favors two hundred billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class.

“After one President who was out of touch… We just can’t afford more of the same.”

Listen to an Obama campaign conference call on the state of the race

In a July interview with The New York Times, McCain said that he didn't e-mail - "I don't e-mail, I've never felt a particular need to e-mail." He said his aides “go on for me,” but added “I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need.” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said Friday that the senator "travels with a laptop, and knows how to use a computer."

The second spot does not mention McCain at all “We’ve heard a lot of talk about change this year. The question is, change to what?” asks Obama himself.

“To me, change is a government that doesn’t let banks and oil companies rip off the American people. Change is when we finally fix health care instead of just talking about it. Change is giving tax breaks to middle class families instead of companies that send jobs overseas. Change is a president who brings people together.

“I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message because this year, change has to be more than a slogan.”

The ads were followed by a related memo from Plouffe.

“Today is the first day of the rest of the campaign, and today we are releasing two new ads that go directly at the fundamental issue in this race: John McCain is out of touch with the American people and unable to address the challenges facing the country in the 21st century and bring about real change, and that Barack Obama is the candidate who will bring about change that works for the middle class,” he wrote.

“We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people," Plouffe wrote. "We will not allow John McCain and his band of Karl Rove disciples to make this big election about small things.”

Plouffe said Biden would act as a central attack dog figure. He also tried to goad the media, which has been a target of the McCain campaign, pointing to what he called “discrepancies” in the Republican nominee’s message and reminding reporters that McCain’s manager said the press should treat her with “deference.”

The McCain campaign said its new ad would air in "key states;" the Obama camp also said the two new spots would air in "key states," and on national cable television. Neither would reveal the extent of their ad buys.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. Vote anything but Republicans


    Please do not be fooled by the current Republicans Politicians. They will destroy the country. If you do not like Barak Obama then just vote independent vote anything but the Republicans. Its is a partly not run by honest people. The crooks have infiltrated this party and totally tarnished the reputation of honest republicans.

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  2. Erik

    The ironic thing is that Palin is not that good looking. She hit the "wall" some time ago. Maybe she's hot in Alaska where there are not that many women.

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  3. Corky

    Famous philosopher once said:

    "Never deal with idiots. In order to do so, you must stoop to their level. and at that level, they'll beat you every time"

    But who listens to philosophers? GO OBAMA!!!!

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  4. lil

    While mccain is lying and fact checking Obama he really need to fact
    check himself. Some of the lies that he is telling is so flat faced and
    sick I cant see how he could put his name on them this is a shame
    and the churches are trying to get a legal right to endorse this stuff
    this is unbelieveable these people are going to far.
    If this man wins we as americans are in big trouble.

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  5. diva

    "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." JC

    Stick to the truth about McCain and all else will fade away.

    Trust the American voters to also know the truth and vote accordingly.

    Hillary now Obama 08

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  6. James in NYC

    I am so bored of the Republicans talking about anything but an issue that helps our troubled economy or gets our soldiers out of harm's way.
    When you have a weak platform to run on all you can say is...'hey Bif look over there what is that' and pray that the fools look! It is like a Back to the Future movie but without the fun.

    Keeping my eye on the ball,
    Obama/Biden in 08!

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  7. heidi

    NO! The the only campaign that is disrespectful is McCain/Palin. They disort the truth, they mock service and they are hypocritical. They twist reality to fit their needs. They actually think people are studpid. I thought she did horrible last night in her "first' national interview. She has two weeks "to learn" how to be a VP and she failed miserably. The nerve of these people to say that she has foreign policy experience because she lives next to Russia.. Give me a break! I noticed the news has not covered her failed interview indepth!

    Go Obama/Biden..

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  8. Joe Idaho

    Well she did lie a few times in the interview yesterday, she did flip flop on the Environmental issue, and maybe Obama should have chose the Governor of Michigan as his running mate since her foriegn policy would be validated by looking out her window to Canada. Really, Ms. Palin attacked Obama shamelessly as all the speakers did: They ridiculed millions of people who take Community seriously, the rich Multimillionares ($5 million crowd) that makes up the GOP (Grand Out of touch Party) real interesting how the past week has went, when thousands lost their jobs, and with those jobs health insurance, and stability of living right when kids are going off to college...

    September 12, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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