September 13th, 2008
12:01 PM ET
15 years ago

Ike winds don't cool tone on the trail, as Obama blasts McCain

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Obama and his camp aimed tough talk at McCain Saturday."]
MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) – In a shift from the apolitical tone the presidential candidates took during Hurricane Gustav, Barack Obama did not temper his rhetoric Saturday, as his spokesman accused John McCain of “cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history.”

“John McCain wants to have a debate about national security let’s have that debate. I warned that going into Iraq would distract us from Afghanistan. John McCain cheer-leaded for it. John McCain was wrong and I was right,” Obama told a screaming New Hampshire crowd.

“The McCain-Palin ticket, they don’t want to debate the Obama-Biden ticket on issues because they are running on eight more years of what we’ve just seen. And they know it,” Obama said. “As a consequence what they’re going to spend the next seven, eight weeks doing is trying to distract you.

“They’re going to talk about pigs and they’re going to talk about lipstick, they’re going to talk about Paris Hilton, they’re going to talk about Britney Spears. They will try to distort my record and they will try to undermine your trust in what the Democrats intend to do.”

Watch Obama on Hurricane Ike

Asked why the campaign responded differently than it did around hurricane Gustav, Obama Senior Strategist David Axelrod said,“We have enormous concern for people down there … that’s why we canceled “Saturday Night Live” … but these people also came out because they’re really concerned about the future of the country and he [Obama]wanted to talk about those issues.”

Listen: Obama camp conference call Saturday slams McCain

The McCain campaign criticized Obama for showing “zero restraint” given the storm and said “today’s attacks mark a new low from Barack Obama.”

The Obama camp’s response was even tougher. “We will take no lectures from John McCain who is cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “His discredited ads with disgusting lies are running all over the country today. He runs a campaign not worthy of the office his is seeking.”

At the start of his rally, Obama did put politics aside, encouraging the thousands of voters in attendance to think about those in Texas dealing with the fall out from hurricane Ike.

“I’ve been on the phone with the head of FEMA and mayor of Houston and others who are trying to grapple with this tremendous storm,” he said “I know that one of the things that we’ve seen after Gustav, one of the things that we saw after Katrina and Rita is that during difficult times during moments of tragedy the American people come together. We may argue we may differ but we are all Americans.”

The enormous storm prompted the Obama campaign late Friday night to cancel their candidate’s appearance on the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” saying that it was “no longer appropriate” given what Gulf residents were facing. Obama’s running-mate Senator Joe Biden also was supposed to attend the Manchester rally but did not.

However, unlike two weeks ago when hurricane Gustav was bearing down on Louisiana,

Obama heads back to Chicago for the weekend before heading out Monday to Colorado.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (354 Responses)
  1. Tony

    The ignorance and apathy of women across America, especially white women who vote republican, is pathetic and so very sad.

    To think that women have fought to come so far and with this election, should McCain and Palin win, they will have taken a GIGANTIC leap BACKWARDS.

    For anyone who witnessed the Palin interviews, and the story done on her on ABC's 20/20 program, there should be NO DOUBT in ayone's mind, at least those that are able to think for themselves, that this woman could not be any more unprepared for either the 2nd most powerful position, and possibly the most powerful, in the country.

    America is slowly becoming like a third-world country in their thinking. People who vote strictly party, even if they believe their candidatse are not best for the country or Americans, are pathetic.

    For any women voting McCain-Palin in November, DO NOT say that you put your familes, your children or your COUNTRY FIRST. McCain and Palin have made COUNTRY FIRST no more than just words.

    September 13, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Paul

    This is news I bet even for the "Clinton News Network"

    Palin troopergate timeline…and her lack of judgement.

    Sarah "Follow Americans Lend me Your Ear-marks" Palin

    Long before this became an issue for Sarah…in 2005 she should have seen this was not a fight she should take on….But as she gained more and more power she took it unpon herself to do things she will regret.

    Sarah where is your "Judgement"…this is going to bite her…she was told by members of her own party how to handle this issue and she of course wouldn't listen. Must of us would have listened and moved on with our lives after these warnings:

    Judge Suddock (A republican) was disturbed by the alleged attacks by Palin and her family members on Wooten's behavior and character. "Disparaging will not be tolerated—it is a form of child abuse," the judge told a settlement hearing in October 2005.

    Did she listen…NO

    In the letter, July 14th, 2008, written before Sen. John McCain picked the Alaska governor as his running mate, former U.S. Attorney Wevley Shea (A republican) warned Gov. Palin that “the situation is now grave” and recommended that she and her husband, Todd Palin, apologize for “overreaching or perceived overreaching” for using her position to try to get Trooper Mike Wooten fired from the force.

    Did she listen…No

    July 18th 2008…Palin says. in a statement…"To allege that I, or any member of my family, requested, received or released confidential personnel information on an Alaska State Trooper, or directed disciplinary action be taken against any employee of the Department of Public Safety, is, quite simply, outrageous,"

    “Hold me accountable,” she challenge her critics.

    she denied orchestrating any calls.

    Then on August 13th 2008…

    In a recorded conversation, Bailey (a Palin Staffer) is heard saying: “Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, why on earth hasn't, why is this guy still representing the department? He's a horrible recruiting tool. … You know, I mean from their perspective, everyone's protecting him.”

    Sarah comes out that day to tell us and says "I do now have to tell Alaskans that such pressure could have been perceived to exist although I have only now become aware of it," After 26 known call and untold e-mails…she still tries to cover up…instead of apologizing she goes on to say.

    "Many of these inquiries were completely appropriate. However, the serial nature of the contacts could be perceived as some kind of pressure, presumably at my direction,"

    Gov. Palin pledged the full cooperation of herself and her staff

    After all this the cat is out of the bag…

    Bailey's lawyer Greg Grebe had kept Bailey from meeting Branchflower who was hired by the Republican legislature to "investigate the circumstances and events surrounding the termination of former Public Safety Commissioner Monegan"

    Now the evil liberals are out to get Sarah…

    When the truth of the matter is

    Sarah is out to get Sarah and so far she is doing a pretty good job.

    She has lost my vote.

    September 13, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Undecided

    I think that the hurricane highlights the need to talk about the issues.

    This election is important, and I think the people in Houston would want us to continue a debate about the issues.

    That is the whole lesson we need to learn: government shouldn't stop working in a time of crisis, it should start to work better.

    I applaud Obama's campaign.

    September 13, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. Melvin


    September 13, 2008 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Lawrence for barack

    its not on your time mcsame, this is politic

    September 13, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. mitchell

    obama camp is hitting back,hard,finally. mccain/palin lies will backfire on them. truth and the obama way will overcome on nov. 4th.

    September 13, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. No Hillary = No Obama

    Obama is a loser. Had he picked Hillary as his VP – he would be President. Not any more. Jerk.

    September 13, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. PhilT

    I attended the rally. There were thousands in attendance. Many people I spoke traveled up from MA.

    He laid out specific policy differences between his platform and that of his republican rival. There was much enthusiasm in the air. Let's hope people are listening to substance and not smear.


    September 13, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. Wisest one of All

    The racist empty suit is going to blast someone else?? HAHAHAH!!

    September 13, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. Rachel Reeves

    Go Obama Go!

    Let the people know exactly who Mc Cain & Palin really are!

    You have to fight the Republican lies and half truths. Dont go easy on Palin just because she's a hockey Mom. No one went easy on Hillary.

    Rachel Reeves

    September 13, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. Big D

    So McCain thinks that Obama can't campaign to a crowd in NH because of an approaching hurricane in the Gulf coast?!? I agree that Obama doesn't need to be lectured by McCain, especially after the disgraceful and dishonorable way that McCain has been leading his campaign lately. I would say that the Obama team's response was overdone and hyperbole though. But McCain sure has shown that he has no concerns with lying, and then repeating debunked lies, and running a campaign without integrity.

    September 13, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Stephy

    Thats right Obama, No more Mr. nice Guy. McCain has ran a sleazy campaign for weeks now. sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.

    September 13, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Maggie VT

    I don't think you can get any lower that John McCain and the lobbyist who run his campaign

    September 13, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. bk

    There goes Obama talking about having a debate and he has turned every town hall meeting down. Obama is all talk and no substance. He is afraid to debate McCain.

    September 13, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Sue in MI

    McCain needs to take a long hard look at the slimy campaign he and his running mate are conducting. He promised not to do this, and that is the first promise he broke to the American people. Obama has been nothing but a gentleman to Palin, and gets slammed for things he didn't say every day. America is wise to this garbage, and if McCain doesn't want to see his poll numbers drop daily, he'd better get on the high road and talk issues. And if he blames Obama for the tenor of this campaign one more time ("if Senator Obama had agreed to do the town hall meetings with me, I don't think the campaign would be this bitter") I will not listen to him ever again. This from the guy who started the hatred, who approved his party's horrible, degrading, angry convention culminating in Palin's vitriol. Straight talk, my foot. You are reaching no one in a positive way, MY FRIEND, and I think even some moderate Republicans are sick of it.

    September 13, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. Voting for Original Change

    What does the storm have to do with the election....Hurricans Gustav, Hannah and Ike havent keep the McCain campaign from spreading lies and smears, from hiding their VP pick behind scripted interviews and not offering the country any solid plans or policies for our future besides that tired old mantra "maverick reformer"....give America a break McLying Bush and drop out of the race

    September 13, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. wale azeez

    The mccain campaign is getting used to eating their cake and having it....during gustav they held their failed convention all through...sarah palin is campaigning today and yet they come out to critic obama for holding a low key event on the future of our nation

    September 13, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. carolflowery

    who is 'THEY" who are "THEY" can we get a clarification, just republicans or who all

    September 13, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. SDB

    Wish the real sleaze would step down...Obama....

    September 13, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. Bill

    a little bias in the headline hey???

    September 13, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. bob

    You couldn't get a job at McDonalds and become
    district manager after 143 days of experience.

    You couldn't become chief of surgery after 143
    days of experience of being a surgeon.

    You couldn't get a job as a teacher and be the
    superintendent after 143 days of experience.

    You couldn't join the military and become a
    colonel after a 143 days of experience.

    You couldn't get a job as a reporter and become
    the nightly news anchor after 143 days of experience.


    From the time Barack Obama was sworn in as a
    United State Senator, to the time he announced he was forming
    a Presidential exploratory committee, he logged 143 days
    of experience in the Senate. That's how many days
    the Senate was actually in session and working.

    After 143 days of work experience, Obama believed he was ready to be
    Commander In Chief, Leader of the Free World .... 143

    We all have to start somewhere. The senate is a good
    start, but after 143 days, that's all it is – a start.
    AND, strangely, a large sector of the American public
    is okay with this and campaigning for him. We
    wouldn't accept this in our own line of work, yet some are okay
    with this for the President of the United States of

    Come on folks, we are not voting for the next American Idol!

    September 13, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. jed

    this so called "new low" is still miles above McCain's constant low.

    September 13, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. Republican Woman For Obama

    “We will take no lectures from John McCain who is cynically running the sleaziest and least honorable campaign in modern presidential campaign history,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “His discredited ads with disgusting lies are running all over the country today. He runs a campaign not worthy of the office his is seeking.”

    THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! They are such hypocrites! Jeezzz! Lord help us all!

    September 13, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  24. jill

    a new low for obama would still be 1000 feet above mccain's high mark.

    September 13, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  25. Dylan

    YEAH! stick it to them Obama. Don't let them paint you as dishonorable, they're the ones who have embraced Rovian tactics. The Mccain of 2000 would be ashamed of the Mccain of 2008. Don't let them off the hook, stay on the attack.

    September 13, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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