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. A CANUCK you talking are a decent human being.....McCain doesn't even know the meaning of the word !!!

    September 13, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Kristen

    Thank you Barack. Time to call McCain out. McCain has called everything that hurts his campiagn a "new low." McCain's literally outright lying, and even though he's being called out on it, he continues to lie. Obama's right–McCain really is running the sleaziest campaign I can remember.

    September 13, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. scoot

    this is modern history.......But same rhetoric I have heard for 30+ yrs. and If I remember wright McCaine asked a number of times for a town hall meeting and you have ran everytime. I must add I have heard Mc talk alot about issues. you on the other hand are still stomping the same speech I went and watch you give in MN almost a yr ago. Got to give it to ya though you do know how to get the young unaware newbees going as you can tell by past blogs.....................they flat out called us everything in the book. now we are suppose to follow you and Hillary is suppose to be stumping on a day bases for you. might work in a fantasy world but not mine.

    September 13, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. Stacy from Loudoun County Virginia

    There is the McCain campaign again not talking about the issues. After the Gibson interview, I think the smell is off the rose. Those independents that saw that interview are starting to come around to the Obama ticket. When the issues are discussed, you'll see the pure weaknesses of the McCain-Palin ticket. All fluff and no stuff.

    September 13, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Jaison Biagini

    it's pretty easy to see who's tax policy would help more people. look at the breakdown by pay brackets. obama gives more money to the lowest earning americans that make up 85% of the population.
    mccain gives the most money to 15% of the population making the most money. who is going to help the economy more?
    a single millionaire who keeps 40,000 more dollars in his pocket, or 40 american families getting an extra $1000 each in their pockets?
    40 families buy more food, cars and clothing that create more jobs for more americans.
    how can government pay for anything when mccain will be bringing hundreds of billions less than obama?

    it's common sense. if you compare every policy, head to head, mccain really is more of the same and obama is a new direction. it may not be perfect but it won't be the same failed policies of the last 8 years!!
    obama/biden 08-12

    September 13, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. cecil

    More Lies, More Fluff

    McCain aide Kimmie Lipscomb told reporters on Sept. 10 that an outdoor rally in Fairfax City, Virginia, drew 23,000 people, attributing the crowd estimate to a fire marshal.

    Fairfax City Fire Marshal Andrew Wilson said his office did not supply that number to the campaign and could not confirm it

    In recent days, journalists attending the rallies have been raising questions about the crowd estimates with the campaign. In a story on Sept. 11 about Palin's attraction for some Virginia women voters, Washington Post reporter Marc Fisher estimated the crowd to be 8,000, not the 23,000 cited by the campaign.

    "The 23,000 figure was substantiated on the ground," McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said. "The campaign is willing to stand by the fact that it was our biggest crowd to date."

    "Since day one, this campaign has been consistent that we're not going to win or lose based on crowd size but the substance of John McCain's record," Bounds said.

    September 13, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Gloria

    Since McCain seems to agree with all the remarks his campaign puts out, then McCain is the lowest of the low scum bags.

    September 13, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. Enough

    Barack if only you talked less and acted more in your life people might accept you as a president. But that is not the case. Your resume is paper thin, no great laws, no great accomplishments, no service to your country. Of course you did write two books about yourself lets not forget that. You stole your campaign slogan from Bob the Builder. You are pathetic its the only way to describe you.

    September 13, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. TheTruthHurts

    Blah, Blah, Blah. Barack trying to insulate himself and McCain making claims that have no merit. What's new. Americans are liable to turn off altogether. That will not help Dems.

    September 13, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. tupac

    John is an idiot, and his vp pick should do more guiding her teenage daughter than trying to help lead this country. For god's sake this is not like being mayor of 9000 people-city. Stupid republicans wake up and look around and see what a stupid president can do to a country

    September 13, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  11. prairieguy

    Get over it McShame...your little Ms Muffett is heading to NV to campaign today and you were planned off the road.

    You just hate to see Barack telling the truth about your unhonorable, hateful campaigning!!!!!

    September 13, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  12. Susan

    The McCain campaign has finally been called out on their lies and are choking on them. The funniest lie was how Obama was sexist with the lipstick on a pig comment on McCain ideas. They showed the worst form of Sexism when they handed out campaign buttons at their convention that said Hottest Governor – Coldest State. That, my friends is sexist! Tucker Bounds is making a bigger fool of himsel every day, and are the rest of the lobbysists and liars that run the show at McCains Lolopalooza!

    September 13, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Clay

    Well what else would you expect from a republican? Honesty, integrity? You'd actually get more from a pig with lipstick. Remember, pigs, don't bite, bulldogs do!

    September 13, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. pat

    Obama...the hot air express. Get over yourself you egomaniac...and your cult of zombies need to get over themselves too.

    September 13, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  15. lilo

    This is the change obama is talking about for 2years now. quite good man, lucky us that things are not going as you planed.

    September 13, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  16. McPawn

    John McCain has become a pawn. He used to stand for something, but now it makes my skin crawl every time he says 'yes' to one of the Bush employees running his campaign.

    Pawns don't make good Presidents.

    September 13, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. JT from TN

    Let them debate!!! All this talk about pigs and lipstick and bla blah blah whats that got to do with what Americans are facing: gas,prices, home foreclosure, economy, the wars, stuff that we need to be talking about not this mudslinging talk. They both speek change well, mudslinging ain't change. Come together and work together.

    September 13, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  18. Robert in raleigh

    way to go O , stop taking the BS

    September 13, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    It does not surprise me that Obama is inconsiderate of the Texan's suffering from the storm. Obama is for himself first and foremost. He moved up in Illinois by casting a black mark on his mentor there and getting her kicked out of the race, he got rid of Hillary when he felt threatened, he had his buddy/financer Oprah refuse to have Sarah Palin on the show, he insulted anyone who has not had an Ivy league education, he has not commented on P Diddy's racial insults, etc. McCain on the other hand has extended his hand to others, he selected a woman vp, his friend Lieberman-a democratic supporter-was allowed to speak at the republican convention, has worked with the other party to reach compromises whereas Obama wants to victimize Lieberman. Seems to pretty clear who is being negative-Democrats. With regards to issues Obama's has changed so many times depending on the audience that I don't think we will really find out what he really is for or against and the risk of voting him in office too great to find out. On the other hand Palin's selection of VP reminds me of another person who achieved great things-Golda Mier. McCain through his suffering in the prison camp has learned that no man is an island and we all need to work with others to survive. Obama to me comes across as the its all about me person who doesn't want to share the spotlight with anyone.

    September 13, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. Susan

    The truth hurts McCain. His campaign has been sleazy. They're purposefully keeping Palin away from the press to keep the public in the dark about how uninformed she really is on critical issues. The only way McCain knows how to lead is militarily, and I'm not so sure he's the best person in that respect – a little to eager to fight, in my opionion. Bottom line – the GOP doesn't have any real answers to clean up the mess they've created in the last 8 years.

    September 13, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Mary

    I love it when the Republicans go after Obama for playing dirty...I guess they know what they are talking about since they are the ones who invented it. I think the McCain camp is willing to scorch the earth to win this thing..both literally and figuratively. Of course most of his supporters probably don't even know what I just said........including his new running mate...probably never read a book in her life besides the Bible.

    September 13, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  22. tonybama, grahamsville, ny

    If this is a new low for the Obama campaign, I shudder to think what we would have to call the McCain campaign. They do have a point though, Barack has been taking the high road when compared to all the distortions and sleaze and outright lies coming from the Republicans.

    September 13, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. Tom in CA

    "John McCain believes the Vietnam War was winnable. He argues that an Obama administration would accept defeat in Iraq, with grave costs to American honor and national security. Is McCain’s quest for victory a reflection of an antiquated pre-Vietnam mind-set?...Is there any war McCain thinks can’t be won?"

    "...McCain believes, among other things, that “some political problems have military solutions.” A related McCain belief that’s even more out of sync with America’s current mood...."

    Read – "The Wars of John McCain" by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic Monthly, October, 2008

    September 13, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. CA 4 Obama

    Tell it like it is Obama!!!

    September 13, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    No more distractions. This country can do better!
    Go Obama.

    September 13, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
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