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. Linda from AZ

    Did the Reps stop running their lies because of Ike?? This was a huge storm but then there is always a storm somewhere.

    September 13, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Peter from BC

    Good on you Barack...start taking it to McCain for the sleazy lying behavior and ads and campaign in general that he is running. You need to back him into a corner. He can't fight back because all he has is 'W' and there is no offensive position with that.

    Obama this time

    September 13, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. A convinced European

    Although not interested in politics and never having submitted similar comment, I could just not keep myself from reacting after watching Mrs Palin's first speeches. I thought I was watching a comics show !...."a lifelong member of the NRA", a "moose hunter". "You can actually SEE Russia from here in Alaska". Well if this is the next VP of the USA then it is high time for China to take over the dominant role in the world !!. Shame also for the many sensible and good willing Americans, she does confirm all the prejudices about the average American.
    From what I have seen so far of the American election circus, Mrs Clinton struck me as the most serious person in this Punch and Judy show.
    An even more convinced European.

    September 13, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Ken, LA California

    We pray for you Obama, this country needs you, the American Empire needs you to survive this onslaught from Lipsticks, Lobbyst and Pigs.

    September 13, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. john

    Nobody seems to notice this since 2000 John Mccain is so like Bush now more than ever he is even trying the same tactic as Bush did when he smeared Mccain that is why he got all Mr. Bushs helpers on his campaighn now thats why this time im not voting Republican.

    A Former proud Republican

    September 13, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Earl

    POOR JOHNNY BOY....getting a taste of the c...ap you gave to the next

    President?.Barak Obama

    Maybe you should go whine to Sarah and look for comfort

    AMERICA FIRST MY BUTT......Let me tell it like it is


    You want to be Prez first then all the BS is just that..../BS
    McWar will do anything to distract the people....only the weak minded

    will agree.......I call you McWar.....DESPERATE....REALLY DESPERATE

    September 13, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  7. Dori in AZ

    John McCain has lost his mind and torpedoed his own claim to honor with his rattled choice of an ignorant, smug, brutal, ethics lacking woman.

    September 13, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Charlotte

    Obamas' campaign is pretty sleasy also. That is the nature of politics. I don't trust either one, I wanted Hillary. I hate to vote for the lesser of two evils, so guess I'll write Hillary on my ballot and hope whoever wins will do a fair job. I have heard "a third Bush term" so many times I think that is all they have. I do not believe for one second, McCain will be a" third Bush term." Republicians vote with Republicians, Democrats vote with Democrats thus the grid lock. McCain is one of the few who tries to cross party lines for the good of the country. Obama has voted 97% of the time with Democrats, so stop with the 90% McCain voted with Republicians. This should have been a given for the Dems., yet here we are, tied. Mr. EGO should have been the dream team, but NO he thinks he can win this on his own. How could anyone be so stupid as to ignore half the democratic base, and still expect to win?

    September 13, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. margie(alabama)


    September 13, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. e.j.mohammed

    I'm glad to see Obama getting back to the issues! McCain is just trying to distract and smear like the Republicans do every 4 years! I hope the Democrats can win this election Obama has been fighting for almost 2 years to reach out to all people and bring about true change that is so desperately needed! McCain suddenly 2 weeks ago had his light bulb moment of change!
    Obama/Biden for true change!

    September 13, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  11. Just Plain Tired - St. Louis

    It's about time! My mother and other relatives live on the gulf coast and have had to leave their homes twice in two weeks. They were ravaged by Rita and now Ike has hit them too. My mother and relatives live in smaller cities and towns that don't get the same coverage and consideration during disasters. My nerves are on end, but I don't hold Obama or McCain responsible for continuing their campaigns. T

    These natural disasters are acts of God that happen to hit during the current President's administration, not the soon-to-be president's. I would much prefer a clean campaign season that focuses on issues, and a more cohesive society that would accommodate such a courtesy as suspending a campaign under these circumstances, but I'm no idealist and we don't live in an ideal country today. I'm glad to see Obama fight back after all of this time instead of taking hits in a dirty fight like he's the whimp on the school yard.

    Jesus! It's amazing how the dirtiest most integrity-lacking Republican campaign can be run and it's leaders attempt to stand in judgement of the other whith such a warped sense of elitist entitlement. Take as good as you give, McCain-Palin, and stop whining and demanding apologies like squealing pigs! (No lipstick intended!)

    September 13, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  12. Palin the Truth hurts.

    Its true that McPain is running a below 5th Grade level Lie and Smear Angry little boy campaign. Spewing lies faster than they can be exposed.
    What happened to Straight Talk?
    Where is the Honorable John McCane?

    There is NO HONOR is Straight Lies.. Sorry..
    Its a sad day in America.

    Whats really sad is that some Americans are buying the lies.
    After we all should have learned a Painful 8 year lesson. 🙁

    Add Palin to it and now we have a Two Headed Serpent speaking with "forked tongues"

    May God Protect us from those that would destroy us from within.

    September 13, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  13. Sage

    i am so happy she said the truth...John McCain has been LYING. i dont know how a real Christian can believe a single word falling out of McCain's lips. John McCain has shown America that he has NO honor. it is so sad to all Americans that thr John McCain of 2000 has been lost through the nasty Bush tactics that McCain has now adopted.

    September 13, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  14. Kevin from Florida

    Good go right in & slap Mc90% in his old lying face. Its about to get good people.

    September 13, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. Mike Kaplan

    It's about time Obama started giving them a taste of their own medicine.

    But notice that what Obama says is tough, but true. McCain and Palin, on the other hand, have been lying nonstop. We're used to a certain amount of spin from politicians, but McCain and Palin are just plain lying, every day, all day long.

    I'm reminded of Mary McCarthy's description, "Every word out of their mouth is a lie.....including 'and' and 'the'...."

    September 13, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  16. laraine

    Gobama. As Barack says–when mccain attacks with lies about him, he will respond with the truth about mccain. Please, America, don't keep going down the same road we've been on for 8 years. Our country is better than that . Vote obama and change the direction of our country.

    September 13, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. grandma

    Enough is enough 'Yes, we can change'

    September 13, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Kristen

    Let me get this straight: The McCain camp says Obama has sunk to a new low? I see, so when McCain LIES over and over again he should just let them do it because of a hurricane. They're full of it. I don't want another president the LIES.

    September 13, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  19. Lee for Obama

    You go Senator Obama. Do what you need to do. We know what we need to do as Americans. We'll get out there today and join rescue efforts in the Gulf Coast. In the next few weeks we'll send books for ruined libraries and clothes for people who lost everything. And cash...we'll dig deep and send what we can. We'll offer homes for dogs and cats found as orphans in the storm. We'll line up and give blood to help the victims of the terrible commuter train crash in California.

    We'll read the papers and use the internet to stay informed on what's happing in our country, and in Venezuela, and in Georgia, and Afghanistan, so that we can understand the issues that face us.

    We will not take sound bites as fact. We will research the reality behind them. We'll read and nonpartisan reports. We'll keep asking questions until we get answers so that we can become what this country informed electorate. We'll hold Republicans and Democrats alike accountable.

    We won't be distracted and make decisions based on "us against them" or on fear. We'll think about what we can do to help ourselves and reach out to those that need our help. We're doing what you asked us, as Americans, to do.

    Now Senator Obama, you and Senator Biden do this for us...go out there and win this election.

    September 13, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  20. Olivia

    John McCain is not George Bush.

    For some reason Obama thinks he has and is running a fair good campaign. I have been watching closely....from the primaries.....and all I have to say to Obama is "In your dreams".

    McCain/Palin is a good ticket. Sans celebrities, et al.

    September 13, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  21. Muckinello

    Gloves are off! Let's fight the republican smear machine, in typical Rove style. Let's get the record straight! Obama fights for us, McCain fights for the special interests and his millionaire wife (she will get 700,000$ back according to McCain's plan, you and I will get the crumbs falling from the table).
    Obama/Biden 08, for the sanity of this Country!

    September 13, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  22. Earl

    GIVE IT TO THEM their snake heads in the ground

    September 13, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. alex

    Obama is telling it like it is. For those who seek truth, you can find it here. I challenge McCain supporters and Obama supporters alike to RESEARCH the truth, RESEARCH the policies, and RESEARCH the needs and wants of our country.

    In the upcoming debates, we will truly see the metal, intelligence, and capabilities of our candidates and their VP's. Listen with unbiased minds and unbiased hearts because the very future of our country is at stake. Choose not what is good for the few, but what is good for the many. From the very founding of this country to the point we are at today, we have thrived because the individual was given the opportunity to thrive, if they desired it enough and worked hard for it.

    In this election, we must elect the individual who will give the most opportunity for our countrymen and women. With a failing economy, expanded opportunity is exactly what we need. Each candidate will propose solutions. Some propositions will be nothing but empty rhetoric, others will have the ideas and momentum to be accomplished. We, the people, must decide who the better candidate to accomplish these things will be.

    September 13, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Jim

    Ok, so every thing the Obama campaign does is a new low, huh? Is that basically the GOP's stance?

    September 13, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  25. Akoth

    Palin is fading the truth is coming out, Obama is back, he had the same message when he was up and when he was down, if you supported him, he is back. Credit to Mc he did make us loose out stand for a while but we see clealy now. Our President is back.

    September 13, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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