October 6th, 2008
06:15 PM ET
13 years ago

McCain gets more aggressive: 'Who is the real Barack Obama?'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/05/art.macdenver10050.gi.jpg caption="McCain will hold a rally in Tennessee later Monday."](CNN) - John McCain raised questions about Barack Obama's background and questioned the Illinois senator's truthfulness at a rally in New Mexico Monday, one day before the two White House hopefuls square off at the second presidential debate.

The comments, which came hours after Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin publicly questioned Obama's patriotism while raising questions about his connections to onetime radical William Ayers, are among McCain's harshest language to date on the campaigning trail and signal the campaign is ratcheting its attacks on the Illinois senator with less than 30 days remaining until Election Day.

Earlier: Palin says Obama 'palling around with terrorists'

"I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people," McCain will say according to prepared text sent out by his campaign. "And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn’t seek advice from a Chicago politician."

McCain delivered the remarks at a rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the hardly-fought battleground state where the latest CNN poll of polls shows the Arizona senator trailing slightly.

"My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned," McCain also said. "For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that."

The new language is part of the McCain campaign's effort to move away from the country's economic crisis as the primary narrative on the campaign trail, aides told CNN's Dana Bash earlier Monday. McCain, the aides say, will try to reframe the economic issue into an overall theme that Obama is still a virtual unknown, and is not the right person to steer the country through its current financial turmoil.

"All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama?" McCain said.

Read excerpts from McCain's speech Monday

The Obama campaign quickly responded to the comments, calling McCain the "one truly angry candidate in this race.

“On a day when the markets are plunging and the credit crisis is putting millions of jobs at risk, the one truly angry candidate in this race kept up his strategy of ‘turning the page’ on the economy by unleashing another frustrated tirade against Barack Obama," Spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

My opponent has invited serious questioning by announcing a few weeks ago that he would quote - “take off the gloves.” Since then, whenever I have questioned his policies or his record, he has called me a liar.

Rather than answer his critics, Senator Obama will try to distract you from noticing that he never answers the serious and legitimate questions he has been asked. But let me reply in the plainest terms I know. I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people. And were I ever to need any improvement in that regard, I probably wouldn’t seek advice from a Chicago politician.

My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that. Whatever the question, whatever the issue, there’s always a back story with Senator Obama. All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama? But ask such questions and all you get in response is another barrage of angry insults.

Our current economic crisis is a good case in point. What was his actual record in the years before the great economic crisis of our lifetimes?

This crisis started in our housing market in the form of subprime loans that were pushed on people who could not afford them. Bad mortgages were being backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and it was only a matter of time before a contagion of unsustainable debt began to spread. This corruption was encouraged by Democrats in Congress, and abetted by Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has accused me of opposing regulation to avert this crisis. I guess he believes if a lie is big enough and repeated often enough it will be believed. But the truth is I was the one who called at the time for tighter restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that could have helped prevent this crisis from happening in the first place.

Senator Obama was silent on the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and his Democratic allies in Congress opposed every effort to rein them in. As recently as September of last year he said that subprime loans had been, quote, “a good idea.” Well, Senator Obama, that “good idea” has now plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

To hear him talk now, you’d think he’d always opposed the dangerous practices at these institutions. But there is absolutely nothing in his record to suggest he did. He was surely familiar with the people who were creating this problem. The executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have advised him, and he has taken their money for his campaign. He has received more money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than any other senator in history, with the exception of the chairman of the committee overseeing them. Did he ever talk to the executives at Fannie and Freddie about these reckless loans? Did he ever discuss with them the stronger oversight I proposed? If Senator Obama is such a champion of financial regulation, why didn’t he support these regulations that could have prevented this crisis in the first place? He won’t tell you, but you deserve an answer.

Who is the real Senator Obama? Is he the candidate who promises to cut middle class taxes, or the politician who voted to raise middle class taxes? Is he the candidate who talks about regulation or the politician who took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned a blind eye as they ran our economy into a ditch?

Is he the candidate who promises change, or is he the politician who has bought into everything that is wrong with Washington? We can’t change the system with someone who’s never fought the system.

Washington is on the wrong track and I’m going to set it right. The American people know my record. They know I am going to change Washington, because I’ve done it before. They know I’m going to reform our broken institutions in Washington and on Wall Street because I’ve done it before. They know I’m going to deliver relief to the middle class, because that’s what I’ve done.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (431 Responses)
  1. AH

    Utter and complete nonsesnse from an erratic, out of touch, out of time, desperate campaign!

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Becky

    McCain is a liar who is trying to convince us Americans that he's not a liar.

    Economy is # 1 issue, and McCain is not the man for the job. I wish I could do early voting in PA so I could vote Obama/Biden and just get this over with.

    McCain and Palin lie lie lie lie lie lie "hey we're not liars" and lie lie lie lie lie lie "no really we're not cuz we say we're not" lie lie lie lie lie

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. Cam

    McCain's strategy is pathetic. I mean, everything he will say about Obama actually is more applicable to him and Palin.

    1) "I don't need lessons in telling the truth to the American people" – UMMM actually Johnny, you and Palin both could use a crash course in honesty.

    2) "It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records" – OKAY why is it okay for Palin to not cooperate and why is your campaign advising a private citizen, Todd Palin, to ignore a lawfully upheld subpoena? Doesn't that mean that the rules don't apply to them? Ya, that's what I thought.

    3) "I guess he believes if a lie is big enough and repeated often enough it will be believed" – DOES that mean he agrees with your entire campaign strategy John?

    4 "Is he the candidate who talks about regulation or the politician who took money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned a blind eye as they ran our economy into a ditch?" – Why not answer for the inside lobbyist connection of your campaign manager Rick Davis, who apparently was paid $15,000 a month on the promise of access to a McCain Presidency.......when did Rick's firm stop collecting payments again? Oh ya about a month ago......

    I could go on but I'm tired of typing. For all of you out there, Democrats and Republicans, take a critical (ie. non-partisan) view of McCain's comments and strategy and you will see that the idea is to use everything negative about himself and his running mate as an argument against Obama.

    Truly sad. I hope this clown loses BIG.

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Seth in Jacksonville, FL

    What people want to know is: "What are you going to do to help us get through this economic nightmare?"

    We don't care about people Obama bumps into in his neighborhood.

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. al in memphis

    The new language is part of the McCain campaign's effort to move away from the country's economic crisis as the primary narrative on the campaign trail, aides told CNN's Dana Bash earlier Monday

    __________________________________________________

    Too bad the average voter just can't change the subject and expect our economic conditions to get better. Two weeks ago, McCain though the bailout crisis was so important he suspend his campaigning. Now, I guess the economy is back to normal so his campaign can move on to more important things - mudslinging to win an election.

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. Mark NJ

    Oh man...here we go again (Willi Horton, Swift Boat). You republicans should be ashamed of yourselves. You can't win on issues so you resort to slime. We are in this deep shik because of republican lies, deceit, and selfishness.

    Remember, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and smells like a duck, it's a republican.

    America "MAKE YOUR CHOICE" ... a democrat, or a lying, cheating, stinking duck.

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  7. Grandma for O

    "The American people know my record"

    Yes Senator McCain, we know your record and that is why I'm not voting for you. The only things you have ever gone against the Bush Whitehouse were the current newsmaking stories. None of it had anything to do with the bread and butter issues we are dealing with today. Not to mention, you have increasingly voted in line with Bush and with everything that is wrong with our Governement today. You are 100% in line with Bush, you are no maverick or Washington game changer.

    Just look at how you are now running your campaign. So much for running a clean and honorable campaign.

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  8. Mark Wagner

    It's fun watching McCain throw the kitchen sink.

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Juge

    Bah Humbug McCain – you can run but you can't hide from your record that has brought this country to this point in its economic freefall and its standing in the opinion of the world.

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. MeKu, WA

    What a loser McCain. Each day you are erroding your maverick status. You can not scare America from the issues we really care about. It did not work for Hillary during the primary season. Just quit with grace anddo America favour to work from this economic crisis you and your alikes created.

    Obama '08

    October 6, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. Pathetic

    Politicians can stoop to any level. McCain, once a straigt talk guy, its shameful that he is falling in the smear tactics. What a disgrace!!! Pathetic i can say.

    Focus on issues. That is where the attention should be!!

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. smokesignals

    KEATING FIVE, MCCAIN!

    Who are you to cast stones? Hmpf!

    I'm disgusted at how low McCain will go.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. Jim Buckle

    Americans will recognize the constant stream of lies from this campaign. We want solutions, not more lies.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  14. Colorado Voter

    I'm honestly trying to follow McCain and Palin here, but they're losing me on this. What is their plan to deal with the economic crisis? Seriously? It is hard to believe that they've actually given up already, but when your campaign becomes about bringing down the other guy more than elevating your own agenda, it rings like a surrender by McCain. Is he that far behind? It seems more competitive than that to me. I don't know why he's giving up.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  15. Bad Change

    Obama Hussein has ties to terrorists and speaks badly about our troops, like they're terrorists! Why does Obama hate America, he refuses(in the past) to wear a flag pin, and has some sort of problem with the national anthem?

    Ever notice how Obama/Binden say they are gonna 'end' the war and how McCain/Palin says were gonna 'win' the war?!

    America wants winners, not losers like the Dem ticket. Vote for the hero and not the zerO!! Mac/Palin '08

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. ConsiderThis, FL

    More of the same gutter politics. That's all that McCain and Palin have left to try and insult Americans' intelligence. The risk is in McCain and Palin who are carbon copies of Bush and Chaney. I wonder if Americans could stand 4 more years of incompetence, degenerating intellect, an above-the-law approach to governing, thievery for the wealthy, culturally divisiveness, war-mindedness, arrogance, selfishness, criminality, wickedness, scumyness, quick-temperedness, irraticness, unexposedness, unlearnedness, remedial thinking, shallowness, lying and disrespectfulness in the President and Vice President of these United States. Haven't we had enough??? Don't let McCain/Palin appeal to the worst in us. Demand that the next President/Vice President appeal to the best in us.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. ber6964

    McCain you are too funny... Who is Barack Obama?? He's the next President of US of A....

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Hey McCain- Thanks but no thanks

    "The notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense," said Obama.
    "They were turbulent, difficult times in this country, very difficult times, many times in families," said Chicago Mayor Richard Daley.
    On Thursday, Mayor Daley was defending Obama, pointing out that Ayers comes from a prominent, civic-minded Chicago family and that Ayers himself has worked tirelessly on school reform for several decades.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Will in Richmond, VA

    Look here.

    We've had enough of this. What do you intend to do to make this country better, Mr. McCain? What policies will you enact to affect "change"? We have TONS of info on Obama. His books and his website and his TAX returns have all been made available to anyone who takes the TIME to look at and read them. From your rhetoric, you apparently don't think the American people have done that or don't care.

    The bottom line is that he isn't the risky choice, YOU are. He isn't dangerous, YOU are. You aren't the one to reach across the aisles, not only here in America but around the globe, HE is. And this line of attack will meet with utter failure and possibly the biggest landslide since Reagan.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  20. king

    what will McCain do for the American people????? what are his plans for the people given the economic crunch? McCain please tell us your plans. we the people need to know. Not what happened before a majority of us were born.....hint

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  21. Jan in CA

    This negative crap really needs to stop!! The economy is failing and McCain wants to throw mud. If he would pull back now, I know Obama would do the same. Obama can't sit by and let himself be SwiftBoated, but this is going to hurt our Country. McCain is proving once and for all he is not about Country First...

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  22. sheila dudra

    After McCain and Palin treated media like idiots and fools, I am really surprised this MEDIA still covers what these liars has to say to public.
    They need to stop covering McCain and Palin until Palin meets the press dirrectly for Q & A.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  23. Doug

    Oh goody....another presidential campaign that is going to take the low road.
    If anyone has any questions about John McCain's campaign integrity, they need only look at EVERYTHING that he and Palin have said today: Palin brings up Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright, McCain bashes Obama as basically a nothing, more crap from McCain's campaign moron Tucker Bounds....and nothing about the substantive issues that I can safely say I'm concerned about.

    John McCain has become the lowest politician of them all. I wouldn't vote for him if he was running against Satan. At least Satan has a vision and a plan.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  24. Barbara CA

    A better question is:
    'Who is the REAL John McCain?'
    His tactics are getting spookier by the minute and they do not work.

    We need leaders in the White House, with a vision for the future of our country. We need Obama and Biden in the White House working to get us out of this economic crisis.

    Go Obama/Biden.

    One man, one vote.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Bruce

    No One Trusts a LIER!! McCain is not telling the Amreican People the TRUTH.

    There is no link between Obama and Ayers. Go to Fact Check and read for yourself.

    McCain has failed to lead in this time of CRISES and he now fails to tell the truth. Once a LIER always a LIER. How can anyone trust this man to lead the nation. We have had enough lies we can't afford 4 more years of lies in the White House.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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