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. Nathan

    These are all old failed attacks. Obama continues to grow his lead every time McCain and Palin speak. This tells us America has had enough of Karl Rove and George Bush style politics - we need real plans and action - not smears. I used to respect McCain...

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Pete in Columbus

    McCains ignorance comes shining thru.......we are in the middle of an economic crisis and all he wants to do is to bring the "Country First" down further. He doesnt care nearly as much about the Country as much as he cares about himself. No way McCain........and never again!

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  3. Matt--Nebraska

    McCain is right to do this.

    It's a shame he has to do the media's job for them.

    Obama has so many skeleton's in his closet it isn't even funny, and the American voter knows NOTHING about them.

    Why??

    Because discount media democrat hacks like CNN prop up Obama and don't dare say a bad thing about him.

    Even with this article, CNN shrugs it off as a MCCAIN 'Attack'.

    Pitiful.

    Where do I buy my "Don't blame me, I voted McCain/Palin!' bumper sticker?

    May as well pick up an 'Impeach Obama' one too.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. George

    Please America wake up! McCain/ Palin will take you to a very deep and real depression

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. elizabeth

    John McCain is willing to put everything first, except the country. This type of disgusting campaigning is pathetic coming from a man who always claims moral superiority. What is he willing to do to the American people to gain the presidency? McCain has mastered the "apology" after he gets what he wants. Perhaps he will be apologizing for the tactics of his campaign, if he gets into the White House as a result. I doubt he will otherwise.

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

    It's not going to work this time John. Your best bet is to come up with a real plan to put people back to work.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. McShame

    Shameful......even if he wins the election, his credibility and trustworthiness will be long gone.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. R Wolf

    I think if McShame wants to delve into character issues, he needs only to turn inward. He has enough lack of judgement, character and trust (ie relationship to Charles Keating and the investigation into him and five other Senators during the Savings and Loan crisis, his treatment of his first wife, his going to Washington to fix the budget crisis, but stopping for a fancy dinner, first, and then going to the debate prior to the crisis being resolved, congratulating himself for getting the House vote when it fell flat the first time, etc.) to fill the next 30 some days until the election. Then, add his running mate, and the probe into her dealings with TrooperGate, the Bridge to Nowwhere, etc., and you've got yourself quite a nice mess. Instead of trying to trash Obama, why don't you start telling the American people how you'll help them with medical insurance ($5,000 will get us nowhere), joblessness, homelessness, plunging stock market, staggering National debt and so much more. You're desperation is showing from the tip of your toes to the top of your little head!

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. lewis - Colorado

    Somebody needs to advice McCain, that we need to talk about economy and not attacks. What is he thinking about the economy? if he ever does.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Xavier, Saint Louis, Missouri

    More lies and desperation from the Straight Lie Express. GET REAL John McBush! Your campaign is stinking faster than the Titanic and you and clueless airhead Palin in going down!

    END THE DRAMA, VOTE OBAMA!

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. TAINOPOWER

    Show nobama how is done. This rookie think he is in a states race .you just cant push your opponent out like you did in Chicago.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. I love this country

    Hypocritical is the only nice thing I can say about this man and his pitiful campaign.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. Consuela, Canada

    "I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people,"

    I'm sorry, but I think you do, after all the lies you & your running mate have been spreading around!!!

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

    HEY... John McCain I want to know what you are going to do about this stinking economy.People are losing big money in their pension funds and this is all you care about???

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

    I have a better question...Who's the real John McCain?McCain is a joke looking for a pity vote.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  16. Ex GOPer

    Now this would be a good arguement one if it where true and two if McCain had any credebility left.

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

    Wow John McCain. That silly argument might work if it hadn't already been used for months in the primaries by Hillary Clinton. I mean, is this deja vu? The low road didn't work for her, and it won't change people's minds now. Barack Obama has been vetted for the past year regarding these silly distracting non-issues, and somehow the McCain campaign now thinks it's reinventing the wheel.

    Your economic policy ideas, your health care ideas, and your social security ideas are all absurd, and are only retreads of 80's policy that didn't work then and won't work now.

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Independent for Obama

    When is McCain/Palin going to talk about the issues. Or are we going to only focus on Keating Five, Charlie Black, G. Gordon Liddy and Rick Davis?

    October 6, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  19. Addi

    Hello MCcain,
    Why do you waste your time, you know this tactic didn't work in the primary. the more you talk about negative, people will dislike you and I am a foriegner from the third world and you can't foolish this educated people but also my poor mind from the third world.

    Please, be a man and talk about what our world face right now.
    Addis
    From Ethiopia

    October 6, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  20. PoliticoPundit

    Should I be glad CNN is brining Non-Issue back to campaign, Raised by political parties, while our 401k is going down the drains.

    I want to know who is talking economy and what EXACTLY they gonna do about it. I don't want to know if main street is taken care of in $700 Billion bailout. I don't want to know 4 points in the bailout which should be there. I want to know what my next president is going to do to recover. and I also don't want to know who did this, we know that.

    October 6, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. Chas

    As McCain slides in the polls, he gets ever more desperate. I sincerely hope that this 'strategy of the week' fails, and that the American people see McCain for what he truly is: a politician grasping at straws and willing to do anything to get elected. This is a sad moment for America.

    October 6, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. Hetal

    "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."

    Enough said.

    October 6, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  23. Enough is Enough from Dallas, TX

    All people (with any common sense) want to know is: What has McMcain ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short, who is the real John McCain?

    We all know who the real John McCain is...he is a liar of huge porportions and living in his own senile bubble. A maverick is someone with new ideas...the guy is cluless and so is his gal.
    This guy is such a sleazy creepy liar and his gal is no better! How does this senile idiot have the nerve to question Obama's accomplishements when his are even more questionable? How questionable is his common sense when he praised his gal's performance after the vp debate? All she did was repeat her memorized lines...she was a complete air-head. Everyone said Biden won and once again he was spewing his lies, smirking, grinning and claiming she had won. Does he think by repeating his blatant lies over & over again then his mindless desperate supporters will just absorb his bull as truth? These type of stepford repugs. are desperately scary.

    October 6, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. JR Idaho

    Dear John,
    This is old news.
    The stock market is crashing.
    Please explain your economic platform instead.
    Thanks,
    Concerned American

    October 6, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  25. larry wi

    It's about time McCain gets down an dirty, he needs to put Obama in his place, and show the American voters who's the boss. Obama needs to be put be on the defensive big time. Ole B O is going downnnn. Doesn't "B O" stand for something that stinks, phewwww.

    October 6, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
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