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. Jeff S.

    "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 will say.

    Is the McCain camp certain they want Obama to respond to those questions above? They better be ready for the answers!

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  2. RM

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

    Maybe you should sign up for some because you're clearly mistaken.

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  3. Martin in PA

    Well, anything goes when you're desperate, I suppose.

    But this move clearly shows what a petty, nasty and negative person John McCain really is. Thanks John, now we don't have to as "Who is the real John McCain" – We've seen it plainly and WE DON'T LIKE WHAT WE SEE!!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  4. EVERYMAN

    We watched as Bill Clinton pressured Fannie Mae to lower standards so unqualified minorities could buy homes and look what that got us. Do we really need four more years of Democrat hand outs????

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. DX in TX

    Let’s ask John McCain about his affiliation with John Singlaub who chaired the U.S. Council for World Freedom: An extremist, anti-Semitic, racist organization. I don’t want to believe this is true, but if it is only God can help McCain and his campaign.

    Dex
    Houston TX

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. JG from MA

    Attacking on policy is fine.

    This is just trash.

    Vote for the better policy, not the better past.

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Michael Bérubé

    "Since then, whenever I have questioned his policies or his record, he has called me a liar."

    Yes sir, Mr. McCain, that shoe seems to fit nice and snug. Just perfect. Does it feel all right in the toes? Go ahead and walk around a bit, and I'll put your old 'maverick' shoes in this box. Oh, and while you're here, would you like some lipstick?

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  8. Laideatea

    Barack Obama is a nice guy whom has a great background in helping people get on their feet. He's is of service to the people of the United States. He is a giver of knowlege and organizer of faith. His educational background speaks for it's self. McCain/Palin are out of touch with real people and the economy.

    McCain/Palin has demonstrated how to lose miserably.

    BARACK THE VOTE.

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. linda n carolina

    A young newly married woman was at an airport to fly to Norway and join her husband. The airline said she needed $125. for extra luggage. Through tears the woman could not make them understand that she had no more money A young well dressed man stepped forward and gave her the money she needed. She took down his name and address and promised to repay him as soon as she got to Norway....which she did. The year was 1988 and the young man was Barack Obama. Thats what kind of man he is. That man will be our next president.

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  10. REL

    MCSAME/PALIN have a right to talk?

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  11. Becky in Indiana

    Sorry McCain, Its all about the economy, not gossip.

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. Mickie in PA

    Well guess what, McCain is the one who is touchy about his background and is less than truthful in story about how he was not married any more when he was running around with Cindy (but he's so honorable) and he never mentions his heavy involvement (not just "palling around with Keating of the Savings and Loan Scandal, which the American people had to bail out as well) (oh, but he puts Country first). Why would I want McCain in the Whitehouse. He couldn't tell the truth if his 5 trust funds that Cindy set up depended on it. None of his ads have said anything positive he intends to do, because he doesn't have any positive news for voters.

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. abdur azad

    nothing to be surprised. mcsame surely will not hesitate to go low, to any extent, to divert voter;s attention from issue # 1, economy. it is possible for a man of 72.
    azad, new york

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. Ignore it!

    Please Mr. Obama , do not respond to any more of his attacks. If you do he is doing what he set out to do. Change the subject from the economy. Now all we're seeing in the news is talk about which of you did what.... there's no more talk about the economy taking center stage...

    October 6, 2008 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. CMitch FW, TX

    Country first. Talk about the issues? State of Economy? I’m tired of McCain and Palin negative behavior. McCain and Palin are not fit to hold Office of President and Vice President. They’re poor excuses, other countries are watching, with these two in office the American People do not have a chance. I pray that God deals with the accordingly.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  16. Lin lin

    But this is all they can do ..attack , attack

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. Maggie from Virginia

    McCain is a fraud. The Great Deregulator. That's why we're in a crisis. The McCain camp can't hide or spin this one.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. Aviate

    Let's see, John McCain's running mate is married to a man who for years belonged to a political party advocating secession. And Palin herself attended Alaskan Independence Party conventions and as governor in 2006 taped a welcoming video for its convention. The AIP's founder basically cursed the American flag and America as a country.

    So by McCain & Palin's own logic, they consort with traitors and hate America. Indeed, Palin's literally in bed with an America-hater.

    Obama is right, John McCain would rather lose his integrity and honor than lose an election. Sad. Sad. Sad.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. mary mt

    Getting ugly outside

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  20. Dee Money

    How does the first serious Black presidential candidate get the race card pulled on HIM!
    Obama's a "Chicago Politician", while Palin's just a "Washington Outsider"

    Obama/Sharpton '12

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  21. WhoCares?

    All this will make me do is just avoid politics until Election Day and then vote for the guy I am leading towards now – Obama.

    This type of horrific campaigning that is 100% negative pushes me farther and farther away John.

    People want hope, intelligence and thought-driven actions.....not 100% hate, anger, and bile.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. DriveAMclaren

    Go McCain Go ! Go to a nice retirement home. Go McCain Go.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. Bryan

    This is really pitiful. When all you can do is come up with smear tactics for your opponent rather than putting the American people at ease with some sort of plan for the country's future then you don't need to be president. McCain is taking is eye off the ball and getting bogged down in making Obama look bad instead of making himself look better to voters. That loud mouthed, VP he picked isn't helping his campaign either.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  24. Mary in Virginia

    McCain is a fool to underestimate the American people's intelligence. Does he not realize that "we the people" understand his motives and we will not support him?

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. Non-Conformist

    mac have you seen the stock Market today??????

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18