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. Dan, Maryland

    "He said I was questioning his patriotism, let me be clear, I am not questioning his patriotism" – John McCain.

    Hmm...."this will be a campaign about the issues" – John McCain.

    really? "The fundamentals of the economy are strong" – John McCain.

    John McCain's new slogan:
    John McCain – I'm full of hot air and what I say doesn't match the truth.

    I miss the McCain of 2000, as far as I'm concerned my decision was made up as soon as he tried to take a short cut with the "straight talk express" and he's been stuck in the gutter ever since.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  2. Elizabeth Smith

    As usual, now that McCain is trailing big time, they have started putting out their usual GOP attack ads filled with lies about Obama. This is a sure sign of their fear of losing the election.

    There was a time when I had said that McCain might be the only republican I could ever vote for - NO LONGER TRUE - THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL I'LL EVER VOTE FOR HIM – NOW OR EVER IN THE FUTURE.

    HE HAS SHOWN THAT HE IS NOT A "MAVERICK" BY RESORTING TO THE USUAL SMEAR TACTICS THAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE KNOWN FOR. I AM SICK TO DEATH OF THESE KIND OF TACTICS!!!!

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

    "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."

    ACTUALLY McCain does need some lessons on telling the truth - he's a pathological liar since his Keating days. Attacking another politician on character probably isn't smart when the McCain/Palin ticket has more than enough skeletons in their closet.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  4. Derek

    It should be fairly obvious that they "turning the page" from the economy, but if you are gonna turn that page should it be to an issue that is relevant to the american people, not to a disgusting attack ad that senator McCain has denounced in the past.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    John McCain is a dirtbag, running a dirtbag campaign.

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

    Don't tell me what the other guy isn't going to do. TELL ME WHAT _YOU_ ARE GOING TO DO.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  7. REAL Christian for OBAMA

    Shame McShame is YOUR NAME....

    What happened to an HONEST Campaign?

    YOU LIED AGAIN ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    Obama / Biden '08

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. JIMMY

    SADLY, WE KNOW MCCAINS RECORD.

    KEATING 5.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    All MCain can do is Attack Obama. Tell us what you will do if you become President.

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Peter

    Its about the ECONOMY – STUPID!

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Dana from NY

    I think the better question is... Who is the REAL John McCain and Sarah Palin- certainly NOT MAVERICKS...more like WOLVES IN SHEEPS CLOTHING!
    I wish McCain would apply the same level of Scrutiny to his own VP Pick- can't wait to see the troopergate report this Friday!!
    John McCain is grasping at anything at this point- but based on every reliable news source I have read today- no one seems to be biting!
    Instead of coming out with a message for the American people- TO the American people- in regards to their highest Concerns- to help raise them out of this horrific economic crisis- instead he and failin palin invoke messages of lies, fear, and smears. Americans are exhausted- we just want someone who sincerely has OUR interests at heart- not their own! Who sincerely sees HOPE in our future- and sincerely wants to turn things around for ALL of us.
    We must elect Obama our next President November 4th!!

    October 6, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. PA Marine Woman

    As a woman who had yet to make up her mind i find this appalling. The man was 8, 8 YEARS OLD when his so called terrorist pal was doing crazy things! They push people like me further and further from that ticket. Palin, McCain i really wanted to hear your idea's on fixing the economy... but if this is how low you are willing to sink, it would be a great dishonor to the presidency and our country to have either of you as our leader. You claim country before party...this PROVES THAT TO BE YOUR GREATEST FALLACY!
    This is one independent woman who will vote Democrat, not because of Obama but because of your dishonor.
    ::winks at Palin:: One Marine to another McCain!

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Carrie Goodeagle Hayden, Idaho

    So Sara (what's her name) claims to be a good christian. I doubt that, she is just plain mean-spirited. Her kind of meaness requires exorcism, not just hand-on. prayers. What a hypocrit (oh almost forgot) with lipstick.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  14. proud army and navy mom

    the stocks are down 700 points and mcwar is still attacking.

    Please stop the madness, mcsenile. You are beginning to be irrelevant.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Rich

    This is sooooooo sad. McCain has become McSmear! Well Johnny, my retirement plans have lost over $50K, and I'm hurting. Tell me again how attacking Obama makes me feel better?????

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Amazing!!!

    McCain flips flops on his integrity!

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. CJG

    MCCain & Palin are not just taking the low road , but are digging a gutter to run in.

    Does he think the Rove tactics and swift boating of the past 2 republican campaigns will still work . The term swift boating is now used to describe GOP lies about their opponents .

    I hope we have learned something when it comes to GOP misinformation (lies). Look at the past 8 years , look at where we are as a country. Look at how the world views us now. Go back to the 90's and how we prospered. I want that back , not 4 more years of the same.

    OBAMA -BIDEN .... CHANGE WE DESPERATELY NEED NOW!

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  18. Hate and fear

    Yeah... getting mean really inspires me Senator. No thanks... I choose hope.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  19. Manny

    Getting desparate. The republicans are pathetic–the whole bunch!

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  20. MRS

    The entire McCain campaign has been nothing but a series of accusations against his opponents and this speech is no different. Why can't he simply discuss the issues and leave the Obama bashing at home. McCain and his campaign are the ones who appear to believe if you say something enough times it will be true. Read factcheck.org and you will see the real story of which candidate misleads the American public more and surprise it is not Barack Obama. Why is it that McCain is running for president at a time when our country has many issues that need to be discussed yet his entire speech is about Barack Obama?

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Les Young

    How many times is McCain going to reframe his message on the economy sound like he does not know what to do. This guys wife does not even let him have any thing to do with her Company and he wants us to let him ruin our country. This guy is desperate and will do and say anything. This country can not stand another term of the Republian party and George Bush like policies of John McCain.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  22. Tony

    YAWN!

    DESPERATE ACTS BY A DESPERATE, ANGRY OLD MAN.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  23. Mike D

    CNN, how much is McCain paying you for the publicity? With fans like you, he doesn't even need to buy advertising!

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  24. WOULD YOU PUT A CONVICTED CHILD MOLESTOR IN CHARGE OF KNDERGARTEN CHILDREN? THEN WHY CONSIDER PUTTING MR “KEATING 5” IN CHARGE OF THE LARGEST ECONOMY IN THE FREE WORLD? PALIN=TROOPERGATE SO 2 CROOKS ON THE SAME TICKET?

    Now, what’s her name has been relegated to the back pages of the political history book, where her only stated merit will that she freed Dan Quayle from the public humiliation he as had to endure. She is officially a bigger bobble head than he is.

    The Reptilians should be proud that their campaign has been reduced to an iconic American punch line!

    The Reptilians should just privately concede the election and do an honorable last month so they will live to fight another day. MAYBE they can regroup in time for 2012.

    Continuing down the road the “Liar’s Express” is now traveling will only bring out the whole Keating 5 etc, and cause the Reptilians to lose any respect from middle America. Reptilians will not only be a laughing stock, but a dishonored laughing stock.

    No political clout for decades.

    But hey, what do I know.

    WOULD YOU PUT A CONVICTED CHILD MOLESTOR IN CHARGE OF KNDERGARTEN CHILDREN? THEN WHY CONSIDER PUTTING MR “KEATING 5” IN CHARGE OF THE LARGEST ECONOMY IN THE FREE WORLD? PALIN=TROOPERGATE SO 2 CROOKS ON THE SAME TICKET?

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  25. Muckinello

    Let's talk about the DOW loosing 750 points.. let's talk about my 401(k) loosing 35%... McCain.. SHAME ON YOU!

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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