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. Trill

    McCain better back off the skeletonal claims with his even more previously unknown VP candidate. (a-hum – Alaska Successionist Party, Witch-Doctors, Et-al)

    McCain, I thought you were a man of integrity, but I don't think you'll even be able to look in the mirror after you've lost this presidential bid.

    Good Riddance Sir.

    From a TRUE Independent.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Dax

    Desparation is the mother of invention. The weak are easy to sway. And McCain you have most of them aready. It the economy stupid. "The Fundimentals are strong"

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

    (CORRECTION, please)

    Let's all find out who the REAL John McCain is.........JUST DON'T PRESS THE MAN TOO HARD........he will either bail or lose his temper.

    McCain's smears reveal a lot about his personality. Can this be the same John McCain who wanted a "civil campaign"?

    BRING ON THE DEBATE...........OUR ECONOMY should be the primary topic! McCain can leave his smears at home!

    OBAMA / BIDEN 08

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  4. Tired of the Lying

    John McCain is a liar! It's so obvious to those of us paying attention that McCain is just doing pre-emptive finger-pointing and accusing Obama of the things that McCain himself is guilty of. These are the old Rove tricks and they think we won't remember the way they applied them to Kerry and to Gore. America deserves better than more of this deceit. Voting for Obama is the only way out of this mess.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  5. Chris

    Good luck McLame and Palin trying to "reframe" the economic conversation as the world markets are failing and the Dow is down 750 points. We want to hear about what John McCain will do...he just wants to talk about Barack. McCain is a stoddgy old man who is curt, impolite, and a liar.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  6. drummajor66

    It's about time. Obama fired the first shot a few weeks ago when he said he was taking off the gloves. Well, well, now everybody's gloves are off. Whoever McCain knew, they didn't try to kill Americans. They didn't preach hate to Americans & they don't go on anit Black tirades like Obama's friends go on anti white tirades.
    The problem for McCain is that every news organization out here has their lips hermetically sealed to Obama's butt. So any chance of real news or investigative journalism is slim to none.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Shawn - GA

    Mr. Obama jumped too soon, he just is not ready to lead. This man's ego is larger than the country. I know he gives great speaches, that means nothing when the tires hit the road though and the pressure is on.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. gpm

    John McCain has a long history of dealings with people of questionable character and who have exploited the USA for their own benefit. Namely, Charles Keating and the Lincoln Savings and Loan Bank.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. PA will always stay BLUE!

    From McCain:
    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?"
    ______________________________________________________

    NO WE DON'T. We know who he is and what he is all about. He is going to be the next President of the United States of America: Barack HUSSEIN OBAMA.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. JLB

    McCain will long be remembered for his Rovian tactics and his VP pick. Thats all he will be remembered for.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. wam

    Check the past McCain! And Palin...what a disgrace! If her husband had lived during the Civil War, he would be acccused and charged with treason-professing secession from the union! And skirting legal subpoenas! Remember....no one is above the law!!!!! The founding fathers believed that! Oh opps! Nixon was above the law! and he was a Republican!!!!! So, I guess old timers never change!
    Obama/Biden 08

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. robby

    On a day when Dow is already down 700... this guy is getting into gutter politics. He has indeed lost it.

    October 6, 2008 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Sunny

    Let'shear that later. But first, Who is John McCain? A BIG IDOT. Who is Sarah Palin? STUPID Woman from Alaska. What will they do together? Make George Bush look as a better Presidenty in coming years.

    Vote Obama and you have got the hwole democratic party behind him who knows how to control the economy. Vote McCain who does not know anything about economy, education, health care but he knows one thing – WAR, BOMB, WAR, BOMB. And that moose eating side-kick is even worse. If her bark is this worse how would be her bite?

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. Brandon

    Well, may be McCain is desperate or may be not.
    Obama should let people ask him simple questions about who he is.
    His book did not tell his Muslim background and all his dealings or history in Indonesia or when he started going to Church in Chicago.
    The mentorship under Mitchell too.
    Americanc deserve to know more than Obama wants them to ask.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  15. drone

    Smear all you want McNugget.... You will still lose.. I'll let my VOTE do the talkin captain geritol.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  16. Bruce

    Remember the FACT IS McCain got more money from Fannie and Fredy CEO's than Obama did by a 10 to 1 ratio that is right McCain took 10 TIMES more money from The CEOs of Fannie and Fredie CEO's and his advisor was on their payrole until last month!!

    McCain we are tired of YOUR LIES and your failure to LEAD.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  17. Randy

    I've known both John and Cindy McCain were involved in the S&L scandal in the late 80s and early 90s since Keating went to jail. McCain was corrupt then and is corrupt now. McCain will lie cheat and steal the election if he can. The problem is that everyone knows he is lying about Obama and has lost all credibility with everyone except the cynical and ignorant right wing Republicans. All we can do at this point is hope that there are fewer cynics and dullards this election.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. Sam in NC

    McCain is just trying to turn things off of the economy!!! And after hearing about the Keating connection I can imagine he would like to look the other way. Sorry McCain you and your gang aren't going to get away with Swift Boating anyone ...make sink your own ship!!!!!!

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. Neil

    And what exactly does this say about McCain's record?! He has been in goverment for 26 years, and look at the mess we are in now... His so-called experience amounts to nothing in my book. Anyone who agrees with Bush 90% of the time is not someone I want running my country for the next four years. Give me a break, there is no reason this race should be this close. Wake up America!!! The only real change will come via Obama and Biden in the White House.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. digusted New Yorker

    theyre desperate. theyre losing in states that they theoretically shouldnt be. its over for the true patriots of gods country

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. Maurice-College Park MD

    Well Well well,its about time McCain and his minions began the attack,I mean why not.They cannot beat Sen.Obama on any issue so let's smear his name and reputation.Let's deal out a wheel barrel full of lies and misinformation..You see America,the McCain campaign and the Republicans are calling you Stupid,because every major critical issue that faces every single citizen in this COUNTRY the Republicans have been spoon feeding us all this crap and pathetic lies.My response to McCain and that moron Palin..the next time you want to run the Country,try applying some Vaseline first,that way at least we could walk away from you on our own

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. monique

    CNN this election is getting very ugly anytime you have a supporter at the palin rally today yelling "kill em" .......this is taking a turn for the worst.... and if anything happens to obama... enlight of palin invoking a false claim that obama "pals with terriost" blood will be on john mccains hands!!!

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Brad

    Bill "Slick Willy ' Clinton was the one who got the law changed to allow for these fraudulant loans to occur alont with his democratic friends, now we are paying for it and they want us to believe it was everyone else at fault, typical mentality of that type.
    I don't know how many of these "CHANGE" people realize they once had a guy who was going to do all this and it cost us big time. I hope they study on Carter because that is what Obama is going to give us.
    Nothing more than smoke and mirrors, hey maybe he could take his act with Biden on the road to Vegas and use the smoke and mirrior act to make him disappear to.
    Obama has no experience at this level at all, period no exception to be made on th at case. He has never been a mayor, never been a govenor or anything else, he just popped up one day as a media darling and you idiots feel for him hook line and sinker, only makes me wonder why we don't just put them on a TV reality program and then vote them off for who we think is the most popular. Oh wait I forget we have the press for that, also you guys whine about McCain being friends with the moderator, how stupid can you be when the last moderator for our VP's was an author for a book on Obama? Do you people really think we are that stupid?

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. joe 6 pack

    McCain, reminds me something very very disturbing. He has proven himself the bigger LIAR, and has shied away from reponding to allegations that his sponsored ads border on the non-fiction, yet he insists on treating the american people as if they were some half-witted mindless zombies who watch fox-news and don't have a clue about anything beyond their immediate sphere of influence. Finding himself the bigger loser in a republican sponsored campaign to blind-sight the american people then reveal a financial crisis at the end of their reign as a democratic folly that was beyond their control, he decides to play dumb with the press, and with the people. I am very saddened that he has decided to attack someone's character instead of offering policies and counter arguments. It's very very sad and today I must admit that I am a bit ashamed of our political system and wish it were more honourable. Shame on all of you.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. rendezvous@yahoo.com

    In my opinion:

    Obama: Zero governance experience
    Obama: Much ado about nothing
    Obama: Someone who could not respect Hillary
    Obama: Bringing Chicago politics to Washington

    ..I supported Hillary all along and now I WILL vote for McCain/Palin.
    Besides being my opinion.. that is also the THE truth.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18