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. Peggy from Iowa

    McSame is unbelievable as always and ever will be. He has no business questioning anyone's patriotism. I believe Barrack & his family have made many sacrifices for the USA...much more than McSame and his party of evildoers. GO BARRACK, BIDEN AND THE MRS. Save this country!!!!!

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  2. Kyle

    When you can't win on issues, might as well take the low road to "victory".

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

    Who is the real John McBush ? Google Rolling Stone Magazine , self made Maverick article. Read about how a true POW Hero who was with McBush in Vietnam. Describes McBush as a self centered, selfish, spoiled, adulterous , bad tempered, not very bright, little punk.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  4. Neecy

    Now I'm just waiting for the kitchen sink!!!!!!!!
    They need to be ashamed of themselves...we are in a crisis and this is all they can come up with!!!

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  5. Margo

    Senator McCain's add are so negative anymore, I mute the TV or change the channel. It seems most of them are false or misleading.

    I thought Senator McCain promised to keep this campaign about the issues and not go negative.

    I so wanted to vote for McCain. But after McCain picked Palin for VP and the ugliness of his campaign, I'm an independent turned Democrat.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  6. Avinash Dixit

    Obama should refuse to play on McCain's ground and should not accept McCain's agenda. He should stick to the economy. The McCain campaign said that we should "turn the page on the economy". At a time when millions of Americans are losing their jobs, homes, and pensions, this is callous beyond belief.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  7. Mary Kay

    I am so tired of the McCain/Palin ticket telling us in their stump speeches why not to voter for Obama/Biden - but never including a reason to vote for them (McCain/Palin). Maybe they should throw in "a free flute recital from Palin" for anyone who says they will vote for the Republican ticket – that might attract a few more voters.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  8. Charles

    mcCain is more and more of jerk as the days go by. this guy is a true hypocrite

    Still waiting to find out – McCain instead of attackng what is your plan for the economy, for healthcare, for educatioh. Stop with the general statements. Talk about yourself. your experience

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. White Men for Obama &Biden

    McCain you can say all the negative things you want it will get you nowhere, you are a desperate man and we can see that you will come up with alot of attacts against Obama, and you what the people is not stupid they can see what a horrible person this election have made you. We are put off by all the lies that you and Palin is telling, "enough is enough" You have no plan for our America, so go back to yours 8 houses, and 13 cars and let us have a Leader that will lead us to a better future and that leader is Obama & Biden.

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. rob

    McCain is running scare. So what does he do scare the white people about the bad black man. Palin has nerve to question anyone's ethics when she has done nothing ethical since she has been in office. Dumb and Dumber are at it again. OBAMA 08

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  11. patti

    The AMERICAN People need to start looking into who Barack Obama actually is. This race is turning out to be all about black vs white.The way I see it, Obama is not a true US African American Citizen. We as Amercians have a right to vote for the person who is best to do the job. I am a McCain supporter and he will get my vote. There is to much unknown about the Democratic front runner. He talks a good talk, but is very decieving. Everyone is worried about Palin's experience, at least she is not the one on Top of the Ticket.

    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Some Things Never Change

    This proves McCain is out of touch, all he can focus on is Obama, he doesn't even see what is going on with Wall Street. Ok so we know who is paying attention and who isn't. I'm sorry McCain but the fear and smear will not work on me, I fell for it during the Bush/Kerry race, I will not fall for it again. You have no honor.

    Obama/Biden

    October 6, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Martin

    We know who Obama is. He is a good guy came to beat the hell of the evils – McShame, McBush, McMoose and McRepublic.
    No more of the same, no more swift boat politics.
    No Rove, No Mccain -especially the Nitwit pathetic palin.
    McCain is loosing his mind and palin is falling deeper and deeper in the mud.
    It is the economy stupid. Do you know how to get us out of the crisis?
    If not, shut up and let Obama win.
    Go Obama / Biden

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

    It is about time someone laid Obama's past at his doorstep. But, being the glib politician he is, he will try to slide away from the truth. You will never get a straight answer out of him. If he is elected and the Senate gets a majority of 60, can you imagine what kind of laws will be inacted? What about Supreme Court justices he will appoint? Jesse Jackson? Al Sharpton? I shudder to think about it.

    October 6, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Laurie Hamilton

    Let me just say this: CAN'T WE ALL JUST BE ADULTS AND LOOK AT THE ISSUES FACING AMERICA TODAY? This smear campaigning has got to stop, it does not make you look better just more stupid. Tell me what your exact plans are to turn around our economy, increase our foreign relations in a positive move, and stop the war in Iraq. Don't give me wishy washy answers that don't tell us anything to do with what you actually plan to do. I am an Obama supporter however if McCain/Phalin wants to win over the undecided, they need to stop the SMEAR and tell us exactly what they have planned for our country's future. We are intelligent human beings and can research the information for ourselves in order to make the best decision on our own. This is coming from a registered Republican Voter who Voted 2x for George W Bush and is very disillusioned with the Republican party at this point.

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

    McCain has lost the election. As for Palin saying that she was showing smart during Couric interview is the most ridiculous comment I ever had of. She is covering up her stupidity. That comment will drag her down. She will be the joke of of late night the comedy shows.

    October 6, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  17. FJ from Atlanta

    Desperate times calls for desperate measures.

    October 6, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  18. DEMOCRAT I N H I DING

    O B A M A,,,,,,,,,,,,I S,,,,,,,,,,,,I N,,,,,,,,,,,,P O L I T I C AL,,,,,,,,,,C U S T O DY,,,,,,

    O F,,,,,,,,,,C N N ,,,,,,,,,,,A N D,,,,,,,,,,T H E,,,,,,,,,,N E T W OR K S

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

    12 months ago, I wouild have considered voting the same as usual, for the republican. I even thought John McCain might be a good candidate, Romney might be a good running mate. My how things have changed. He has pandered, lied and now turned to dirty politics in the attack mode. He picked a complete idiot for a running mate, that can't put two sentences together, unless she reads them, just to satisfy the conservative right. I will not vote republican and will vote for Obama and I have every cofidence that it is the right choice. It is the only choice.

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

    Note to McCain,

    Obama now leads by 4 points in VIRGINIA.

    Keep it up Johnny boy.

    October 6, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. lenny

    Yea, who really knows him and thats the way I want to keep it. McCain will win.

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

    Sen.McCain is desperate....He was the one republican who I felt wouldn't stoop to such"swift-boat"tactics,but now I see otherwise.At this point in the election the only voters left to win over are independents like myself who only care about the issues.Sen.Obama has done some mud-slinging as well,but he still finds time to discuss his economic and healthcare plans.I haven't heard anything from McCain on either issue.

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

    Why are we talking about these things. My family has lost a combined 425,000 dollars in the past 3 weeks. Retirement money that I have to support now.

    McCain keeps trying to tear Obama down and not specifying what he is going to do. And Palin, sorry but she is a joke that keeps repeating itself. She doesn't have any knowledge and worse no curiosity about the world.

    We really need someone who is going to be different and not just repeating it.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 6, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  24. precious

    I have been asking this same question ever since Sen. Obama came on the scene, still to this day, I do not believe Sen. Barry (Barack Obama) is telling us the truth, but I believe he is good at hiding it. It is sad to see someone who has come this far, has to denounce the very people he has known for many years to get a position.

    I guess my question now, is "What is truly in store for America"? Too bad we can't see past today.

    October 6, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. SHAWN/KNOXVILLE

    WOW.....JUST WOW.....SHOULDN'T WE BE ASKING WHO'S THE REAL JOHN MCCAIN?

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