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. Jim Schimmer

    Sick.
    MCSAME YOU ARE SICK!!!

    GOD WILL PUNISH YOU FOR MISLEADING AMERICA!

    DEREGULATION MONSTER –

    YOU R RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MARKETS TODAY!!

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  2. Team Obama '08

    Who is Shara Palin? That's the real question!

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Ryan in Omaha

    Why would one run for President if he wasn't patriotic.

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Jquen

    Lies and negativity dont work buddy
    The American people have their eyes open, we wont fall for it again!

    YES WE CAN!

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  5. Elizabeth - Texas

    The American People know who the real Barack Obama is. The real question is who is the real John McCain. and Sarah Palin.

    Barack Obama is a true leader with sound judgement who knows how to lead the nation our of the crisis we are in.

    McCain/Palin don't have a clue what is going on. They will continue with the Bush/Chaney policies. They are both nasty awful people who cannot be trusted. They say one thing and do another.

    Vote Obama/Biden

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Pam

    Oh Please! McCain and Palin are really desperate!

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  7. Veteran in Kansas

    The question is who is John McCain.?

    Duty, Honor, Country have meanings, but when ones personal ambitions get in the way and Honor is thrown out the window and lies infect the political attacks one makes. I can just shake my head, I shall be voting Obama on 2008.

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  8. Tony

    I HAVE A PRETTY GOOD IDEA WHO BARAK OBAMA IS. I ALSO KNOW WHO THE REAL JOHN MCCAIN IS!

    HE IS AN ANGRY, DESPERATE, LYING, SELF-ABSORBED OLD MAN WITH OLD IDEAS.

    WHEN YOU HAVE NO RECORD OF YOUR OWN TO RUN ON THERE IS ONLY ONE THING LEFT TO DO. LIE, DISTORT, ACCUSE AND HOPE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BUY IT.

    COME NOVEMBER YOU AND PALIN ARE TOAST!

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. Bridget

    Sorry, Maverick, but voting for the incumbent party's policies is not a plan for change. Nice try in spinning yourself as an agent of change, Mr. 90% voting record with Bush. We actually have read up on the issues that affect us, and we are not as stupid as you seem to think we are. We know Obama. We know you. We'll be voting for the real agent of change. Sincerely, America.

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  10. Lynnette

    The real question is: Who are you Senator McCain?

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. LOL @ America

    TELL THE TRUTH JOHN MCCAIN.

    While our stocks go into free fall, you spread lies.
    While our children die in another country, you spread lies.
    While we starve, you spread lies.
    While our bridges collapse, you spread lies.

    Anyone with a brain can do some research and find out the Truth. YOU KEEP TRYING TO DISTORT THE TRUTH FOR YOUR OWN POLITICAL AMBITIONS. I WAS GOING TO VOTE FOR YOU BUT NOT NOW.

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Deb n Texas

    While McCain is launching his big attack – he need to explain why Palin of anyone else needs to stand on a pulpit and allow an African witchcraft man to lay hands on them. What kind of person would be so simple minded to believe in such foolishness. NO ONE BUT SARAH PALIN!

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  13. Team Obama '08

    Who is the real Shara Palin? That's the real question!

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  14. Greed is not good

    We know the "real" John McCain and the "real" cozy relationship with criminal Charles Keating...whom John visited 3 times at his personal resort in Bermuda.

    October 6, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  15. Moi

    McCains dishonorable negative advertising has already made me lose all respect for McCain. So now he is going to "raise questions about Barack Obama's background and question the Illinois senator's truthfulness"?

    Shame on him.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  16. Sick

    Win at any cost? So much for the STRAIGHT TALK EXPRESS.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. hkk

    Sinking fast, and they don't care if they split the country on their descent.

    No honor. No nothing.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  18. Shaun

    Rearranging the chairs on the Titanic, are we McCain?

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. Kristen

    Fear. Hate . Racism. Smear. Hate. Black man. Hate. Lies.

    If McCain wins this election, it will not be an honorable victory, and we will be the most divided we've been as a nation since the Civil War. I honestly see no hope for our future if McCain wins. McCain has sacrificed all moral decency for the sake of winning an election and deserves to lose and lose badly for that decision.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. Tiffany

    McCain flubbing the facts...business as usual. If you don't have anything real to offer the people then get out the smoke, mirrors and mud.

    Obama 08

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Chris

    "What does he plan for America?" – you haven't exactly done much in 25+ yrs! De-regulation sure has helped the banking system! can't wait for de-regulated healthcare and privatized social security – that's a WIN scenario!

    additionally – at least Obama is talking about ISSUES and IDEAS rather than attack/smearing.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  22. Ariana

    When is he going to talk about the issues that affect us? Yea I know that Obama is not perfect, but he's a hell of a lot better than McCain and Palin.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. FED UP REPUBLICAN

    McCain is going lower and lower into the mud. On a day when the stock market is down 700 points, I want to know how can McCain help American!?!? This is so stupid McCain, you are a disapointment.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  24. Pam

    I was considering McCain, but not now. Someone needs to put a muzzle on Palin and McCain.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Trent Dillard

    The Dow is down 700 points and McCain is asking Who is the real Barack Obama is? Really...

    We need solutions and we need them fast. Who is the real Barack Obama? Really? That's what were talking about?

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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