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. DANIELLE FROM VA

    VA WILL BE BLUE THIS ELECTION. JOHN MCCAIN AND SARAH PALIN CAN START TO PACK UP THEIR CRAP AND GO BACK TO WHEREVER THEY STARTED...WHICH IS NOWHERE!. HOW DARE THEY TRY TO COME OUT WITH THIS NONSENSE...WHEN MCCAIN IS APART OF THE KEATON 5 AND PALIN WONT EVEN COOPERATE WITH THE PROBE SHE ONCE SAID SHE WOULD. THE REPUBLICANS ARE RUNNING A HORRIBLE CAMPAIGN AND I CANT WAIT UNTIL NOV. 4TH.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08-16

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

    Who is Barack Obama? Your next President you old fool!!!!

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Mrs. Texas Teacher

    Definitely, let's change the subject, McBush! You and McBarbie don't have a leg to stand on. Swift Boat tactics are all you have left!

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. McCain Invented the BlackBerry, Palin Invented the Manure Spreader

    GET MORE AGGRESSIVE ON THE ECONOMY!

    YOU KNOW, THE E-C-O-N-O-M-Y! THAT THING, McCAIN CLAIMS NOT TO KNOW MUCH ABOUT?

    TIME TO CRAM FOR THE FINALS, McSAME!

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Desperate times call for desperate measures and Sen. McCain and Ms. Palin are clearly desperate. When you can't win on your own merit, take the LOW road and trash the other guy. A clear admission that McPalin doesn't have a clue as to how to lead and worse, can't keep his own word to run an "honorable" above-board campaign. Can't wait to see him go DOWN tomorrow night in his favored setting as the independents FLOCK to future POTUS Obama!!!
    OBAMA/BIDEN '08 & '12 YES WE CAN!!!

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

    The real Barack Obama is an honest, brillant man with a vision for this country. He can speak on his own (unlike a certain Palin), he does not resort to smears and he earned his place in politics. He is in sharp contrast with the Republican ticket, a duo of repugnant, inept characters who will stop at nothing to get elected. But you know what ? They won't !

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  7. Disgusted By McCain and Palin

    Dear John McCain,

    I have a novel idea for you. Instead of trying to smear Barack Obama, why don't you and Mrs. Palin try actually addressing the issues that voters care about. Instead of trying to tear Barack Obama down, why don't you offer us your vision of how you're going to build our economy back up.

    Voters are sick and tired of your negativity, untruths and lies, lack of vision, and irratic behavior. Either show us some positive leadership, or stand aside and let Barack Obama do the job!

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. Melvin

    JOHN MCCAIN WOULD RATHER LOSE HIS INTEGRITY BEFORE HE LOSE THIS ELECTION!!!

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Nurse Ratchet

    Liberal media? Yeah right. The same bags telling you this "are" the media (Sean, Rush, Michael "Weiner" Savage). All the major news stations (every one of them) are controlled by mega corporate conglomerates who will reap huge rewards via mega tax breaks from the McCain camp. That should tell you something about both "the media" and about "John McCain" and the Bush policies that he favors.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Steve

    You are pathetic, Mr. McCain. I've lost all respect for you. The people of our country will reject you and your politics of hate and innuendo and will elect Senator Obama as our next President. You are desparate "my friend".

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  11. Alison B

    It is obvious to McCain that the economy and the fact that this crisis is inreasingly close to a possible depression is definitely no on the top of list of things that he wishes to discuss. There is a saying that "McCain is so busy minding Obama's business that McCain's business goes unattended". Let him continue on his current path of discussion he is creating his own demise.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  12. Glenn in California

    "I don’t need lessons about telling the truth to American people."

    Sorry John. You do. Remember your pledge to "take the high road" in this campaign? You've sold your soul to win this election at any cost. Country First? I think not. It's sad that you've abandoned all of the morals and values that you once had. It's sad that you're now only a shell of the man you once were. You've turned into a low life of the worst kind. R.I.P.

    Just say NO to Bush 44.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Ilene Sternberg, West Chester, PA

    Why recycle what people already know, Mr. Mccain?

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. MEP

    It's really too bad that all John McCain has on hand is venal commentary about Obama's character. It says more about his idea of leadership than anything else in the campaign. I hope he has the manners to look Obama in the face during Tuesday 's debate. If he wants to be president he will have to grow up.

    October 6, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  15. Abby

    John McCain, erratic in crisis. Bad Judgment, Keating 5!

    OBAMA 08

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  16. Eric

    Lie lie lie, that's the only thing McNoshame knows how to do. There are worse things to call him, just they'd get edited.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. AJ, MD

    Bereft of new ideas, this is all you got Sen McSame? Resorting to lies and smears is your last desperate atempt to win. Never knew it would come down this. A real shame?

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. OS

    McCain ADDRESS THESE ISSUES FIRST AS HARSHLY AS YOU CNA..........

    EIGHT YEARS OF GOP REGIME HIGHLIGHTS ............

    FORECLOSURES
    MARKET CRASHING BELOW 10,000
    OVER 5,000 MILATRY LIVES LOST IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN
    TENS OF THOUSANDS INNOCENT CIVILIAN KILLED IN IRAQ
    MAJOR BANKS DISAPPEARING
    SMALL BUSINESSES SHUTTING DOWN
    ~ELEVEN TRILLION DOLLARS IN DEBT
    400 BILLION IN DEFICIT
    HIGHEST UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AND GOING UP
    INCREASING OIL AND GAS PRICES
    THE LIST GOES ON................................

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  19. Illinois Blue Dog

    Seems like McCain is resorting to the kitchen sink strategy that helped Hillary Clinton win the Democratic nomination fight...oh wait, it didn't work for her either? Guess McCain had his hearing aid turned off when someone tried to tell him.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  20. Harry

    Thsi is truly a desparate move. McDumb does not want to stick to the issues and his campaign is running on empty.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  21. Howard Hewlett

    As with the world of sales, in the world of politics desperation smells terrible on a man!

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  22. Pat Austin

    For Pete's sake! I hope trhat the media will not keep harping on these political attacks. The American people is in an economic crisis and we are not in the mood for the media playing pit bull attack dogs to add fuel to the fire. We want the topics to stay focused on the economy, health issues, Iraq War, deficit, and how in the world are we going to pay for this 700B bail out! Can the media just help us out on this?? Frankly, if the debate turns into an attack session tomorrow, I will turn off my TV and I hope other Americans will do the same.

    Pat

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  23. Sam Fugarino

    McCain needs to hammer home the point that the Bush White House warned about Fannie and Freaddy seven times and the Democratic Congress did nothing. And, why doesn't CNN and the rest of the media report the facts. Dodd and Frank should be going to jail. Be mad at Wall Street if you like, but the Democratic leadership caused this crisis. It really dates back to the Clinton years, but I digress. By the way CNN, how can you have a representative form of government that works when the press won't report the facts!

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  24. tedious898

    John McNasty and his running mates are poor examples of what leaders should do when the country is in crisis.

    People are scared and hurting. I'm one of them. If this idiot thinks I'm going to vote for him just because he has the nastiest campaign – he's and that cheerleader have another thing comin

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  25. jason from woodbridge nj

    mccain and his antics reminds of me of charile brown playing baseball

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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