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. Joseph IRAQ WAR VET

    WAIT A MINUTE DIDNT HILLARY ALREADY TRY THIS GAME? LOOK WHAT IT DID FOR HER. I HAVE NOW LOST ALL RESPECT FOR JOHN MCSAME. IT HAS BEEN SAID MANY TIMES MANY WAYS BUT I LIKE IT PUT THIS WAY THE BEST...IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID!

    OBAMA/ BIDEN 08

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Annie, Atlanta

    So, who is the real John McCain, then? Read the cover story of Rolling Stone on-line for a better idea, called "Make Believe Maverick."

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. 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 McSame and the Moose Hunter.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Robert

    6 out of 10 Americans think the country is headed for depression, yet McCain wants to talk about such pety things. Get a clue!

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. Steve A. , New Braunfels , Texas

    Who is the real John McCain? is what I want to know. A man who has lived his intire life on goverment paychecks is going to talk about the economy. who is it that acquired a relativly unknown person for a vice president because no-one else would take it. The writing is on the wall. There it is . Read'em and weep. Obama 08-go

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

    Country First? Yeah, thanks for giving the voter your economic plan, McCain, the number one issue in our country.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. A-Man

    FELLOW REPUBLICANS, it is time for us to send a clear message. Our party needs new people, time to get rid of the likes of Carl Rove and McCain and stomp out any hope the Palin's of the world have in being part of our future. I have always voted Republican and have always been a great fan of John McCain. But this election has not been John McCain it has been Carl Rove and the behind the scene republicans of Bush. And Palin is making a joke out of our party. It is time to vote Democratic, time to send these people who have hurt our party packing, time to send a clear message. Lets get rid of this crew, over haul ourselves and be back to send this party and country in the right direction. God only help us if McCaina nd Palin won, next election we would not be a factor at any level of gov't. I still respect McCain although he is not in control. I have and never will respect Palin, she is the worse politician there ever has been. Oil rich Alaska is the only place she could have a future, she is ignorant, not near intelligent enough to represent our party, and her name is already slime.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  8. FLewis

    John darling, pls. go home and take a nap. You look a little sleepy.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  9. bob

    McCain has no specific plans, no new ideas, and therefore will result to the only playbook the republicans ever use, attack the other candidate to distract the American public. When he is not stealing Obama campaign platforms (change, energy independence, etc) he can only put out attack ads. Funny how we don't hear much about how he has changed nearly every single policy position he ever held in order to appeal to the right wing of the republican parts and went back on his own promise to run an "honorable campaign" focused on the "issues." I have lost all respect for John McCain and Obama did not win my vote, John McCain lost it.

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  10. Lyndon,CA

    When all else fails, appeal to the most vile of human nature. Yes!

    October 6, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Mrs. Douglas

    I'm so sick of these attack ads. Why can't the candidates focus on the issues that are important to America. I don't care who Obama was friends with 30 years ago. We've all had questionable friends. What makes us better is our ability to recognize the harm these people could do, and sever the ties to them. Fighting in a war doesn't make McCain anymore patriotic than the next American who loves his or her country. I'm sick of hearing it! Stick to the issues please.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  12. Gallimimus

    McCain has no anwers for the economic crisis. The only thing that he and Palin can do is start up with the old tricks again. Sheez, this is getting more pathetic by the day. McCain, come up with an original thought, Or just go pull Palin's strings.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. Dandelion.

    Old news, McCain! We went through this during the primaries! It didn't work for the Clintons and it won't work for you! We are smarter than you give us credit for.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. John, Austin, TX

    Wow. I'm sorry McCain, you lost... it's over for you.
    Look on the bright side, now you can retire!!
    And Palin, now you can go back to staring at Russia.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. Dan (Redmond, WA)

    In an economic crisis, I wouldn't seek advice from Mr. KEATING FIVE John McCain either.
    Then again: We're all just a bunch of 'whiners' right?

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  16. lance

    The next for McCain is to use race. Watch and see.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  17. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Will somebody please tell John McCain and Sarah Palin we're down here where the air is polluted with the economic crisis and not on a stage talking about Barack Obama. Or is John McCain avoiding talking about the August '08 failure of Silver Bank of Arizona his son was CEO and quit 2 months prior. Please investigate John McCain's ties, you may find he is "deep".

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  18. Chris from NY

    The angry old man. You are full of hate you can taste it. Let's see where it takes you few days from now.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. john

    what a joke mccanain and palin are!!!!! the down is down 770 points and all mccain is worried about his smear tactics. I wouldn't trust mccain he has no plan

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  20. Jan Rittmer

    Is this the same john McCain I used to think I could vote for? The one who talked about honor, who criticized others for being willing to sacrifice it in order to win an election? Good grief!! This kind of trash talk is beneath him!!

    Count me out Senator McCain!!

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  21. JB

    More of the same nonsense from John McInSane.

    The ebb and flow of this election are, for the most part, beyond the influence of name calling and distorted accusations.

    Obama / Biden ... landslide 2008.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. Sue, NY

    More importantly who is the real McCain and Palin for that matter. Her husband belonged to the group of Alaskans that wanted to separate from the USA wanting "nothing to do with America"

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  23. Mary

    McCain and the truth don't mix. Its like water and oil.

    The TRUTH? McCain, YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!!

    Was it truthful when you said you were going to have a respectful campaign?

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  24. Smiley from Conyers, GA

    Are you kidding me? This coming from the candidate who supposedly suspended his campaign to aid this country in its economic crisis. He doesn't care about this country or the people of this country. His blind ambition and his need to defame Obama just goes to show how out of touch he really is. IF this country goes into another depression he will be ok so the economic crisis really doesn't matter to him.

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  25. tom

    mcbush is disgusting. the market is going to hell and he's busy swiftboating. how can any serious voter consider this guy?

    October 6, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18