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. Missy

    Well, I always knew McCain was slimy. Here's more proof. I believe without hesitation that Barack Obama is a decent, genuine man who has the best interests of the American People at heart. I hope no one is blinded by yet another desperate move by John McCain. His campaign has been a disgrace.

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  2. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW

    PLEASE OBAMA SUPPORTERS LOOK INTO IT WHO IS THE REAL OBAMA. PLEASE FOR THE FIRST TIME LOOK INTO IT!!

    READ ONE OF HIS BOOKS.

    READ WHERE HE CAME FROM.

    READ WHO HIS TEACHERS ARE.

    GOD PLEASE READ SOMETHING.

    PLEASE DON'T LET HIM DESTROY THIS COUNTRY.

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  3. Mark

    More thrashings from a desperate man... McCain, face it, you're sunk. Let someone with more wits than bile take the lead.

    Barrack Obama and Joe Biden are the first steps to recovery for this country. You just wait and see.

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  4. Mb

    WE ARE IN THE WORST ECONOMIC CRISIS OF MY LIFE TIME AND THIS MAN WANTS TO TALK ABOUT NOTHING RELEVANT TO WHT GOING ON. NOVEMBER 4TH CAN'T COME SOON ENOUGH.

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  5. Joseph IRAQ WAR VET

    MCSAMES NEW THEME SONG SHOULD BE " IM FREEEEE FREE FALLING" IN THE POLES THAT IS 🙂 LOL

    OBAMA 08

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    and yes the American people now McCain's record.... it's the same broken record Bush has been playing for 8 years...... LIES LIES LIES

    October 6, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Billy

    How about we talk about the economic future of our country and the world instead?

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. kescia

    McCain is shameless! What do Barack Obama's activities as a college student have to do with anything 25 years later? Does McCain intend to question a 22 year old's judgement compared to a 54 year old's judgement when he was a member of the Keating 5?
    McCain is a cheater, adulterer, and liar. That's his character.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. Jermaine Ladd (Atlanta, GA)

    The question is not who is Barack Obama. The question is "pops" who is John Mcsame. The anwer is Geoge J.M. Bush.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. Billy

    The Republicans are getting desperate. Time to pull out the "terrorist" card. I've been domestically terrorized for the last eight years.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  11. Anne

    Apparently, McCain has forgotten the Keating 5, Hagee,etc. What exactly is McCain wanting to do if he wins the election, so far all that I have seen is attack ads and they are getting old. Our country faces a lot of problems that attack ads are not addressing. I am an Independent and will NOT vote for McCain/Palin.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. Melvin

    AND I THOUGHT THE REPUB WERE THE PARTY OF GOOD MORALS AND ETHICS. I DARE YOU CONSERVATIVES BELITTLE GAYS AND CRIMINALS WITH THE LIES YOU PROJECT!!

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  13. Junius

    "Its not like hes an open book" WHAT??!!!

    If i can quote the great Dr. Jones:

    "What it tells me that morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them!" (or banning books like Palin)

    Try reading the books McCain, they will tell you all you need to know about the man.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  14. BT

    You still don't get it. It's the economy!
    By the way, Mr. McCain, you did NOT fix the S&L's and it was you who cried "DEREGULATION" over and over again that led us into this mess. So how you think you can fix this is beyond me. Your record speaks for itself and you cannot hide from it now.
    As for my husband and I, we are going to vote for the smart one.
    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  15. B

    I will not vote for a desperate liar or a conspiracy theorist. The last thing we need is someone in the white house that believes every conspiracy they hear and reacts in a paranoid manner towards other world leaders.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  16. FL Dem

    McCain is using the Bush playbook handed over by Rove.....when things look bad start smear campaigns that are based on twisted distortions of the truth.

    I hope Americans have learned not to fall for such tricks yet again.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  17. oooo

    McCain is just power crazed!!!!!!!
    Palin is also power crazed!
    Incoherent unable and unstable entities for America.
    Look at how your lame duck worked for ya.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Dallas, TX

    GOOD!

    Obama is a fraud! Wake-up people and listen up!

    McCain/Palin '08!!

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  19. Smiley from Conyers, GA

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    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.

    Furthermore, Obama has stayed on the issues which are vital to the American people. McCain can only try to drudge up character flaws because he has no resolutions to provide.

    October 6, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Lorraine Hynes

    The McCain camp is desperate and will fall into the extremely sleaze ball tactics of any and all republican candidates that I can recall in my adulthood.

    As far as Palin? She's calling Barack a terrorist. Why? Because his skin is dark.? I guess they don't like dark skin in Alaska where the color would stand out in too much of a contrast to all the white snow and red necks.

    You won't fool anyone McCain. You and your running mate are way too dangerous to be in a leadeship position in the USA. Go away.

    Lorraine Hynes, Bellmawr, NJ

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. Brandon_MI

    Oh what a fool. McCain/Palin's ship has sunk. Do they really think these 2004 style tactics are going to work this year? Do they really think the American people are so stupid? This sinking ship is a joy to watch.

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. Brian

    People are gonna wanna know. Who the real John McCain is too because McPalin still hasn't said what he will do for us. Obama has laid out a plan. He may be black and from Chicago and that's the best they can do is try to slam him because of that. If he was white from Texas I guess McPalin wouldnt be able to use those attacks. When will he learn we dont wanna hear that. If he wants votes stick to the issue. Espcially with the stock market dropping over 700 points today. C'mon McPalin care to skip the question and answer Americans in your own way?

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  23. Kenneth

    If the gloves are off now, the gloves will stay off after the election.

    IF McCAIN IS ELECTED, THE DEMOCRATS MUST INSIST AND DEMAND IMMEDIATE IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS!

    Half the population will not stand for another 4 years of Republican rule, no matter what the results of the election is.

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. ShutupMcCain

    It seems that McCain and Planin are going down that road. "He's the scary black man." "He's not like us REAL Americans". You think he would ahve learned his lesson for not voting for the King Holiday. Racisim will not get you anywhere in today's world.

    The problem with the books that Obama has written is that White america was not inetersted in reading it. The facts about who he is in them. GO READ IT!

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  25. Maria

    What has McCAIN Accomplished? He had been in Washigton for 20 + years what have you accomplished McCAin?

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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