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. Ned Wisconsin

    Desperation Moves! Move on McCain! Remember, no candidate in the last 50 years has come back to win the presidential election when he was at the McCain level with 30 days to go.

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

    If John McCain ever was a person of integrity, he is no longer. Since I don't think people pick up and put down character, I believe he never had it. Rather, he skated through his early life based on family connections and skated through adulthood based on the money he married into.

    McCain is now losing–badly–in the polls. So he has resorted to the worst sort of lying. This speech ignores that McCain has fought regulation. It also ignores that his campaign is comprised of lobbyists for the very institutions he is now condemning.

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. Vincent, Great Lakes, Illinois

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

    Sorry John, you do. You have sold your soul to the devil to become President and have lied to the American People all along the way. I saw an interview with you the other day when you stated that all of your ads were truthful... Tell that to the various fact check sites as they have proven you wrong time and time again.

    You sir, are not an honorable man.

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  4. Pat

    I disagree I think McCain does need lessons on telling the truth.

    I also think he should direct tthe questions he plans on asking Obama to his Running Mate, Sarah Palin. Who is she? What has she ever accomplished? When was she vetted for the VP Position? What about Trooper Gate and does she bear any responsibility or is there any possiblilty her involvement will warrant charges? What about her husband's Patriotism given his membership with a Political Party that sought to disconnect all ties with America?

    And while I'm at it, what about McCain's health issues and is he physically and psychologically fit to be President. His rantings above gives me a great deal of skepticism about him psychologically!

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  5. Linda from Prescott AZ

    A wonderful thing happened today, I filled out my general election ballot and dropped it in the mail. Senator Obama had my vote in theprimary and he's got it now.

    McCain, you are too much. I don't know how you look yourself in the mirror in the mornings. I notice you aren't man enough to look Senator Obama in the eye when you attempt to lie.

    Poor Johnnie, Poor Johnnie why don't you go home. You are a liar, a cheat and an opportunist.

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

    AYERS ACORN WRIGHT PFLEGER, THE FORMER PLO FRIEND OF OBAMA, WHO ELSE IS OBAMA SWEEPING UNDER THE RUG THAT WE DON'T KNOW OF?

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  7. Central Scruitinizer

    Mcain has truly become a walking piece of crapola. The only one I find more repugnant than him is Tucker Bounds.

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    "I guess he believes if a lie is big enough and repeated often enough it will be believed."
    --------------–

    Is McCain really going to equate Obama with the Nazis? Really?

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. John, Austin, TX

    McCain is spreading Hate. That's what Republicans sell... HATE. I thought he was all about putting partisanship aside, suspending campaigns, lipstick, and six packs, and rednecks, and... well above all that, McCain is spreading HATE.

    NO MORE HATE! FOCUS ON THE ISSUES PLEASE!!

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. Nimi from NY

    You vice president is the one who is unknown. Obama has been on the national stage for nearly two years now. We've watched him weather many trials and tribulations as he campaigned this period and have appreciated the way he handled every thing that was thrown at him with intergrity. Can we say the same about you Mr. McCain?

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  11. Jordan - San Marcos, TX

    John McCain the stock market is crashing. Are you aware of this?

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  12. Unshrub

    McCain is desperate. What else is there to say. He lied about the kind of campaign he would run. Like my dad told me, "You can always tell honest people by what they do when they get desperate." McCain is behind and the lies keep coming...

    October 6, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  13. shaun

    It is unbelievable that the same people who swiftboated mclie to get bush into office and are hated by the whole country are running Mccains campaign now. Even if you support him guys dont forget what those criminals did during the last 2 elections.

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  14. Maria

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

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  15. Election 08

    Obama is the guy who is winning. McCain really IS out of touch!

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. JL

    ...and that's why John McCain lost my vote. Well, that and ignoring the problems facing our country.

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  17. brenda

    he won a HUGE court case for ACORN. something for him to be real proud of, an accomplishment. BUT the people dont know about it and he wont discuss it. why?

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  18. peter

    John McCain, CHECK MATE. YOU LOST

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Bob

    It is beyond belief that John McCain has the audacity to run for president when more than anyone else he has undermined our nation’s future. As one of the infamous Keating Five, McCain continued his support of the deregulatory practices which have now broken Wall Street and require a $1 trillion bailout for starters. In addition, he was an early promoter of the unnecessary war with Iraq which experts say already adds up to $3 trillion in long term costs, making our nation less able to finance bailouts.

    A page one report in The Wall Street Journal 10/3/08 describes the July 2008 downfall, due to billions of dollars of high risk loans, of banks which were units of Charles Lamb’s First National Bank Holding Company of Scottsdale, Arizona. Lamb, a campaign supporter of John McCain, had been battling regulators for some time as he had hired Gary Dorris from Phoenix AZ despite objections from the FDIC, which cited Dorris’s “unsafe and unsound” methods in previous dealings including a deal with an S&L run by Arizonan Charles Keating .

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. KC

    out of touch + out of ideas + poor judgement = failure(John McCain)

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. who is Obama

    We need to know all about Obama !

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Joe

    Why dont you talk about the issues people are going through instead
    of throwing mud? Sen. McCain you dont know anything about the economic issues and trying to cover up now.

    People are sick about this kind of politics and fear factor wont work this time. You also pcik the wrong gal to be your VP SHE HAS NO CLUE ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL..

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. digusted New Yorker

    what a disgusting man. if he's elected ive lost all hope in our fellow countrymen.

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. Dutch-VA

    I can tell you one thing, if Sen. Obama is not the next president, this country will truly be divided. No if's, ands or buts about it. The American people refuse to live under more republican rule. If McCain wins, I'm leaving the country. I'd rather live in Mexico or some 3rd world country rather than continue living here while a corrupt, war-mongering, old, lying, cheating, etc president is in charge. Maybe I'll even jump off a very tall building.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. Democrats are Losers

    Wow. McCain is getting coverage without biased Fact Checks today.
    CNN must be getting lots of criticism from the other half of American voters that aren't voting for Barack Obama.
    Wonder if anyone else will everbe invited by Obama supporters to this website to participate in a freedom of speech debate on this website with out calling out the bloggers by name and using degredation to win your argument, or make your point.
    Hey Obama people, what has your candidate done for America? What about that question? Can you answer without including how you feel about John McCain?

    October 6, 2008 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18