October 9th, 2008
08:05 PM ET
9 years ago

McCain surrogate raises Obama's past drug use


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/09/art.keating.agi.jpg caption="Keating is a McCain campaign co-chair."](CNN) - A prominent surrogate for John McCain on Thursday raised Barack Obama's admitted cocaine use as a teenager and said the Illinois senator should speak candidly about it to the American people.

Speaking to Dennis Miller, a comedian and conservative radio talk show host, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating said Obama should be more forthright about his background and what he called his "very extreme" record.

"He ought to admit, ‘You know, I've got to be honest with you. I was a guy of the street. I was way to the left. I used cocaine. I voted liberally, but I'm back at the center,'" Keating, a co-chair of McCain’s campaign, said Obama should tell voters. "I mean, I understand the big picture of America. But he hasn't done that."

An aide to John McCain said Keating was not directed by the campaign to make the comments.

"We didn’t ask him to do it,” the aide said. “He didn’t clear it with us, but obviously he’s read Senator Obama’s books.”

The Obama campaign has not responded to the comments.

The remarks ring similar to comments made by prominent New Hampshire Democrat Bill Shaheen, a Hillary Clinton supporter, during the primary. Shaheen predicted in December that Obama’s drug past would be a major Republican talking point if her were the Democratic nominee. He later apologized for the comments, but stepped down from his role in the Clinton campaign. Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson, another Hillary Clinton backer, also had to apologize after making overt references to Obama's drug use at campaign rally in South Carolina.

In Obama's 1995 book Dreams of My Father, he writes that he was once headed in the direction of a "junkie" and a "pothead. Referring to his emotional struggles as a young man, Obama writes, "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."

Obama did speak during his primary campaign about his past experimentation with drugs and alcohol in high school.

"I made some bad decisions that I've actually written about," he told New Hampshire high school students last November. "There were times when I, you know, got into drinking, experimented with drugs. There was a whole stretch of time where I didn't really apply myself a lot."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra • John McCain
soundoff (676 Responses)
  1. What next?

    I had no idea he was a past drug abuser and described himself as a junkie.

    October 9, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  2. wam


    October 9, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. Alex

    Can we talk about the number of planes that John McCain crashed too?

    October 9, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Mrs. Texas Teacher

    Of course, the McBush camp can say and do whatever they like.... they are pure as the driven snow.... you know, it is Obama who has run a dirty campaign. I believe McCindy said the dirtiest she has ever seen.

    HAVE THESE PEOPLE NO SHAME! I guess not! Desperation brings out desperate acts.

    October 9, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. JK

    This is pathetic. Obama already admited this in a book. It's publicly available. What more do they want? Oh, I know. They want Obama to stand up in fron the American people and say, "I'm not fit to be president." That's what they want because as each day ticks by, it's more likely to be the only thing that will keep McCain from losing this election.

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. Dave in Atlanta

    I am originally from Oklahoma and many, many people in Oklahoma didn,t like this jerk then and I am certain they don't like him now.

    Where has this pinhead been up until now!!!

    things that make you go ...hhmmmmmmmmmmmm

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Bacusla

    We have come to expect this of the "McCaine" camp – Desperation on steroids or Mrs. McCain abusing prescription medication?

    I digress – Obama will win this election handily; if you doubt it ... ask the Clintons. They too took a beating not very long ago.

    Obama/Biden '08.

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  8. Rick

    One used drugs, the other fought in the war and stood to his nation. Make your choice, America.

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  9. Jason T.

    Is this even relevant? The past is the past, teenagers always experiment so it's not that surprising. Despite the fact Keating (is that a coincidence?) apparently wasn't told by the campaign to say this, the McCain camp is getting REALLY desperate.

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  10. cecil

    Yesterday Obama was an elitist, today he's a guy from the street.

    The Whole Repub. Base Is Erratic!

    Sweat Poping Everywhere, Cross Burning Next?

    Some Of The Remarks Coming From The Repub. Rallys Lately

    Are So Evil!

    The Repubs Are The Ugly Americans

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  11. gsmitty

    More senseless blather from the exhausted cabal of old white men. New Blood please! With all that the Bush crowd has to atone for, it is obvious that the only way to help them reflect honestly is to send McCain and all the other members of the discredited, dishonest and irresponsible right wing packing, far from power.

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  12. Republlican for OBAMA...

    Guess what...!


    I knew this was coming

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  13. Mary Davis

    McCain and Keating can't find nothing on Obama so they start digging in his book that he wrote about him as a teen in high school . i want them to stop their digging they are not going to find anything.McCain now know that he is far behind in the race,and no catching up

    October 9, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  14. paul

    shame on you mcshame.move on old is bad .

    October 9, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  15. John

    Palin also admitted to using drugs in her youth. Why doesn't he talk about that?

    October 9, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  16. Matt

    He wrote it in his books. It has been covered in the primaries. Those who are democrats or undecided (and actually educated to understand all issues) know this. I don't see how this is going to be an issue.

    October 9, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  17. WOW - Cedar Hill, TX

    why don't mccain stop, obama already admitted he used pot in his teen aged years.

    mccain you are a sad old man and we see now you will do what ever it will take to win. You are a waste of a man on God's earth....take you but home or why don't you go to Iran

    October 9, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  18. David Stein

    Look, he's been upfront about it from day one. Not like Bill Clinton, the slick politician; I smoked but didn't inhale!!

    October 9, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. RO

    OMG....this is utterly getting ridiculous! He admitted it, so therefore let it rest. My goodness, Bush denied and denied about his drinking problem and his DUI...if he overcame it, so be it. This sounds like desperation to us!

    October 9, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. Lady_Di

    How many more dead horses are we going to drag out.to beat??? None of this is helping the American people.

    October 9, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  21. Linda from Florida

    This is a nonissue, as Frank Keating well knows. But as long as he's on the subject, perhaps he should ask Cindy McCain to be "more forthright about her background and former drug addiction," hmmm?

    October 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  22. Tiffany

    How pathetic is this? When the market is down 678 points today alone, who cares about this. Hey McCain, Palin & your supporter.... tell us your plan to help the economy. That is what I want to discuss not some past drug usage as a teenager. Which when you think about, there are a lot of people who have experienced drug usages in their teens.

    October 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  23. BM

    McCain may not be responsible for his actions. He behaves like people I"ve know who suffer from alzheimers.

    October 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  24. Kate in NC

    McCain is so desperate that he is throwing everything he can find at Obama. BS Keating didn't get this cleared through the "McCain campaign". It was no. 50 on their list of negative talking points. Funny thing though, Obama hasn't even begun to list McCain's numerous shading dealings and liaisons – some with the same folks he is calling terrorists. Wait until McCain's truths have floated up from the muck. This is a re-hash of stuff gone by!

    October 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  25. CMG

    Give me a break.....You people have stooped to an all time low. John McCain, the one who said that this campaign would not be "dirty politics." John, what planet are you circling. By the way, getting your wife and Sarah to do your dirty work...Nice guy....You can't even look Barack in the eyes. Something wrong with your self esteem?

    October 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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