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. cecil

    Take Note Good America, Why Now!

    October 9, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  2. John W. Tinder

    Senator Obama should speak "candidly" about?! I thought he did in his book. Either way, how come Obama does but Bush did not? Bush used Cocaine AND had a DWI arrest, all while he was an ADULT. Getting a little tired of the double standard. IT was important to know that Clinton "inhaled." IT was NOT important to know about Bush's snorting past-time, or the extent of it. And NOW it is important to know about Obama's past drug use. I guess the rule only applies to Democrats or NON – born again Christians?

    October 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Marg.

    I just read this article what a waste of time. Of course, Governor Frank Keating would bring up Obama's past drug use. If he would have taken a little time and researched Obama's book. Obama himself discssed this matter. Of course again, the McCain campaign is drawing at straws to come up with anything to smear Obama. John McCain and Palin at their rallys have been trying to smear Obama's character and policies. They are asking "Who is Obama?" I think that they lost the voters on that one. Obama has been vetted over the past 3-4 years. I think that the voters know him very well. As far as the Ayers relationship that has been researched and look at over and over again. Obama himself stated that he did not have a "palling" around realtionship with Ayers. I think that Palin needs to come up with a better line. Maybe it is about time that CNN and the other media take the time and research and look into John McCain's legislation and policies and "who is Palin?" It is kind of scary to think that John McCain, who doesn't seem to know what his policies are and the truth is. Also, to have a vice-president Palin that seems as radical and non informed about our governement and John McCain's policies. The press and CNN are afraid to interview her to find out what the real Palin is about, because you are afraid of the "sexism" charge. By the way there has been no "sexism" done to Palin. Again, "Who is John McCain and Governor Palin?

    October 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  4. pete

    are you kidding mccains a joke

    October 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  5. T

    Thats fine , If we can bring up John's playboy ways and his past.

    October 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  6. proud supporter

    Republicans are the most pathetic people...they will even kill to win! they have no shame or dignity...power hungry, gun-toting, war-mongering...they are the ugliest part of America!

    October 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  7. Shane

    Ummmm...OLD NEWS!

    October 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  8. matt in fl

    no big deal. this is America, like it or not, teens experiment with sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

    we are the better for it.

    October 9, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. Change

    I am so sick and tired of these negative comments about Obama, I could scream. Get a life and accept the fact that in all likelihood, we will have an educated, knowledgable and articulate BLACK Man in the Oval Office.

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. Michelle D. - Atlanta, GA

    And are we forgetting that "W" was a cokehead and an alcoholic?

    We've all made mistakes in the past and that has absolutely no bearing on what is important now.

    It's typical of the desparate Republicans to try and distract from the important issues that face us now.

    Cheap shot, but it's not gonna work.

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. Brian from NYC

    Low Low how low can we go? Which will go lower the Dow Jones or John McCain's campaign?

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. Michael

    The real reasons to elect someone president. What they are going to do to address the issues that are most important to you – For me the top three are the Economy, the Wars and Education.

    In one of the other pieces I read how a person thinks the markets are dropping because Obama is winning. My question to that person is are you living in the same country we are????

    On my site obama.jjamm.com I have an article that was provided before the markets took this last dive that talked about how the DOW has returned 15%, the NASDAQ -18% and the S&P 6% not this year but the entire two terms of President Bush. If you diversify across the three that nets out to a 3% gain in almost 8 years. You would have done better earning 1-2% in a bank despite financial analysts trying to sell you 10% returns in the market.

    And, by the way it is well known why the last drops have occured and it has very little to do with who will be President. Last I checked no one named Lehman, AIG, Washington (Mutual that is), Wachovia, Merryl or Lynch etc were running for President!

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  13. Republlican for OBAMA...

    America You have got only one last shot........and that is Nov. 4

    dont get fooled for the third time...............

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Terry from GA

    Why are the repubicans rehashing old news, when they should be working on solutions to solve these troubling economic times.

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. Brian MacDougall

    Really?? Is this REALLY the best you can do? Obama's already admitted it. This is just despicable.

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  16. Cynthia - Arkansas

    HOW LOW ARE THESE PEOPLE GOING TO GO! This is past ridiculous. Deperation is never pretty, but this is just too ugly to look at. You have the Republicans out there saying any hateful, dreadful lie they can think of trying to scare people. You have Michelle and Barack Obama saying that these attacks don't bother them. That they are more concerned about the trouble America is in. Trying to give people hope for a better country and world. WHO DO YOU WANT TO LEAD THIS COUNTRY?


    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |



    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  18. valerie

    aleast he was not guilty of a crime in the 80's

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. abraxis

    When people have no intellectual integrity left, they cling to sling mud. If this criterion is used for one side then let us apply it to the other side as well. Did it bother us when W who is a reformed alcoholic who alleged experimented with "harder" drugs? What about Grandpa who has a gambling addiction? How about his wife's plagiarism? Or Sarah stupidity?

    Nothing left to use to run a campaign of honesty, eh, crooked talk express?

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  20. J.P.

    And you democrats were complaining about Todd Palins alledged DUI 22 years ago. LOL

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. Dems Are United

    give me a freaking break!!! who hasn't experimented with drugs??? if he hadn't, then he should say something, because THAT would be unusual. i don't remember george bush admitting his problem to the american people. get over it. losers.

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  22. Derell

    And this is relevant why? He has already shared this information with the world in his book prior to running for President. He need not clarify it anymore. And just in case you've forgotten, our current President had a strong taste for cocaine and booze, and he had the means to get much more readily than Obama. Cindy McCain had "surrogates" liberate prescription drugs for her from her own charity to get her fix and ruined lives to cover it up. And John McCain is addicted to the drug with no smell, gambling. You see the problem that the GOP faces is that Obama has nothing to hide. It's all out there already and has been for the last 20 plus months. This swift boat won't float!

    Obama/Biden 2008!

    October 9, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  23. Del

    Thanks for the clean campaign Sentator McCain.

    October 9, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  24. Susana

    The fact Obama has been so open about his past drug use is the main reason he so much credibility. Matter of fact, when asked if he ever inhaled marijuana, he candidly said something to the effect "Duh, isn't that the point?"

    Alcohol is also a drug and I guarantee there are many politicians on this drug. I wonder if Keating has ever used drugs, alcohol, or peeped at a dirty magazine. These politicians are so darn perfect!

    Desperation brings out the worse in people. They are bent on ruining Obamas character. America won't listen to hypocrisy.

    October 9, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  25. LDV

    Is Obama a smoker, then the White House is off-limit?? He should have looked straight into the eyes of the American people and tell us his "job-resume," experiences, records, achievements and qualififaction as commander-in-chief in a dangerous world, after 9/11 of 2001, instead of hiding behind a seasoned senator named Joe Biden. Wonder how seasoned leaders such as Vladimir Putin of Russia, and others from China and North Korea, see Obama as a world leader? So much for American pride, and might, in the history of the world.

    October 9, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28