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. Johnson in St. Louis

    you just have to love the desperation that you're seeing in the McCain camp..in fact it is on the border of becoming ridiculous. Maybe the Obama camp should dig up some of the stuff McCain may have done when he was in the military, his cheating on his first wife, I'm sure he was no angel. When the country is in the shape that it is now, they have to see this witch hunting is not going to work.

    October 9, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  2. s.positive

    RNC is a sinking ship, this is just another evidence...

    October 9, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  3. michael benjamin

    wasn't this address already? please get a life

    October 9, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  4. Truth Seeker

    There goes the GOP smear machine into action – nothing surprising so far.

    This just gives one an insight into how scared the Republicans really are. I am sure these guys are waking up in the middle of the night with their pants wet.

    October 9, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  5. Karen

    Another day, another pathetic attempt by the McCain campaign to take the focus off their lousy campaign and hapless candidate.

    October 9, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  6. Allen in Hartwell, GA

    Why isn't anyone talking about the mob atmosphere at McCain/Palin campaign rallys? After being incited by McCain and Palin, the mobs surrounding them appear ready to get a rope and lynch Obama!

    This has to be the nastiest, most unAmerican campaign I've ever seen. Aren't there laws against inciting riots? These two and their supporters are threatening to destroy this country, and the media seems happy to urge them on.

    October 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  7. Th3rdpwr

    Didn't Sarah Palin make a point of castigating Joe Biden for bringing up the past; that the McCain campaign was focussing on the future? So far, all we've heard from them concerns the 60's and 70's.

    October 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  8. AZ Dem for McCain

    Guess it would be hard for the Obama campaign staff to respond to their boss drug use. Unlike Bill Clinton, obviously Obama did inhaled, snorted or shot up drugs? Nice to see he did CHANGE his drug habits around.

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

    They've written articles about how Obama EXAGGERATED his drug use claims, how they couldn't find anyone who saw Obama use drugs, my gawd...

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

    Nothing else to post CNN.? This is old news, and nothing that millions of teenagers haven't tried. Print something worthwhile.

    October 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. Wes

    What a non issue. Are the Palins going to talk about their drug use? They admitted to using drugs before their first child was born. What about Cindy McCain? Is she going to talk about her drug use? I almost bet you too John McCain has had morphine one or twice along the way. What about his drinking?

    The stock market drops another 7% in value, and THIS is all the McCain surrogates have to talk about?

    They really do have contempt for the American people don't they.

    October 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  12. laura

    wow they really are desperate. Is this the same Keating?? If not, sucks to have that last name . How about Palin's recent pot use and Cindi McCain's drug addiction. I don't think they want to go there. Obama was a teenager. I'm sure McCain used some drugs too. The internet is a powerful tool.

    October 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. larry

    whats the big deal?did'nt george bush admit to alcohol and cocaine use?he's changed his life since the early days of college.this is an old trick that does not work like it used to .the mc.cain campaign is stooping pretty low.thats a sign of fear..

    October 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. Madeleine in Missouri

    LOL. Obama has talked about it - on the trail... in books... He used drugs in the 70s?! Umm, hello! Lots of people used drugs in the 70s! He's talked about it as a period of life where he made a lot of mistakes. And all that is in the past anyway. John McCain has mistakes in his past too. Okay. So who are these guys NOW, and what will they do for this country as President?

    October 9, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. bibek

    Well, he HAS candidly talked about it. You would know if you ever watched his speeches.

    GOP look very desperate... digging dirt from the past when the economy is in turmoil. Shame on you guys. Talk about the issues if you can.

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  16. Nancy

    The more we know about Obama, the more worries me. Who is this guy, surrounded by drugs, former firend, radical group like Acorn. His middble name. name is not that important, but if you don't feel you are part of a religion, I am sure that you could change it, it is not that hard to change a name? If Mr. Hussein becomes my president, I am sure it will bother me a lot.

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  17. Mike in Texas

    Let's see how many republicans make this a big issue. They have to read about it online to know he did even though he wrote about it in a book that was published years ago. I don't care what someone did in their youth. I am sure alot of us did things we shouldn't have....including our current President.

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. TexicoFrom Mexico

    OMG these JERKS are doing everything to try and stop this win...its sad and yo know what....I hope race relations go down the tube in this country!

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  19. Gabby for OBAMA

    He wrote it in his autobiography. How much more candid can you get??

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  20. phil s.

    mccain should open up to the american people about his unabashed chauvinism and infidelity...sex, its one hell of a drug

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Katie

    Who gives a rats toot!!!!

    This bunch is so buys trying to distract us all from what is important it just is annoying. Hasn't everyone wised up yet? McSame and cronies are doing the same ole crapola as the Busheys. GET WISE America, quit being DUMBED DOWN.

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. nikki

    this is crazy. the mcshame group have these people put lies and barack past on front street, but then say...oh we didn't approve that. cindy have a past drug problem and stole money to support her habit (a lady who is rich). cindy is fair game since she is in the attack mode now. Obama Rocks!

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  23. DMC, USA

    Sad, desperate attempts from the McShame camp.

    October 9, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |

    And then you met Ayers in the early 80's and he got you educated.......litterly by paying for it. The rest is history.
    By the way, he's waiting for you to pick him up,along with Rev.Wright, down on the corner.

    October 9, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. patricia for Obama

    Nobody cares about McDumb's character attacks against Obama. The lies the American people care about are his fraudulent "fixes" for the economy that further victimize us taxpayers.

    October 9, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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