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. susie

    If Obama talked about it in his book, then it can be discuss.

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Veteran for OB

    Two names: Bill Clinton and George Bush. These hypocritical self righteous Republicans are a joke. I don't see how anyone who claims to be a Christian can be a part of "that Party."

    Evanglicals = Phrisees = Hypocrites

    Trying to pull yourself up, by tearing a man down. That's Christian principles right? Republicans.....put the stones down. You in no way represent Jesus Christ.

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. Michael

    He has spoke candidly about it. Obama has been nothing but honest while the angry McCain has been nothing but a sleazy liar.

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. Dan

    Then McCains wife should speak up about her drug abuse . Getting her drugs thru Africa!!!!!! I think the poor baby gop should look in there closet before casting stones at the democrats! Irancontra, Keating Five McCain's advisors.. What a bunch of cry babies they are!!

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  5. Ian Rennie

    bottom of the barrel reached...

    bottom of the barrel breached.

    Obama admitted youthful drug use thirteen years ago. He hasn't hid anything from anyone.

    And does McCain really want to get into a battle over drug use? Considering his wife's history of painkiller use and charity abuse.

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  6. Shelly

    The McShame campaign is trying "all of the above" tricks to smear his candidacy. Yes, he used drugs, but has recovered and has been open about it. How about McCain's and his past alcohol and drug use? Read his book, it won't see written in any page!

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. nitro

    It doesnt matter wheather you print it or not you saw it.

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

    The Republicans are acting retarded.

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  9. a white guy in ohio

    "Cocaine", "Muslim"... they're all just code words to remind voters that Barack *Hussein* Obama is black!

    This just in – he IS, and _it doesn't matter!_

    The McCain campaign is simply using racism and fear to besmirch the other candidate: the BETTER candidate – and a fine human being! They are trying to create a race war where none exists.

    October 9, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  10. Bea

    Wow..then let's bring up MCCain;s adultry...i will be happy to discuss that.

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

    What a disgusting campaign being waged by Republicans.

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  12. McCain

    Barack HUSSEIN OSAMA Obama is a Radical Leftist LIAR with friends like Terrorist Ayers, Madcap Loony Wright and scum like that who hate America! Hussein Obama better run in Kenya, Saudi wherever they like him! Very few American Soldiers will ever Salute the Liar Obama! Wait and see!

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  13. kescia

    Yeah! And let's hear John McCain talk about his adultery!

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  14. Florida voter

    This is a non-issue. Let's talk about important stuff.

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. My State Is Blue! Yours Can Be Too!

    And this has what to do with that state of the nation? Are we seriously talking about this? Haven't most of us done things in those awkward teen years that in hindsight weren't too smart? You grow from your experiences, good and bad. I'm still voting for Obama.
    Obama/Biden '08

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. kenneth bernstein

    who gives a rat azzzzz ??? As I remember Bush was a well know coke head and drunk in the 70's

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  17. Anne

    and what about Bush and his coke snorting and alcohol use. Does anyone bring up that or maybe Cindy McCain and her prescription drug thefts for her personal use. Ill take Obama over either of those anyday.

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  18. GatorsForObama

    Wait, this is news? I believe he wrote a book about his drug problems. Republicans are out of ideas already, it seems. It shows in their attacks and it shows in their policies.

    Next thing you know, they will bring up his skin color and his pastor again. Wait a minute...

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  19. Q Glenn

    When your down by 10 percentage point... Throw a hail mary!

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  20. Pamela

    Did someone tell these idiots the story has already been told, more specifically by Obama? McShame and his group of yes boys and girls are stooping below the level of desparation. They are appearing downright stupid.

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. robert anyanwu

    its too late johnny McLost...
    its too late trying to dig up obamas past.
    i have an advice for you....
    johnny boy, your in a hole..so stop DIGGING

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  22. A copy editor who cares

    And yet managed to get excellent grades in the Ivy League, as opposed to the current president, who did his share of cocaine, which I neither indulge in nor oppose, and end up pretty average, except for these awfully unaverage past eight years.

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

    Sure, because no Republican has ever done anything they regret!

    These guys are desperate!

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  24. Seth

    sure, let's talk about it. why not? who doesn't already know this. turns out, no one cares. he was a kid.

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  25. Dan

    Again, this falls into the category "Anything Barack can do, John can do better". John's exploits in the academy and as a young officer could be the stuff of legend. I don't think competing on who screwed up the most as a youth is a competition that John would want to get into, never mind that it does nothing about the economy.

    October 9, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
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