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. john maclin,kentucky

    I hate to say it but this republican is just not gonna vote this year.First he picks a VP that in my opinion would be scary if she become president.If McCain was the straight talk express,than why is everything his campaign dose is so negative.I guess you can be to old for some things and its obvious to me he has lost his mind.

    October 9, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  2. brad

    so what's the different between what you did and obama did in writing about it. you both made it public and don't condone it. we all know you just want to jump the subject of what's going in currently in the US.

    October 9, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. Kristina

    Great! He is honest... not many are willing to say these things for fear of retribution...

    but come on... they have ALL done it.. maybe not the older presidents...

    the 60s... hello!?!

    October 9, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  4. nganenu

    Old mcBush and Old Cindy are all that free from the subject? Obama clearly stated his youth errement. Who hasn't? Obama 08

    October 9, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. Peter

    Obama "ought to admit" his teenage drug use? Um, when was he hiding it? It's in his book. Talk about grasping at straws. I await Gov. Keating's to publicly call on Cindy McCain to admit to her past drug use. Absurd and desperate..

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. Raymond K. Hessel

    We already know about this. No new information here. The Repugs just don't get it. They just don't get it. The Dow loses another 7% and they can't figure it out. It's akin to a group of people who are all trapped in a burning house and a couple of idiots are trying to get the rest of the group upset about the wallpaper design or the diagonal tile flooring.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  7. Nicole in Ga

    For the love of God, what is wrong with these people ? Resorting to attacks way back even further to Obama's teenage years ? They are not bringing up anything new. It really shows the desperation here. This is unbelievable. People wake up !! He already came out and admitted he made a mistake. It's like they want him up on a cross, it's horrible. Will McCain please just go ahead and concede please.

    Obama made a book about this so it's not something he is hiding. It just goes to show and give hope to people who have issues and may be down and out that they can overcome and become a great leader and give inspiration to others.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  8. Donald

    I this the best you lames can do! Seems like you idiots are related to Rip Van Winkle, finally waking up from a long lost snooze. You people have gone beyond desperation to try and turn around the failed McCain-Palin junket. The people stopped listening to Dumbya long ago so what makes you think that we're going to listen to slime balls like you!! Dennis Miller and all you other monkeys, go back to the tiolet zoo from whence you came!!

    OBAMA/ BIDEN '08

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  9. Steve - Minneapolis

    He has admitted it. On to the issues. Case closed. Could we maybe run against the independent candidate for a while and avoid this stupid trash.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  10. nyc

    Again the Republicans are proving they have no PLATFORM or plan to stand on so they resort to mudslinging. How original. They need to go away already.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  11. Jack Six Pack

    Wow, and this coming from "BumbleFrank" the level headed man who thinks he is above the Supreme Court. "BumbleFrank" also has quite a shady background with almost $250,000 in "gifts" from Jack Dreyfus, founder of Dreyfus Mutual Funds over the course of the past 10 years.

    "BumbleFrank" also believes that creationism should be taught in schools and when told that the Supreme Court already ruled against that he indicated that he would "dissent".

    Now we are to believe that this man has any credibility on the national stage when his own party ignored him for a post in Bush's administration, that's a great resume!

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  12. Obama IS President

    Yawn.....boy McCain't is REALLY reaching......

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  13. Pay in Attention, USA

    Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating???

    Shouldn't the McCain camp issue a GAG order against anyone who has a name that calls to mind McCain's past indiscretions???

    Truly hilarious!

    KEATING 5 ---- Hello?

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Bianca

    Give me a break! So what he used drugs when he was younger. How many young kids do the same thing. What the fail to mention is how he grew up changed his fate by taking command of his life and applying himself in school. I have all boys and I know I have raised them right but I also know that they will do some stupid things along the way. If I raised them right they will get back on track and remember what I taught them. The only difference between Obama and McCain is that he tells the truth about what he did instead of acting as if he is not someone who made them. If McCain could admit his mistakes by being truthful the polls might change

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. Tired of McCain/Palin Negativity

    Why are CNN posting my comments? I'm tired of the McCain people being able to say anything they like and spread lies about Barack.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. Brian Wilson

    Well, CNN, thanks for one measly article bringing up anything bad about Obama, but you're just covering up far worse. Where's the story about Obama suing Citibank to force them to give bad loans? You'd think with the economy in shambles that might be important!

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. Suzanne Madison

    At least Obama admits his past mistakes. We love Obama and excited about the postive impact that he's brought to this process. Obama and his team has ignited and inspired many people of all backgrounds to get involved in the election. This country is in need of real change and we believe that Obama is capable of making it happen. We like some of McCain's positions, however after 8 years of the Bush Administration, we think that America needs to try something different and that change is Obama. It appears to the American people that McCain's team is so desparate and trying to hard to distract the media away from the issues. The issues are more important than what Obama did when he was a teenager.
    America is smarter than you all give us credit.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  18. Jorge -- SF_CA

    That strategy didn't work against Bill Clinton, and it's not going to work now.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  19. Smeryl62

    Now let me get this straight. Obama should tell us again like he did when he wrote the book in 95, and like he has said before before he declared and even after that he did what ....1 line as opposed to 5 of cocaine. Or maybe that he nerver rolled his own joint but used a bong or something. Why does this matter? We don't care. The only thing I want to here from Obama is how he's going to protect my 401K, because at 46 I hadn't planned on starting all over again. IT'S THE ECONOMY STUPID!!!! All the other tricks won't work this time.

    October 9, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  20. Judy from NC

    Stay strong Senator Obama. Victory is near and I believe you will prevail. God bless you and keep you safe.

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  21. The One=Karl Marx

    What a surprise. H Obama has no honor, no character, no experience,
    no values, and should not be trusted. He should go back to IL I hear there is a community organizer job needing his help. (ACORN)

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  22. cecil

    Talk About Sweating Bullets!


    The Ugly Americans

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  23. maynard hopkins wi

    what other surprises does Obama have hidden away

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Sgt C USMC

    So...Democrats should tell all of their 'misdeeds' forthrightfully.

    But Republicans should wait to be supoened first and then hide behind lawyers and 'executive priviledge." Thanks for clearing that up Keating.

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. Ruby Jones

    I find it sad that McCain and his friends are questioning Sen. Obama's past when the questions that have been asked and answered.

    Does Palin want people to confront her on her past? How about rich Cindy? Sen. McCain how will history remember you? This is not the behavior of a leader or a man in control of his campaign or house.

    Get it together, what are your plans to get us out of this economic mess?

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
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