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. Are you kidding me?!?

    Wow! The DESPERATION is really blatant and quite PATHETIC from the "right." Why don't we talk about Palin's Troopergate scandal or McCain's Keating 5 involvement. The GOP is really scraping the bottom of the barrel....and just when I thought they couldn't be any more despicable.

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  2. alex

    This is dumb and they are desperate!!!!! OBAMA 08

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  3. Lynn

    Has he overcome those

    "emotional struggles"

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  4. renee

    Read the book, STUPID!!!!!!!

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  5. Benjamin

    Oh, for crying out loud!

    October 9, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. Diamond from Florida

    Obama doesn't have to do anything, The republicans are panicking and are finding everything they can to use against Obama to make you fear him. Don't be fooled America

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  7. chris24

    Another reach for anything to help distract people from the situation we are in NOW!

    What happened years ago has no bearing on today. Most kids tried drugs in high school or college. Big deal!

    The republican creeps keep getting creepier. Rush Limpbaugh is a drug addict and divorced three times, does the far right give a crap about that? No, they keep listening.

    Sarah Palin's foreign policy advisor was a lobbyist who sold the Iraq war to the American public (or tried) I think that is more relevant than anyone's drug experiment when they were a kid.

    Jeez.... Give it a rest....

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  8. Tracey

    And what does this have to do with the economy and the fact that people's pensions are being lost! Homes are being foreclosed at such a great rate. I am pissed off that he wasted his own time with such nonsense! "Out of touch, out of ideas and running out of ideas"

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  9. Jeremy, IL

    Elizabeth Hucklehoff is on a mission to single handedly help McCain win. You should have seen her little pouty face today, determined to "expose" Barack. She got her head chopped and served on a platter because Sherrie, Joy and Whoopi were ready for her.

    Sorry Elizabeth, all those dreams of returning back to the White House dinners are slowly evaporating. I hope they keep you out of there for 8 long years because you are a pill.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  10. Obama Supporter

    Petty remarks. Repubs searching for straws.

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  11. Dr. Proctor, PHD

    As a teen, I smoked pot, drank beer, ate pop rocks without dying like
    Mikey, turned my eyelids inside out, tried a little LSD(while listening to
    Seals and Crofts Hummingbird), popped wheelies on my motorcycle,

    (I am now the Chief of the neurosurgery department of the best
    hospital in the country).

    I won't t tell which one for obvious reasons.

    Democrats Rock!

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. CJ 24

    So what.. we're not called liberal for nothing. I'll take a guy with some experimental use in his past over an alcoholic gambler present day everytime.

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    From Canada I send this message – Barrack Obama's past drug use should be considered like everyone else of his generation – part of growing up. He is not connected to any drug rings, nor is he a current user, and he has nothing to apologize for. How many people were using in the ir youth? How many are now sporting suits and executive jobs?

    I sincerely hope that the American voters put Obama in the White House. He is honest and well educated and deserves a chance to make some changes. He strikes me as someone who views conflict as an opportunity to communicate. He does not go on and on about 'winning wars'. It's not about winners and losers – it's about peace and negotiation. Go Obama, go!! We're rooting for you!!

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  14. texas

    This must be a BARACK HUSSAIN OBAMA ticker nothing bad being posted here, or anywere that I see on any of the tickers. Socialism its already started.

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. California Gold

    Senator McCain should openly and candidly discuss with American voters his conduct as a prisoner in Vietnam; providing information about military flight paths which resulted in US planes being shot down by the Communist N. Vietnamese. I would also like to know about his problem with anger management, specifically what he has done with therapy and medication.

    October 9, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  16. sbelle

    Hmmm, stick the name "George W. Bush" in that story and it work just fine too don't you think?

    This is pretty much a waste of good bandwidth.

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  17. Lori

    Really... I like recycling but this is ridiculous (to quote Al Gore)

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  18. Jon

    Sorry John, he has been candid. He admitted his past history years ago.

    Wow, McCain's camp sure is desperate!

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  19. Karma in Indiana!

    Wow!!! At this point really can't take it! He put it in his book! It's no secret..Who the freak cares..McCain s really reaching! Should we bring back up his affair with Cindy?? That show a lot bout his character!

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  20. Tired of it

    Hey Keating-sod off. He already talked about it in his book and in the primaries, what more does your grasping at straws, Karl Rovian effort want?

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  21. K

    If we let President Bush get into office knowing he used Cocaine and a fall down drunk, do you think the Conservatives should be pointing the finger at anyone? A Mr. Miller I worked several of your shows in the Late '80's and early '90's, you are not one to talk.

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  22. Mr. New York City

    conservatism and comedy dont go together

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  23. Steve Rainey

    Drug use didn't affect Bush's ability to get elected. Republican's didn't care about it then.

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  24. RLS

    OH please- he admitted past use- what more do we need to know? God Lord -the McCain camp is getting very desperate! Worry about todays issues!

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  25. Edward

    When will the horrible facts about Obama's character stop coming out? Why are people voting at all for him? What type of president do they think this man will make? Didn't we learn to be more careful after slick Willy? Wake up America!

    October 9, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 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