Apparently the McCain campaign completely freaked out over this comment from Obama:
BLITZER: He also is going after you now, today, the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence. He says you’re not necessarily endorsing policies that would be good for Israel.
He says this, for example: “I think it’s very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas’ worst nightmare. Senator Obama is favored by Hamas. I think people can make judgments accordingly.”
OBAMA: Yes, this — this is offensive.
And I think it’s disappointing, because John McCain always says, well, I’m not going to run that kind of politics. And then to engage in that kind of smear, I think, is unfortunate, particularly since my policy towards Hamas has been no different than his.
I have said that they are a terrorist organization, that we should not negotiate with them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence and unless they’re willing to abide by previous accords between the Palestinians and the Israelis. And, so, for him to toss out comments like that, I think, is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination.
Here is the freak-out from the McCain campaign:
To: Interested Parties
From: Mark Salter, Senior Advisor
Date: May 8, 2008
Re: Senator Obama’s Attack Today
First, let us be clear about the nature of Senator Obama’s attack today: He used the words ‘losing his bearings’ intentionally, a not particularly clever way of raising John McCain’s age as an issue. This is typical of the Obama style of campaigning.
Kind of funny, since the phrase “losing his bearings” is not one I would associate with age. Not to mention, it wasn’t the first time Obama used the term bearings in that interview:
BLITZER: Are there members, justices right now upon who you would model, you would look at? Who do you like?
OBAMA: Well, you know, I think actually Justice Breyer, Justice Ginsburg are very sensible judges.
I think that Justice Souter, who was a Republican appointee, is a sensible judge. What you’re looking for is somebody who is going to apply the law where it’s clear. Now, there’s going to be those 5 percent of cases or 1 percent of cases where the law isn’t clear. And the judge then has to bring in his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings.
Obama wasn’t talking about McCain’s age, as anyone would tell you, but the McCain campaign freaked out about it as if he had. This may be just them doing some pre-emptive work on the age issue, or it may be an attempt to bring the race down into the gutter before it even starts so the Republican operatives and 527’s have license to say whatever they want (which, mind you, they will anyway), but it does show they are sensitive about the age issue.
The funny thing is that Obama isn’t going to have to reference age at all for it to be an issue. All he is going to have to do is stand next to McCain, and the issue will undoubtedly arise, and that is not even taking into account the caricatures that will be created in the comedy world- SNL will be particularly brutal.
*** Update ***
I missed this response from the Obama campaign:
An Obama campaign spokesman shot back: “Clearly losing one’s bearings has no relation to age, given this bizarre rant that Mark Salter just sent out.”
As noted in the comments, the one plus of the last few months of the Clinton Obama cagematch has been that the Obama campaign is used to dealing with the “feigned outrage” mode of campaigning.