- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama yesterday accused presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain of “losing his bearings,” prompting the Arizona senator’s campaign to say the younger man was attacking Mr. McCain’s age.

Mr. Obama was asked in an appearance on CNN to respond to Mr. McCain’s saying on the campaign trail that Hamas favors the Democrat for president.

“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,” Mr. Obama said yesterday, adding that “that kind of smear I think is unfortunate, particularly since my policy toward Hamas has been no different than his.

“For him to toss out comments like that I think is an example of him losing his bearings as he pursues this nomination. We don’t need name-calling in this debate.”

The McCain campaign responded with a memo, calling the 46-year-old Mr. Obama’s choice of words an “attack.”

“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,” McCain adviser Mark Salter wrote in a memo to reporters. If he wins, Mr. McCain would be the oldest president on his inauguration day, at 72.

Mr. Salter suggested that the Illinois senator attacked his boss to “delegitimize the discussion of issues that raise legitimate questions about his judgment and preparedness to be president.”

Last month, Hamas’ Ahmed Yousef said the group likes Mr. Obama and hopes he wins, saying: “He is like John Kennedy, a great man with great principle.”

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly that he rejects Hamas’ actions.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton dismissed the McCain memo as a “rant.”

“Clearly losing one’s bearings has no relation to age, given this bizarre rant that Mark Salter just sent out,” Mr. Burton said in a statement. “It’s clear why a candidate offering a third term of George Bush’s disastrous economic policies and failed strategy in Iraq would want to distract and attack, but it’s not the kind of campaign John McCain has promised the American people that he would run.”

The McCain campaign yesterday released a special Mother’s Day ad starring Roberta McCain, his feisty 95-year-old mother.

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