Democratic presumptive Presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama has seemingly channeled Sean Connery in the movie “The Untouchables” by serving notice that if the Republicans aggressively go after him he’s ready to respond in kind — and then some:
Barack Obama is warning supporters that the general election fight between him and John McCain may get ugly, but the Illinois senator is vowing not to back down.
“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said at a fundraiser in Philadelphia Friday, according to pool reports.
“We don’t have a choice but to win,” Obama said, joking that he has heard “folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles games.”
Obama again said that the GOP will make try to make him look “scary” to voters.
And, in the predictable way our politics functions you could guess what the Republican response to this would be — and you’re correct:
Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant said Obama’s rhetoric abandons Obama’s campaign themes of hope and change.
“In the last 24 hours, he’s completely abandoned his campaign’s call for ‘new politics’, equating the election to a ‘brawl’ and promising to ‘bring a gun,’” Conant said.
Actually, that isn’t what Obama says here at all.
He’s indicating that unlike past Democratic nominees — with the exception of Bill Clinton — he’s not going to wait to respond to attacks nor is he going to not counter an aggressive campaign with a campaign calibrated to be tough enough or tougher to counter any Republican attack.
Michael Dukakis let the Republicans portray him as a kind of robot, define him with the infamous Willy Horton ad and later run an ad that used footage of him in a tank looking like Snoopy. His campaign tried to ignore the negative campaigning and paid the price. John Kerry waited so long before he condescended to respond to the Swift Boat attacks that by the time he did his own boat sank.
Obama already tipped his hand on how he plans to handle negative campaigning aimed his way when it was announced that his campaign was starting a website to directly counter and answer — an debunk — Internet “smears,” such as the false charge that he is Muslim or continued speculation that there is a tape showing his wife Michelle screaming about “Whitey” at his ex-church.
People forget, but Bill Clinton, James Carville and Paul Begala started their famous campaign “war room” due to disastrous past Democratic national campaigns where charges were made and Democrats didn’t counter them fast enough or Democrats let the campaign momentum and media narrative slip from them to the Republicans.
So Obama’s channeling Connery is by no means a rejection of a campaign of hope and change. Its embracing a campaign that is planning to stay on equal footing with the Republicans, rather than allowing itself to become a doormat.
Now, if Obama says “My name is Bond. James Bond…” there MIGHT be some reason to worry..
UPDATE: For another reaction to Obama’s comments GO HERE.
Here’s the scene from “The Untouchables”:
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.