What did McCain mean when he called Obama 'that one'?
Nick Juliano
Published: Wednesday October 8, 2008

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A growing perception that Republican presidential candidate John McCain is outright disdainful of having to share a stage with -- let alone losing to -- Barack Obama is gaining more traction after McCain dismissively referred to his opponent as "that one" during Tuesday's debate.

Andrew Sullivan pronounced it "the moment the contempt spilled over."

Crooks and Liars Nicole Belle wonder if McCain was "going to yell at him to get off his lawn next."

Some Obama supporters have already co-opted the phrase, on T-shirts and by registering the url, ThatOne08.com.

The comment was instantly noticed by the Obama campaign itself.

"Did John McCain just refer to Obama as 'that one'?" campaign spokesman Bill Burton asked in an e-mail to reporters just minutes after it happened. A video of the exchange wound up on YouTube before the debate was even over.

After a previous debate appearance in which McCain seemed unable to even look at Obama, some are wondering whether McCain's "that one" quip reveals more about his character. Brian Beutler notes the phrase is "a singular rendering of the phrase 'Those people!'"

Plenty of people are giving McCain the benefit of the doubt though. The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder says McCain uses the phrase often in stump speeches and just bungled the set-up Tuesday night.

"I didn't think the moment came off as racist. Rather, it was tone deaf. It was Grandpa Simpson. It was cranky. Which fits it into a narrative connecting the first two debates," writes Ezra Klein. "In both, McCain's most memorable tics were exhibitions of contempt for Barack Obama."

McCain was speaking about his vote against a 2005 energy bill championed by President Bush. The GOP candidate, buffing his reputation as an opponent of pork-barrel spending, contrasted his opposition to the measure he described as "loaded down with ... billions for the oil companies" to Obama's vote in favor of the bill.

"You know who voted for it? You might never know," McCain jabbed. "That one."

A McCain spokesman dismissed discussion of the quip, according to ABC News, calling the Obama campaign's attempt to draw attention to the remark "diversionary."

This video is from ABCNews.com, broadcast October 7, 2008.

Download video via RawReplay.com