WASHINGTON What a difference a word makes.
Republican John McCain's presidential campaign has
nicknamed rival Barack Obama "The One" to ridicule what they
see as the Democratic candidate's messianic tendencies.
For McCain himself, Obama is simply "that one."
Referring to an energy bill during Tuesday's debate, McCain
said: "You know who voted for it? You might never know."
"That one," he said, pointing to Obama.
McCain was criticized after the first presidential debate
on Sept. 26 for refusing to look at Obama.
The Obama campaign seized on Tuesday's remark as further
evidence of McCain's contempt for his opponent in the Nov. 4
"Last time he couldn't look at Senator Obama, this time he
couldn't say his name," Obama campaign manager David Plouffe
said after the debate. McCain did refer to his opponent as
Senator Obama at other times in the debate.
Obama's vice presidential running mate, Delaware Sen. Joe
Biden, was more forgiving.
"I think when John knows he's sort of in an attack mode,
it's always kind of difficult to look the other person in the
eye," Biden said on ABC's "Good Morning America."
"I think it reflects more his ill-at-ease with the attack
he has under way," Biden said.
The McCain campaign dismissed complaints about the comment.
"I am shocked that they are again proving to be the fussiest
campaign in American history," advisor Nicole Wallace told CBS
Others were jarred by the remark. Washington Post columnist
Tom Shales called it "demeaning, nasty."
"The snarled 'that one' also contributed to McCain's image
as a kind of mean old Scrooge, not so much a battle-scarred
warrior as an embittered one," Shales wrote.
"That one" may have been a spontaneous comment, but "The
One" has been a deliberate part of the campaign's
The McCain campaign on Tuesday handed out cuff links to
reporters emblazoned with a mock presidential seal for Obama
and "The One" engraved in script on the back.
A Web ad released by the McCain campaign in August mocked
Obama as "The One" and compared him to Moses parting the Red
The Obama campaign has condemned the nickname as
(Additional reporting by Donna Smith and David Alexander;
editing by David Wiessler)