ABC News’ Ron Claiborne Reports: The McCain campaign lashed out at Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, for what it called an insulting dig at Sen. John McCain’s age.
In an interview on CNN, Obama accused McCain of trying to "smear" him by saying that the Palestinian militant group Hamas favored his candidacy.
"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," Obama said.
The McCain campaign said the "losing his bearings" comment was an underhanded reference to the fact that McCain is 71 years old.
Mark Salter, one of the advisers, said, "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."
"That quote is a not-so-subtle attempt by Obama to insinuate the age issue into the race," another McCain adviser said. " He attacks viciously with subtlety and innuendo. Nobody suggested he supports Hamas. We have said the North American spokesman (for Hamas) has talked about how wonderful it would be if he were president of the United States."
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton denied that Obama was alluding to McCain’s age.
"Clearly losing one’s bearings has no relation to age," Burton said in an e-mailed statement.
"Given this bizarre rant that Mark Salter just sent out, 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."