August 21st, 2007
04:51 PM ET
7 years ago

Did Michelle Obama take a swipe at Clinton?

Barack and Michelle Obama at the Iowa State fair last week.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Did she or didn't she?

That's the question some political observers are asking about recent comments from Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, that could be interpreted as a swipe against her husband's chief presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

In Atlantic, Iowa last Thursday, Michelle Obama pointed to the strength of her own family and said the next president must be "somebody that shares our values."

"Is he somebody that respects family? Is he a good and decent person?" Michelle Obama asked the crowd about the next president. "Our view is that if you can't run your own house, you certainly can't run the White House."

The comments went largely unnoticed until an article in Tuesday morning's Chicago Sun Times suggested the statement was an indirect swipe against the Clintons, whose previous marital problems have been well documented.

The accusation immediately got top billing on The Drudge Report, a conservative Web site, and Obama himself was asked about the comments in a conference call earlier Tuesday.

The Illinois senator emphatically denied the comments were aimed at his rival and added, "There was no reference beyond her point that we have had an administration that talks a lot about family values but doesn’t follow through."

He also noted that his wife often speaks about children and families in her campaign remarks.

Katie McCormick Lelyveld, Michelle Obama's communications director, also told CNN, "the only family Mrs. Obama was talking about was the Obama family."

– CNN's Alexander Mooney and Martina Stewart

soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. Mikey, Tampa, FL

    Isn't it amazing that almost everyone posting a reply can see through the bull of this story. We aren't as stupid as the media thinks.

    August 23, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  2. Daisy Flake

    Speaking in vague terms about running a household is not a good way to lead into why are qualified to run a country. Make statements such as you have to able to run a household without stating what the definition of running a household is and relating it to running the White House sound pollyanna ish. So, if I can run a household, I can be president; cool. Who cares who she was thinking of, it is an insult (superiority issue)to everyone by trying to say you can do something better because you say so. Running a household is such a private and individualistic and cultural (i.e. America) matter. The way someone runs a household may not work for my family.

    August 23, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  3. GS3, Ohio

    Bogus! read the context too!
    And everyone else get a life
    Peace

    August 23, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. Jordan, Columbus OH

    I'm a conservative, and I'm big on family values, but I'm sick of how they get tossed around like a political qualification. Yes, families are important, and yes it reflects on someone's character, but any politician can parade his family around. And whoever can suggest that Mrs. Obama's remarks were directed specifically against the Clintons, Bush, or whomever...go jump in a lake.

    August 23, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. Isaac, Louisville, KY

    Whoa whoa whoa, georgewashington! Why don't you think a little bit about what you're implying by saying "politics is not the place to look for morals".

    While it is certainly true we see very little morals when we look at politics, it is precisely the lack of "moral" elected officials that has been destroying our children's future for decades. I would certainly agree that we don't need to look to our elected leaders for RELIGIOUS guidance, but if we continue to elect morally deficient people to public office, we are basically complicit in their crimes against the environment, world peace, etc.

    You can make the argument that most people are self-serving... but I also say that most people have a conscience. It would seem that the majority of our elected officials over the past few decades are lacking in that department. How else do you explain the predictable ignoring of ENORMOUSLY important, but inconvenient issues? Believe me, government officials have LONG known about certain environmental problems, but have avoided dealing with it because they would lose their jobs and campaign funding if they stood up strong for the necessary change.

    Oh, and you want to talk about slavery? Just think for a minute about how things in this country would be if we had cowardly, profoundly self-serving leaders at that time who were unwilling to stand up against it? Any leader at that time knew that to stand up to slavery would probably bring them a war AND a bullet. Fortunately for us, we had leaders willing to make big sacrifices to fight such injustice. Would the leaders we elect these days do the same? I doubt it.

    I would argue, passionately, that a decent but average man with a conscience would be a far better leader and make far better decisions when it came to important things than a brilliant, but undeniably self-serving man.

    NOW, SPECIFICALLY about Bill Clinton, because I know this is really who you're trying to defend here... Please change your defense to something more along the lines of "He messed up, but who doesn't", NOT the ridiculous argument that "Ehhh, morals don't matter anyway, I only care how well he does his job".

    Until the American people FINALLY realize that ALL the problems we see in our country and EVERYTHING we complain about is ultimately OUR fault, NOTHING will ever improve.

    One of the mistakes we make is electing self-serving, cowardly pieces of garbage who have no conscience and no qualms over selfishly taking the easy way out and passing the buck (er, the debt) to future generations.

    The sooner we realize that the MOST important thing about a candidate is his or her character, the sooner we will start to finally fix the problems our uneducated, lazy apathy has allowed to ravage our country.

    Something I would like everyone to think about: IQ is merely a multiplier to one's effectiveness at doing whatever one sets out to do.

    If we want to continue to elect those poor in character, we'd do much better to only elect really, really stupid people. The worst thing we can do is elect brilliant, profoundly self-serving people.

    I mean really, just imagine you're trusting someone to manage all of your finances. The best case scenario is of course that you find a brilliant and trustworthy individual with a conscience. The WORST case scenario is that you appoint someone with incredible brilliance, but no concern for anyone else, no conscience. You would never be able to catch this person robbing you. Undesirable, but better, would be to appoint a relatively stupid self-serving jerk. You could at least catch him or her swindling you. And last, though not ideal, it would be even better to appoint a relatively stupid, but honest, person.

    The sooner we realize this, the better.

    August 23, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  6. J. Akpan

    It is not for nothing that this adage went thus,” Manners maketh a Man”. In concurrence with Mrs Obama’s assertion, a good leader must show exemplary behavior. As we all know of for those who know,” Charity begins at home and ends outside’. One cannot claim to be capable of effectively leading a country such as the united states of America if he/she cannot lead his/her family.
    That Michelle Obama’s comments were an indirect attack on Mrs Clinton or any other candidate is clear evidence of the perverse way some Americans look at issues. Some will say it is the American way of analyzing issues; this is incorrect. Any reasonable person will look at issues from various perspectives before reaching any meaningful conclusion, but strangely enough, this is not always the case with most Americans.
    In this vein, I must say that, the assertion that, Mrs Obama’s comments were directed to Mrs Clinton, is not just political distortion of facts; but an epitome of the lack of perception of facts by those who try to interpret her comments for what ever reason and intention (the Clinton Campaign inclusive). For it is not for nothing that this idiom goes thus,” A Dreamer always looks for a shape and figure to suit his/her ethereal essence”.
    Any candidate worthy of leading this great country America, should go past the level of
    Accurately reading meanings from people’s comments and responding accordingly. America once so great seems to have become an ailing nation so-much-so that, would-be
    Preisdents need not be upright in as-much-as they have the money to buy the media to enhance their way up. What a shame? Americans should wake up and stop maintaining the old status quo.

    August 23, 2007 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  7. Isaac, Louisville, KY

    To Debi in Philadelphia:

    You're right on! It was by design! Anyone who read the article was SUPPOSED to think about Clinton! The CNN writers deliberately worded things in just that way to create some controversy.

    We would all do better to try to look deeper than the most readily available media excrement that floats to the top. Whether or not you like Clinton, whether or not you like Obama, the fact of the matter is that the ARTICLE is divisive, while Mrs. Obama's little speech was nothing but.

    I realize that we live in a country where people look for any possible way to justify their positions, legitimate or not (which is in fact why the media makes so much money; we pay them to help us justify our rationalizations), but we, AS A COUNTRY, need to wake up.

    The media will shape up once we, as a country, WANT it to shape up. It is doing exactly as we want it to do currently.

    The second we want unbiased, unspun truth, the second we show preference to a company that provides it to us... that is exactly when ALL the major news companies will begin providing it to us. They really are just mindless businesses. They will do whatever it takes to keep our favor and get our money.

    Think about it.

    August 23, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  8. John, Des Moines IA

    Give me a break people. First of all, this isn't even a story and much less, why is everyone commenting on it? Just let it go and CNN and all the rest of the news media will learn that no one cares about this non-news stuff.

    Do some real reporting for a change and let people make their own conclusions from what is said rather than jamming it down our throats.

    On a side note, who cares that someone is a good family man or woman or not. Being a good family person does not make them a good leader automatically. Personally, I'd much rather have someone that was "real" rather than some poster child for "family values". Give me that real person who actually will do something about the real problems in this country, which I'm afraid to tell you are not all caused by poor family values.

    Get a clue people and do some research and thinking for yourselves!!!

    August 23, 2007 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  9. Larry, Oakland, MI

    I don't think Mrs. Obamas comments should be interpreted as a jab at Hilary Clinton. If anything, I would think she was talking about the Bush family and the two mis-behaving daughters of the incumbent President. I applaud Mrs. Obama for not letting the presidential take precendence over the needs of her family. As Americans we always talk about the importance of family but we spend more time at work that we do with our families. I like the Obama's because they present themselves as real people and not politicians.

    August 23, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. Ava, Woodland Hills, CA

    Michelle, You're no Hillary!
    Michelle, you'll never be a Hillary.
    Hillary lived in the White House
    Hillary will live again in the White House.
    Michelle never will.
    Michelle, you're no First Lady material
    Your swipes at Hillary
    Place you in the fishwives class
    Not in our White House.

    August 23, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. george washington dc

    Whoa whoa whoa,
    !
    Why don't you think a little bit about what you're implying by saying "politics is not the place to look for morals".
    While it is certainly true we see very little morals when we look at politics, it is precisely the lack of "moral" elected officials that has been destroying our children's future for decades. I would certainly agree that we don't need to look to our elected leaders for RELIGIOUS guidance, but if we continue to elect morally deficient people to public office, we are basically complicit in their crimes against the environment, world peace, etc.

    You can make the argument that most people are self-serving… but I also say that most people have a conscience.

    It would seem that the majority of our elected officials over the past few decades are lacking in that department. How else do you explain the predictable ignoring of ENORMOUSLY important, but inconvenient issues? Believe me, government officials have LONG known about certain environmental problems, but have avoided dealing with it because they would lose their jobs and campaign funding if they stood up strong for the necessary change.
    Oh, and you want to talk about slavery? Just think for a minute about how things in this country would be if we had cowardly, profoundly self-serving leaders at that time who were unwilling to stand up against it? Any leader at that time knew that to stand up to slavery would probably bring them a war AND a bullet. Fortunately for us, we had leaders willing to make big sacrifices to fight such injustice. Would the leaders we elect these days do the same? I doubt it.

    I would argue, passionately, that a decent but average man with a conscience would be a far better leader and make far better decisions when it came to important things than a brilliant, but undeniably self-serving man.
    NOW, SPECIFICALLY about Bill Clinton, because I know this is really who you're trying to defend here…

    Please change your defense to something more along the lines of "He messed up, but who doesn't", NOT the ridiculous argument that "Ehhh, morals don't matter anyway, I only care how well he does his job".
    Until the American people FINALLY realize that ALL the problems we see in our country and EVERYTHING we complain about is ultimately OUR fault, NOTHING will ever improve.


    One of the mistakes we make is electing self-serving, cowardly pieces of garbage who have no conscience and no qualms over selfishly taking the easy way out and passing the buck (er, the debt) to future generations.

    The sooner we realize that the MOST important thing about a candidate is his or her character, the sooner we will start to finally fix the problems our uneducated, lazy apathy has allowed to ravage our country.

    Something I would like everyone to think about: IQ is merely a multiplier to one's effectiveness at doing whatever one sets out to do.

    If we want to continue to elect those poor in character, we'd do much better to only elect really, really stupid people. The worst thing we can do is elect brilliant, profoundly self-serving people. I would only add to this , that the worst thing we can do is elect a brilliant, profoundly self-serving person who “is moral.”
    I mean really, just imagine you're trusting someone to manage all of your finances. The best case scenario is of course that you find a brilliant and trustworthy individual with a conscience. The WORST case scenario is that you appoint someone with incredible brilliance, but no concern for anyone else, no conscience. You would never be able to catch this person robbing you. Undesirable, but better, would be to appoint a relatively stupid self-serving jerk. You could at least catch him or her swindling you. And last, though not ideal, it would be even better to appoint a relatively stupid, but honest, person.

    The sooner we realize this, the better.

    Posted By Isaac, Louisville, KY : August 23, 2007 12:33 pm
    ________________________________________

    August 23, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  12. george washington dc

    , Isaac from Louisville KY !
    but Americans in general do not separate morals from religion. They link them together saying you can’t have morals if you don’t believe in god.
    obviously bush does not have a conscience, otherwise he would not be so quick to throw away American soldiers’ lives away to pad his pocket with oil money. I can say that in my life time I have NEVER seen a moral president.
    . Obviously we are reading from 2 different history books because you also failed to mention the economical crunch that removing slavery had on the US. Then you have Abe Lincoln who said that “I wish there was a way to keep the union together without emancipating the slaves.” Again just the fact that Thomas Jefferson continuously drew charts and took measurements of his slaves in order to prove that Africans were merely just a step up from primates, yet he indulged his lust with Sally Hemmings, proves morally bankrupt presidents since the 3rd president, and that fact that white people still pay blacks less than they do for fellow white people only points to me that we have not come that far “morally” yes we are not being whipped with a whip, but we are being whipped in the pocket book and in our social circumstances.
    once again, did I say Bill Clinton? No I think I have given enough evidence that the presidency has been morally bankrupt for quite some time. Perhaps if you read a bit of history you would find that the great presidents like Theodore Roosevelt labeled him self moral and the doctrine of manifest destiny as a moral policy, yet what was manifest destiny, if not a measure to protect the monetary assets of the US by trampling all over the human rights of the native Americans and brutally killing them and removing them to reservations which in my opinion were at the time not much better a place than concentration camps, and on top of that it was basically genocide. Millions of natives died at the hands of a moral presidency. It is certainly much, much, much more than “ he messed up but who doesn’t”
    I agree with you, but those of us who are actively trying to change the world around us for the better are called unpatriotic because we don’t serve the bush agenda, so I guess it is my fault that he feels that way about those of us who work towards a better world.
    Do we have another choice??? I would rather elect the lesser of 2 evils than some moral zealot.
    . I am not uneducated. I have had quite an education since bush has been in office. “We need a responsible gov’t” he said, “one that will be honest and forthcoming, and who will own up to their mistakes” “the buck stops here!” I’m sorry but did I miss something here? Iraq is messed up but the buck got passed, federal prosecutors have been fired under suspicious circumstances, but he claims executive privilege to avoid subpoenas. He will not own any of his “he just messed up”s at all but he is religious so that must make him moral and if he is moral then he is a good president. There is a book you should read, it is called “What’s wrong with Kansas” perhaps it may change your mind about why people vote for a “moral president” even though he is screwing them financially, and from a social welfare standpoint. I beg to differ but these things are not just mere “he messed up” issues.
    . Yet it is interesting to point out that bush has the lowest IQ of any president that has ever been.
    I said it once I’ll say it again, this country was built on the backs of slaves, Native Americans and anyone who was of non-white origin. To me this means that this has been a crooked system from the start, so how a “moral” person can ever be president, is beyond my imagination. I will say that I would prefer someone who robs me blind but keeps us friends with the rest of the worldand keeps us out of a war, than that of a moral idiot like bush who robs us, and gets us hated all over the world, and has people who want to kill us in the name of a deity.
    . I would only add to this , that the worst thing we can do is elect a brilliant, profoundly self-serving person who “is moral.”

    August 23, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. sonya, atlanta, ga

    No one wants to be Hillary. Suffers the indignity of a serial cheater husband so you can grab the brash ring of power thru a Senate seat and presidental run. Hillary is Lady Macbeth on steriods.

    August 24, 2007 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  14. Danny B. Detroit, MI

    I think it is a big stretch to clain that was a swipe at Hillary. However, i still disagree with the statement itself, and hope that the Obama campaign refrains from "family values" smoke screen talk.

    the skills required to be a good husband and/or father are NOT AT ALL the same skills required to be a good president. We are not voting for Father of the Year, nor awarding Home Ec badges!

    August 24, 2007 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  15. Rick, Toccoa, GA

    Let's give all of the candidates the benefit of a doubt. It has become so ingrained in our collective psyche, right or wrong, that all candidates are controlled by mudslinging. The first part of the term candidate is the word candid. Let them be candid. Stop looking at there comments through your own world view. Accept the fact that any leader should lead first at home, before anywhere else. Nothing more. nothing less. Is the statement correct? Then accept it as correct. Even the Christ, during his farcical trial, when struck for stating the truth, ask a very good question. "If I said something wrong," Jesus replied, "testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?"

    Supporters of Clinton may apply what Mrs. Obama said to her, or they should just evaluate the statement as either personal conviction, a universal fact, a public opinion, or pure rhetoric. But it need not be an accusation.

    Since the country at large did not believe that family roles and personality matters were viable factors in public affairs by electing Clinton to his first term, and then by re-electing him, it is doubtful that such a focus would provide any support for Senator Obama anyway.

    Why don't we just stick to the facts, and journalists focus on them, rather than adding their own paradigms to the equation?

    September 26, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  16. Kay

    CNN: Keep reporting the negative press on Obama–makes me work even harder to get people to the poles to vote for him and it's turning many of the black voters that Hillary has against her thanks to her loving husband Slick Bill and all of your blatant negative reporting. Hillary needs the African-American vote, but she's slowly losing momentum with us. As an African-American, I was undecided yet leaning towards voting for Hillary, but not anymore after CNN's and Bill's pathetic antics and to think that I used to LOVE that man. Well, he's still a hottie. :) Go OBAMA "08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 28, 2008 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7