October 2nd, 2007
07:06 PM ET
11 years ago

Obama: Clinton blurring distinctions between us

Watch CNN's Candy Crowley interview Barack Obama Tuesday.

CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) - White House hopeful Barack Obama told CNN Tuesday his early opposition to the Iraq war proves he has the judgment to lead the country out of the conflict, and said the reason polls show voters think rival Hillary Clinton would better handle the issue is because the New York Democrat has successfully blurred the distinctions between the two candidates.

"Everybody had difficult choices to make and these were difficult choices, I made the right choice, and I think that's relevant not to the past, but to the future," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Candy Crowley of his decision as an Illinois state senator to come out against the war in 2002.

Back then, five months before the U.S. invaded Iraq, Obama said publicly that Saddam Hussein “poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors,” that he could be contained, and that “even a successful war against Iraq will require US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.” Obama added that such a war would “strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda.”

Full story

Related: Obama raises at least $20 million in third quarter

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Hillary Clinton • Iowa • Iraq • South Carolina
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. slimegreen

    The not promising to bring our troops home by 2013! makes both of you exactly the same..

    America needs real change. America needs a third party candidate.

    October 2, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. RightyTighty

    More taxes.
    More government.
    More taxes.
    Not out of Iraq by 2013.


    October 2, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. throckmorton Dallas, TX

    I don't care who's leading in the polls.

    In a healthy democracy people should vote for who they believe in and whose judgement they trust.

    That's why I'm voting for Barack Obama, and I think many of my fellow Americans will do the same.

    October 2, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. Ex-Pat Micah in Ottawa, Canada

    Regardless of your opinion on Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton (or for that matter any of the Republican candidates), Mr. Obama's comments were remarkably accurate and have proved true over time. The facts:

    Hussein, though destabilizing regionally, did not pose an imminent threat to world safety (short of a trailer full of hydrogen bottles or something in the desert). The US has a long history of *backing* people in the exact same circumstances, Hussein himself being one 15 years earlier. Iran posed and continues to pose a much more serious (though clearly containable) threat regionally and internationally.

    The US invasion of Iraq has and will continue to require an extended presence there, something which all of the Democratic candidates other than Joe Biden have only owned up to in the last week.

    The Iraq War has without question strengthened Al Qaeda's presence in Iraq (if not the "official" organization than its many off-shoots), which has been well-attested to by the likes of Petreaus, Crocker, Gates, even Bush himself.

    It's also "true" that the president who got most of this trouble started by his repeated inaction from 1992-2000 is married to the Democratic frontrunner (who incidentally is gaining some rather impressive endorsements from the Republican Party).

    October 2, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Ted, MN

    There was an interesting article in the NYTimes a few days ago about why the front-runner status is so vulnerable and often doesn't reflect the outcome of the primaries. Here's one quote:

    "Politicians and journalists inevitably try to simplify crowded political contests by identifying one candidate as a front-runner, long before a single American even votes. It is a designation that is often based on the most tenuous of evidence and one that often proves to be wrong, especially when it comes to Democrats."

    October 2, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Conservative James, Phoenix AZ

    Asked why his early opposition isn't resonating with more Democratic primary voters, the Illinois Democrat said Clinton has been successful in obscuring the differences between their two records on this issue.

    She has been successful, Mr Obama, because you and the other democrat candidats WONT throw a punch.

    Perhaps you're afraid of the DNC? Bill Clinton and his cronies? George Soros and Moveon.Org?

    If you're going to be the candidate of Change... REMIND the people of what Hillary represents: Special Interests money, Campaign Scandals (Hsu, Jinnah, etc), Iraq War Flip-flopper, Hollywood darling, and THE MOST divisive candidate with the hightest negative approval ratings in the opinion poll history!

    If you want to win – you need to fight. If you can't fight – you won't win.

    October 2, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Brian, Austin, Tx

    it's not just her but mostly the mainstream media. However I think mainstream media will eventually have to catch up with the American people and the rest of our media such as internet and average everyday media like local newspapers. I was a cartoonist in my hometown of Smithville Texas's newspaper and I think I have done some on my part to convey Obama the frontrunner in my opinion. He has, everywhere I have gone to, gotten his message across to the majority of peers I see, as well as people of other ages. The only reason that Clinton is an easy showcase for cnn and other news is that they have covered the Clintons' before, and people whether they hate or like them will watch. I do think, however, we people that support Obama, need to get our message across on why we support him more than ever. Otherwise we will get stuck in this Clinton/Bush partisan loop DEFINTELY longer than we need. Obama '08!!

    October 2, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. laurinda,ny

    RIGHTY TIGHTY...No candidate will get us out by 2013. If they say they will they are lying. Go back to bed.

    October 2, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  9. Christian, Tampa FL

    In light of all the consequences of the Iraq war, Mr. Obama was indeed correct in proclaiming it a potential disaster. Not only was the mission poorly implemented and conducted with a ridiculously small military force, but the entire concept of the war was false.

    If it was conducted as a humanitarian mission from the beginning in order to remove a vile dictator and bring democracy to Iraq, then the debate would have been different. Even so, the entire idea of an invasion was ridiculous because of the ethnic and sectarian divisions that are now splitting the country apart.

    The war should have never been started.

    October 2, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  10. O P, WI

    I think Obama has the right approach to the difficult position the next president will be in. While I will vote for Clinton if she is the nominee...the more I hear and learn about Obama, the more I like him. I appreciate the fact that he talks about the issues w/o slamming the other canidates.

    October 2, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. stephen

    as Obama says we need to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. The combat troops in iraq will be home long before 2013. Its the forces to protect the remaining civilians and the embassy. Russert asked would all troops be home by 2013, you can't predict what is going to happen between now and then or the mess that he will inherit from bush. He is not going to lie like other candidates that say we can bring all troops home in six months.

    October 2, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  12. Lavelle Rochester,ny


    ^^^Asked why his early opposition isn't resonating with more Democratic primary voters, the Illinois Democrat said Clinton has been successful in obscuring the differences between their two records on this issue.

    She has been successful, Mr Obama, because you and the other democrat candidats WONT throw a punch.

    Perhaps you're afraid of the DNC? Bill Clinton and his cronies? George Soros and Moveon.Org?

    If you're going to be the candidate of Change… REMIND the people of what Hillary represents: Special Interests money, Campaign Scandals (Hsu, Jinnah, etc), Iraq War Flip-flopper, Hollywood darling, and THE MOST divisive candidate with the hightest negative approval ratings in the opinion poll history!

    If you want to win – you need to fight. If you can't fight – you won't win.

    Posted By Conservative James, Phoenix AZ : October 2, 2007 4:25 pm

    ^^^^Read this speech and then talk. He put everything on the line with this speech and you cant disagree with a word he used because it was all facts!

    OBAMA 08

    October 2, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. Monica, Macon, GA

    Ted, I was thinking the same thing. News sources, CNN especially, only report selective information from the polls. I always try to read the entire poll results and I find them very interesting.

    1. The majority of democrats say that whether they believe a candidate can get elected is a major factor in who they will support in the primary.
    2. The majority of democrats think that Hillary Clinton is more electable in a general election.
    3. When democrats, republicans AND independents are asked whether they would vote for [insert a dem candidate here] or [insert a rep candidate here], Hillary and Barack far almost exactly equally. Sometimes Hillary fairs slightly (1-2%) better than Barack against a given republican and sometimes Barack fairs slightly better than Hillary.

    Obviously, the assumption that Hillary is more electable is false. I'm not saying that she is less electable or that anyone should make their decisions based off of polls. I'm just saying that WE SHOULD NOT BE MAKING OUR DECISIONS BASED OFF OF A FALSE ASSUMPTION THAT ONE CANDIDATE IS MORE ELECTABLE THAN ANOTHER.

    October 2, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Toney E, Tampa, FL

    Conservative James . . .

    I agree with you that not fighting can lose you an election really fast – John Kerry and his insistence on taking the high road comes to mind. Rove's Swiftboat tactics crushed Kerry and Edwards, while Kerry sat back waiting on Americans to rebutt the offensive attack ads.

    But fighting can be misconstrued. What some call fighting back, others would call bickering, or whining, or mud-slinging.

    Obama has to be careful not to be accused of going negative.


    October 2, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. Maritza San Jose, Ca

    His resume is short a few pages, plain and simple, it takes alot more than what he can offer to run a country, and successfully solve the problems the next president will inherit, you gotta have more substance, not just tell the majority what they want to hear, go beyond the sound bites. Talk is cheap".

    Maritza San Jose, ca

    October 2, 2007 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Mia, Stafford, VA

    You can also add that the distinctions have been blurred by the enormous free press for Hillary by CNN – ...really ..."BREAKING NEWS" Hillary raising more money than Barack, but not one word about 24,000 people showing up at a RALLY FOR BARACK IN NYC! Hillary's backyard. That is news,not breaking news, but definitely news, but CNN didn't think so. But on the Ticker they talked about a stupid comment about Dodd and Anderson's gray hair.

    October 2, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  17. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Obama (whom I admire) needs to take off the kid gloves and not be afraid to throw some punches at her (figuratively), and if Billy boy opens his lying and cheating mouth, hammer him too.

    Ask out loud for some tips on how to make $99,000 overnight, or ask them where the WH furniture and gifts went?

    So much material to work with and I wonder if it may take a below the belt shot to REALLY open up the discussion.

    You don't have to "just dish dirt", but if she is being ascended to the throne by the willing and wanton media, MAKE A RUCKUS.

    Make Hillary become accountable for the "few" positions she does take and as an excellent speaker (your strength) that should not be difficult as long as the MSM stops reporting when Hillary "has gas" and starts doing their damn jobs.

    We know some of her stances as in for the war, against the levin amendment, against gay-marrige, for don't ask – don't tell, for baby bonuses, anti-smoking for all to just name a few, the more important issues she doesn't respond to, MAKE HER.

    October 2, 2007 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Joe Stebbins

    I don't really think Senator Clinton is trying to blur the lines of distinction between herself and Obama. Only a fool would think the experience he has would somehow justify him as being a worthy candidate for President. We have had enough of those who require on the job training to do the job of President. Obama needs a lot more experience before he should consider himself as a serious contender. The reason Democrats have not responded to him; experience.
    He has little, Senator Clinton has lots.

    October 2, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Marlene O.C., Calif. Democrat

    I am an Obama supporter. The more I hear his opinions, views and plans on the world today, the more I agree with him and feel he's really got it "right on" just like he did with the Iraq war even before this devastating war began. However, I must agree with Conservative James of Phoenix- "Senator Obama – if you want to win, you've got to fight for it harder Obama". Most voters I speak with have a negative approval rating of Hillary (HRC). Obama – just show the American citizens how you REALLY MEAN change in politics – not just the same old, same old as it would be with HRC.

    October 2, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  20. Erick Bane, Schaumberg, IL

    Obama, if you need to win, you have to play politics. See, how "W" played the polticking by crushing McCain or bringing a terror spin in 2004 and bringing swift boat attackers to crush Kerry. These tactics may not work at this time, though. But, take some tips from Carl Rove. Your constant bickering about the Senate vote may not play the trick. As you were not in the US Senate and your opinion then did not count.

    October 2, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. Lisa H., Ann Arbor, MI

    Conservative James, Phoenix AZ :

    While I agree that Obama may need to bring some of these points to light; I disagree that he needs to "throw a punch." Obama has stated over and over that he will work to change the political landscape, to put an end to the centuries-old politics of finger-pointing and name-calling.

    If Obama goes against this ideal, and begins "throwing punches" now, then it will just fuel Hillary's fire and she'll attack Obama even worse than she already is. I truly hope that Americans will see Obama as an agent of change, and will appreciate his decision to NOT play dirty.

    Obama IS putting up a fight- he's fighting with actions and not just words. I trust that America will take notice and elect him as the Democratic candidate.

    October 2, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. mountain man

    maybe Obama's message isn't registering because nobody likes an "I told you so" type of candidate. The majority of Americans supported the Iraq invasion and sure its easy to say to was wrong now, but at the time with what we knew then it was the right thing to do.

    Dodd also points out that Obama said before he ran for president that he doesn't know how he would have voted if he was in congress at the time. Obama is just as bad as rove playing politics with the war.

    October 2, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Chip Celina OH

    Micah, Conservative James,

    Excellent posts!

    I've been waiting for one of these candidates (other than Gravel) to grow a pair and knock the house of cards down.

    Gravel showed it's pretty easy to fluster The Frontrunner. They're like boxers that stun their opponent but fail to pursue and deliver the knockout blow for fear of getting caught by a lucky punch.

    Have a great day!

    October 2, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. Brianna, McEwen, TN

    I have no problem keeping you both separated. When a United States Sailor came to both of you for help after being abused in boot camp you turned him down but Senator Clinton did not. She made sure that he was returned safely back to his family and it is because of her that I even still ahve a brother. Please explain to me Mr. Obama what the audacity of hope really means because obviously your vision does not extend to our troops.

    October 2, 2007 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Erik

    Great speech Obama is right!

    October 2, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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