October 18th, 2007
03:12 PM ET
3 years ago

Obama on Leno: Michelle can take on Bill Clinton

Obama appeared on Leno Wednesday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - His chief rival for the Democratic nomination has a famous husband, but White House hopeful Barack Obama said Wednesday night his wife Michelle could go head-to-head with former President Bill Clinton.

"My wife, is no slouch, you see - if there's a debate between Michelle and Bill, you know, I'm putting my money on my girl," he said on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The Illinois Democrat also laughed off Leno's suggestion that he might want to reconsider leaving his wife alone with the former president.

"Michelle can handle herself," he quipped. "She doesn't play."

Obama also said Bill Clinton's popularity in Democratic circles plays a significant role in wife Hillary's large lead in the Democratic field. The latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll registered Clinton at 51 percent nationally, compared to Obama’s 21 percent.

"Particularly among democrats, Bill Clinton is very popular," Obama said. "He's a great strategist. He's very smart when it comes to the politics of the Democratic Party."

"And, you know, there are a lot of chips out," he added. "People - you develop a lot of relationships when you're president. So that's part of the challenge that we have to face is making sure that people know me as well as they know her and as well as they know Bill."

But Obama sharply brushed aside suggestions Clinton was unbeatable and said the New York Democrat's early coronation as the party's nominee reminded him of President Bush's now infamous appearance on the USS Abraham Lincoln.

"Hillary is not the first politician in Washington to declare 'Mission Accomplished’ a little too soon," he said to laughter and cheers. "So we've got a long way to go before the first vote is cast."

– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (190 Responses)
  1. anon, new york, NY

    It is amusing that some people would not vote hillary because the pesonal mistake (lewwinski, etc.) of bill clinton. Instead, these people want someone new, like Obama, not from the old washington dc politics.

    This is similar to say that we should now have a car mechanic to do our surgery, because a few doctors screw up their surgeries.

    October 19, 2007 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  2. Eva, Oak Park, Illinois

    Obama is the better candidate. Michelle Obama a smart and able woman. However, I think that Bill might win the debate. He has managed, after all, not only to get himself elected but has been the sugar to help the Democrats swallow the bitter Hillary pill. If Hillary is the candidate for the DNC you can bet there will be a republican in the Whitehouse in 2008. My vote is one they will lose. Didn't we learn anything form electing a relative of a former president in the last 7 years?

    October 19, 2007 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  3. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    To my knowledge, Sen. Clinton has never said or even implied that the "Mission [is] Accomplished," with respect to gaining the Democratic nomination. But SO OFTEN in attempting to highlight the differences between himself and Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama twists her words. From the supposed "blank check" of Kyl-Lieberman, to pretending not to know the difference between unconditional country-to-country negotiations with Iran and an unconditional promise to meet with Ahmadinejad, this is his FAVORITE tactic.
    Deliberately using language in a misleading way is also the Republican's preferred ploy. If anybody is "Bush-lite," it's Senator Obama. His comments are beginning to leave a nasty taste in my mouth.

    October 19, 2007 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  4. pam Eugene Or

    CNN
    Now it is twice that you have removed my comments. Is it beause I support Obaman and think Clinton is a sleaze? Or possibly that I fell Jim Bremer is a small minded bigot?
    Obama 08

    October 19, 2007 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  5. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    I'm personally undecided at this point as to who or even which party I would vote for. I would just like to say that to all who vote for Hillary, you'll get what you deserve fromthe queen of the flip-flop (she makes Kerry look a rank amateur in that arena),
    The problem is, if she becomes president all the rest of us will get what you deserve as well.
    I honestly can't believe the amount of support for this women who lies, changes her stance with any shift in public opinion, and will(and has)said what ever she thinks her audience on any given day wants to hear. The only reason she has the support she has is because of Bill's popularity. Well, heeeelloooo people, he will NOT be running the show this time around. Hillary is absolutely NOT trustworthy.

    October 19, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. Jon Schenkemann New York, NY

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Has the name Barack Hussein Obama, and is not purportedly related to Saddam Hussein or to Osama, allegedly according to confidential sources, maybe.

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Spent his formative years at a religious madrassa in Indonesia

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Has zero experience in Foriegn policy ( but has studied the subject in college – woo-hoo!)

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Will gladly meet with tin-pot dictators face-to-face and give them
    publicity

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?
    Doesn't have any policy – but has a lot of Politics of Hope

    Lots more to come !

    October 19, 2007 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Davis, NJ

    ****
    ...Posted By Jon Schenkemann New York, NY : October 19, 2007 12:56 pm
    ****

    So Jon, you think sliming Obama would work? ...you think churning out blatant lies to get Hillary elected would work. I looked at you post and did not find an iota of truth in anything you said. Why not just stick to the facts?
    ...is it not interesting that Washington insiders visit a foreign nation for 2 days, shakes hands with the President and they call that foreign policy experience? So what happened to Hillary's "foreign policy experience" when she was voting for the Iraq war even without as much as READING the national intelligence estimates in 2002? You call that foreign policy experience? ...Sen. Clinton contradicts herself with everything she says ... eg calls Obama naive when he said nuclear option is off the table when it comes to Iran but says EXACTLY that when asked in Iowa 2 days ago (you can fact check that). You call that experience?
    The ONLY reason Clinton leading in polls today is because she is married to Bill – simple. If her name was Hillary Smith, you think she'd be leading the Dem field? So lets talk about EXPERIENCE... shall we? What "experience" does Sen Clinton really have? –being first lady of Arkansas and then first lady of the US cannot possible count as executive experience! - the fact that one lives in a garage doesn't make them a car. On the single most important decision any Senator can make – to authorize a war – Sen Clinton FAILED !!
    We need a President with GOOD JUDGEMENT...
    OBAMA '08

    October 19, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  8. Liberal Chic

    Olson Johnson — Rock Ridge:

    I would pay money to see Michelle Obama debate Bill Clinton.

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! I wish you could. Some of her speeches are ok when she talks without rhetoric about her upbringing or some other bland subject like that. But when she starts on how it's not someone's turn just because the candidate's a woman or how she's sacrificing her husband because she hates the fear of politics, it just sounds hollow. Zero substance, tons of rhetoric. Just like her husband.

    Why can't we have more classy candidate spouses like Ann Romney, Cindy McCain or 2004 Elizabeth Edwards? Right now, Bill Clinton wins the prize among the Democratic bunch.

    October 19, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. dawn -- Gaithersburg, MD.

    Has anyone commenting negatively actually seen Michelle Obama speak?

    Actually, I happened on her: "If Barack isn't black enough, what will we tell the children" speech and it was very, very painful. I know anyone can have a bad day, and that's what it was: a very bad day. But doubtless her wonderful speeches greatly outnumber her unfortunate ones.

    October 19, 2007 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  10. Chris, Middletown, CT

    I think Michelle would actually do very well – keep in mind – the people here who make excuses for the Clintons at every turn – will think she lost regardless of anything that transpires – the people who listen and care that she would actually answer the questions clearly would think differently....read the debate transcripts...I keep thinking that the DNC is broadcasting a signal that makes you not listen....just read them...unclear ambiguous answers (to very clear questions) I'm sure you guys have another excuse...lets hear the rant....ready...go

    October 20, 2007 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  11. Joe, Florida

    Obama said what's just too wrong to even be funny.

    I can't think of any politician or politician's spouse who could take on Bill Clinton. The man has proven he is a smooth and smart talker, and an excellent debater.

    October 21, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Coach Haughton NH

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Has the name Barack Hussein Obama, and is not purportedly related to Saddam Hussein or to Osama, allegedly according to confidential sources, maybe.

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Spent his formative years at a religious madrassa in Indonesia

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Has zero experience in Foriegn policy ( but has studied the subject in college – woo-hoo!)

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?

    Will gladly meet with tin-pot dictators face-to-face and give them
    publicity

    QUOTE : Oh yea and that guy Barack?
    Doesn't have any policy – but has a lot of Politics of Hope

    Lots more to come !

    Posted By Jon Schenkemann New York, NY : October 19, 2007 12:56 pm

    You represent everything dumb in american voters Jon. I won't even seek to negate your foolish comments because anyone who reads about the candidates will already know that your comments are stupid.

    Obama is musim, hahaha is that the best you can do. I can post 500 pages of hillary or bush smear with facts instead of lies. He is a devout christian you idiot.

    And his policy of meeting with foreign leaders is the same JFK had. And he was no fool.(better than clinton i might add.) You make people ashamed to be democrats.

    Unless of course you are republican then we expect such foolery.

    October 22, 2007 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  13. Anonymous

    I haven't heard Sen. Clinton declare the "Mission Accomplished." She has repeatedly asserted that she has to earn every vote and that she is prepared to do so.

    But twisting Sen. Clinton's words or simply putting his own in her mouth is turning out to be a typical Obama tactic. From misrepresenting Sen. Clinton's Kyl-Lieberman vote to distorting her position on country-to-country negotiations v. face to face meetings with leaders, this is simply more of the same.

    Posted By dawn — Gaithersburg, MD. : October 18, 2007 5:12 pm

    ...shut up. If hillary clinton were caught robbing a bank you would find an excuse for her. You will support this trash no matter what. you have no credibility. Just shut up.

    October 22, 2007 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  14. deb, washington dc

    It's pretty clear an overwhelming majority of the people that left comments here didn't actually see this episode of Leno. Obama made those comments in response to fun-poking questions directed to him by Leno. When he made those comments there was a lot of laughter from him, Jay, as well as the studio audience, and it was clear that none of it was to be taken seriously. I think it's so ridiculous that anyone who has ever seen/knows the definition of these late night shows would expect any candidate to go on Leno or any comedy show to launch into a discourse about their proposed policy. It is pretty clear that late night TV shows invite us to see candidates in a more congenial, natural setting where their personalities take precedence over their political views. So seriouly, CALM DOWN and stop trying to draw so many inferences from a silly late night comedy show!

    October 24, 2007 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  15. Rhonda

    I CANNOT believe that the AMERICAN people would even CONSIDER electing a person for OUR USA PRESIDENT named Barak Hussin Obama!!!!! DOES ANYONE REMEMBER 9/11?????????????????????????????????????
    He may have no ties to Iraq but his name says it all for me!! I'd rather follow a sheep herder in Austria than this man! Where has American pride gone????????
    CBS says they will not post anymore comments about the election because of the negative comments about Obama..........IS ANYONE LISTENING????????? DOES THAT TELL YOU ANYTHING??????? Wake up America!

    January 10, 2008 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
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