November 19th, 2007
07:02 PM ET
7 years ago

Obama cites childhood in helping shape world view

Obama said his childhood years spent overseas have shaped his perspective on foreign relations.

CLARION, Iowa (CNN) – Presidential hopeful Barack Obama told an audience Monday that some of his strongest foreign relations experience comes from having spent four years of his childhood in Indonesia, and having family ties to Kenya.

After first mentioning that as a senator he's had "frequent interactions with world leaders" on fact-finding missions across the globe, the Illinois Democrat added, "But you know, probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact that I spent four years living overseas when I was a child in Asia - Southeast Asia."

According to the campaign, Obama was six years old when he moved to Indonesia in 1967, and stayed until he was 10.

Obama said those four years overseas, combined with the fact that his father is from Kenya, gave him the knowledge "of how ordinary people in these other countries live."

He then implied that simply going on congressional delegation trips isn't enough.

"Various people come and give you a tour of some factory or some school, and the children do a native dance … you have dinner with some important people, and then you maybe go on a shopping excursion, and then you leave," Obama said. "You don’t really get a chance to know what are in the minds of ordinary people in these countries."

He then implied that his time in Asia gave him additional foresight on the issue of Iraq.

"I have a better sense of how they're thinking and what their society is really like, and that's part of the reason why I was able to see what would happen when we went into Iraq," Obama said.

"I said at the time … the Sunnis and the Shias, they don’t agree on a lot of things, so if you think that suddenly they're gonna have this great democracy once we go in there it's just not, that’s not what's going on in the culture there."


-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Race to '08
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. Lee, Red Bluff, CA

    Oh my God – is he serious? Please Iowa don't vote for this idiot. I really only have one response to this post –

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahah
    Hahahahahahahahahahahahah

    November 19, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  2. kim portland, oregon

    this is actually a very good point. right now we desperately need someone who sees the importance of a world view. we have lost so much credibility and respect the world over in the last 7 years, we need someone who sees that there is a big world out there besides the U.S. and countries who can supply us with oil.

    i dont think baraq's the right person-YET!!! and hillary is a little too bush-cheney lite for me. which pretty much leaves john edwards as the only one with an actual chance. and he'd be FAR better than any of the republicans goons!

    i wish we could have president kucinich, unfortunately that will never happen.

    November 19, 2007 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  3. George,Md

    CNN this is old stuff. Bring us the current stuff like you do to the clintons. I am sure your target is to sell alot of news during Clinton Adminstration just like in bushes as she will star another division in this country and Obama wouldn't because people will be united and not much you would get to write about right? I want a President that will make this country move forward in Harmony other than fulfilling your objectives.
    Barack 08!

    November 19, 2007 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  4. Roy, Jones, Iowas

    This man has no experience to be president of the United States. Its a joke that he cites his "childhood" as his experience.

    November 19, 2007 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. Mike, Cleveland, OH

    I'm sure Jim Bremer and other haterz will post some veiled Muslim attack on here, trying to swift boat Obama with out any evidence to back up their claims. If you got evidence, post the link or cite the source.

    November 19, 2007 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. blessed, Chicago, Il

    Please Obama! Your father is African like mine, your mom is white. Living in Indonesia for 4 years as a six year old child and havine a father from Kenya doesn't give you the knowledge. Indonesia was a luxirious living compare to other american who did not have the chance to even go in Mexico.It's like Bush saying I live all my life in America so I have the knowledge of how ordinary people live in Harlem, or New Orland, or Chicago. I'm African and went throught the everyday brutalities our people faced. My father left my mom with six children and we look after each other when we were very young while my mom had to work to feed us. We move through 4 different countries just to have a house and a better life. How many relative on your father side did you help coming here and study or just help to have a better life? Maybe you have a brother in Africa that we don't even know. You did not live for four years in Africa because your mom knows better. You will not even stand here and try to be a President if you've live that life. I just want to know how many people from your father family did you help and then I can really beileve in you. Otherwise you are just as fake as the other one and only using your Kenyan root for political gain. I don't heard you sasay I lived in African for even one year.

    November 19, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  7. Eric Palmieri

    Wouldn't it be refreshing to have a President who had actually BEEN to other countries before he was elected?

    -Eric Palmieri

    http://www.ericpalmieri.com

    November 19, 2007 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  8. Dazed and Confused in DC

    He lived overseas between ages 6 and 10. And his father lived overseas. And this counts as foreign policy experience? Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha. You're killing me. The time he spent in Indonesia from ages 6 to 10 gave him insight into how the Sunni and Shia in Iraq think? Ha ha ha ha ha. And what, is he channeling his father? Ha ha ha ha ha. Stop, please, I'm gonna bust my gut. How can this man be taken seriously?

    November 19, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  9. laurinda, ny

    oh please ! "fact-finding missions"... junkets paid for by American taxpayers– even if you think "fact-finding missions" are valuable, they didn't result in any action, did they? this guy's all talk, no action.

    November 19, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  10. xtina - chicago il

    I'd rather hear Obama tell voters what he did that was successful that qualifies him for the Presidency, than see him campaigning on "I TOLD YOU NOT TO INVADE IRAQ".

    So, OK, you said "don't invade Iraq", but what did you actually accomplish as Senator other than raise taxes?
    Right, nothing.

    November 19, 2007 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  11. aj huntington ny

    what a weak strategy ! walking around saying "I told you so !" Oh that's real leadership ...

    November 19, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  12. Lee, ny, ny

    Wow, I should embrace a new york cab driver next time.

    November 19, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  13. thevoter

    Maybe some childhood indigrestion is the dirt Hillary is holding on Obama..., we just don't know. And our uncertainty about her denials reflects our negative remebrances of her last administration.

    Anyone but Hillary in 08..

    November 19, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. Sarah

    I think that Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to lead our nation. I look forward to the response from the rest of the world on the day he is elected President of the United States.

    America is back.

    November 19, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  15. john, NY,NY

    This is almost laughable. He is talking about his experience when he was six and he is 46 now. On one hand his supporters are defending his time at young age in muslim school which BTW is not a problem. On the other hand Obama is bragging about those four years. SO Obama what else do you remember?

    November 19, 2007 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  16. Mike, VA

    Four years abroad when you were a 6 to 10 year old child gives you 'strong experience in foreign relations"? perhaps he doesn't understand the meaning of 'foreign relations'. And based on those 4 years Obama knows 'what are in the minds of ordinary people in these countries"? So now he cares about the entire World.. I guess he wants to spread the politics of hope beyond the American borders..

    And I thought he said his Dad left him when he was a child, so why does the Kenyan dad suddenly count?

    Blah-blah-blah..

    November 19, 2007 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  17. colony14author, Mount Prospect, Illinois

    ...and maybe Amy Carter advises him on nuclear proliferation.

    November 19, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  18. Jim Bremer

    CNN, please let me translate :)
    ------------
    "After first mentioning that as a senator he's had "frequent interactions with world leaders" on fact-finding missions across the globe,( TRANSLATION " At my madrassa we practiced with pics of world leaders as targets")

    the Illinois Democrat added, "But you know, probably the strongest experience I have in foreign relations is the fact that I spent four years living overseas when I was a child in Asia — Southeast Asia."

    Translation" Once a jehadi, always a Jehadi"

    November 19, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  19. Michael - Baltimore, MD

    "Various people come and give you a tour of some factory or some school, and the children do a native dance … you have dinner with some important people, and then you maybe go on a shopping excursion, and then you leave," Obama said. "You don’t really get a chance to know what are in the minds of ordinary people in these countries."

    Real Talk.

    November 19, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  20. Leo, VA

    This is priceless! What is he talking about?

    4 years elementary school in Indonesia= foreign relations experience

    Republicans are right to wish this guy wins the Democratic nomination.

    November 19, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. Jim Bremer

    "Various people come and give you a tour of some factory or some school, and the children do a native dance … you have dinner with some important people, and then you maybe go on a shopping excursion, and then you leave," Obama said.

    TRANSLATION " Stay and do Jihad – tourism through Jihad is the way to go"

    "You don’t really get a chance to know what are in the minds of ordinary people in these countries."

    Translation" They do Jihad, I do Jihad, we are like blood-brothers ( oops that came out all wrong)"

    November 19, 2007 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  22. Shawanda, Biloxi, MS

    It seems I'm reading Obama quotes with "the fact that" multiple times daily now. Has Harvard given up on Strunk and White's "Elements of Style"?

    November 20, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  23. Independent in IA

    That's just GREAT....the man wants to base foreign relations policy on the sum total of the experience he had....as a child....in Southeast Asia!!!! Why doesn't this give me a warm, fuzzy feeling?

    November 20, 2007 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  24. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    Wow – amazing. This guy was such a wiz that he could envision foreign policy when he was 10.
    Oh borther. Wht an arrogant buffoon. Empty suit.....
    He and G.W. Bush should get together and tout their foreign policy credentials. It would at least be a hoot to watch.

    November 20, 2007 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  25. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    So....
    How does that make him the best person to be our Dipomat-in-Chief and more importantly Commander-in-Chief. The next President will have to deal with a huge national debt, eroded human services, a grossly unpopular and costly war in Iraq. It is unclear to me how living a few years in Indonesia while in elementary school enables his–judgement, diplomacy, and ability to keep the nation and national interests secure.

    November 20, 2007 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
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