December 29th, 2007
08:00 AM ET
7 years ago

Obama: My wife says 'now or never'

ALT TEXT

Obama and wife Michelle at a recent campaign event (Photo Credit: AP)

WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa (CNN) - Barack Obama told an Iowa audience Friday that his wife Michelle thinks he should not run for president again if he loses in 2008.

“One of the things I offer in this race is that we still remember what it means to be normal," said the Illinois senator.

"My wife and I were talking the other day. And she said 'We're not doing this again'. And those of you who met her know she doesn't mince words,” said Obama. “She meant that in eight years, I'm not sure we'll be the same people we are now."

He said that he and his wife had only recently finished paying off their own student loans and started saving for their kids' college education. He also said that, until recently, he would do the family's grocery shopping himself. He said Michele told him, "eight years from now we will have lost touch with what ordinary Americans are going through" and that "we'll be in a different orbit."

"I think when you're in Washington for a long time you lose touch" and "it becomes harder to relinquish power,” he added.

But he told the audience in this blue-collar town, "my wife still shops at Target."

In the new issue of Vanity Fair, Michelle Obama tells a reporter that when it comes to her husband's White House bid, “it’s now or never.”

“We’re not going to keep running and running and running, because at some point you do get the life beaten out of you. It hasn’t been beaten out of us yet," she tells the magazine. "We need to be in there now, while we’re still fresh and open and fearless and bold. You lose some of that over time. Barack is not cautious yet; he’s ready to change the world, and we need that.”

Obama was responding to question from an undecided voter on executive power, and whether the senator would be willing to relinquish some of the power that President Bush has accrued.

Approached after the event, the undecided voter who asked the question said he hopes if Obama loses this time that he does run again: "I think he could make a good President," said Paul Kessler. But he told CNN that he's still uncommitted: "I'm going to read every candidates' website and decide on policy. Not emotion."

UPDATE: Later in an interview with CNN, Obama wouldn't say if his comments suggested he would not run for president again if he were to lose his current bid.

"Well, I intend to reelection after my first term," he said with a smile.

–CNN's Jessica Yellin

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (420 Responses)
  1. Marge Hibbing Mn

    I think he did the wrong thing in running too soon. If he had waited til next time he would seem to be more experienced. He could have made himself more presentable to the people and they would be more comfortable with him.

    He might make a good president in the future, but right now he is not what this country needs.

    December 28, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Steven in Charleston, SC

    How exactly was this statement a response to the question posed, which dealt with whether he would relinquish some of the Executive Power President Bush has accrued (stolen?) during his term? I would be VERY interested in the answer to THAT question!

    December 28, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. Carl

    Obama is downplaying his chances, again! He's probably seeing what many of us can't dude to the incredible unbalanced press in his favor, the reality is that people most times don't buy into the hype and at the end they vote their hearts. Obama is a nice guy; but he is not ready to be President, is way to nice and conciliatory to be the strong leader this difficult times required. Even in the campaign events he was overpowered by his wife (she wears the pants in the house, thats for sure), Oprah or any other celebrity. It's time for Obama to go back to the U.S Senate, build some credentials, gain some first hand experience, publish new books, make a lot of money and become the leader he wants to be some time down the road when he gets ready for it!

    December 28, 2007 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  4. Carl

    Obama is downplaying his chances, again! He's probably seeing what many of us can't, do to the incredible unbalanced press in his favor, the reality is that people most times don't buy into the hype and at the end they vote their hearts. Obama is a nice guy; but he is not ready to be President, is way to nice and conciliatory to be the strong leader this difficult times required. Even in the campaign events he was overpowered by his wife (she wears the pants in the house, thats for sure), Oprah or any other celebrity. It's time for Obama to go back to the U.S Senate, build some credentials, gain some first hand experience, publish new books, make a lot of money and become the leader he wants to be some time down the road when he gets ready for it!

    December 28, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. A. Harrison, Atlanta GA

    I would have taken this as an honest story if there weren't underlying messages throughout it.

    December 28, 2007 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  6. Sandi Giseburt, Lake George, NY

    If Obama is going to "lose touch with regular Americans" during a tenure in office, it sounds to me like we already have one of those in office. We need a President who will stay in touch on both ends of the spectrum.

    December 28, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Sound's like she's softening up the electorate for the inevitable defeat of her Not-Ready-for-Prime-Time husband in the primary.

    December 28, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Jeff, Sacramento, CA

    Yeah, right. What a bunch of crap!

    December 28, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  9. Nan, Charleston, SC

    Has anyone looked in her eyes? That woman is so ambitious it's scary. I don't believe a word of it.

    December 28, 2007 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Lee Lee, Los Angeles, Ca

    Are people so dumb that they don't see through his b.s.? He's saying this so voters who believe that he isn't ready will take another look for fear he'll somehow disappear from the political arena. He'll run for president again and again until he wins. I mean, we're talking about someone who has wanted to be president since grade school. If Hillary said something like this...well we know how the media would treat that.

    Hillary '08!

    December 28, 2007 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  11. Lezident, Portland, ME

    Did Michele Obama say anything about the Lezident thing?

    http://www.lezident.com

    i wonder...

    December 28, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. cameron

    Now I heard it all. This is a desperate and sad attempt to get votes now. Otherwise, why would a candidate and his wife say this to the public. In other words, you better vote for Obama now because you won't have another chance. Do they really have the nerve to suggest they are struggling to get out of debt and paying off loans from years ago. Oprah had a celebrity packed fund raiser and raised millions of dollars for Obama. If Obama and wife are this dishonest with the public now, what will he be like in Washington. After all, he admits Washington will put him in another orbit, and he will lose touch with what ordinary Americans are going through. He is suggesting that he is ordinary, just like the men and women in the blue-collar town. Another desperate attempt to get votes of hard working men and women by pretending to be just like them, and suggesting he knows what they are going through. He's wealty and one of his best friends is Oprah. Is this a blue-collar man? I don't think so. Obama and wife are grabbing for votes using emotion. The Whitehouse needs substance and backbone to run the country.

    December 28, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Ann

    I don't think such comments are helping Obama to get votes.

    What is this? a threat? Vote for me NOW because otherwise I'll change my mind.. like a spoiled child "I want the toy now!"

    So, the Obamas acknowledge that they may change too if Barack is elected, and they will likely forget how it is to "shop at Target". This is the stupidest argument ever, vote for me now because I'll not be the same 8 years from now. Thanks for letting us know. I never expected a President to have time to do the grocery's shopping but I would expect him/her to know (remember) what is like doing it.

    I never liked this couple but I thought they were at least smart.

    NoObama '08!!

    December 28, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  14. Tomar

    Obama and his wife seem very aware of the needs of our country. Young new, refreshing candidates is what we need. The old guard needs to go and get real jobs. Get a real clue as to what we the people want and don't want. I myself am a registered Independent, undecided how I'll vote in November. I don't look at the party of a person but their record and what each says and believes. I'm hoping for more new folks yet uncommitted to running before making any decisions on who gets my vote for running the country.

    December 28, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Dave Diamond, Mont Vernon, NH

    what an incredibly dumb thing to say. you can't stomach another election? imagine being president and first lady - by the way, you were supposed to do that *before* signing up for this job.

    p.s. I'll bet a lot of voters wish they had some spare change to spend at Target.

    December 28, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. Les

    His wife is making over 300K sitting at the board of directors for a non-profit hospital in Chicago, he bought over a million dollar home, he made over a million AT LEAST from two books he wrote not counting royalties. His healthcare insurance for him and his family are paid by US TAXYPAYERS, he received salary as US senator;AND he just paid his student loan?!?!?!

    Not counting the deal he had with Tony Rezko, he made money on that too.

    Obama is LYING.

    December 28, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  17. Adam, Pittsburgh PA

    Obama will lose this year. (Like Gore in '88)

    Clinton will lose to the R's. (Like Dukakis in '88)

    Obama will be a leading VP candidate in 2012. (Like Gore in '92)

    December 28, 2007 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  18. Jimenez - Texas

    Oh brother – now the sympathy card. Oh boo hoo. If I don't win in 2008 I will never run again. Great news. Too bad he thought about wasting our time on this race. And so what on Ms Obama : "In the new issue of Vanity Fair, Michelle Obama tells a reporter that when it comes to her husband's White House bid, “it’s now or never.” What is that all about. You two need to grow up. It's like your throwing a tantrum. Get real. Better yet go home.

    December 28, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. Biggdawg

    "My wife doesn't want another White House run."

    So, don't run again if you lose. Who cares? America and the rest of the world were here long before you, and they will be here long after you.

    This has a "if I don't win I'm going home and taking my ball with me' ring to it. The arrogance....

    December 28, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Peter M, Toronto, ON, Canada

    It is time to close the deal. The American political system–broken as it is–will never again get such a fresh, intelligent and honest man as Obama. This is a window of opportunity and Iowans have a chance to show the world and the rest of the country that they understand what is at stake. When I hear people say that they are undecided this late in the game, it makes me wonder what it is they are looking for. Vote for Obama and send us on our way to changing the world.

    December 28, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Ryan, New Jersey

    Could this couple be any more ideal? What's it going to take for you to see this America?

    December 28, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. LILLY,NY,NY

    I knew Obama is spineless and his wife wears pants in the house.

    December 28, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. sandra cathcart

    i am an independent. obama scares me. he has never actually come up with a speech stating exacly what his policies are. only that he wants change. he is not honest with the people. he would not be able to come up with a speech if it were NOT written ahead of time for him. also, no records of his time in the illinois senate, does not wear the us flag, hardly ever votes on any issue in the us senate because he does not want a record of it. he claims he has NEVER voted for the iraq war. on 6/22/06 senate bill #S2766. to require the redeployment of US armed forces from iraq. the bill would require the president to withdraw troops from iraq by 7/01/07. obama voted NO. i do not know who i will vote for but it will not be obama or guliane.

    December 28, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. jack, ny, ny

    that is alright Obama we don't want to see you again anyways.

    December 28, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. De

    The long ordeal of running for President of the USA should be shortened and the whole process,the amounts of money spent should be reevaluated.Perhaps an alignment would bring more sensible results.
    Mr. Obama is not mature enough or seasoned enough to be elected at this time,maybe in a few years.

    The First Women President Senator Hillary Clinton is ready to go,she is a seasoned,capable leader and willing to improve our country's presence on the World stage.
    All of her platforms;health care,improving the middle class,emphasis on education,energy,and most important stimulating the economy are what Americans need at this time.So do your part and elect the next Presidient who will work for you.

    December 28, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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